Track position of flying object with Arduino + [sensor of some kind]?

Hi!,

I need to keep track of the position of a blimp flying inside a closed environment, mounted on which there is an Arduino and some other sensors, but can't figure out a solution (I am fairly inexperienced with eletronics).

I have tried to use an accelerometer for this, since, according to some sites (like this one and this one), it is possible, even though highly innacurate. I'm using an ADXL320 for the task, but the readings I get from it won't change when i move the it (it does change when I change the IC's inclination relative to the earth's surface, as expected). I think this is because the acceleration on a moving blimp is way too small.

What are my options for keeping track of position of a flying object?

I've also considered a GPS shield, but I don't think that would work since the blimp will be flying in a closed environment. Also, the blimp is small, so there are severe weight restrictions on the components.

Note: I know this is not necessarily related to Arduino, but if there is an "Arduino solution" of some sort, that'd be great.

Thank you!

I've also considered a GPS shield, but I don't think that would work since the blimp will be flying in a closed environment.

You can test if GPS would work with any GPS enabled tool Navigation or smartphone before buying such a shield.

That's true, and I will (test it, I mean), but I was wondering what are my options here. I've seen photos of this shield, and it doesn't look very light-weighted, so I'd prefer to go with something else if I could.

As the environment is closed that could mean that you can track the position of the blimp from ground stations. Let the Arduino beep for short period and have microphones in every corner. With some triangulation math you can detect the position quite accurate.

Ok, I'm kind of a newbie, so I don't know if the considerations below make sense, but:

1) The environment is closed, but not empty (lots of obstacles, tables, chairs, people, etc). Wouldn't this be a problem? 2) I'm not sure I understand your setup. The blimp beeps, the microphones captures the sound and .. then what? How do I get signals back to the Arduino to do the math?

Thanks!

What are my options for keeping track of position of a flying object?

I suggest you use a modulated IR LED as a beacon on the blimp that is tracked from various places in the closed space. Probably plenty of previous tracking post if you search this and the old forum.

Ok, I will take a deeper look on the forum, thanks!

But I'm not sure your solution is what I'm looking for.. I would like the blimp to track itself, I mean, it should know its own position (at all times).

I would like the blimp to track itself, I mean, it should know its own position (at all times).

You could put IR beacons around the space and then have the blimp look for them and note their positions. I hope your blimp will be able to lift all the equipment. You may also want to search the forums for blimp as there have been other blimp projects in the past.

I would like the blimp to track itself, I mean, it should know its own position (at all times).

In what way should it know it’s position?

  1. declination and longitude values? GPS is only way
  2. Compass heading? electronic compass module maybe
  3. distance from blimp to ceiling, to floor, to four walls? Six ultrasonic range sensors

Give us a hint of what you are attempting for the blimp to be able to perform,if there was a way
to provide the proper information information.

Lefty

@dsetton This is a difficult project, the advice you have been given here while quite sound will involve you in much more research and development than I think you are expecting. If you look at past posts you will find them littered by similar requests for projects with very little successful results posted in the exhibition section. The ability of an autonomous robot to know it's own position is a very tricky thing to do and there is no easy off the shelf answer to this.

Without some kind of external reference, such as the suggested external IR tracking, or a gps satalite, any position information you can generate from inertial guidance or the like is going to drift over time as error accumulates.

Since weight is a factor, something like the IR beacons is good because it removes some of the components from the blimp itself so they can be heavier as they don’t need to, and should not, move. You can have another arduino that is attached to the sensors around the room doing the position calculations and if necessary communicated back to the blimp wirelessly. As this is all happening indoors, this communication could also be done through IR.

If you do that you will want to time things such that the beacon and the communications back don’t interfere with each other.

You could have the blimp illuminate its beacon for a set interval, then turn it off to provide a window for the base unit to send back the position it calculates.

GPS may not be accurate enough for your application, only accurate up to 3-5 meters with a good system, I’m guessing that is larger than your indoor blimp so small scale navigation becomes a problem (Why does my blimp think it is in the center of that column?).