## Drone Update – 8-7-24 – Broken Drone (Oops)

Been a couple days, but I’ve been flying around. The larger batteries (4S – 4000 mAh) came in and they’ve increased flight time to make it much more enjoyable.

The biggest annoyance so far is the visual range. The yard is about the range and behind buildings is a goner! How do we get this to “satellite transmissions”? A second camera would be nice too.

Anyway, I’m a goofball and thought it was cool that I could blow out leaves in the gutters and I crashed and broke one of the arms.

## Let’s Build A Small Generator

So power is precious and power is the problem with all VTOL aircraft. No matter how cool batteries are and how important fossil fuel reduction is, if we want massive acceptance of VTOL Cars, we need long range & fuel consumption. We need the big oil to be our friends….. even if you don’t love the idea.

To start on a small scale, we are going to try and get this drone running on fuel. YEAH! FUEL! So where the heck do we start? Keep in mind a big ole dummy and a novice in this space. Let’s look at the problem.

The drone runs on batteries. 4S LIPO is a decent start. This is 14.8VDC. I just ran a 2250 mAH capacity for about 4 minutes give or take. What power draw is this? 2250 is 2.250 aH which 4 minutes is 0.066 hours so 2.25aH/0.066H = 34 amps at 14.8VDC ish which is 34*14.8 = 503 W.

What tools can you have log power consumption on drones? – It looks like the Pixhawk flight controller has variables that should be logging this but without telemetry reading back, I don’t know how I’d access this. Something to come back to and will be necessary.

For the moment, let’s assume I need about 50 Amps at 15 volts produced, seems like a freaking crap ton. Also, is this generator going to charge a battery and then that battery run the system? How does the charge and discharge work? This is 750 W… This sniff tests like a ton of power? I guess it is reasonable that it would be a crap ton of power considering this would be a forever running drone….. kinda cool.

General Idea:

Spin a DC Motor with a gear ratio and high revolutions to output voltage. (Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb3iN4m9Bik)

So for about an hour I’ve been researching and I’ve learned that I have no idea what’s going on so I’m going to start by re-creating Tom Stanton’s build above. He seems like a cool dude. Hopefully re-creating will teach me a little more.

Building an alternatorDefinition: An alternator is an electrical generator that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current. For reasons of cost and simplicity, most alternators use a rotating magnetic field with a stationary armature

So I read a bunch about it and seems plausible with a rotor (our 2) around a stator. The stator has a certain amount of wires coiled and then the rotor has the magnets. The magnet’s movement around the coil creates the electric field. Because the current direction changes, a bridge rectifier will transform the AC into DC. To keep things filtered and smoother, capacitors can be added.

I don’t seem to have the right stuff so this will have to be continued. On an unrelated noted, the idea was to have fuel to power the generator and the generator to charge batteries. On a small scale, this looks complex and expensive. RC jet engines could be the best route but at that rate, why not just have jet engines instead of brushless DC motors? Sounds fun to me, one thing at a time I guess.

## Drone Project – 8-3-24

General Update and outline of some of the questions I’m having and progress.

Currently able to get flying around with a camera but I’m getting annoyed by battery length and connection. The batteries I have seem to be dead as soon as I plug them in even though they should have a full charge so I basically fly for 3 minutes and come back. I bought 2 more 4S batteries so waiting on those to come in.

The connection is like 20 yards and then I start losing signal. This seems to be signal on camera so I have a lot to learn there. I also don’t know how to see my radio transmit control.

Loitering is cool though. I’ve never had a drone that basically chills out by itself so I had fun getting this one going.

Questions / Next Steps

• Video Transmission distance / signal (what are the channel differences?)
• VTX getting too hot – Is the current drain crazy high?
• Second Video underneath the drone?
• Movable cameras would be pretty awesone
• Telemetry Feedback: Satellite Connection – what does this do?
• Telemetry Feedback: Radio Transmission Strength
• Telemetry Feedback: Distance from Home
• Telemetry Feedback: Altimeter
• Telemetry Feedback: Flight Time
• Telemetry Feedback: Time Remaining / Battery
• Telemetry Feedback: Power draws
• Power is clearly an issue and always will be, how can we build a generator to run? Solar? Wind? All of the above?
• Develop a power sheet to monitor and optimize power draining
• General Craft Structure: The traditional X-Frame for a drone is silly. How can we make this revolutionary for the long term goal? Low on priority list but always something to consider.
• Future Supply: Really need to understand transmission and receivers better because first of all they are expensive and second of all the delay in time, shipping, communication is dumb. We have to be able to develop / source better.
• Future Supply: Motors – One of the key developments in a vertical takeoff and of course expensive so important to learn better ways to make these.
• Future Supply Comment: The more we can control ourselves in the U.S., the more likely we can supply Government projects.
• Future Business: Gimbal Video is a great way to get paid, marketing and video editing sucks. Can we make it simple for delivery across town? Can we make it big enough for crop spraying? – Very seasonal but decent money.

## UART Protocol

So the goal is to identify what I marked as “Find Out” and actually go and find out what it is so I looked up UART and learn a bit.

Apparently it is protocol which is a standardize method of communication between two systems. In this case, the flight controller and the camera. UART stands for Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter. The asynchronous means that the two systems that have to communicate don’t have to have the same clock timing.

The two wires are RX on one to go to the TX of another and vice versa. It seems like UART protocol is a bit of an older style of communication between machines but it’s cheap and easy so it can helpful.

I wonder what all information is being sent? I’m assuming it is mostly the battery voltage.

## Drone Project – 7-30-24

Working on the drone 2 days in a row, now we’re cooking!

Main Goal:

Fly it and attach a camera

Execution:

I have another small racing drone that has an FPV camera on so I took a look at it, removed it and was going to fit it to big boy drone here. I took it off and read the pins that it was attached to on the racing drone which was GND, 9V, RX & TX.

Looking at Pixhawk 6X there isn’t a pinout that says “Camera” or anything easy of course. Time to look at the manuals! The Pixhawk 6X had some notes for telemetry but I’m a novice and wasn’t sure what it was looking for. Taking a quick gander at the camera which I had no idea what it was so I Google the label, CADDXFPV, and find that it could be a Walksnail Avator? Link Here. So again, we have the four wire leads RX,TX,GND, VCC but it says UART, what does this stand for? FC and this rings a bell with the UART labeled on Pixhawk 6X which is some weird connection type.

I start to make my own wire and then I see it has a wire already…. heck this wire was already made to plug into what I need…. Oh hey! I already did this once before. Triple check pin-outs and yup, it should work. Off to the yard!

Takeoff:

Plug it all in and everything is working as is. Camera loads up (upside down so I gotta flip that around).

Flight was great. At first, it seemed with a slow responsiveness and then I realized that I was in a different flight mode. Stabilize, loiter, and Auto? Not sure, I’ll look into it more and understand what it’s supposed to do.

Other Findings

My batteries suck. I have 2 older 11.1V 3S batteries and they both drained very quick even though they were allegedly fully charged before. I have 1 newer 11.1V 3S Battery but that was working for the FPV headset. I do have another 4S 14.8V Battery but the charger is claiming that it is low voltage so now I hope that it’s not ruined… Gotta look into that too.

I did get the Googles to read battery voltage. Is this the data that the RX,TX is pulling from the camera on a UART Channel? Find out.

Next Steps

• Find some more batteries.
• Find the recommended camera for long range with telemetry
• Understand Flight Modes more
• Get I get the range strength of radio transmission? of Video signal?
• Can I get telemetry on altitude, flight speed, orientation, wind speed, what else?
• Generally should make wiring better and airframe structure better, later problem but fun to look into

## Drone Project – 7_29_24

So I have a ton of interest in drones, planes, rockets, and anything in the aerospace field. The problem is that I have bills and I have devoted my life to my current work in plastics manufacturing so I have not had a ton of time to dive into these projects but hopefully keeping records of the project will keep me accountable. It’s a side project at first that is intended to drive me into a passion directed business someday.

End goal of project:

Flying car to revolutionize transportation.

Current goal of V1:

Build a custom quadcopter with off the shelf, open source hardware. Fly it around the backyard. Understand access to the root telemetry and how the hardware functions.

Status:

Awhile back I spent some time on this project and did some preliminary research. I bought a Pixhawk 6x flight controller due to its deep complexity but open source. I was hoping to get it up and running quickly and just sort of build little mini-projects into the drone to keep inspiration going.

I am just know revisiting but from what I recall, I have the hardware all connected but I could not get it to fly. The rotors would spin but I had no lift or it was unstable?

The biggest question mark I have with it at the moment is the best software to use to upload and pull data from. I believe I have QGroundControl since I have a Mac. It’s not a very intuitive interface and it seems like the system is made best to make structure flight paths and let the drone fly the path. Not really my interest but even if it were, something is working correctly.

Bare with me as I feel like a complete novice but that’s the whole goal of documenting. Below is the hardware on this project:

Hardware:

Next Steps:

Re-familiarize myself with the system and actually get this thing flying

After Today:

I spent some time re-calibrating and looking over the firmware. I’ve learned that the Pixhawk 6x is the hardwarwe and I can upload firmware for Ardupilot or PX4. I went with Ardupilot from the content creator’s recommendation. Ardupilot 4.5.4 for quad-copters.

Learning

I did not have a telemetry radio which I learned is the best way to control the system through a computer and I believe it would replace the need for the FrSky X8R control so I ordered the SiK Telemetry Radio V3. It’s supposed to have 300m of range which is close to 300 yards. We will see.

Troubleshooting

I had weird safety arming issues where the throttle control parameter FS_THR_Value was not meeting the correct parameters. I moved that parameter down to 910 and it worked. A second safety hardware switch is for the GPS button to be held.

6:00PM Status

I did get motors turning but have not lifted yet since my radio control was dying and I did not have telemetry to control without radio.

Next Steps are to get it to fly in the air later today. I have to wait on telemetry for further programming so now I might look into how the data is coming over and what I can do to make a custom software around it.

One goal with a custom software is to have a 3D visualization and complete understanding of all the firmware parameters and capabilities. If I can add accuracy in movement and then long distance in movement, that would be ideal. I will have to explore on custom configurations so if I can add different propulsion methods, flaps, different sensors, cameras, etc.

I need to learn more about the communication protocols as well. I see AT Commands over certain frequencies but what does this all mean? How can we encrypt it? How can we add redundancies?

7:00PM Status

I did get it flying. Flys pretty nice around the yard. Looking forward to building in automations/etc.

## Hexi Hold – Ring Holder

Side hustles, investments, money pits, what’s the difference? A couple years back, my wife and I were racking our brains on some projects that we could do to bring in some more income. A rental property was out of the reach and any other “investment” was a slow moving and boring boat to invest in.

Considering my day job consists of designing and manufacturing injection molded products, we decided to start a small business, S&K Modern Designs, to develop little plastic products.

Our first major product is called the Hexi Hold which is a twist close and latch locking ring or small item holder.

My wife decided to make a small business out of it: https://skmoderndesigns.com/

This is a small product that I designed and we 3D printed to test and get proof of market. After some great results, I leveraged some of my work contacts to get the injection mold tool designed and made. It’s a bit tricky of a plastic component to make due to the internal undercuts but we went with this lifter core action.

It’s a general copolymer polypropylene with sub-gates to mold quickly and efficiently. A great little proof of concept project that we are hoping continues to go well and get some tractions of sales.

## 1950 Chevy Rebuild

Anyone who knew me in High School or has listened be blab on and on recently knows that I have a love for classic cars and my own 1950 Chevy Styleline. It was my first car and daily driver that I rebuilt in high school. Like many with classic cars, I’ve torn it apart a couple of times to make it better so here is the background and recent history of the project.

When I was 14/15 years old, I knew I wanted a car that no one else had. I did not want to be like anyone else so my father and I went searching for “barn finds”. I didn’t necessarily have a style in mind but a budget of only \$1,500 bucks. We eventually found this beautiful ’50 Chevy stuck about a foot deep into the mud behind an old body shop. We got in touch with the owner and learned that the car was a parts car for another ’50s era rebuild but it was in a relatively good shape and came from Arkansas!

We took the beaut home and naturally did the unsafest thing, plugged in directly into a 6V. (Yes, original 6V system). Quickly the wiring harness started to smoke :/ This car was all original including straight inline 6 cylinder 216 CI and driveline with a torque tube rear end.

My father and I got the car running with the 216 CI and switched everything to a 12V system. We had to re-wire the entire car but it was running! First trip around the neighborhood block, I’m driving this three on the tree stick shift (first time stick shift) and my dad says to go ahead and put some gas to it! Let’s see what this baby can do…… Immediately smoke starts billowing out of the engine and that engine was cooked. The 216 was notorious for terrible oil circulation and it’s not like this thing sat for decades without love.

This forces us to upgrade the driveline to a 235 CI and driveshaft/rear end (1960s technology, now we’re talking). I think we used the same transmission for a little while since it bolted on but and we moved the shifting to a floor shift since the gearbox on the original would just get stuck all the time. The floor shift wasn’t much better. I can recall driving to high school with my floor boards wide open and the linkage getting stuck so I’d stick my hand down and wiggle everything until we found gear. What a wild time.

A neighbor down the road had old 50s era cars and gave us an old rear end out of a Chevy Blazer to try. We needed a transmission so with some research we found that it was common to get an adapter plate and use a T5 Transmission. With the luck of Facebook Marketplace, we found someone selling an old S10 truck without a title for parts for \$150! We picked up the truck hoping that it had the right transmission and just our luck it did! We bought the truck, ripped it’s transmission and sold the parts for \$150! That’s what we call a deal.

The upgraded transmission, driveshaft, rear end, and motor was the perfect car to drive in high school. After graduation, I need a commuter vehicle for college so it became the perfect time do what everyone does, take it all a part and make it better again! The goal was upgrade suspension, wiring, electronics, engine (to a 350 CI), etc. We took it a part and started welding a Mustang II front end suspension and then college and life hits so the car sat in garages for years!

This brings us to where we are now. January of 2024 and my wife’s lease was going to be up in March. Naturally, I’m determined to make this my daily driver again.

It had been so long since I even touched the car, I had no idea what parts were what, where I was with the car and what my next steps would be. That Chevy 350 CI I was upgrading too had never even ran. I bought it from a random guy on Marketplace 7 or 8 years ago and never saw it run.

Below is outline of the progress and lots of pictures. I should definitely outline in detail the joy (or torture) but for the sake of time, I’ll have to come back and revisit.

## Hello World

My name is Kevin Bartchlett, if you couldn’t tell. This site and the related social media is just a way for me to share my cool projects.

It acts not only as a resume of creations but hopefully available education to others on some of things I’ve learned. The ideas and projects are going to jump around and just be the cool stuff that I had fun creating.