this year EUROAVIA Napoli prepared something special for the associates, the first Drone Workshop (DroWo) in the history of EUROAVIA: Game Of Drones.
The adventure started more than one year ago, as the idea was conceived even before the last year’s workshop was concluded. But the DroWo’s real shape was clear only in October, when three new figures came up to help the Local Board: Luca Miele, Lorenzo Pucci and Andrea Detry from the Mechanical Engineering faculty.
They have been building drones together for many years from now. The outcome was a 6-day workshop in a competition format. Twentyfive students divided into five teams and each team could build its own drone using components chosen from a list prepared by the board; every component had his own fictional price depending from its quality. Since every team had a starting budget, overrunning this budget resulted in negative score, while exceeding budget was counted as positive score. All the choices made about the drone design had to be listed in a final report, which was mandatory for each team. Finally, each drone had to be tested and rated by a professional pilot.
The event program follows:
- Monday 5/6 – 1st lesson day
- Tuesday 5/7 – 2nd lesson day
- Wednesday 5/8 – Sponsor presentation/Lesson on BetaFlight/Auction (each team had to pre-design the drone and buy the components)
- Thursday 5/9 – 1st building day
- Friday 5/10 – 2nd building day
- Saturday 5/11 – Competition day
Along the year the LB worked hardly on the event, establishing new partnership, reinforcing the old one and making sponsorship deals with some of the major companies in the drones’ world, such as Fat Shark and CL Racing, and gaining the support of worldwide famous brands like Red Bull. Another important deal was closed with the airfield Club Airone, which is equipped for freestyle drone races and was the perfect gust for the competition day. We also wrote a special handbook meant for the event (edited and printed by our sponsor Officina Studenti) and prepared an intensive two-days course about the drone’s components, mechanics of flight, physics of beam and so on. For each participant we prepared some unique t-shirts, with five different colours (one for each team: yellow, grey, green, white and orange). Last, but not least, there was the option to use a 3D printer to print some components like couplings and plates. The Board even took the responsibility to manage the division of the students into teams; to avoid this, some questions about basic knowledge of physics, electronics and welding were included in the subscription form. After a seemingly endless series of unfortunate events the board finally got everything that was needed to make great the first DroWo signed by EUROAVIA Napoli.
May the 6th, 8 o’clock in the morning: day one. The guys are halfway between the curiosity and thrilling. They silently approach the classroom, where the t-shirts and special badges are waiting for them, together with a package containing two Red Bull cans with different tastes. Some students take place near to their teammates so they can know each other. As the event starts our Secretary Castrese Di Guida and our Executive Member Felicia Della Valle introduce the guys to the rules of the competition. Then it’s our President’s turn, Gianmarco Valletta: his lesson is just the overture of an 18 lessons course. Luca Miele and Lorenzo Pucci take care of almost every lesson: batteries, flight controller, beams, communication protocols and many other; Andrea Detry too prepared a lesson about 3d printers. But even some Local Board members (Dario de Lorenzo, Raffaele Aucelli, Fulvio Petti and Matteo Mangone) present their own lessons about the issues related with aerospace engineering: propellers, composite material structures, PID control and drones’ mechanics of flight. Swinging between the drones and the coffee breaks the two-day course went by.
Wednesday: the sponsors and auction day. In the morning all the participants meet in Aula Bobbio, in piazza Giorgio Ascarelli, where the Gold sponsors (and those who joined the packages over the Gold Sponsorship) are going to present their university. When the presentation is over, Luca Miele and Lorenzo Pucci start their final lesson about BetaFlight, the firmware that must be implemented inside the flight controller’s processor to set and to fly the drone. Meanwhile the Local Board is preparing the exposure of the components in the next room; as you already know, participants can choose among different components, with different qualities and features (they are all itemized in a list prepared by Luca and Lorenzo). When they come in after the brief lesson about BetaFlight, they all go inside the other room and start to gaze at the components, designing the perfect drone deep into their minds. As the afternoon goes by each team creates his own little island in which they discuss about the possibilities and the hazards of each choice about their design. Luca and Lorenzo are waiting inside the classroom; each team must commit their design to them to get their approval so they can start to build the drone the day after. The yellow team is the first one to commit their layout and while the Sun goes down the other teams deliver their projects.
It's Thursday. The teams are going to build their drones in a special room arranged for the situation, which is inside the main venue of our faculty in Piazza Giorgio Ascarelli. In the morning Lorenzo teaches the guys how to weld, something that is going to be a must during the whole day. The teams start to build their drones, feeling proud of their creations, giving them names and taking care of them like children. Some team even try the 3D printer: it’s something new for the most of them and seeing it in action is a kind of spectacle. On Friday the air is even more tense, the teams have few hours to complete their drones and the sands of time are running. As the evening approaches some drones are ready and Lorenzo drive the guys in an open garden to test if the drone can fly. By the end of the day every drone is built and ready to fly.
Saturday morning, finally. The teams silently meet at the airfield Airone, everyone is ready to watch their creations fly high above the sky; the fear that something may go wrong is palpable in each of them. The day starts with the guys presenting their work. From the detailed Orange Team report to the funny Yellow Team one the time passes and the test phase approaches. But just before the test starts the Local Board has a specials surprise prepared: a tasty cake with the Game of Drones logo on top of it.
The tests done are the following:
- Drone inspection (carried out by Luca and Lorenzo which checked how much the drone build mirrors the team’s report)
- Endurance (each drone will fly the same amount of time and the battery charge after the flight is the evaluation parameter)
- Acceleration (to know the right value some sensors are mounted on each drone)
- Stability (this evaluation parameter is going to be assigned by the pilot Emilio)
Another important evaluation parameter was the teamwork, which was assigned by the LB members during the building days.
When the test phase is concluded the Board gets together with Luca, Lorenzo, Andrea and Emilio to choose the winning team. After some tensing moments the winner is decided. The guys surround the takeoff drones’ platform on which only the winning drone will fly. The excitement unstoppable grows until the winning team is finally clear: the Green team (Evergreen, as they called themselves) is the team that wins the first Game Of Drones edition! Their little drone “Green Hornet” was the best in all the test. The Evergreens are: Leonardo Pierro (team leader), Aniello Prisco, Mario Salvatore Puzelli, Oreste Russo and Osvaldo Santillo. Congrats Evergreen: you signed your names in the history of EUROAVIA!
After the last drop of sparkling wine has reached someone’s stomach, the participants go to the bus to get back to their home: many fall asleep while others just can’t stop talking about the event and the competition. They are all tired but at the same time satisfied because of what they’ve learned during the “week of the drone”.
We would like to thank all the participants and our Professors for helping us during the organization of the event. We also would like to thank our sponsors:
We also would like to thank Red Bull for their support.