Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting to know the Parrot AR Drone 2.0

This summer, I am doing my final independent study project at RIT.  The project is to design a control mechanism for a quadcopter that can find a fire and track its movement.  This would be of use in a forest fire situation, where the quadcopter could track the fire as it moves, allowing the authorities to easily follow its progress via GPS.  I am using the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 as my vehicle because of its simplicity, great price, and awesome features.

The AR Drone includes:
- 2 HD Cameras that can be streamed back to a home computer
- Onboard 1 GHz Linux board
- Altitude sensors
- Full IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit)
- Protective foam padding (for when I inevitably crash it into something)

The drone comes ready to fly with IOS and Android apps that are available.  Right off the bat, I was able to record some video directly from the drone:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Infrared Camera Hack

This summer I am doing a really cool project with a quadcopter and an infrared camera.  The idea is to create control system that uses image detection of a fire to fly around the fire and report its coordinates to a home computer.  In order for my project to work, I need an inexpensive digital infrared camera. A professor that I talked to told me that there is an easy way to modify a digital camera to an infrared (or close to IR) camera.  The method is to replace the visible spectrum filter that is in there with an IR filter.  After doing some research, it turns out that exposed 35 mm film negatives are excellent IR filters and can block out most of the visible range.  The goal of this project was to replace the filter in a webcam with an IR filter.  The result was a blurry, but usable IR camera.

First, I took apart an old Logitech webcam that I had lying around.  I took off the plastic casing and found the lens connected to the board.  This is what it looked like:
After removing the lens from the board, the filter sat on the back.  The lens could be unscrewed from the filter holder, so I removed that as well, being careful not to smudge the lens.  Lo and behold, inside the filter holder behind the lens was the visible spectrum filter.  I tried removing with a razor blade, but it did not budge, so I used the old brute force method and smashed it out.
More after the break