After some wasted time with expensive PCB design errors, we've finally got a release candidate of the production version of the BlimpDuino board. It's version V431.

Changes from previous versions include:

--Square, rather than rectangular, so the IR detectors are all on the outside of the board (and thus free of interference) and evenly spaced for optimal sensing.
--Improved power supply, with lower profile and LiPo low-voltage cut-off (to protect the batteries)
--Vectoring servo now output on a digital pin (10) to use timer-based Arduino servo library
--Various layout tweaks to give more room for various connectors and the on/off switch
--Bug fixes

You can buy the boards here.

Here are the Eagle 5 files: schematic, board.

Here are the components you'll need (Digikey part numbers unless otherwise stated):

Views: 355

Comment by Jack Crossfire on September 12, 2008 at 8:00pm
Wonder how much it cost to do all the revisions to get to this point.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 12, 2008 at 8:40pm
A couple hundred bucks, I'm afraid. All my own fault for not doing enough DRC checks and breadboard prototypes. Also blew a couple rounds confused about CAM formats and obscure errors that I should have paid more attention to. Still, cheaper than a year of engineering school...

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 12, 2008 at 9:07pm
...also, one of the unique problems of blimp controller boards, is that blimps have very limited lifting power, and a breadboard version is typically to heavy to fly. So to test the controllers in flight, we typically have to design and fab a custom PCB. Then, when we discover problems, we've got to design another PCB. At $33 each and five board minimums, that can add up really fast.
Comment by Howard Gordon on September 13, 2008 at 7:56am
Chris -

Have you looked at the different PCB material / thickness / finish ?

With my supplier (, there are a ton of different options - FR4, CEM1, CEM3 circuit board material, thickness from 0.031" to 0.125" (default is 0.62"), and SMOBC, HASL, ENTEK and other finishes. I haven't experimented with any of the options, though CEM3 with a lead-free HASL finish and a thinner board looks like it might be a good combination. My base motor/radio board weighs 10gm and my stereo board weighs 25gm, so it seems like there is an opportunity to save some weight via some board fab options.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 13, 2008 at 8:04am

Right now we're just using the standard thickness. The board itself is really small (just under 2" square) so there's not a lot of volume there. We saved weight with a SMD power supply and switching from the Parallax to the Maxbotics ultrasonic sensor, and we're well under the weight budget for the blimp, so I think we're okay for now.


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