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Project Help and Ideas » My first project! Controlling an RC helicopter from a PC.

March 02, 2010
by Zor
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I'm a software engineer by trade but I love to tinker with electronics. When I read about the nerdkit on the HackerNews blog I thought it would be a great way to relearn the basics. Most of the EE and ECE courses I took in college are distant memories but once i started tinkering with the nerdkit it all started coming back to me. I just wanted to mention how much I enjoy it and that I'm telling everyone about it!

OK, on to my first project.


I have an RC helicopter I picked up in 2007 during a woot off (<$10). After trying to fly it for a couple days and failing, i tossed it in a box. I decided to tear it apart for my first nerdkit project.

It turns out, the speed is controlled by 4 wires which are connected to the ground in different patterns to represent the different speeds. The directional joystick works in the same way. Using some transistors i was able to connect and disconnect the wires to ground to simulate the joystick positions. I wrote a simple program for the microcontroller that listens for specific commands and sets the various transistors to control the helicopter. I then wrote a C# program to send the commands to the microcontroller.

It worked great! I'm not actually any better at flying it with the keyboard (yet) but I've written a couple scripts for smooth takeoffs :)

I picked up some extra 2N7000 transistors and a slightly larger breadboard (not required) at a local electronics store, but everything else was included in the nerdkit.

Simple Demo

Once i get the Trim controls wired up and can actually give a good demo of flight, I'll upload another video :)

March 03, 2010
by Rick_S
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Cool, now all you need to do is make some pre-programmed flight paths to make it look autonomous! :D

Neat project.


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