Ardustation Mega with Graphic LCD



I’d like to share my latest hardware ground control station. I call it the ArduStation Mega.

It retains all the features found on the DIYDrones Ardustation, as well as my Ardustation Uno but with some very important upgrades.
Notably the main processor has been upgraded to an ATmega2560 giving 8 times the size of both flash and ram, amongst other things :)

Also there is a graphical LCD that should provide a larger, more user friendly display.

The extra serial ports (4 in total) will enable future expansions as and when required. One is dedicated to the USB for loading software as well as potentially being used to allow a computer to share the installed Xbee.

If you don’t want to use an Xbee, or want to use more than one, that’s fine- three of the serial ports are broken out to the left of the board. These could also be used for adding a GPS unit, or perhaps a bluetooth to pc link for example.

Also broken out is the i2c port, so you can link it up to a magnetometer if need be (could make for simpler antenna tracking alignment)

A micro SD card will allow data logging, parameter saving, mission uploading and hopefully more!

The rotary encoder (like a radio’s jog dial) should help with faster navigation / value editing. The buttons are also on a separate PCB such that they can be mounted flush with the display or separately subject to enclosure constraints. (Also this means I can change the layout of the buttons)

The battery supply and Xbee RSSI are connected to give health information on voltage and telemetry link signal strength. Additional analog pins are also broken out for monitoring external sensors.
The PCB has been sized to match the dimensions of the LCD, giving a neat install that can be attached with screws and spacers. All of the components are mounted on the inside as well, such that the total unit size is minimised.
As with my Uno version, I use a single cell LiPo for the battery source, with an efficient step up regulator for the 5v supply. There’s also inbuilt USB charging.

The antenna tracking will be achieved by the two servo headers on the right hand side of the board. These also have a solder jumper for selecting off-board power in case heavy duty servos are to be used.

Please let me know what you think!

If you want to see more, here's a video of me showing it off:
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  • Jani- yes! This is using a 128x64 GLCD. The only reason you don't see graphics in the video is because I hadn't yet written the software. This was just a port from my Ardustation Uno code.

  • Developer

    anyone played with 128 x 64 pixel GLCD displays with Arduino? as thinking to have that instead normal block character display.

  • Sent you a message Leigh.

    The soldering only took a couple of hours if I recall correctly, even with my cheapo soldering iron.  I do dislike soldering the vias though.  The time consuming part was manufacturing the PCB and generating good enough quality art work for the tight pitch of the mega chip- my printer likes to distort the image :(

    Looking forward to seeing how the boards are shaping up Jani :)

  • Developer

    Leigh, we've been a bit busy lately and this project with Colin was temporary on low priority but now things are moving again with it. Currently we are preparing protoboards and if everything is ok full production will start for mega boards.

  • Yes - back of my mind I was thinking along the same lines, there was just too much "black-hole" around ArduMega and 3DR - and when you see Megaplanner still only supporting Ardutracker, I mean seriously what's with that?  (I've got a couple other discussions going on this where i've bypassed/transversed the issue by parallelizing my xbee with MP and Ardustation anyway.)

    Added as friend, would like to paw over stuff, just getting back into UAV now - started over 20 years ago but there was No-where near as much technology as there is now...for me it's like Digitally Remastering Star Wars!

    Ardu-wise, I've been an IT manager for many years and program php/perl/java, and some C and VB back in the days, so I see Ardu as a fantastic platform to muck around with Code and see physical results.

    I Love what you've done with the Mega itself, how long did it take you to solder all your SMT's to the board out of curiosity?

  • Leigh, jDrones are looking into releasing this now, 3DR weren't interested.  I made the repo private whilst I was working on it and worried that someone was going to try and sell my "work in progress" without really involving me. I'm happy to share though- add me as a friend and I'll send you a copy.

  • Colin - where have all your Github files gone for the ArduMega? I'm just experimenting with a few things myself and needed a little boost on a couple of items of code...and schematics for that matter...

    Or are they perhaps gone because we are going to see 3DR release it comercially...?

  • Hi Colin, this is a great initiative. Ii currently use the standard Ardustation and it works great for quick telemetry and antenna tracking. This will be a great step forward to improve the product.

    I appreciate you sharing your project, but just be careful of people that may incentive you to later copy your project and sell as created by them. At least ask for your credits :)...

    Keep it up.



  • This is also the reason for my overpowered servos; slack for crazy ideas and very smooth rotation ;-)
    I think many cameras allow you to manipulate zoom through an external input, this one happens to be modded for FPV. Adding a seperate servo connection to handle the zoom would seperate this tracker from all others by a mile (probably at minimal expense).
    Possible issues: i) coding, as not every camera will have the same zoom factor this would probably require a setting for that and/or the zoom scale per unit distance between the ground station and the plane. ii) possible differences in signal depending on the camera iii) girlfriends/wives and/or significant others this would put out of a job (luckily the upside would be more stable videos with plane squarely in view, at the right zoom factor).
  • Robert, I've wanted to do this too (more ideas than time). Well done for finding an r/c controlled zoom camera- I guess we should add an extra servo out to the board for stuff like this :)

    I've yet to complete my tracking code for the new station, but I want to make the movement smooth. For the most part the planes move pretty smoothly, so I reckon it would be reasonable to simply interpolate between readings. As you say, this will suffer from some lag, but in the future we may be able to add some kind of anticipation based on the flight path and bank angle etc.



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