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A Ground-Based Drone Defense System

A machine that uses an Xbox connect to locate and point at drones, and then it knocks them out of the sky with an EMP gun.

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This is a machine I am building from scratch to take down drones autonomously. It uses a Kinect to find the drones, and an EMP gun to take it down. Right now, it is able to accurately point itself at drones, but I haven't built a powerful EMP gun due to money concerns.

I wrote the code in C#, and I designed the parts in 123D. It uses an Arduino to control 2 nema 23 stepper motors and it is powered by a 24V, 10A power supply.

I put all the details up on my blog: http://www.stephendownward.ca/2015/12/shooting-down-drones-with-the-kinect/

The files required to make it can be found here: https://github.com/laptopdude90/drone-defense-system

  • 1 × Xbox 360 Kinect
  • 2 × Nema 23 stepper motor
  • 1 × 24V 10A power supply
  • 1 × Arduino Uno
  • 1 × Computer Doesn't have to be very powerful, but has to run Windows

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Boris van Galvin wrote 12/29/2015 at 22:24 point

Not that I am suggesting anyone should build one of these.. 
I cant find the old Defcon talk but this has some interesting info in it.

http://privat.bahnhof.se/wb907234/killuav.htm

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Boris van Galvin wrote 12/28/2015 at 04:06 point

You are going to have a few issues with the EMP as it's not exactly directional and it's quite likely you may take other things out over and above the intended target if you get a high enough power. 

A couple of alternatives would be.
HERF or Microwave Gun. These are a little more directional but due to the short wavelength you are going to need a lot of power to disrupt a drone then there is also a saftey issue.

Wideband RF Gun.
These are really cheap to make, simple and a lot less damaging (in most cases)
In short they are a wideband RF noise generator that causes electronic devices to lock up and can be constructed using a TV Flyback transformer or a really good ignition coil from a car.

Years ago at i believe one of the first Defcon conventions one was demonstrated where at the back of a room the unit was fired up and cause the target laptop at the front of the room to lock up and become unresponsive. Laptop was rebooted and all seemed to work perfectly until it was hit again.

And when i say simple, Spark plug inserted into a waveguide type horn antenna, ignition coil being modulated by a simple sweep generator. :)

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Brian wrote 12/28/2015 at 04:10 point

But, either of those setups would require FCC licensing of course. 

The broadband emission from a spark gap transmitter would not be allowed by the FCC, especially at the power levels required here. The directional antenna would not be directional enough to satisfy them. It is impossible to collimate the emission over such a broad frequency range. It's not like a laser beam. A laser of sufficient power would also not be allowed due to CDRH, FDA, and FAA regulations, but military and law enforcement could use it in certain situations.

Of course there are ways to still have a device like this used, but it requires prior approval from the FCC, and if the device were used by military or law enforcement to take down a drone that were perceived as a threat, then the FCC would allow that for short usage periods.

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 05:09 point

Are you sure? For just a sparkplug with a director antenna?

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 04:56 point

I've never heard of a Wideband RF gun. It sounds amazing though.

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Boris van Galvin wrote 12/28/2015 at 07:09 point

As Brian said above all of them would be deemed as illegal unless you had the relevant approval. the other thing to keep in mind especially with an EMP is that if you have one powerful enough to take out a drone  the poor guy across the street with a pacemaker is likely to have issues as well. 

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 19:31 point

I'm having trouble finding the Wideband RF Gun on Google. Does it go by a different name?

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lantramnamcodon wrote 07/03/2016 at 11:45 point

the emp to pass the high performance must be strong and is danger for health (micro wave frequency),but jammer just block the signer with safety frequency.try to find the frequency of drone first.

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Rocketburns wrote 12/28/2015 at 01:32 point

what about a micro-wave gun? would be dangerouss, but cheaper than emp. 

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 01:34 point

Yeah, danger is a huge concern though. I'm also not sure about the range.

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Rocketburns wrote 12/28/2015 at 01:36 point

i have actually been thinking about this. What about this: Drone is located, then another drone is sent up that is equipped with a downward-facing emp/microwave/(hell, even a net would work). This would decrease range requirements on the weapon side.

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 01:48 point

An EMP(long range) can be had for under $300.

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 01:39 point

There are some problems with that:

-Battery life

-Massively illegal(Sticking weapons on drones)

-Would need a system to not accidentally fire(When detecting something near base station) and cause problems to base station

-Expensive

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Rocketburns wrote 12/28/2015 at 01:42 point

-battery would be a non-issue, it could charge in between flights

-nets would be legal, and would screw up drones

-nets would solve this issue, or just set a geo fence

-not as much as a long range electronic weapon

EDIT (thought of something else): If the 'attack drone's ' net was tethered to it, it could allow for recovery of the enemy drone + it's payload. this could be flown to a safe area. A long range electronic weapon's main issue (besides cost + power) is that the drone will crash. If it's intent is to deliver a hazardous payload, an emp weapon has the potential to not be able to deal with that threat. 

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lantramnamcodon wrote 07/03/2016 at 11:50 point

emp is the similar freq to mw but it's just the pulse.however,it's still dangerous with our body.

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bradlypetrsn1991 wrote 12/22/2015 at 07:05 point

I see what your trying to accomplish with this. Iv'e really been rattling my brain here. I think this can be done. But with an emp projectile instead of a focused emp blast. The projectile would have to be designed to release the blast on impact. You could use compressed air with laser targeting to make sure the projectile isn't fired too fast, so it doesn't damage the drone. 

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/22/2015 at 15:42 point

The entire point of it is to be reusable and not requiring reloading.

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bradlypetrsn1991 wrote 12/21/2015 at 19:26 point

I feel like you would be better off locating the drone and then jamming the signal controlling it. That would be far easier than trying to produce a functional directional-emp blast. Just a thought. 

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/22/2015 at 06:20 point

Not sure where my comment went so I'll type it again. The problems are that:

-Drones can operate on many frequencies, making it difficult to jam without interfering with everything else

-Fully autonomous drones(Like the ones this project targets) have no need for a wireless connection.

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Boris van Galvin wrote 12/28/2015 at 20:52 point

The trick is not to bother knocking out  the frequency used to control them but the clock frequency for the internal components.  A drone with no brain becomes a brick. I'm trying to remember but the expensive ESC's use a 16Mhz xtal if i remember correctly.  So if you  create enough interference at that frequency the motors will stop working.  Then there is the PPM signals, throw enough interference and the drone is going to have issues sending the PPM from the radio controller, to the control board and then out to the ESC's
Next is the receiver, Yes the RF received is whatever band the radio is set for but there is still an internal clock or oscillator of some sort and usually they are  all in the same region.
Now we get to the fun part, The Brain... Most DRONES have some kind of onboard smarts, these are often GPS based with a bunch of sensors. Nail any of the sensor and things start going wrong. 

Long story but I found myself on Home Detention with an ankle bracelet for a month. During that time I was so tempted to build a  unit that would inject false GPS packets so as to inform the unit that I was in the right land based position but hovering at 30'000 feet but wife reminded me that just because you can does not mean you should. 

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lantramnamcodon wrote 07/03/2016 at 11:46 point

right,and emp is use micro wave which is danger frequency.

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/20/2015 at 01:04 point

Yes, but the motors in the quadcopters should act like receivers and amplify the effect, in theory.

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Brian wrote 12/19/2015 at 22:37 point

An EMP gun? Do you mean a kinetic energy weapon like a rail gun or coil gun? 

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/19/2015 at 22:57 point

No, the idea is to generate a huge magnetic field and destroy it as fast as possible. This induces a current in electronics that can vaporize the traces in semiconductors. The advantages are that it doesn't use up any materials, and it doesn't harm humans.

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Brian wrote 12/20/2015 at 01:04 point

Well, yes, the concept has been proven, but you are forgetting the
inverse square law. The amount of energy needed would be ridiculously
large to have any effect on electronic devices even 10 feet away. 


"Can crushers" and other electrical discharge devices where many kilo-Joules
of energy are discharged through a wire coil to produce an intense
magnetic field don't cause any harm to computers in the area. Even
Mega-Joule discharges don't cause a problem at 50 feet. 


http://www.powerlabs.org/capexperiments.htm

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/20/2015 at 01:24 point

Yes, but the motors in the quadcopters should act like receivers and amplify the effect, in theory.

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Brian wrote 12/20/2015 at 01:39 point

No, they won't. The magnetic field inside the motors and on the phase wires is already far larger than you could produce from a distance. And the metal can the motor is in ends up shielding the winding anyway. 

If you had a large enough EMP to have any effect on an electronic device at a distance it would destroy your tracking system.

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/20/2015 at 01:52 point

I see your point. Using partial faraday cages I should be able to direct the pulse. This should increase its range, while protecting the tracking system.

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Nigel wrote 12/28/2015 at 02:25 point

No, Brian is right. EMP pulses are a stupid weapon, & if you punch through the distance with massive power, you will fry everything in your home. Then you'll go to jail as massively powerful EMP will take out the phone lines, power line surge,  etc too.

Use a net. Track the drone with the Xbox then fire a net gun. Or design a string cannon. Or have an attack drone waiting to crash into the inbound one. Or a tennis ball launcher. Anything (indeed, Nothing) is better than an EMP.

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Stephen Downward wrote 12/28/2015 at 02:35 point

Nigel - I am considering a high pressure water gun. What are your thoughts on that?

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