The EDMbiz hackathon was a truly rewarding and exciting experience. In less than 24 hours we had created a hardware project from pretty much scratch. We entered pretty late in the competition starting at 5pm on the day before demo day where we would present on stage in front of a large crowd. The presentation went really well and people loved our whimsical drone beer delivery platform called 'Electric Zeppelin Express'. How we got here is a pretty ridiculous story of hardware hacking into the wee hours of the night.
Our Journey started at Work in Progress our local co-working space in Downtown Las Vegas, where Darius, Eli, and I are all members. The organizers of the hackathon gave us a blank slate for ordering Postmates food to power our inevitable sleepless night. We ordered a good amount of Le Thai food and grabbed a few Abita Ambers from the corner store.
We created a huge to-do list on a white board and assigned each of us to various tasks. Our main actionable tasks were fix drone software bugs, make a projector & screen rig, devise a way to wirelessly transmit video to the projector, & create a payload and dispense mechanism for beer delivery. We also needed to do some weight testing to see how much we could get a drone to carry. That led us to our first of several hilarious catastrophic failures. Here is what happened when we bolted 2 pbrs onto a drone.....
So we cut the video short on that and what you don't see is us crashing the drone and breaking a bunch of props thereby ending our test flights for that night. Too bad we couldn't get postmates to deliver us some more props....
We continued to make progress and had most of a screen rig & projector housing constructed from parts we harvested from a novelty lamp. Don't worry Work in Progress we didn't use one of your lamps.
Our screen material is a specialty pvc that captures an image well from a projector. If the rig looks janky its because it is (we had less than 24hrs to make a hardware startup). If we had more time we would have 3d printed the parts we needed. Instead it was hot glue zip ties and cardboard for the win!
Once we got the screen rig running properly we ran some tests with our wireless video delivery system. This system is pretty genius and the applications are going to be really interesting. Our plan was to simply create an avatar that would take a customer's order and walk them through the process of what to do. Our solution was a face rig puppet that someone could control wirelessly from a computer:
With that system running well we finally added our last contraption to the setup. The beer delivery! We originally wanted to use a servo and a specialty contraption that could be controlled through the main drone controller. We obviously were pressed for time and opted for some simple weighted rubber band tricks.
So thats it! We created a pretty crazy beer delivery drone for festivals in less than 24hrs. Some of the elements of this project are pretty exciting. Just think of what you can do with flying talking heads! Overall the project was well received and we plan on revising some of the elements and improving on the design.