Articles

FLYING PHONE SCAM EXPOSED (so I built a REAL one)

August 23, 2019


I saw this video on Twitter with over five million views and then again on YouTube with nearly 1 million views Basically, this guy modified his cellphone case with propellers to take selfies Which is awesome my only issue with it is that it’s not only fake, but it’s a scam which I’ll explain in a minute but as for being fake The first clue is that these are three volts seven millimeter micro brush motors like you see here if you attach one to a beam Like this and turn it on at full throttle you’ll see the most weight that it can lift is six quarters or about thirty grams. The cell phone in the video with all the flying gear attached would weigh about 300 grams and since drones are typically designed to hover at 70% max thrust you would need at least 15 of these motors to do what he did, but you know, this just doesn’t look as catchy In fact, we recreated the exact setup he used in the video and turn the motors to full throttle and this is what happened here. Here it is in slow mo and as you can see there’s hardly any difference than if you don’t turn the propellers on at all so I’m gonna show you how this scam artist somehow manages to break the laws of physics four more times in this three-minute video and then because obeying laws of physics isn’t optional we’re gonna call a fellow youtuber Captain Disillusion to see if he can help us spot any signs of a special effects. And then with my buddy Peter Sripol i’m going to show you what it would take to Actually build a flying selfie phone case and then i’ll put all the details on a new set. I built using wix.com. But, before I do any of that let me first explain why this is a scam and not just a harmless fake video for meaningless internet points. With this many views and An astounding 80% like ratio, which means most people probably didn’t realize it was fake It’s a statistical certainty that some young aspiring engineer actually tried to build this themselves worse than their parents phone dropping like a rock and breaking this might have been his or her first experience at making something. But, how you might ask would they know what components to use well? here in the description amazing maker was kind enough to put links Amazon affiliate links you can tell by the URLs. So he is making money off the crushed dreams of aspiring engineers without enough experience yet to this is total BS and aspiring engineers are my people, and you don’t mess with my people. Let’s do this the second gratuitous violation of physics comes in this scene the force of gravity always points down but helicopter spinning blades create a force perpendicular to the blades themselves so if you want to hover you need to be level so the forces will cancel out and you won’t move if you tilt forward and then break the thrust force into its x and y components you suddenly have an unbalanced force that will move you in that direction in essence that’s how helicopters move forward by tipping forward in other words It’s physically impossible to hover in an orientation like this The forward thrust component is unbalanced and it would have to move the phone forward The third major issue is the Arduino compatible circuit board he chose. It’s the same board here and it’s supposed to be the brains for the drone yet, this specific model of board doesn’t come with any sort of gyroscope or accelerometer. Here’s why that matters if you’ve ever tried, balancing something on your hand like this you and your body we’re creating what’s referred to as a closed-loop feedback control system. So if it starts to tip over my eyes relay that to my brain and my hand says hey I’m no longer fuelling the weight just up and down it’s also pushing my hand this way and so my brain takes all that information and responds by telling my hand to move this way at a specific speed in order to compensate. So, to keep this thing balanced there’s this continuous loop of quickly gathering information and then making real-time adjustments and closed feedback loops are used all over in engineering from the simple case of a thermostat that continuously checks the air and turns on at a certain temperature to dart boards that update their position 200 times a second to get a bull’s-eye every time to machines that are abused and most certainly for anything that flies and needs to stay in the air the fact that his board is missing a gyroscope and an accelerometer means there’s no way for it to tell if it’s starting to rotate or to fall in any direction It’s the equivalent of trying to balance the board wearing a blindfold and an oven mitt you have no idea what adjustments to make to keep things balanced. Which is the perfect lead-in to the fourth major physics Flaw notice how he attaches these motors and rigidly fixes them to the phone double-stick tape this means if you start to tip forward you have no way to self-correct the phone orientation and it would just turn into a nosedive, if you only have two propellers in this configuration they both need to be able to rotate with respect to the phone in order to correct the movements in all six degrees of freedom for example if it starts to tip forward you could rotate them both back like this to correct for that. Or if the wind is trying to spin the phone this way they could assume this configuration to counter that to return to our balancing shovel analogy by fixing the motors directly to the case you lose your ability to even make corrections so not only do you have no idea where to move, but your arm is locked out for making adjustments anyways which makes it literally impossible to balance. Owwww. My final physics issue with this video is one of acoustics this guy proposes using it as a hands-free way to watch your favorite super hip music videos conveniently dubbing over the audio here for reference this is what an episode of the office would sound like on a phone at full volume and don’t forget that you would actually need 13 more motors than this so it would be at least six times louder. [Extremely Loud Whirling Sound] So now that we thoroughly established a multitude of physical laws have been broken. Let’s find out exactly how he faked it and to do that I’ve arranged video call with the undisputed heavyweight champion of the bunking fake videos using special effects Captain disillusion Be sure to get it as flush as possible against your skin to minimize folds that might make it hard to chroma key out like this nice and tight Captain oh hi Mart Mart robber you weren’t supposed to call yet. It’s 2 o’clock I’m actually even 5 minutes late, really. Well then. How can I help you did you not even watch the video I sent ah, yes, of course the mobile drone video I’ve analysed that thoroughly mark and my conclusion is it’s totally real Seriously, yes Everything except for the mobile drone part, that’s fake if you look very closely You might just be able to make out the huge chattering mask on the side of the phone Visible in every shot of it flying the creator must have been in a real hurry because it’s so messy here it cuts off the edge of the phone here the tip of his finger and here it reveals the thing it’s supposed to be hiding a rod. It’s narrow and light-colored and probably attached with the same mounting tape He used to tack on all the other gadgets That’s why he’s able to grab and adjust the phone in this shot by the river the mask hides not just the stick But the whole person holding it look closer on this site the real-time Water and on this side a still frame from an empty version of the shot And if we track the phone’s position and rotation we can easily Reverse-engineer exactly how the stick puppeteer did rotating mostly from the point where it was held Wow That was very impressive captain D Thank you for taking the time favorite part of this whole thing is the audio The tiny propellers must have made so little noise at a distance. It didn’t give a proper drone vibe So the hoaxers recorded the sound of the motors up close and reused the same clip in every scene complete with their muttering voices in the background [Whirling Noise and Muffled Voices] Awesome well, thanks again. But, even though impressive is the number of posts messages and tweets Presumably from people with functioning eyeballs asking me if this painfully obvious edit is real over and over. Okay, captain will take care. I’ve got to go back to my even you mark how could you do this to me? How could you do? He’s such a joker. So let’s fake and now you know exactly all the reasons why but still a really interesting idea and I was curious what it would look like if you actually built one of these at using less special effects and more practical engineering. So, naturally I called in my buddy Peter Shree people whose qualifications Include building his own electric flame from scratch and he immediately got to work. Turns out if you take two brushless motors to electronic motor speed controllers a flight controller that actually has a gyroscope and an accelerometer Integrated a 3d printed frame and two servos to articulate the rotors a radio transmitter for remote control and a force the lipo battery and then you put them all together it actually works. Kind of we had to do a bunch of test flights to calibrate that Feedback control loop we talked about before so if we notice the drone is either under compensating or over compensating when it starts to fall in a certain way we tweak the response sensitivity in between flights until we get to the sweet spot and I should mention remember how the motors from the fake video could barely Lift only six quarters. Well, if you properly sized them for the task at hand, they should be able to lift 150 quarters. And so once we felt like we had it in pretty good shape. We took her out for the maiden test flight [Music Plays] They in our defense it was a little windy out there but as you can see, it can be pretty wobbly at times the truth is a bike copter like this totally works it just isn’t a great design choice. The reason pretty much all camera drones are quad copters is because they’re much more stable due to a larger footprint shared between four motors and by getting clever with the throttle speeds you can move in all six degrees of freedom with no moving parts So there you go with solid engineering. You don’t need hidden rods or masking and rotoscoping and Sir Isaac Newton can once again comfortably rest in his grave. So, the moral of the story is just don’t cheat and lie in scam I actually considered going a little easier on Amazing Maker but then I happen to scan some of his other videos like this knee brace that Charges your phone and even powers this flashlight as you walk in theory I’ll skip the details but in reality this system would also never work as shown which is why if you whine that and stabilize on his hand in the pocket you see him click a hidden flash light switch. [Boom] If you want to build a flying selfie foam case yourself you can watch the video Peter made with all the juicy details. You can find that on his channel or new website I created called mark rover build instructions.com, and on that site and you’ll actually see build instructions for tons of different projects from my channel, which was made possible by the fine folks at wix.com I wanted something simple and classy and I almost feel a little guilty I can make something dysfunctional and it only took about an hour in part. Thanks to a series of questions you answer when you get started that means right off the bat you’re close to what you want, but you can still customize it as much as you like from there including lining it with one of the hundreds of templates they have and my website is just a simple way to communicate information but you can make one for your personal brand or your portfolio, or maybe a new website for your business to sell stuff, or even book appointments right there. And it’s free to sign up to start designing and publishing and it’s honestly a lot of fun. So, to flex your creative muscles for the whole world to see go to wix.com Slash go slash mark rover or use the link of the video description to get started Thanks for watching

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