Monday, we began working on our LTA Drone project.

Anthony brought in his RC drone from home so that we could take it apart and practice working with drone motors. We took the case and remote apart, and soldered on a switch because the only way to turn it off was to unplug it. We also purchased Mylar foil to create the blimp section. After many hours of searching for an affordable option we settled on a balloon shaped like a zero. Hopefully this will provide enough lift to carry our payload. After lunch, our drone arrived and we began experimenting with it. It has more stabilization features than we expected, which could be difficult to transfer to the sideways blimp. Overall, everything is working out pretty well so far.

Tuesday, we continued to practice flying with our drone, this time indoors which was much easier than outdoors. We got the camera working and connected smoothly, but we will probably need a larger battery to use the motors and camera for extended periods of time. We also began 3d printing a vertical propeller and experimented with some of the Mylar foil we had bought. I suspected that it wouldn’t hold air, since it said it wasn’t for industrial or commercial use, but our group decided to buy it anyway because it was fairly cheap. It ended up being difficult to work with and not airtight. After lunch, we continued to take apart the motors from Anthony’s drone, one of which we plan to use for the vertical propeller. After a scaling error with the 3d printer and some wiring issues that required additional soldering, we got the propeller working, but there was a significant gap between the propeller blades and the casing which created drag. We plan to remodel this tomorrow.

Wednesday, we continued working on the vertical propeller and testing the drone. We 3d printed a flatter, wider propeller with joined faces, but the layering and sharp turns of the design created frayed edges. Also, the screw hole ended up too small. We decided to reprint the propeller again with smoother turns. We also measured the drone’s battery life at 7.5 minutes of hovering. We plan to measure the top speed of the drone to figure out the total distance it can travel. I also brought in Velcro Straps from home, which we can attach to the edges of the balloon to connect it to our mechanical components. I also began experimenting with controlling one of the drone motors from an Arduino. At the end of the day, we gave a simple presentation about our project.

Thursday, we tested the new 3d printed vertical propeller, which worked fantastically. The gaps between the fan blades and case were much smaller, and the propeller seemed to generate quite a lot of lift with only 9 volts. We were able to control the propeller from the Arduino easily, but we will probably need a large power supply to run the propellers. After that we had 5 presentations ranging from using VR to create more accurate historical media, to the civil engineering involved in the subway system. This was my favorite seminar so far because of the wide array of technical knowledge that each presenter was able to share. After that we went to the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, which had all new exhibits since the last time I had been there. A lot of the sustainability interactive exhibits were interesting, but I would have preferred to keep working on our projects.