Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen Part 1: Do31 VTOL

In the beginning of september I went on a little vacation which also took me to Friedrichshafen on the Lake Constance. Friedrichshafen has gathered quite some fame for being the birth place to the legendary Zeppelin lighter-then-air airship. But Friedrichshafen was also the birth place of the company Dornier. It was founded by Clause Dornier who started out as an engineer working for Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin. His ingenuity soon led to his promotion to leading his own department ("Department Do") within the Zeppelin company where he was responsible for developing heavier-then-air airplanes. During those times he was responsible for the creation of many of the flying boats many people associate with the name Dornier (such as the 12 engine plane Do X). However, the companys spirit of innovation went beyond flying boats. One of said innovative creations is the Dornier Do 31, the only transport jet airplane amongst all aircrafts with VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capabilities. And one of those beauties (only three were built in total) is located in front of the Dornier Museum in Friedrichshafen.

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The Do31 needs a crew of 2 persons and has a transport capacity of up to 36 soldiers. The length of the plane is 20.53 m with a wingspan of 18 m. The plane has a loaded weight of 22453 kg and carry a payload of up to 3600 kg.

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The cruise speed of the Do31 is 650 km/h but it can go as fast as 730 km/h. With maximum payload onboard the plane has a range of 1800 km and can climb to up to 10700 m.

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Bristol-Siddely developed the Pegasus 5-2 as main engine for the Do31 which is basically a vectored-thrust turbofan engine where the resulting stream can be directed downwards via four rotable outlet nozzles. Interesting side note: Those engines were lated used for the Harrier VTOL figher jet.

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However, those engines were not enough to lift the heavy plane. They were supported by a total of eight Rolls-Royce RB162 lifting engines with four of them being mounted in a casked at the end of the wing on each side.

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When the Do31 wanted to perform a vertical take off (or landing) manoveur the rotatable outlet nozzles were rotated in dowards position and the lifting engines in both wing-end caskets were started (also the air inlet and stream outlet had to be opened - on all pictures those hatches are closed).

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A sophisticated flight controller was developed to support the pilots in the hovering flight mode and while transitioning from hovering to normal flight.

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The maiden flight took place on February 10th, 1967. Back then there were no powerful digital processors or computers available like we have now to our disposal. In order to be able to deal with the complex mathematical problems related to an VTOL aircraft design Dornier developed the hybrid computer Do-960 which consists of digital and analog circuitry.

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Unfortunately the project was cancelled in 1970 for various reasons. One of those factors was that the lifting caskets produced a huge drag and added quite some weight to the airplane. This in turn led to a reduced payload and range in comparison to an conventional aircraft.

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Last but not least: Some videos to feast your eyes upon 🙂

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LXRobotics at the Robotour Deggendorf 2016

Hi everyone! I realise that I haven't published a blog post in a long time - This is mostly due to the fact, that many developments are not ready for prime time yet and not because there is nothing going on 🙂 Despite the lack of LXRobotics related news I can tell you a bit about a annual robotic competition called Robotour which took place in Deggendorf / Germany on September 17/18 2016.

The purpose of the competition is to develop autnomous robots which can find their own way to a given set of GPS coordinates. The event takes place outdoors and therefore the robots need to be 100 % weatherwaterproof. The event is organized by the team behind http://robotika.cz/en and further information about the rules can be found on their website. Some of the competing robots are presented below. If anyone has more detailed information on the robots or the competition please do not hesitate to send me an email.

Team Cogito

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Team KaMaRo Engineering (Karlsruhe / 2nd place):

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Team Istrobot (1st place)

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AmBot

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Team JECC / Fesl JECC has participated with two robots at the event. The robot Fesl (pictured below) won the respectable 3rd place in the competition. It is equipped with GPS, stereo cameras, laser scanner, inertial measurement unit and uses neural networks to detect traversable paths as well as obstacles.

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Picture of the Fesl's main screen while setting the robot up for the competition.

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Picture of the Fesl's main screen in active driving mode.

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The next picture shows the setup of all robots before the start. It was raining heavily 🙂 All robots were placed in a line where the slowest robots were located in the front and the faster robots were located in the back. 10 minutes before the start target GPS coordinates + a specific start time are given out by the organizers to the competing teams. Those coordinates have to be entered into the robot control system. When the start time is reached all robots should automatically start to navigate towards their goal. Note: The little robot on the left bottom corner of the picture also belongs to Team JECC.

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The start! I expected screeching tires and fast driving robots but in reality it was rather slow. Some robots even drove in the wrong direction 🙂 - Before laughing too loud one shoud consider the complexity of the task, the heavy rain and the fact, that all robots were built by hobbyist's. Since I have built a number of robots myself I know how much work one has to put into such a project.

Let's get back to the competition: After some hesitation the robot of Team Kamaro took over all the other robots on the left and drove far ahead of the pack. The complete competition consisted of four runs and the distance driven towards the target GPS coordinates while each of those runs was accumulated. The winner was selected based on the total distance travelled. Touching another robot immediately disqualifies the robot from the current run.

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Last but not least: A short video showing a bit of the third round of the Robotour 2016 in Deggendorf:

If you are hungry for more videos please feel free to check out this playlist.

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Featherweight Schnauzer Part 17

As I already have hinted in the last blog article there have been some major improvements for Schnauzer but due to time issues no blog article has been published (yet). The complete electronics are now inside of Schnauzer consisting of the receiver (in the orange case on the left middle side of the robot), the two Botbitz 85 electronic speed controllers (mounted vertically  in the front of the robot between the two wheels), the gold plated current distributor blocks (located left and right of the ESC's), the 80 A fuse (on the bottom end of the robot) and the connectors for the Removable Link as well as the power LED (on the right side of the robot between front and back wheel).

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However, there was still one mission critical piece missing: The complete armour. So far I had only manufactured two Hardox plates for the side armour of Schnauzer. Two weekends ago I gave myself a start and cutted out the final pieces (back- and front armour) from the original Hardox plate. Since I have no welding skills I asked my friend Michael if he could help me with the welding process. Thankfully he agreed and so we spent last Friday in his garage for a welding session which lasted 9 hours. The next picture shows the Hardox frame while we were in the process of welding together the front plate with the side plates.

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In between we always put the the base plate with the electronics inside the frame to see if the welding led the frame to go out of shape. As a result we could react early on and take active countermeasures before the frame became unusable.

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Here you can see Schnauzer with the finished frame:

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You might notice that the front plate design was altered once more. Instead of two spikes Schnauzer is now sporting three spikes and the front armour plate is fully made of Hardox. Only the pickup-part of Schnauzers front scoop consists of the old scoop from Schnauzer and therefore is only made of "normal" steel.

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I really do like this last shot of Schnauzer since you can see all three spikes neatly aligned within the picture. The intended purpose of those spikes is to keep the other robot firmly on its scoop and prevent it from driving on the top of Schauzer.

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Stay tuned for further updates 🙂 In the mean time, if you are craving for more combat robot news take a look at Battlebotsupdate - you can find real good content about the ongoing Battlebots season there - presented in a snarky tone which makes it a terrific read 🙂

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LXRobotics at the Maker Faire Bodensee 2016

Last weekend from June 25th to 26th, 2016 the first Maker Faire in Bodensee took place. Since I have never been to this particular area of Germany I immediately decided to go and exhibit the products of LXRobotics and the robots I've built. The basic booth preparation with the arrangement of the tables and covering them with linen was done on the evening of June 24th. In the early morning we finished the preparation of our booth and at 10:00 we were ready to receive our visitors (right on time 🙂 ).

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On the right side of the booth we placed our roll up display. Our products were showcased from the middle (where the CNC mill was located) to the right side of the table.

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The robots Spectre, Steroid, Schnauzer, Sergant Pain, Evolution, Argos and the Nyan Lunchbox were displayed on the left side of the table and attracted a lot of attention during the exhibition.

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The booth of Modding-Masters community was located in about the center of the hall. Their hobby is to modify existing pc cases and redesign following a self chosen motiv. Like the PC-in-a-spaceship in the next picture 🙂

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Liquid cooling systems could be found in nearly (or every) single modded system:

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A robot-styled modded case:

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Another space-ship:

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Alien vs. Predator(?):

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The turbines look quite similiar to the infamous SR-71 Blackbird.

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Every single modded case is a piece of art:

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Steampunk is common topic in nerd culture. The Chocolatist was exhibiting some of his (admittedly) very cool creations at the Maker Faire, such as the Underwood Pentium PC ...

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... or the steampunk'ed (is this even a word? 🙂 ) version of R2-D2:

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Students from local schools exhibited some of their projects such as this autonomous solar powered catamaran which is consisting of 3D printed parts ...

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... and this Hexacopter which is equipped with thermal imaging equipment.

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Found this little walker at the booth of Reichelt:

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At the same time with the Maker Faire a flea market took place in the two other halls. Since the Maker Faire was happening in the same time with the HAM Radio exhibition the content of the flea market was very amateur radio centered. They had tubes ...

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... and all sorts of capacitors ...

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... and all sorts of measurement instrumtents.

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A super computer based on Raspberry Pi was shown at the booth of qube solutions:

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The german army had also set up some radio equipment in the outdoor area - together with an carrer office.

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Last but not least: If you survived the picture spam so far it is time to collect your reward: Schnauzer has been wired up with electronics and is able to be driven around via remote control.

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A more detailed blogpost on the progress of Schnauzer should come soon. Stay tuned 🙂

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