Discussion forum for UAVDevBoard, Sparkfun's 3-axis IMU-based autopilot board

This is the place to discuss the new open source IMU-based autopilot board by Bill Premerlani.

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Can you please expand on your question? I am not sure what you are asking, I am not sure what it is that you are trying to do.

Do you have one of my boards, and do you want to use it for return home only? I am not sure why you would want to do that, because you will also want to use manual mode, and stabilize mode as well.

Do you want to modify the firmware?

It you can give me some more details, I can give you a better answer.

Bill thanks for the prompt response. It helps a lot. You corrected a fundamental mistake I was making, I was thinking RX of UAVBoard needs to be connected to RX of FTDI board. How stupid of me :)

One more question before I take the plunge. My experience as far as connecting ICs is limited to putting them on breadboard and connecting them with wires. However here we have PCBs with slots, so I was wondering what type of wires/connectors would be optimal for that operation. Yesterday I did some research and found these jumper wires and these breakaway headers. Both the jumpers and wires are 0.1 inch thick. First I don't know whether the headers I found just snap on the PCB holes or do I need to solder them. My current speculation is that I would need to solder them then connect the corresponding pins using the jumper wires. Am I on right track? Will UAVBoard accept these jumper headers? Or is there is a better and cleaner way to go about this problem?


There are two options for you to make the connections. Either use jumper wires and breakaway headers, or make direct connections with wires. The choice is yours.

The jumper wires and breakaway headers that you mentioned are the exact same ones that I use, they are very popular. You can use them.

The 0.1 inch is the spacing between the pins.

You solder the pins into the holes on the boards. If you have never soldered before, I suggest you find a friend to show you how to solder.

You will need a row of 4 pins for the UAV DevBoard, and then a row of 3 pins for the GND, Tx, and Rx of the FTDI board, and a single pin for the VCCIO.

The jumpers and pins are convenient if you want to be able to disconnect. However, it does not take much force to pull a jumper off a pin, so if you are expecting a lot of vibration, you might want to go with the option of soldering wires directly into the holes in the boards, and make a more permanent connection.


By the way, there is a question that I have been meaning to ask you:

How big is your vehicle, and are you really going to put a laptop computer in it?

I just want to make sure that you are aware the the FTDI board is not wireless.

Dear Bill,

I was get 01 red board from Spartfun. And I also have some BTA AS07 autopilot. I would like to modify firmware for using Pic 4011 control rudder "return to home" and import some waypoint to Pic, BTA will stabilize airplane.



Thanks for the reply.

My goal with your board is instructional. I am not familiar with sensors or embedded programming. This board will serve as learning experience. Later when I am comfortable I will put it on the vehicle. The vehicle is not big and I don't plan to put any laptop on it.

However, the thought of wirelessly interfacing your board with a computer did cross my mind. I looked at all the XBee boards but I have not found any board with sockets for XBee antenna and serial connection which can interface with UAV Devboard. That issue is not urgent, but it would be convenient during later stages.


Oops: I guess I always write too soon :) I found a XBee serial board . It also has slots on the sides to only use 4 pins for interfacing with UAV Devboard. Now there is a power problem, but in UAV board it says that it has not been tested with LiPo batteries. Bill did you ever get a chance to test the board when it is powered by batteries?

The board will work fine on batteries, that is how it is usually operated, the question is what battery voltage can you use. Normally, it is operated at around 5 volts, which you can get from a 4 cell NiCad battery. It just has not been tested at other voltages, such as what a 2 cell LiPo would put out, 7.4 volts. The board itself will be fine up to 9.6 volts, the only question is what happens to the other things connected to the board, such as servos, Rx, and XBee.

Servos and Rx will be fine with a 4 cell NiCad.

Since your question is about XBee, I assume that your question is really about the XBee supply voltage.

Many XBees run at 3.3 volts, but there are XBees that will interface to 5 volt systems, so your best bet would be to get a 5 volt XBee, and use a 4 cell NiCad.

Is there code out there that provides roll and pitch stabilitzation without the use of a GPS? My previous experience with c programming is zero, and am really struggling with all of it.


My roll-pitch-yaw demo firmware is intended for use with gyros, accelerometers and a GPS, but it produces fair results for roll and pitch without a GPS, depending on what you are trying to do. If your application does not involve continuous significant centrifugal acceleration, it will do just fine, otherwise, you will need one of the other roll-pitch approaches, such as with gyros, accelerometers, and a 3 axis magnetometer and/or GPS.
You might want to take a look at Brian Wolfe's work.
Hi Bill/all,

I am looking to add “lean angle” to the PIC-based data-logger I have made for my motorbike, and am considering the autopilot board and RMatrix code for this purpose.

I only really need to capture lean (er, "roll") but am unsure whether retaining all other axes will improve performance in roll - I read with interest about one user's test of "DCM lite". Given that turns at the track can be quite long, perhaps several seconds of up to ~1.5G lateral acceleration, I would be using the GPS too.

Are there other factors I'm missing, or would this application be a good fit for the board/code?

Appreciate any thoughts :)


Interesting application, it should work. I don't think you are missing anything. Just mount the board level on the body of the motorcycle, not on the handlebars. You mention that you are going to use the GPS, so you will have the velocity information that is needed for the calculations.

My UAV DevBoard, red version, is accurate up to continuous acceleration of 6gs on any axis, and rotation rate of 300 degrees/second, so it will be able to keep up with anything your motorcycle can dish out.

If you are going to program your own board, you might want to use "DCM lite". If you are going to use my board, it really doesn't matter if you use the full version of the DCM algorithm, or "DCM lite". The full version is working, and it does not use much CPU power. So, the choice is entirely up to you.

Best regards,

Thanks, I appreciate the comments. I will pick up one of your red boards and may as well just use the full DCM version like you say. I haven't tried programming a dsPIC30 before, but I believe my PICKIT2 should cope ok. I will report back with my results :)



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