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The NodeCopter Lounge at CascadiaJS

A two day lounge style workshop of programming flying robots with
node.js in Seattle, WA on November 8-9, 2012.

How was the NodeCopter Lounge at CascadiaJS

"NodeCopter Logo"

With the gracious support from Microsoft Windows Azure, Matt Podwysocki and I (Chris Williams) were able to create a great little "Intro to NodeCopter" lounge event over the two days of CascadiaJS. Set up just outside the main room of the event, we had two Parrot ARDrones available for individuals to run through some test flights. In total we were able to allow almost 45 people fly the drones over the course of the two days with almost everyone in attendance at least stopping by to see what was going on. We had several individuals sit down and start to dabble with the available hardware to extend or start new projects with the NodeCopters.

"NodeCopters in flight""SKYNET ATTACKS"

One of the more successful projects during the conference was to start the evolution of the previously built wii-drone from an arduino microcontroller system over to a more encapsulating Raspberry Pi based system. Another project that garnered a lot of interest, but is still in process was Rick Waldron's efforts to get the Johnny-Five and node-serialport libraries to operate with the Arduino Leonardo boards. While not strictly a traditional NodeCopter event, the lounge provided a great place to discuss interesting and novel ways of using JavaScript to interact with the real world.

"Ready for Hacking""Living in a hardware hacker's paradise""Parts used for the RaspPi port of wii-drone"

In summary, we are happy to report that the event overall was a huge success with many individuals primed and ready for their first, full-fledged NodeCopter event. The lounge style provided a nice, "walk-up", and low-commitment variation of the NodeCopter event and afforded some amazing conversations in the process.

"The View from the top of the NodeCopter Lounge"

More pictures available from Matthew Bergman (link) and the CascadiaJS SkyDrive

Once again, a HUGE THANK YOU for supporting us to

Windows Azure

Original Notice

NodeCopter.js is a full day event where teams of 3 get together to hack on flying robots using javascript. NodeCopter Lounge is the more relaxed variant of NodeCopter.js which is conducted during a conference, in this case CascadiaJS.

Professional NodeCopter engineers will be available throughout the two days of the conference in the lounge area along with a handful of Parrot AR Drone 2.0. The engineers are there to help you program and play with the drones. If a team can be formed, they will be given until the end of each day to accomplish something amazing and present their work to the other attendees.

Chris Williams and Matt Podwysocki, who wrote the wii-drone library, Rick Waldron (author of Johnny-Five) and Emily Rose (author of many epic Hardware Hacking) will be present to lend support and advice.

But, but, hardware hacking is hard...

Sure, but the Node community has abstracted all that difficulty away. If you want to write JavaScript to control an AR Drone, here's the little bit of code you need to get Node.js to control it for you:

var arDrone = require('ar-drone');
var client = arDrone.createClient();


  .after(5000, function() {
  .after(3000, function() {

Yeah, that's it. Still afraid of hardware? There's tons more you can do - hookup a browser using Socket.IO to the Node server so you can use your browser to control the drone. Or capture a live stream of image data from the drone, drop it in to a canvas (either on the server or client side) and do some image processing (like facial recognition, pixel searching, etc).

If you can write JavaScript, then you can fly these bad boys, but moreover, you've got the tools to hack these drones to do what ever crazy idea you come up with.

Awesome, Where Do I Sign Up?

Unlike the bigger NodeCopter.js events, the lounge events are designed to attract passerby interest during a conference (in this case CascadiaJS) and let you try out the NodeCopters before attending the full-fledged hackathon event. There will be many different projects being shown and constructed during the conference time so stop by at any point. If a group of no more than three find a project they want to pursue, they will be given a dedicated copter to develop with. In total, the goal is to have fun... WITH FLYING ROBOTS!

The NodeCopter Lounge will be open during the normal hours of CascadiaJS and do require a CascadiaJS Attendee Ticket to participate, but nothing further.

Final thoughts

Before starting the event first, Felix Geisendörfer wrote a library to control the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 with javascript using node.js. He also just wrote a tool to install node.js ON THE DRONE.

At the beginning of October, he and Berlin.js held the first Nodecopter event, with 20 teams hacking on everything from controlling drones with Wii controllers, to programming their drones to see red and charge. Read Mikeal Rogers's blog post for a full report.

— Chris Williams (with some words "borrowed" from Remy Sharp)

Organised with the support of Windows Azure and CascadiaJS.


A huge thanks goes out to our sponsor, without them we would have been unable to pull this event off: