A student at Uganda’s second biggest university, Kyambogo, is currently making two of the key technological inventions, a robot and drone for spying.
A robot is a mechanical or virtual artificial agent, usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by a computer program or electronic circuitry.
Invented by George Charles Devol, Jr., an American inventor, in in 1954 and named the Unimate, a robot through mimicking a lifelike human appearance or automating movements, may convey a sense of intelligence or thought of its own.
A drone on the other hand, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as an unpiloted aerial vehicle and a remotely piloted aircraft without a human pilot aboard.
Drones were common during Adolf Hitler’s Nazi-German launched World War II.
Kyambogo student is making both robot and drone
Lucky Mwaka is in his second semester, first year at Kyambogo University.
He is pursuing an ordinary diploma in Mechanical and Production Engineering.
He was at Fairway hotel in Kampala on Friday demonstrating how the two gadgets (robot and drone) he is currently making, will do their work.
He assembled the gadgets in front of everyone; made the robot walk and the drone fly.
In his own words: Birth of the idea
I looked at a fan and how it works while pushing air.
All I needed were a mortar and a remote circuit/receiver.
I realized that if I put two propellers on a mortar, it can push air downwards and increase pressure below the propeller hence lifting it (the mortar) upwards.
This gave me the background for making a spying drone.
Making the drone
It is comprised of a remote circuit, a mortar, rectifier bridge and ammeter.
The remote circuit is a combination of; a transformer which supplies power, transmitters, remotes, capacitors, light emitting diodes, infra-red diode, plastic board and a power cable for alternating current.
The mortar is comprised of a permanent magnet, coils, a soft iron and plastic propeller.
The rectifier bridge is comprised of a rectifier, integrated circuits, capacitors for increasing voltage and a circuit board.
The ammeter has a coil and permanent magnet (I bought this one already made).
The process: how it operates
The power cable supplies current to the remote circuit, the remote switches on the current, the current goes to the rectifier which sends it to the mortar and propels the drone to fly.
The ammeter helps to regulate the amount of current needed, according to the distance that the drone is expected to cover.
With three mortars connected to circuits, I would be able to send wireless videos and sound.
This is achieved by a TV transmitter connected to a video or spy camera and microphone and attached to the drone.
The TV transmitter sends a video to a TV channel which can be seen on a TV screen.
Programming: I get a circuit diagram on my TV screen as the remote-controlled drone is moving around a target area.
I then choose which footage to record using a video recorder.
Mwaka is not stopping at a drone alone but he also needs a robot to ease his work.
The robot is made up of a DC mortar, gears and legs.
The DC mortar is made up of crank shafts; the gears carry a camera and microphone while the legs are made out of plastic and aluminum items.
How the robot works
The DC mortar turns the gears, the gears turn the crank shafts, the crank shafts move the legs and then, you have the robot in motion.
When I attach a camera and TV transmitter, it will capture and send direct messages to me and then I decide which ones to record.
When the robot is moving in a target area, I monitor (watching it direct) from a TV screen.
I then use the remote to determine what the camera on the robot should and shouldn’t record.
The robot at this stage still lacks the remote control circuit but I will add it soon.
The project: inventing
Last semester, I saw a car CD player and realized I can use it to make a robot.
The mortar and gears which open and close a CD player gave me the hint.
I set about gathering objects in February and putting them together.
I gather objects/local materials I can land on but to make bigger and more effective robots and drones, I need more advanced materials and better equipment.
I am working on the project alone because I wanted to first experiment before showing it to my lecturers.
The only problem is that no one at Kyambogo has ever made something like this.
As such, there is no equipment to help me achieve more.
Mission: the project will be complete in May this year and its first assignment will be spying on Kyambogo university students.
It will help me record what is happening in different parts of the university without being there physically.
I will put a radio receiver in the robot for it to produce messages so that I can greet students through the robot itself.
The whole aim is to be able to tell someone something without me being there personally.
It will help ease my work.
Ugandans busy making things
In March 2015, Nkumba University launched the first commercial flight of the world’s newest passenger airliner — the Airbus A350XWB (Extra Wide Body) in Nkumba parish along the Kampala-Entebbe Road.
Dennis Muluuta, who heads the Trust Investment Joint Group, is the leader of the 25-member team — none of them with any aviation background.
The aircraft prototype has a political is being built under the theme: Fly NRM 2016: Moving Uganda Forward.
George Walugembe, an industrial art graduate from the same university and a member of the team, says after the prototype, they will move to building Uganda’s first aircraft that can fly.
In 2012, three St. Mary’s College Kisubi students under the guidance of a Makerere University don manufactured a device that can detect and defuse explosives.
The device with capability to detect and defuse explosives is the brainchild of three students about to join university.
They were supervised by Mr Cosmas Mwikyirize, a lecturer at the engineering college.
They are Alvin Kabwama, David Tusubira and Nigel Kinyera manufactured the prototype.
In 2011, Makerere University successfully tested an electronic vehicle, Kiira EV, manufactured by students of the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology.
The car was assembled by a team of eight with Paul Isaac Musasizi, the project manager and technical director of the Vehicle Project Makerere, as the team leader. Others were Richard Madanda (electrical), Fred Matovu (mechanical), Jonathan Kasumba (Fine Artist), Gerald Baguma (programmer/ communications), Nasser Gyegenda (mechanical), Pauline Korukundo (programmer) and Nancy Ssenabulya (programmer/research assistant).