Why This Guy Needs a Helmet Full of Tech #WearableWednesday #wearabletech #wingsuit #skydive #Arduino #tech
I’ve seen some pretty amazing uses of wearable tech over the last few years, but this may be the most interesting DIY project I’ve come across. Meet John Swallow, professional airline pilot (Boeing 737NG) and lover of wingsuiting. He’s got 900 wingsuit flights under his belt and these days likes to compete in the Wide Open Wingsuit Series (WOWS). John discovered he has an aptitude for the distance round of the competition, which spawns the question how to do it better. You know where this is headed; first he crunched some numbers to determine what the body angle should be from the flight path for the best glide ratio, and then came the Arduino fun.
This helmet is packing a FlySight Audible GPS system, because visual displays are tricky in this sport and you need something reliable. There’s also an Arduino Nano, a temperature/pressure sensor, a GPS module and a micro SD board. Having a means to store data is important when dealing with a competition. The final sensors are actually hidden in one of the wingtips of the suit.
A hacked turkey baster holds an airspeed sensor as well as an accelerometer. John is hoping that all of the data from the sensors will help to guide his next flight. One of the issues is how to display the info to make it useable in real time.
The display has proven to be the most challenging aspect of this project. I tried a 16 x 2 LCD display and it is just too close to my eyes to read. I bought magnifying plastic sheets and glasses and could not make it work. The current set up will be two strips of 2812B LED strips, 15 LED pixels in length, that will be mounted vertically on the left and right sides of my visor. This will provide Flight Guidance. I have the capability via the LCD unit mounted on the back of the helmet and two push buttons to enter a target airspeed prior to leaving the aircraft. Once this is entered, the Arduino Nano controls individual LED.
Now armed with the measurement of the optimum body angle, John is getting ready to test what he fondly calls the WingNut setup. I’m wishing this pilot/maker a safe (and long) flight and you can be sure there will be a follow-up post! I’ll leave you with this teaser that shows off the helmet features.
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