NASA Ingenuity Helicopter - Aka Building My Remote Controlled Version of the Mars Helicopter




Introduction: NASA Ingenuity Helicopter - Aka Building My Remote Controlled Version of the Mars Helicopter

About: I studied Electrical Engineering and a lot of other things. I'm always driven by my passions. Please visit also my Youtube channel.

Hi guys and welcome to "ible" #50.
As you probably know, the rover Perseverance launched on the 30th of July 2020 has successfully reached Mars on 18th of February.

Perseverance rover is carrying a drone that will performed the first unmanned flight on another planet. This Mars helicopter has been named Ingenuity and it's a coaxial helicopter (for maximum lift efficiency).

"There are significant obstacles to overcome in building a vehicle that can fly on Mars. Perhaps the largest of these is the planet’s extremely thin atmosphere — just one percent the density of Earth’s — which means there is precious little air against which to generate lift. In Earth terms, it would be like trying to fly at 100,000 feet (30,480 meters). In selecting a design for the first powered flight on another planet, it’s perhaps not surprising that a helicopter wasn’t the first type of aircraft considered by NASA’s engineers. As the team explored the concept more deeply, they found it was, in fact, a very feasible idea. They considered various designs, including a quadcopter, multirotor, and a more traditional helicopter with a single main rotor and a tail rotor. However, the final design sees the aircraft (known as Ingenuity) using counter-rotating main rotor blades on a single shaft; one two-bladed rotor on top of another two-bladed rotor; one spinning clockwise, one spinning counter-clockwise."

Read the full article here...


Air Hogs Fly Crane (bought used on Ebay)

3mm LED (white)

JST-DS LOSI 2.0mm 2-Pin Connector (Male & Female

A4 2mm Foam Board

Kitchen foil

Uhu Por (foam friendly)

4 Long paper clips

8 Small zipties

Cutter (Exacto knife)



Soldering on iron

Step 1: Disassembling the Air Hogs Fly Crane

I've decided to build my own version of it, modifying an Air Hogs Fly Crane
(I bought on Ebay for 5 quid).

There are a few similar projects on YouTube, but most of them involve the use of a 3D printer.

It's true that nowadays you can print any part you want, using 3D printing services, but I thought to keep this project as simple as possible.

First thing first, I've removed the motors, the controller and the battery from the fuselage, putting it on my electronic scale. The weight is 8.6 grams.

Step 2: Detaching the Motor of the Crane

After, I've removed the motor for the crane that it's not necessary for this Mars helicopter,

checking its own weight (4.2g).

Basically, I have 12.8g to play with, to make the fuselage and the landing legs for Ingenuity

Step 3: Building the Box to Enclose the Motors, the Controller and the Battery

Using a 2mm foam board I've made a box, being sure to trap firmly the support
for the motors and the controller, keeping them flat and squared as possible.

I've also made sure that the infrared sensor was placed out of the box.

Step 4: Adding a 3mm LED

Once I cut the wires of the crane, I've soldered a white 3mm LED that I can activate remotely.

Step 5: Landing Legs

For the landing legs I've used 4 long paper clips, shaping them using 2 pliers.
I've secured them to the box, using 8 small zipties.

Step 6: Wrapping Ingenuity Using Kitchen Foil

Using some kitchen foil I've wrapped the box previously made, going around the infrared
sensor and being sure to have the squared hole for the re-charging port.

During the day Mars can reach temperature up to 86F.

Thermal insulation provided by thin layers of film (which result in the
aircraft’s body looking like a foil cube) radiate heat back inside towards the electronics.

Ingenuity has a heater that keeps the interior at about 45 degrees F through the bitter
cold of the Martian night, where temperatures can drop to as low as -130F.

That comfortably protects key components such as the battery and some of the sensitive electronics from harm at very cold temperatures.

Step 7: Adding the Stickers and the Support for the Landing Legs

Using the printer, I've made some small stickers that I glued to the box.

I've also add the support for the landing legs using a very thin black heatshrink.

Step 8: Congratulations!

You made your remote controlled version of this amazing Mars Helicopter.

Step 9: Adding a JST-DS LOSI 2.0mm 2-Pin Connector

To re-charge the Mars Helicopter quickly, without discharging the batteries of the transmitter, I've decided to add a

JST-DS LOSI 2.0mm 2-Pin Connector. In this way, I can use my own charger and the transmitter as well.


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    1 year ago

    Great project! I would love to build it!