DIY Drone Volunteers Support Ukraine’s Fight Against Russian Invaders %

A group of smart volunteers in Kyiv producing drones for deployment by the Ukrainian military against Russian invaders have added destroyed e-cigarette batteries to their mix of DYI materials used to support the nation’s defense.

The group is led by engineering PhD candidate Maksym Sheremet, who set up the multifunctional UAV hub shortly after the invasion began. Based at the facilities of the Ukrainian Women’s Veterans Movement, the lab receives contributions solicited directly from frontline units to repair and reconfigure consumer drones and build their own models from scratch, tailored to how they should be. used against Russian forces. . The latest innovation in this all-volunteer, donation-powered operation is to collect discarded e-cigarettes, whose lithium polymer batteries are recharged and integrated into the craft’s mounted power release systems.

In addition to its broader mission to provide complete drone platforms for the deployment of defense forces, the production of payload delivery devices took off in particular in a context of increasingly strong demand. The units are made by 3D printers and are used by Ukrainian troops to drop anything from medical supplies for injured comrades to a variety of munitions on Russian enemies.

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Sheremet says demand is such that about 30 of his 60 volunteers are now focused on creating the release devices, which cost about $30 each to make. But while it has managed to increase production rates to around 1,000 a month, Sheremet said the disruption of imports due to the war has sent prices for used lithium batteries skyrocketing in recent weeks.

To get around this, he came up with the idea of ​​placing designated e-cigarette drop boxes around the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute where he teaches, and picking up their internal rechargeable batteries for free.

“Lithium batteries used to cost $1 each, but their price has increased fivefold, which has dramatically increased our costs,” he said in a statement. recent post in The Independent. “So we started removing battery power systems from disposable e-cigarettes. It’s free, easy to reuse, and environmentally friendly because we recycle.

Collecting and reusing e-cigarette batteries was a great idea that was just waiting for the discovery of an external catalyst.

Read: War in Ukraine undermines Russia’s supply of commercial drones

Sheremet says vape makers don’t build USB ports into their products despite the fact that the internal lithium cells are fully rechargeable, leading most customers to throw them out once they run out. But by creating this loading interface on drone launchers, his team can limit the costs of providing this reusable technology to Ukrainian troops and help them fight Russian forces.

“In the past 20 days, we’ve made 100 drone drop systems using e-cigarette batteries, and we have another 100 on the way,” he told the British daily. “We have 2,000 orders in progress.”

In addition to individual initiatives like those of the Sheremet volunteer lab, Ukrainian military officials are now mounting a efforts to assemble a “drone army” against Russian soldiers with a new fundraising campaign. Cash contributions from around the world are solicited through the United24 program site, or with direct donations of drones purchased from the Help Ukraine Center in Poland.

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