Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

Palm Size R/C Helicopter

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

For $29.00 you too can own a tiny R/C helicopter from Think Geek.

I have a $200.00 helicopter and this is almost as fun, maybe not as maneuverable, but very fun. Think Geek also has a two pack where you can save 9.99 and get one of each channel.

We’ve crashed it a whole bunch of times and Dan has only broken the rear prop once (it includes a spare). It doesn’t take long to learn how to fly because it is constantly moving forward at a slow pace. Fewer controls makes it a lot easier to master. Just remember it has to be under zero wind conditions, even the HVAC pushes it around like a bug.

Side Project [Updated]

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

Christmas came and went, and with it a strange toy. I received a Nabaztag (WiFi Rabbit) from my girlfriend. She knew I was a sucker for things that light up, and in this case resemble a bunny. As excited as I was to see it work, I had to wait till Monday to be able to buy an adapter for the French plug.
Once plugged in and registered, I quickly realized that without paying for a subscription my Bunny would be seriously crippled. Not that they don’t offer some basic services, but most of them didn’t apply to me. Of the 10 offered, two applied specifically to Paris, one to people that have multiple Nabaztags, and so on. The weather and clock service seemed like it could be of some use, but the weather report is only broadcast two times a day, and tends not to match other weather services. The clock only presents a chime on the hour, and can come up to 10 minutes late.

Needless to say this gift was going back. I wasn’t going to pay for a subscription just so people could send messages to it without being charged, and I wasn’t going to settle for it’s limited functionality. However, the 15 day return period had since passed and this bunny wasn’t going anywhere.

Thankfully an API is available… in French. I don’t know any French. Actually most of the documentation only exists in French, and every so often the website drops from English to French. With the help of translation services, and my girlfriend (who speaks French), I’ve been able to assemble bits and pieces of the API.

This is the result. I’ve begun to develop a site, in English, that will let people control these things using the published API. As I learn more, I plan to expand the site to add new functionality. It’s rather basic but it sure beats paying 3.9 to 5.9 euros a month.

If you have any information about Nabaztag, or have no clue how it works, feel free to comment on this post and I’ll try to respond where necessary.

Update: The links have been corrected. Thanks Jomy.

Chopper Dave

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

So as Scott said, I did indeed buy a helicopter a couple weeks back: the Blade CP. This little beast is amazing, especially considering the price. It has a 6 channel transmitter/reciever, a full collective control system, and everything else you could want. It gets rave reviews everywhere, and people all over the place are hailing it as one of the best micro helis out there.

Only problem is, I don’t know how to fly a heli.

I bought it figuring ‘how hard can it really be?’ Turns out, pretty hard. Granted much of the difficulty stems directly from the fact that I’m trying to learn in the office, which means I can only slide laterally around for a distance of 3 feet to 10 feet, depending on the direction, before I have to shut down the engine out of fear of a crash. If I could keep it in the air a little longer, I just know I’d be amazing at this thing.

Don’t assume, however, I am always able to do that – shut it down before a crash. On the very night I bought this magical little toy, I flew it under a van. A parked van.

Thankfully, it’s remarkably resilient. So far, I’ve been forced to purchase only two crash kits. These contain new main and tail rotors, landing gear, and stabilizer bars. at a cost of $20, it’s not too bad. I can honestly say, it’s probably the cheapest way to fly a full CCPM heli.

What prompts me to write this out tonight, however, is my most recent upgrade purchase. I read online that upgrading to the acrobatic kit does many wonderful things to the experience of flying this heli, including enabling inverted (UPSIDE DOWN!) flight, but more significantly to me, increasing the head speed making a hover remarkably smooth and steady. So I went shopping. I bought the upgrade kit, a lithium polymer battery, and a lithium polymer charger. Of course, I haven’t been able to fly it yet, for a reason I will cover shortly; now let me tell you about our hobby store.

The hobby store on 30th between 7th and 8th is a virtual wonderland of fun and games, with myriad flying, driving and floating vehicles. It has fair prices, a wide selection of parts and models, and is close by – meaning I can get my blow that money and leave with happiness in hand, rather than waiting a week for delivery of my joy. However – and this is a big however – The man who operates this store… well, he’s something else.

The first time we met this man, he informed us of his son’s multiple high level connections throughout the world, oh, maybe a dozen times. His son, by the way, apparently owns three dozen stores, two factories in china, and has at least a bakers dozen black market sexual slaves. He’s also, I believe, a member of royalty in no less than 4 middle eastern and asian countries. Needless to say, this man was a little overzealous in trying to get our respect, or something. I haven’t a clue.

The second time I met this man, he told me how there’s this great guy in the FDNY, who happens to be black, who can fly a helicopter amazingly well. He even flew the blade cp through the corridors of the store! Of course, he doesn’t recommend we do anything like that. Oh, and by the way, his son hates great planes, and tamiya.

In any case, I went in to get the parts, and the guy gave me a lipo, and a charger. I, stupid little boy that I am, figured he must know what he’s doing, so I just took them. Bad move! Of course, the charger requires a 12 volt power supply (can’t plug it in the wall) and the lipo won’t connect to the receiver because the plugs are totally different (the lipo has a deans connector, and the receiver has a JST adapter.) The store is of course closed, so I sit here, gently weeping, cradling my handicapped chopper in my arms.

Tomorrow though, oh ho, tomorrow.

Evolution of the Hobby

Monday, November 21st, 2005

I wasn’t feeling well on Thursday afternoon. As a programmer this is disastrous. It’s impossible to write code when you’re not alert. You don’t have to be sober, but you need to have at least some cognitive function. Knowing that I was virtually useless for next few hours, possibly the rest of the day, I might as well waste it on something interesting.

Jon, who had to already know what was going to transpire, lead me to a hobby store that he encountered while walking to work one day. Once we got there I began questioning the owner as to what was the best device for indoor flight, leaving the part out about wanting to hit Aniel with it. After telling the owner what planes we’ve purchased in the past, and that they came from HobbyTron. He informs us that they are currently under suit by his son’s company for failing to pay for a large number of goods that they ordered. Supposedly they have been doing this with a lot of other suppliers and then settling to prevent their credit from being negatively impacted.

I’m not entirely sure if I believe the owner, but I don’t see why he would lie. I understand that HobbyTron has to be a direct competitor and is most likely gutting their business. However from the level of detail the owner provided, his remarks seem to be a little more then a careless jab. In the end HobbyTron has never really sold us anything that has flown. Aniel’s helicopter never made it very far without flipping over and blowing apart the blades. My plane, well that probably had as much to do with cheep design as it did with Jon being behind the controls. Aniel’s new plane was clearly not designed to be flown indoors or any semblance of a confined space. Believe me, we tried.

After listening to the owner talk about the crazy world of hobby, and being discouraged from purchasing an airplane because of it’s poor maneuverability, we were pointed to a helicopter that was supposedly suitable for my purpose. I say supposedly because I bought it only a few minutes later and hauled it back to the office. It cost about $250.00, moving us from the kindergarden class right into the intramural league.

So we got it back to the office, plugged in the charger, watched the included video and waited impatiently for it finish charging. Once it was charged I prepped the device for flight as indicated in the video and unintelligible manual. I put the remote on, plugged the battery in and pushed up on the throttle. The damn thing wouldn’t fly! It would even spin up. We franticly tried everything we could think of to get it going. Among this rush Jon was fussing with the remote as I’m idly sitting next to the craft waiting for a sign of life. He flips the remote off and it takes off, right for my crotch. Why it moved in that particular direction, I’ll never know, but what I did know was that it was out for my junk and in a hurry. Thanks to marvel of wheeled chairs I was able to roll far enough away for the helicopter to only hit my legs. Jon, out of nowhere, grabs it like a hawk carrying off a small pet in it’s talons. This was not a delicate grip.

Anyway, here I sit, days later with no helicopter. When we returned it I omitted the part about Jon trying to squeeze the juice out of it. Supposedly I’ll get it back tomorrow and they won’t have noticed the unusual wear. Aniel bought a different one on Friday, I’m sure he’ll post about that soon.

The roof, the roof, the roof is….

Monday, November 14th, 2005

We shouldn’t be allowed to have toys, at least ones that fly. Buying them has become almost a daily occurrence. So Aniel’s idea is to get ones that are confined to the ground. Though Dan remarked that it wouldn’t be long before we would be building ramps and trying to jump them over to neighboring buildings, or playing chicken on the ledge. Either way it’s going to lead to a 10 pound hunk of metal, plastic, and other stuff flying down 13 stories.

If anyone has a safer suggestion for things to occupy our downtime, please let us know by commenting on this post. We’d like to build something cool in order to gain fame and glory on Slashdot or Wired.

To The Roof

Saturday, October 15th, 2005

There is always something to be learned, especially about a $27.00 R/C airplane. One of the first things to note is that even though they claim you can fly it indoors, they most certainly mean in a gym or some other impossibly large enclosed space. The hope of a whisper quiet motor was replaced by the realization that it sounded more like a Dremel with styrofoam wings. So much for the element of surprise.

When I first saw it mentioned on SlickDeals I immediately envisioned the plane taking off from my desk, making a sharp u-turn and slamming into Aniel’s head. How wrong I was. I couldn’t even get the plane to fly straight down the hall without it flying into things at a seemingly high speed. Being constructed mostly out of styrofoam and other easily destroyed materials, we decided our only hope to fly this was, well, on the roof.

It was raining outside. We tried anyway. Electronics paired with water is always a tempting combination, and fortunately did not damage the plane permanently. Having little success and mounting fears of lasting damage we decided to wait for a better time to try to fly. A better time, equated to no rain, sometime later on that evening, after sundown.

Back on the roof the plane flew a little better, still just in a strait line. So we took turns trying to tame the beast, getting it to turn and not slam into obstacles that the roof presented us. Jon, who has an [expired] pilots license, decided to give it a try…

We looked everywhere for the plane. There was little else for it to have gone other then the street, after Jon briefly touched it down on the edge of the roof. I figured it might have survived the 12 story fall, or that maybe I’d get to see it reduced to a thin slime by a passing truck. Either option seemed like it would provide some form of satisfaction, had we found it.

I still have the remote as a reminder, either to buy better toys, or prohibit Jon from flying them. In the end the plane didn’t fair much better then Aniel’s ill fated helicopter.