The GizmoCopter Project

GizmoCopterTM is a project of the Flight Control Team of the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS), a non-profit scientific and educational organization headquartered in Northern California's Silicon Valley. ERPS participants come from all over the Bay Area, and electronically from across North America and Hawaii.

News Flash, August 28 2001 - LinuxWorld Expo, San Francisco
ELJ announces contest winners. GizmoCopter wins the category of Best Learning Project to Help Others Understand Embedded Linux Development.

News Flash, August 2001
The GizmoCopter Project presents status and results for the ELJ contest judges. (The contest is over but GizmoCopter work continues.)

News Flash, July 2001
GizmoCopter pictures have been posted.

News Flash, March 2001
ERPS (Silicon Valley) and Armadillo Aerospace (Dallas) have formed The OpenVTVL Project to publish our source code.

News Flash, February 2001
ERPS's GizmoCopter Project has been selected as a finalist in Embedded Linux Journal's contest to build and demonstrate Embedded Linux systems.

What is GizmoCopter?

GizmoCopter The Problem
ERPS is developing reusable rocket technology, including designs that take off and land vertically under control of an on-board computer. We often use the technical term VTVL, for vertical takeoff, vertical landing. But to test experimental high-power rocket engines safely, we need specialized facilities and have to drive for two hours from the South Bay Area to a private rocket engine test site in the mountains just off of California's Central Valley. In order to test some of our electronics needed for flight, the ERPS Flight Control Team wanted a way to test more often than the long drives would allow.
The Solution
In order to test electronics like gyroscopes, accelerometers and the computer software needed to coordinate them in VTVL and hover flight, GizmoCopter is a design for a 4-rotor model helicopter to carry our electronics aloft for a couple minutes per flight.

The use of a model helicopter platform means we can test it in a park or field near where participants live, rather than driving for hours to a test site.

The intent of this project is to make extra flight test opportunities so that our software, in addition to simulator testing, will have been in real flight conditions even before ERPS's first VTVL rocket tests.

The GizmoCopter Project within ERPS was created in September 1999. The project uses off-the-shelf model aircraft parts and a specially-machined frame for its hardware. As a result of the Embedded Linux Journal contest, the software will be released as Open Source under the GNU General Public License.

See also the GizmoCopter Project Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ).

To volunteer to work on GizmoCopter, please join ERPS first. (Subscribe to the mail list and/or start attending ERPS meetings.) There is currently no membership fee to join but we want to know who our volunteers are.

GizmoCopter is a trademark of the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society, Inc., a California non-profit organization.