PyCon 2014: 26 Days out. She flies!

Today I steadily chipped away at the ongoing progress of the semi-autonomous blimp. As of this morning I had three remaining major tasks:

  • Testing of basic flight controls
  • Independently validate the autopilot algorithm
  • Implement the flight controls wit the autopilot algorithm

At the end of the day, I was able to fly the blimp manually using my embedded system. Naturally, I compiled the videos into a short slideshow and played them to Guile’s theme, which goes with everything:

At the start of the day I finalized implementing the controls for the tail rudder and the tail elevator. I recorded the basic yawing of the blimp below:

The manual control was less than ideal and not completely responsive, but this is expected. Since we’re encoding and interpreting commands over a fairly low throughput serial connection, the system is not optimized for manual control. Once finalized, however, the blimp should be extremely responsive to its sensor data since onboard processing will occur, and everything will be processed internally.

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More clips of the amazing first flight below:


By tomorrow, I’m hoping to have a working autopilot algorithm! More to come…