As they say, the last 10% of the development takes 90% of the time. But we're getting close. Here's the latest:

--ArduPilot: we're now on the second beta of the commerical board, which will be manufactured and sold by a commerical partner to be named soon. Fingers crossed, we've finally squashed all the bugs. As soon as the manufactured boards (PCB plus robotic pick-and-place SMD component assembly) come back from our partner in a week or two, we'll optimize the code on the simulator, and then tweak settings in the air on various airframes. I don't think we'll have a formal beta-testing process, since all the changes will be in the open source code, not the hardware, and will be constantly evolving with your help.

ArduPilot will be sold as a board with SMD parts already soldered and basic firmware loaded in both the Atmega and Attiny (for the failsafe). The user will have to solder on a few easy through-hole parts, such as connectors, which will come in the kit. Out of the box, the autopilot will be return-to-launch only, which is to say that when enabled it will simply return the GPS coordinates of its starting position. Adding waypoints will simply be a matter of adding GPS coordinates to the code in the Arduino IDE and downloading it.

Later, we'll have stand-alone waypoint editing and groundstation software, but that may not be done until we release ArduPilot Pro, early next year. Right now I'm expecting ArduPilot to go on sale around the end of October, target price $29. (required GPS and FMA Co-Pilot sold separately)

--BlimpDuino: Tomorrow I'll post the final board and component parts list, and the beta code a few days later. This board has evolved considerably since its orgins, with the addition of vectoring thrusters, an optional RC mode and ports for optional Bluetooth, magnetometer (compass) and other sensors. This one will go through a beta-testing process (positions already filled, sorry!) before commerical release.

The commerical kit will consist of the everything you need to make a programmable autonomous blimp (board, gondola, motors and vectoring thruster assembly, envelope and one ground beacon), which I believe is the first time such a product has been offered. The only thing you'll need to add is helium, a LiPo battery and a RC unit if you want to also enable manual control. Target price: well under $100.

We hope to have BlimpDuino on the market in November.

As always, both ArduPilot and BlimpDuino will remain totally open source, so if you'd rather order the parts from the various suppliers and build it yourself, you're very much encouraged to do so and we'll do our best to help you. The commercial versions are for those who don't feel confident enough with SMD soldering or otherwise want the security of a pre-made board. We don't intend to make money on them (although we'll ensure that our commerical partner can get a margin that makes it worth their while to offer it)

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Comment by Phil Wilshire on September 11, 2008 at 6:42am
If you are taking early orders put me down for one of each
Ardupilot and BlimpDuino
It's close enough to Christmas...
Comment by DIY-Guy on September 21, 2008 at 9:44pm
Chris says-
"... I'm expecting ArduPilot to go on sale around the end of October, target price $29."

Oops, did I do a no-no when I just now ordered ArduPilotBeta3 from BatchPCB.Com?

I would really like the complete board with everything on it... and I'm willing to wait.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 21, 2008 at 10:04pm
No, that's fine. You'll just have to do the parts sourcing, soldering, assembly and firmware loading yourself. But if you're into that sort of thing, that counts as fun! (it is, at least, educational)
Comment by Scott James on September 24, 2008 at 9:04pm
Hi Chris,
Do you have a circuit diagram showing all the connections for the ardupilot? I am trying out your code and just wanted to check that I have the connections right. Just wanted to double check the rx and tx pins for the GPS. Thanks!

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 24, 2008 at 9:07pm
You mean other than this one? That's close to the final board. I should be able to post the final, final schematics and PCB files early next week.
Comment by Scott James on September 24, 2008 at 9:12pm
ahh, yes that one!
Comment by hoopty on September 25, 2008 at 5:56am

As we have been discussing, I am having trouble with my SMD board. I think I have it figured out and I am wondering if you could give me a hand. It seems to be with the Arduino bootloader code. In the early schematics of boards you had RX and TX going to pins 2 and 3 of the AVR. The Ardupilot code assigns servo's to the same pins. I would like to move the arduino code (RX TX) to go to Pin 30 and 31 of the SMD AVR. Can you help me with this? All I have is the hex code for the DIP version and I believe it is different.
Comment by Djin on September 25, 2008 at 6:36am
I definately want my name down for an Ardupilot. How sure are you it will be ready end of the Oct? its my birthday on the 23rd so do I qualify for discount? how much is shipping to UK?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 25, 2008 at 9:21am

Do you mean for the Atmega or the Attiny? The Atytiny AVR MUX source code is here. Please note that that's an old version and the version we'll be releasing is much better. But it should work, more or less, and at least get you started.

If you mean the atmega source code (for the autopilot), it's here. Just change the pins to whatever you need.

Note that we're several versions past that board, so I can't you much more help that that. But the new code we'lll be releasing next week should run on your board with minor modifications.
Comment by AeroBoy on August 3, 2010 at 12:43am
i am actually building an autonomous blimp that has to navigate its way through an enclosed room and find its target and with a wireless camera ,it should be able to transmit info back to the ground station.

I am unsure if Blimpduino supports wireless telemetry or should i go on to get the Ardupilot. Please advice. Thanks



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