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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Awesome work,,, have you considered a fail safe ? it needs one.and for the APM and probably most other auto pilots will the enhanced resolution help since the servo's will be controlled from the APM? seems too me a small shield with usb and a serial and a I2c you could make a small shield for UAV's (i can't see flying 40k without an autopilot and RTL) and if you could get to fit the xbee footprint (adapter shield?) you would expand your market drastically!! the range and speed of this chip is just what I've been waiting for . when you make a module for a RC transmitter  how will get the telemetry to the computer usb? keep up the good work !!!


Thanks for the interest in my project!  With regards to the servo resolution, you are correct! although I did find an error in what I have said here - there is only ~250 steps of resolution between 1-2ms. The main advantage of the TLC5940 chip is that it has an internal oscillator that will make sure that programming / interrupt bugs do not cause any sporadic servo movement. It has really helped.

Thanks for the idea about the XBee connection. I could throw the pins on the board, and then leave it up to the end user to solder in the corresponding pin-header. 

As far as the telemetry->pc, do you mean a memory card reader? That would be a really nice feature!

I have to appologize, this school semester is very busy. my embedded systems class alone takes ~ 20 hours a week of out-of-class work!  needless to say this project has slowed to a crawl.   

I have been mulling over  rebuilding this board (1 year senior design project) as a fully integrated solution (no arduino needed), but use the arduino bootloader + usb so novice's to pro's can easily work on it. Also adding a failsafe processor, 9dof IMU, and possibly a OSD for the video.

thanks again!

about the xbee i was suggesting a adapter to plug into any xbee device or shield to replace an xbee .sort of off topic but would be useful to a larger crowd other than just RC but could still be used by us at DIYD if it works good enough it could replace RC transmitters and just fly with joystick on your computer (till windows crashes) just a thought !

What do you think? I have done a little work since I took the gerber image, but its close.

It will set up the DNT900 radio's automatically, and manage all settings, tricking the host board in to thinking there is an XBee plugged in.

Andy, is your shield ready for ordering or it is still in prototype stage ?

If ready for ordering, what is the price of a pair without DNT900P ?

i think its awesome ,probably the best first step ! i like the dream shield too but the cost was going out of my price range and getting up there with dragon link and the like .still might be a market but for me with the APM this is a lot better option ..keep up the good work !!

I am thinking of doing a short board run - im expecting about 5 kits worth of boards. I have added 2 more analog inputs in case someone wants to make their own analog stick inputs. Software is still in prototype, as im still looking for people to help me along with it. I will have a price after I make the board purchase, and can PM you if you're interested.


My electrical engineering senior design project will be a full board redesign, integrating an Atmel processor, 9DOF IMU, OSD, and possibly GPS on to this board. It will start in ~5 months and take ~ 1 year to complete. I have a very skilled programmer and electrical engineer that I will be working with.

good ! I would be interested for a pair, just let me know when it is ready.

Hi, I just joined so I could find out how to get one. I would love to use my PS3 controller instead of buying an expensive "hobbyist" controller. I play Battlefield 3 a lot on my PS3 and love the flying the helicopter with the PS3 controller!

If only there was easy solution to use my PS3 controller and still have things like auto-pilot, camer mount servos, and stabilization in one easy package!


Congratulations on your outstanding work on this project! 

I would like to assist where I can and look forward to working with you.


What is the status of your project?





Sorry folks - Project is disbanded.

But if everything goes smoothly, I may release a much much more capable version! It's my groups senior design project! stand-alone, multivehicle, single-board, opensource goodness.   Now, I will continue to be a hermit for the next 12 weeks!

thanks for all the interest in the dreamshield!

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