In this guide we'll build an descent vehicle of the sort you might see on a documentary about JPL landing probes on Mars, though nothing so elaborate as the Sky Crane that was used for Curiosity's entry and landing. We'll use a Circuit Playground Express to control a couple small, lightweight servos to deploy wings that will slow it's fall.
What's cool about the Circuit Playground is it has an accelerometer built in, a sensor that can detect motion/movement/tilt. It has the ability to detect when it is in free-fall (gravity is an acceleration!) and when its still. This lets you deploy the wings automatically!
The device is simple and very much a proof of concept, but the idea can be used as inspiration to do something more elaborate. Hey, even JPL starts with a proof of concept!
This project uses MakeCode for the Circuit Playground Express. If you're not familiar with MakeCode, there's an introduction in the Circuit Playground Express guide.
- corrugated cardboard
- thin bamboo skewers
- plastic shopping or garbage bag
- hotglue and glue gun
- small zipties