Arduino Dreamshield 16 - open source flight shield for arduino mega - interfaces DNT900 radio, USB, 16 servo connections, and more!

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A Very Special thanks to the company RFM (the maker of the amazing DNT900 radio) for their support of my project!!!

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Project DREAMSHIELD - What is it?

Dreamshield is an Arduino Mega shield that will effectively replace or augment your limited hobby remote control system with a long range (DNT900P based) open source alternative. Your Remote will be augmented with a "basestation" board (attached to your arduino mega #1). If you do not have a nice remote, it will allow a PS3 (or other) controller to act as your remote. The receiver module will also be replaced with a similar "remote" board (attached to your arduino mega #2) that will interface up to 16 servo's and ESC's, up to two camera's, GPS, IMU, flight LED's and has an onboard pressure/temperature sensor.


What sort of vehicles can it be used with?

Any!  well, within reason of course! There will be an "on-the-fly" programming button that will allow the user to pick a vehicle mode (0-4). This means that you can toss this in your favorite RC car, (set it to mode 1), drive around a bit...    then pull it, place it in your quad-rotor (set it to mode 4) and take an adventurous flight around the neighborhood.

Each of these settings will re designate the servo's/esc's,  how they act, and what control sticks do what. It will give a little more versatility to the board, and open up the possibilities of what you can mod it to do! Instructions and video demo on page 5 of this forum.

((there will also be modes for X-Y camera and X-Y antenna tracking - neither, either/or, or both)) 


Now the more nitty-gritty.  BOTH the Base and Remote boards have...

- DNT900P long range telemetry radio which offers up to 40km range with proper antenna's - with a data rate of 115200k!  If you are interested in slightly less range, you can crank the baud rate up to a fast 500k!

- RGB status LED(s) for feedback

- External interface connector that allows connection to +5v, GND, Serial TX/RX (3.3v), 2 analog inputs, 2 PWM outputs, 4 digital I/O's, and one transistor/PWM driven LED output. This allows other devices (gps, imu, other sensors) to interface to the board

- Power input connection for easy interface to a BEC to power it ((5V INPUT))

- Programming button to select vehicle type, camera/antenna gimbal, and controller type. Programming instructions are on page 5



The BASE has

- USB port on it will allow for a completely new kind of control! a PS3 controller can now be used to control your long range UAV!  The PS3 is a fantastic interface because the 10 buttons on it are all pressure sensitive and will read out a value between 0-255. There are three buttons with boolean output, two triggers with pressure sensitivity, and two thumb joysticks!  There is also two adjustable output rumble motors (high/low), and 4 LED's that can be used for feedback (ie. signal strength)

With some more programming, it can also be made to recognize your preferred USB enabled RC transmitter/controller.



The REMOTE has

- 16x Servo/esc connections, each at 12-bit (4096 step) resolution.

- video switching, so up to two camera's can be interfaced with this board, and you can remotely switch which camera is being broadcast by your video system!! typically, I for-see a tilt compensated flight camera, and a camera pointed strait down for observation. Then they can be alternated via the SELECT button on the PS3 controllers!

- Pressure/Temperature monitoring on I2C

- (the external connection ports are for you to interface your own IMU and GPS to the board - everyone has their own preference!) the LED connection is a 2222 transistor driven output that should allow for some bright flight LED's (strobes, or flood lights)



There are two boards per kit - a BASE(command) and a REMOTE(uav). The boards are Identical - but are populated differently based on their desired purpose. This is a (poor) picture showing the board and where the connections are located



DIY - two boards, and all the parts to populate them

Prebuilt - Two boards built up, and ready to go!

(arduino boards not included in either kit)

A ROUGH price estimate will be between $100 ~ 315 (DIY - PreBuilt , respectively).

Things are liable to change - v1.0b is not finalized.



CODE will be open source - some of it is adapted from other open source projects, and credit is given in my code.



please let me know who's interested!



((remnants of my proof of concept))


New Boards!



** I do Not expect this shield to work with the Arduino Mega ADK due to interference of extra USB port, and possible programming shenanigans, but i can not confirm or deny this.
For the time being, Arduino Mega 1280 has been tested and 2560 should work.

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I would like more information including:






It sounds like a project that could leapfrog off of the ArduPlane/ArduCopter/etc efforts.

Keep us up to date with your progress.

I am always interested in different ways of approaching similar problems.  I am working on the ArduStation HUB unofficial project and was planning on including an interface to it for the same radios based on previous threads.  I have used XTends, and have a pair of MicroHard radios I am just starting to play with as well.  So, assuming they are not crazy-expensive, count me in for a pair.  I have followed the Andromeda project, and have been very impressed with the work there;  I haven't seen a blog post in a while - and I hope all is well there as well.

Mr. Stafford,

-The size is near the same of the arduino mega board. 2.1" x 4"

-I have not compiled my documentation yet, but I would like to refer you to the specs of the DNT900 to give you insight on the abilities of the transceiver itself. Once I can prove the first revision, I will begin to group my notes together and get something out there for ya! ((in the interim, the dnt900 user manual))


Mr Plunkett, im personally not affiliated with the Andromeda project, but have spent a long time looking through their site! they have done fantastic work, and I would like to see some updates as well!


Both,  Price will be determined in about two weeks, but to give you an idea the radio modules alone are $70 per unit. I want to keep it as inexpensive as possible! Thanks for your posts and support! please give me suggestions if there is a feature that would make this even more tempting!



how is this connected to the electronics?

or will this be on its own like how the xbee is wired to a pin headers to apm/shield combo


Currently this is designed to plug in on-top of the Arduino Mega boards. The other sensors will then plug in to this.


My thinking was...

Open source hardware/software is really easy in "shield" form - because lots of people are already familiar with the arduino and how to program it. Now all you do is load the program, and plug in the dreamshield right on top of it.


5v ESC plugs right into the board, providing system power for everything. Radio, arduino, and all attached sensors (gps imu etc) and servos. I may integrate a power supply at a later point, delivering higher current and being a little more reliable, but for now I wanted to keep the board as tight and small as possible.


Servo's and ESC's just plug in! PS3 controller will just plug in to the dreamshield USB connector


 The boards may not be located in an ideal manner, therefore the IMU should not be attached - allowing it to be carefully mounted in a place that caters to its purpose


on the same note, a lot of people have their own GPS/OSD systems, and it wouldn't make sense to have an extra one mounted on my board. It would also require the dreamshield to be mounted (somewhat) horizontally in the vehicle, and this may not always be attainable/desirable




Please let me know if you have any other questions! thanks for your interest!


TWO new pics - I just got the boards in!!!!!



The boards look really clean...which board house are you using?

Sunstone - they predicted 2 weeks + shipping time till they were in hand, and they got them here 5 days early! very impressed so far, and their prices are competitive with off-shore houses.

Did you design / build in PCB123 or send them gerbers from something else?

No, actually Eagle pcb - then created the gerbers via the cam processor



I just completed a single set of prototype boards!! Its 2am, and while I would love to start doing more extensive testing, that must wait for another time and day.


The remote board (the one placed in uav/vehicle) is missing the gold SMA connector because I forgot to order some. It has the video switching system(working), pressure & temperature (working), LOTS of connectors for servos, esc's,  and RGB tri-color status LED (working). I have not tested communication with the dnt900 yet


The base station board has the USB connector to hook up the PS3 controller to provide vehicle control. Currently, it is oriented incorrectly due to a mis-wire. The completed version will be on the bottom, fitting nicely between the arduino usb and arduino power-in. The usb, along with the dnt900 are untested on this board as well.  Includes RGB tri-color status LED (working), and I will populate 4 servo connections to provide future antenna tracking. it will support all 8 like the remote board.



this is gettng better and better, will be waitng for the actual apm integration pics and video if possible like a simple dreamshield public presentation and how-to :)


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