Chris Anderson's Blog – February 2009 Archive (21)

Using Microsoft Virtual Earth as a ground station

Cool use of Microsoft Virtual Earth as the visualization engine in a very sophisticated browser-based ground station. Check out the videos in this post for more. VERY impressive.

No doubt this… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 27, 2009 at 8:55pm — 3 Comments

UAVs at the Smithsonian

From BoingBoing: "The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has mounted a display of unmanned aerial vehicles, essentially model airplanes outfitted with GPS, microprocessors, and surveillance tech for battlefield reconnaissance. Seen here is a… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 27, 2009 at 4:15pm — No Comments

Update on ArduPilot availability

SparkFun has sold out of ArduPilots again, but 200 more ArduPilots left Sparkfun production 30 minutes ago. The storefront will reflect that inventory tomorrow or Mon, and backorders should be filled in the next day or two.

We've now sold nearly 300 ArduPilots!

Added by Chris Anderson on February 26, 2009 at 4:30pm — 8 Comments

Getting ready for ArduPilot 2.0

ArduPilot 2.0 uses the same hardware as ArduPilot 1.0 but new software to do both the navigation and stabilization functions itself, with no need for a FMA Co-Pilot (although we still use the FMA XY sensor). Here's how to directly connect the FMA sensor to… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 26, 2009 at 12:00am — 67 Comments

More housekeeping: new Forum and Blogs tabs

I've finally gone through all the discussion on this site and categorized them so they can be more easily usable. You can see all the categories and the discussions in them by clicking on the "Forum" tab at the top. Please remember to select an appropriate category when you post a new forum topic.

As for blog posts, they operate a different way, using multiple tags rather than categories. So please add tags to your blog posts, so people can find them! I've also added a Blogs tab at… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 24, 2009 at 10:35am — 4 Comments

Housekeeping note: adding categories to discussion topic

When you're starting a discussion in the forum at the left, please select a category if it pertains to ArduPilot, BlimpDuino or the UAV Dev Board. That way when people click on the main forum list, they're categorized… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 22, 2009 at 11:40pm — 4 Comments

Switching your ArduPilot power to a separate battery

ArduPilot has a built-in power regulator, so you can power it from a separate battery at anything from 5-15v. To do this, you have switch the solder jumper from the default RC power to battery power. This means unsoldering the solder jumper that the board ships with and resoldering it on the other side. These pictures show the difference (apologies from my crappy soldering on the second one):…


Added by Chris Anderson on February 22, 2009 at 9:00pm — 8 Comments

Reloading the Arduino bootloader

If at any point you've managed to crash the ArduPilot code so badly that you've nuked the bootloader, don't worry: you can reload it. You'll need an AVR programmer.

The best way to reload the bootloader is with the Arduino IDE, which is pretty straightforward. Just plug in your AVR programmer and select Burn Bootloader/ w/ AVRISP mk II. If you've already loaded AVR Studio, you may get an error… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 21, 2009 at 10:00pm — 17 Comments

ArduPilot GPS lock bug fixed

Thanks to Rusty's detective work, I think we've fixed the GPS lock bug (the blue LED was turning off even when the module was showing valid data). New code is here.

(Basically every instance of "if (fix_position == 0x01) ..." should have been "if (fix_position >= 0x01)..." It turns out that there are three valid fix values: 1,2… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 21, 2009 at 6:00pm — 17 Comments

Arduino 13 bootloading hint

If you're having trouble flashing the ArduPilot code with Arduino 13, try upgrading the bootloader on ArduPilot to the latest version. You can do it with your AVR programmer in the Arduino IDE or use AVR Studio to program the board with the ATmegaBOOT_168_diecimila.hex file found in the Arduino folder hardware/bootloaders.

I was having that problem and this fixed it for me.

Added by Chris Anderson on February 21, 2009 at 10:18am — No Comments

Update on ArduPilot code--final NMEA release

Jordi has been flight testing ArduPilot all week and we've got a raft of new code to share over the next week and an exciting new dimension of ArduPilot to reveal. First, today's installment: an updated version of the standard ArduPilot code, with PID loops improved and some bugs caught. You can find the code here.

This is the last version of ArduPilot that we will be releasing with a NMEA parser. Although NMEA… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 18, 2009 at 10:25pm — 25 Comments

UAV "company" part of ARG marketing for new Terminator movie

"Skynet Research", of course. Our buddies at Trossen Robotics are in on the joke (at least I think they… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 16, 2009 at 12:05pm — 1 Comment

Status update on ArduPilot production

Here's a Sparkfun engineering report on those last few boards that got out with incorrect fuse settings. Short form: the glitches from a few weeks ago should now all be gone:

"A small number of boards that did not have the correct fuse setting got mixed into the batch that are correctly programmed.

Currently, production is programming the correct fuses on all new builds. I am getting someone to go through our storefront stock right now to make sure the correct fuse… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 16, 2009 at 11:34am — 7 Comments

Daily Show on "Roombas of Doom"--hilarious

Added by Chris Anderson on February 14, 2009 at 10:00pm — No Comments

ArduPilot back in stock--100 on hand

Thanks to Sparkfun's new pick and place machine, they're able to make new ArduPilots quickly to keep up with demand. Another 100 are back in stock.

They ran out of the EM406 GPS modules this week but are restocking. In the meantime,… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 12, 2009 at 5:00pm — No Comments

Fred Smith: FedEx wants UAVs

FedEx founder Fred Smith came by the Wired offices yesterday for a chat on a range of things, but I'll focus here on the bit relevant to this site. He says that they'd like to switch their fleet to UAVs as soon as possible but that this will have to wait for the FAA, which has a tough road ahead in figuring out the rules of NAS… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 12, 2009 at 1:09pm — 10 Comments

Tiny 5MP camera coming out

Autofocus, image stabalization, etc. Seems perfect for UAV use. From

"Advasense has announced what they claim is the world's smallest 5MP autofocus camera module. The module, which was developed with the help of Creative Sensor Inc., uses a technology called… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 12, 2009 at 12:45pm — No Comments

Note on ArduPilot's FTDI port and why you can't power the board with it

Some people have had questions about ArduPilot's FTDI port. Basically, it's a standard FTDI port but we don't use the power pin. That means that you can't power the board from the FTDI cable, and every time you're using the FTDI cable it must be powered by another source, such as your ESC, battery or whatever else you'd normally use. The reason we don't use the FTDI's power is to avoid power conflict with the board when you're using the FTDI cable as a serial monitor during regular ArduPilot… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 10, 2009 at 10:40am — 15 Comments

How ArduPilots get made at Sparkfun

In this live video feed you can get an interesting glimpse inside the production facility at Sparkfun. Ardupilot is priority item #25 on this production schedule (they're making another…


Added by Chris Anderson on February 9, 2009 at 5:00pm — 5 Comments

Arduino v13 is out!

The new version of Arduino is now out. Improvements included fixing PulseIn() to wait for a transition to start timing (i.e. ignoring any pulse that had already started when the function was called) and, importantly, supporting the ATMega328 natively!

That last one is a biggie, since the 328 has twice as much memory as the 168 we're currently using (32KB of flash, 2KB of RAM, and 1KB of EEPROM). Eventually, we'll migrate ArduPilot… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on February 8, 2009 at 9:00pm — 2 Comments

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