NJL Heavy Industries

Controlling A Helicopter of Your Very Own


After my talk at the Boston Python Meetup, a lot of folks wanted to try things out for themselves. I decided to put together a bunch of handy links to code and supplies, so you can give this project a try yourself. I have my Amazon affiliate code on these, so help support my helicopter-buying habit.

Infrared LEDsI bought mine at Radio Shack, but these look like a fine replacement.
BreadboardTo plug things into. This one comes with handy wires!
ResistorsA whole box with lots of mixed resistors!
Arduino UNO R3Embedded development for less than $30.
Syma S107GThe cheap, fun helicopter you came here for.

I've also made some code available on github to ease the process of playing with Syma S107G's from Python. I've purposely kept this code pretty low-feature; the whole point is to experiment with it and play around with it a bit yourself. I need to give massive props to Aqualung on this message board. My Arduino code is shamelessly cribbed from his code.

As to setting up the hardware, you want to attach pin 8 on your Arduino to the anode (the round side with the longer lead) of your LED. You then want to send the cathode (the flat side with the shorter lead) through a resistor, then the resistor to the 5V output on the Arduino. What resistor should you use? Look at the datasheet for your LED and find the forward voltage and forward current, and plug them into an LED calculator.

I cobbled together a rough schematic for what this looks like, but it's clearly a really rough schematic. I'm learning, but I'm a software person.

If you have success, or failure, or want some encouragement, or whatever, I'd love to hear about it!