Jordi has opened my eyes to the Arduino platform, which is being described as a "Basic Stamp killer". Is it a good candidate for autopilots? Well, let's look closer.
Arduino is an open source embedded processor platform, based on the ATMega168 CPU, which has more memory than the Stamp and is a lot cheaper. There's proper development software available and SparkFun has a full line of dev boards and other accessories. Its programming language looks like C but should be easy enough to learn for people who know Basic.
It started as an Italian project (it's named after an Italian king) and still has a European flavor, so that may explain why we in the US don't know it well. But Jordi, in Mexico, had done some very interesting work in exploring its potential as an autopilot platform.
His main project is the "Arducopter" (shown at right), which has resulted in some very nice code, such as this navigation routine.
In his comments, Jordi (BTW, he's just 21) described some of the cool things he's doing with it, which I'll simply quote with links here:
"This is my first test with Boarduino (a breadboardable version of Arduino) controlling servos and using an accelerometer from a Nintendo Wii. Right now I'm using Gyros and Kalman filters. I even wrote code to read PMM signals, the GPS is finished and working pretty well, the IMU is in beta, and I'm developing an altimeter using I2C technology and high quality pressure sensors."
Here are some links he provided:
I'm intrigued. I don't see anything here we can't do with Basic Stamps with a little fiddling, but I have to admit that certain projects look like they would be easier with the Arduino, mostly thanks to its greater memory and full range of variable types, including floating point. Anybody else looking seriously at Arduino?