VR Neuron is coming the first micro pc opensource thought the world of drones the Italian answer to Raspberry PI

This last update  about VBRAIN add ON. In the picture you can see the first prototype of VR Neuron (Down) near the VR Brain (UP) . As you can see te board have the same mechanical design of VR Brain . The board is very compact 6x4 cm VR Brain 7x4 VR Neuron. You can put VR Neuron above and VR Brain up , connect the board by serial port and the use VR Neuron to connect the World :)

Above the board there is PAD for connect by an Header a breadboard or directly thw wire for add yor specific applciation. On the PAD there are available a lot of input output port 27 GPIO , SPI , I2C , Serial port .

 

In the next days will be more update until official presentation 9 November 2012 at Makers Italy .

In the last six month i decide to implement a new revolutionary design that could be usefull for add a lot on new functionality to our drones.

In the past we only work on micro controller : AVR , SAM3X, STM32 , great platform the last STM32f4 is best micro controller for manage our drone : acro and stable flight , loiter , waypoint navigation ecc ecc. But if i want to put on it a o.s. i start to have a lot of problem : small memory footprint available , not enough ram slow speed processor. So a lot of proposal .... ChibiOS , Nuttx . But what is better and opensource of the worlds ? No doubt It's Linux :)

In my professional work i used a lot of micro controller and micro processor , but all ,too complex to be hackable as a STM32. Until i start to play with a great Italian product , the first that put an Android on a wearable PC .

I like a lot the micro inside it and decide to use that microprocessor for my next opensource design.

I'm happy to present the first design of VR Neuron . It will be official present the 10 November 2012 at the Makers Italy exibithion so who would see our great new design are welcome to meet us at Makers Italy in Milan.

These are preliminary technical info about VR Neuron :

  • Freescale Imx Arm9 microprocessor.
  • 64 Megabyte Ram
  • Flash until 32 Gbyte Flash on SDIO bus
  • 456 mhz clock
  • DUAL BEC 5V Input
  • 1 for CPU
  • 1 for USB channel
  • 1 Pal Video Output
  • 2 Audio Channel Output
  • 1 Input audio channel
  • 26 GPIO (LCD BUS)
  • 2 i2c bus
  • 1 SPI MISO MOSI SCK
  • 2 serial Port
  • 1 USB Host 2.0 channel
  • Only 6x5 cm half of Raspberry PI

The operating system that i choose for my development is ArchLinuxArm , the powerfull of this design is incredible , i play a lot with the kernel and add a lot of usb device : wifi dongle , 3G dongle , webcam and install a lot of application and test it : apache2 , mysql , mjp-streamer .

So on this platform is possible to do anything of application , it's available python , gcc , i ply with mavlink_proxy and it work fine ... i connect the VBRAIN serial port to VNeuron and by wifi connect mission planner to VBRAIN and see live the telemetry of my quadcopter online.

With the PAL output could be possibile to develop a great OSD application or with oudio you can implement a tele presence systems ... the limit will be only fantasy :)

So i'm very exited about this project and i hope that you like it and join us in development.

Follow the evolution of project here :

http://www.virtualrobotix.com/group/armcopterdevgroup/forum/topics/...

Best

Roberto Navoni

 

 

 

 

 

 

Views: 4894

Comment by Nick Arsov on October 21, 2012 at 10:18am

By the way, if you change all 0603 passives with 0402 and sot-23 components with sot-323, connectors with high density ones, you could make the board even smaller. Also I use to replace most of the 10uF tantalum caps with low ESR X7R ceramic ones. The price is better and the housings are smaller.

Nick


Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on October 21, 2012 at 2:02pm

Hi Nick thank's for your suggestions , what revision of altium designer are you using ? We have same tools i think :) I ask to Diego to check also that rule normally what kind of difference in lengh of wire is acceptable in dram design in your experience ?

Best

Roberto

Comment by Giles Barton-Owen on October 21, 2012 at 3:24pm

How are you going to deal with the real time constraints of autopiloting with linux? Doesn't that sort of thing usually use an RTOS for good reason? Also doesn't putting all your eggs in one basket (including possibly dodgy scripts) sort of risky? It'd be great to see a co-proccessor system with this sort of thing...Also 500MHz really doesn't get you much in terms of full video manipulation, but I'm sure it'll be useful! I'm intrigued to see this thing fly!


Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on October 21, 2012 at 3:55pm

Hi Giles , the VR Neuron is an add on of VBrain or other mavlink ready Autopilot , so my idea is to have on board a sort of router with more advanced functionality as pal video output for osd , audio input and output   for in fields setup and interaction . This platform is not think to doing realtime video compression .... could be prefer to connect to usb a webcam with this functionality inside ,but is good for manipolate data from different source , merge it and develop a usefull and smart user interface . In my benchmark i see that 1 mjpeg stream employ only 10 % of cpu resource ... so i hope to have in the next week some prototype boards for starting the test also on audio ... Yes i agree with you that's board could intrigued customers  : )

So in my experience the main problem and more important task it to found usb device with affordable driver compile it produce .ko and mount it in O.S. 

so normally i use :

lsusb for enumerate the usb id available on my bus.

search the driver in internet and try to recompile the kernel with the driver inside.

After that i cross my finger and try to do

insmod module.ko 

if all is ok i found a new module in my list when doing

lsmod

In my work untill now i used debian embedded and archlinuxarm . At the begining of my work i thought that debian could be good for my development , but after a while i prefer to use archlinuxarm and pacman as package manager. It's better of apt-get .

Best

Roberto

Comment by Jan Detlefsen on October 21, 2012 at 9:13pm

nice project, but what makes it better than the raspberry pi? 

if this is a drone version of the pi, why the audio ports?


Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on October 22, 2012 at 12:05am

Hi Jan,

so the performance of raspberry pi glabbally as better of Neuron , more memory and more speed 256 vs 64 and 750 vs 450 . But the Neuron is smaller of Rasp . It's only 6x5 cm half of Rasp. And it's hackable , the cpu that i choose is an industrial grade component .This kind of cpu will be available on the market for 10 years . That componet have a tqfp 128 package so is simple to manage. The schematics will be opensource and other guys could  hack the board. On bottom of board there is a simple connection , no strange connector only a large pad where you can solder the wire for your application or a header pin for put the board directly on your breadboard.

We don't have onboard some device that we don't need in our application as hdmi or lan port . The connection is compatible with RC application 3 pin header with in the center +5v ground down and signal up. So you can take the power directly from a BEC.

We don't need on board a desktop pc with android on top. But we need on board a small micro pc with OS for smart application. On Neuron we have a pal video output and audio input output so basically we can implement tele presence application.

So with this kind of approach the cost of manufacturing also for small quantity of board is not so high it's comparable to a microcontroller development . I though Neuron as ADD ON of VBRAIN , so all the low level integration : radio , imu , pwm output is doing by VBRAIN. I try to undrstand if was possible to use only Neuron without Brain for develop a good board but this device is good for processor application don't good for micro controller appplication . What mean ? We don't have hardware PWM on board only 4 , i try to use the OS for use some pin as software pwm output but Linux OS basically is not a good RTOS so the quality of interrupt is not good enought for have a precise output signal.

Best

Roberto

Comment by Giles Barton-Owen on October 22, 2012 at 12:06am

Ah that explains it! I'm sold...

What sort of function are you going to start with?


Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on October 22, 2012 at 2:54am

Hi Giles,

basically the main feature that will be available in the next week will be :

  • Wifi Comunication.
  • Webcam grabbing and streaming.
  • Serial to tcp-ip connection.

So basically the test that i yet doing is :

connect VBRAIN to serial port of Neuron.

put a wifi dongle on neuron configure ssid for local gateway and up the network using dhcp service.

start some usefull application for start a demon that wait a tcp ip connection and share the serial port of vbrain on the net (Terminal Server functionality)

Start a demon for see a video remotelly by a standard web browser.

This is the first demo available ... :)

The incredible things is that i don't write a line of code only use operating systems feature ... and some standard package download by standard archlinuxarm repository.

So other great function after i up the network the interaction with standard repository ... so when you want install an application write :

pacman -S apache2

and the O.S. install apache2 and his pre requisite.  Ohhh yes Apache2 work fine on Neuron ;)

Best

Roberto


Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on October 23, 2012 at 8:41am

@Monroe , sorry i forget to reply to your post .. Thanks for your words about our project :)  I happy that you like it. So we can speak live about your idea , could be interesting also for us. You can connect me directly in skype . My account is virtualrobotix 


Moderator
Comment by Roberto Navoni on October 23, 2012 at 8:42am

@All 

today we send the pcb inproduction . Cross the finger with me about the result ... I hope that all work fine .. If not we doing a new release of design :) Thanks for your suggestions .. :)

Best

Roberto

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