Dec 29, 2015 | By Alec

It’s been a silent revolution, but the rise of affordable GoPro cameras and drone technology has really changed the way we can see the world around us – and above us. From fantastic cityscapes to impenetrable wilderness – it all looks very different when filmed with a drone or a GoPro. But there’s still much we haven’t seen, as the guys from Eclectical Engineering remind us. To coincide with the launch of their website, they have shared some really remarkable footage: taken from a GoPro embedded in a 3D printed cannonball, shot from an air-powered cannon. The result is we imagine piloting a crashing helicopter would look like.

Eclectical Engineering is a new blog by engineers Ryan and David, who were seeking a platform to showcase their fun DIY builds. And with their pneumatic cannon/3D printed GoPro cannonball setup they have immediately set the bar quite high. Extensively tested in a park in San Francisco, the results are quite impressive and essentially revolve around a GoPro Hero4 Session being shot up into the sky. The footage can be seen below, but caution is advised if you suffer from motion sickness.

But equally interesting is their tutorial to build on of these cool setups at home. As they explain, the project got underway as it was simply the coolest thing they could think of to celebrate the launch of their website. However, they were thoroughly aware of the (financial) dangers involved in shooting a $200 camera into the air, so they took care to build a very sound setup.

Of course, the main issue that needed to be tackled was the cannon itself. “The main attraction is an unruly amalgamation of PVC pipe fittings and Amazon Prime-able hardware. Not only is it sexy and cheap to make, but it boasts an extremely versatile selection of possible projectiles: tennis balls, potatoes, rocks, expensive cameras, or anything you can shove down its 2.5" barrel. It's a modern-day blunderbuss!” they say. It should be fairly easy to recreate with the help of their tips. Built on a $150 budget and featuring a bunch of PVC pipes, a sprinkler valve, an air blowgun and a 3D printed trigger guard (files provided on their website), it is a fun tool that can be used to fire just about anything into the air.

Instead, the real challenge was in designing the GoPro cannonball. “Tossing the GoPro into our 2.5" barrel simply wasn't going to fly. This is because the pneumatic cannon launches projectiles by forcing them out of the barrel with a high-pressure column of air. If the object in the barrel doesn't make a tight seal with the walls of the barrel then the air will rush past it and the object won't go anywhere! It'll just sit right in the barrel along with all your crushed hopes and dreams,” they explain.

The duo therefore set out to design a container that added flight stability and some level of protection for the precious cargo within. “An object traveling through the air at high speeds is subject to an enormous number of internal and external forces,” they say. This was mitigated by cramming as much weight as possible near the nose of the projectile. “Fortunately for us, we already planned on sticking the GoPro at the very front so it can glimpse all the action.” Further stability was achieved with a number of fins.

Ultimately, they settled for a 3D printed container that absorbed as much of the impact as possible – in case they fail to catch the projectile – complete with springloaded fins. “The fins need to be flush against the projectile body while in the cannon barrel to provide that pressure seal we mentioned before. But once the projectile leaves the barrel, they're free to deploy and work their stabilizing magic. And by stabilizing magic we mean pushing the center of pressure further rearward on the projectile body,” they say. As you can see in the clip above, this did wonders for their flight stability while also keeping the camera safe. The result is some fantastic footage and a reminder of what can be achieved when combining some clever 3D printing with engineering. It’s clear that we’ll have to keep an eye on Eclectical Engineering for more fun projects.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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