We're racing to get ready for the FIRST Robotics Championships in Atlanta next week, and the second version of our Arduino-powered RC blimp mod kit is coming together nicely. We moved to a two-sided board
and integrated our custom IR direction sensors into the main board. Above is what it looks like now, in the toy RC blimp
gondola that we have lobotimized:
And the same side view of our previous version, which had the IR sensors on a separate daughterboard on a stalk:
We saved about 10 grams and a huge amount of fiddle factor by integrating the IR sensors. I moved the electronics to the outside so you can get to the on-off and reset switchs and programming port. But for the next version I may just leave the LEDs, switches and sensors on the bottom side of the board and move everything else inside for neatness. We may be able to save a few more grams by switching to the Maxbotix ultrasonic sensor
instead of the Ping ))). Right now the whole blimp gondola, with all electronics and battery, is just over 80 grams. I doubt we can bring that down much more than another 10 grams, even with surface-mount components and a smaller board. But it doesn't really matter much, since we have plenty of extra lifting capacity with the 52" envelope we're using
Here's the latest version
of the Arduino code, which now flashes the LED a set number of times to show you which direction the IR sensors see the beacon coming from (useful for debugging).