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Alex Reichenbach ’18 and Buzzy Barrow ’18 Build Drone in Makerspace

Inspired by the technology offered by the Nest, Buzzy Barrows ’18 and Alex Reichenbach ’18 are in the midst of constructing a fully-functioning drone. Barrows and Reichenbach will create the drone from scratch using equipments from the Elson Art Center and the Nest. With prior experience in building drones, the pair plans to complete the drone by the end of the term.

Reichenbach said in an interview with The Phillipian, “I have always been [interested in technology.] My parents stuck me in front of a computer instead of a TV.” Barrows said in a phone interview with The Phillipian, “We were in the [Nest], and Alex and I were looking at all this equipment, and pretty much none of it was really being used so we decided to see if we could do something, because there are all these resources we now have, and so we decided what we’re interested in, we thought about it, and really the most practical thing, what made the most sense was to do something similar to a remote control airplane, or helicopter.”

The pair began their design process at the start of winter term and commenced the building process last week.

Later on in their building process, Barrows and Reichenbach plan to use a Dremel – a rotary tool – as well as drills and 3D printers to construct smaller parts of the drone. The larger components will be built with access to more complex tools such as a spot welder in Elson. The drone design includes a foam exterior with plastic and metal components inside. The duo wants to keep its design as light as possible with a 14-inch frame.

“The first time [the drone] flies, it will be controlled by a human, but we hope to have it flying by itself so that it will be an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV),” said Reichenbach. Reichenbach and Barrows do not intend to use their completed drone regularly at school. According to the Blue Book, “Drones may not be used by students without explicit permission from a cluster dean.” However, the pair is still planning their first test flight to be on school grounds after receiving permission.

“I wouldn’t see any uses of this drone in particular on the Andover campus itself. But, definitely, I can think of pretty much endless uses for something that maps an interior space. For example, I’ve heard of Archeological trips that Dr. Slater was doing. He’s my advisor last year. I could see this thing being used in caves and spaces… to try to help map and keep people safe. You could see it being used in a lot of different places. Not specifically on Andover campus, but definitely in the spaces where Andover students go and stuff like that,” said Barrows.

The duo is unsure of what the completion of the drone will bring, other than personal reward. Reichenbach is unsure of projects or plans he would like to pursue in the future. “You could have a project making smaller versions of it and practice with a swarm. [A swarm] is a type of flying for drones, where you have a whole bunch of tiny ones working for a larger goal. And that would be fun. But other than that, I don’t really have any other plans,” said Reichenbach.

The project is funded by the Nest. Currently, the Nest has funded $60 to $80 towards their project, with the overall cost predicted to be $120.

Mar 25, 2016