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I have a little chopper (adult toy to be exact) that can be controlled by the controller within 30 metres. What I have in my mind whether I can send commands to this toy chopper though the Internet, a website (maybe fetches the HTML or php code) or whatever--the chopper will use the Internet just like we use the Internet on our cellphones. Briefly, Instead of pushing "turn right" button on the controller, I want to send that command through the Internet so that it will have a very large range, or unlimited, to be contolled.

I am an engineering student so I want to build something touchable right now:) The problem is that I dont know where to start. I would google it but I don't even know keywords to search for. So even little push would be great. Which devices should I use, which language should I know, exactly, what is next I should do now?

I hope I am not asking this question in wrong place.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say 'chopper', do you mean helicopter? Or is this a sex toy? \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet May 27 '12 at 8:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mentating: 30 metres range - it's a helicopter :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 27 '12 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you need to be able to get feedback from the toy? Will the toy always be in range of its controller, or are you looking to re-build the controller? \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet May 27 '12 at 8:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Noo:DDafdsvsxdfvsdfsd It is a helicopter about 50 cm. And, it flies, my friend,with a controller. The problem is with that controler there is a range. I want to increase it with the help of the Internet \$\endgroup\$ – user893970 May 27 '12 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon : There are also sex toys with a range of several meters. lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=15667 \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet May 27 '12 at 8:51
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Think about what you want to build. Are you firing commands into the blue (from the website) or do you use a camera for feedback? If you use a camera (or even GPS), think about the delays involved. A too large delay will render the remote control unusable. All in all it sounds quite complicated for a beginner project in electronics. Maybe you check out the Arduino ... it will make build something "touchable" (as you stated your intention) way easy. The Ethernet Shield will make hooking things up to the internet a piece of cake.

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If you want an internet connected helicopter, you'll need something like the Microchip MRF24WB0MA RF transceiver module.

Microchip MRF24WB0MA

However, integrating this with the helicopter's electronics will not be easy. The helicopter contains a circuit like this:

RF Receiver -> IC -> Motors
Gyro sensor ->

The IC would probably be a microcontroller or ASIC which contains the control algorithms for keeping the helicopter stable. You have two options to add your internet controller:

  1. Find a way to inject RF commands in to the microcontroller. This is probably the hardest method, as you will need to reverse-engineer the RF protocol used by the helicopter.
  2. Replace the microcontroller with your own. Yours would communicate with the WiFi device, and handle all of the helicopter's control algorithms.
  3. Add another microcontroller which communicates with the WiFi device, and modifies the gyro signals to cause the original microcontroller to move the helicopter. This will be tricky.

Sadly, none of these approaches are really easy. As others have suggested, you might just be better off trying to boost the output of the original controller, so that it has more range.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While at first sight this may all look complicated, radio protocols used by popular manufacturers of radio equipment tend to be well documented. Another thing which needs to be mentioned here is that bigger helicopters which don't use n-in-one units usually have standardized communication between each subsystem and it would be relatively easy to replace receiver with a home-made one and keep the rest of the circuitry unmodified. This forum is a good place to start looking. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo May 27 '12 at 10:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo - If this were a traditional servo controlled helicopter, then I would agree with you. However, I suspect this is one of the new fangled kind with gyro stabilisation. Assuming the OP wants to keep the gyro aspect, then he will have to implement some kind of active control in the MCU. \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet May 27 '12 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, from what I've seen, the usual setup is to have a separate the "receiver module" into which the servos, electronic speed controller and gyroscope are plugged in. The Rx module often consists of a separate receiver PCB that only receives the data from the Tx and sends it to micro for processing. The signals themselves aren't too complicated. My idea is to replace that board with our own and do whatever processing is needed before sending the data to the MCU. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo May 27 '12 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Another option would be to create our own receiver which would get the data which the original Rx creates and change them to suit our own needs and connect the ESC and servos to it. This way, it would be possible to have both control over original transmitter and to use one custom made. Of course the specifics would depend on the exact system used on the helicopter. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrejaKo May 27 '12 at 14:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo - Also, I'm guessing that this helicopter does not use a standard transmitter (futaba etc, which would be well documented). I don't know if toy helicopters have well documented protocols. \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet May 27 '12 at 15:32
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Ultimately the range is determined by the uplink (or uplinks) to the heli - IR, RF, ultrasonic whistle or whatever else. Are you trying to build something analogous to a cellular command system, using the highest quality link available from many ground stations, all communicating over the internet? Because otherwise, the uplink and its range are unaffected by whether the control commands are inserted directly in the ground-station, as in a typical RC transmitter, or arrived from half-way 'round the planet over the internet. The heli's radius of action will around the ground station will remain the same; only your (personal) range would be increased.

If you are going for a cellular network, you've got a very interesting, fun, and very non-trivial project ahead of you.

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