Hi, my name is Jordi. I am currently building the first Glowduino prototype, and would like to gauge the interest level in the community. I guess I should tell you what it is.

Glowduino is an Arduino-compatible LED controller board for use on multicopters. It utilizes a TLC5947 to provide constant-current sinks for 8 separate common anode RGB LED strips. In addition, Glowduino can be programmed to react to different sensor inputs or to information from your Ardupilot. For example, you could use this board to control navigation lights on your quadcopter, or control different status lights, etc.

Now here's where I need your help. There are a few things I need to know before I embark on this project. First, are you interested? Second, how much would you be willing to pay for this? Currently I'm thinking maybe in the $40-50 range. Lastly, do I need a USB vendor ID? This will be published as open-source hardware, and uses the FT232RL FTDI chip. If I do need one, is there any way I can get one for a bit less than $2000?

Thanks for reading, now here are some specs and photos.

- Brains: ATMEGA328 running Arduino bootloader (Arduino compatible)

- FT232RL for communication via USB

- TLC5947 for driving the LEDs

- 12V 3A regulated LED power supply

- 24 constant-current sinks

- 6 analog inputs (A0-A5)

- Header for expansion for more outputs (future)

- Prototypes will be from OSH Park, so purple :p (let me know if you know of a better option)

- RoHS Compliant (I think...)

- 4 status LEDs (TX, RX, ON, and L) and 2 buttons (Reset and Mode)

- Comes preprogrammed with several awesome modes!

- Powered from 2S to 6S Lipo

- Small-ish at 2" x 2"

- No mounting holes, sorry (no space...)

- Yeh!


Views: 2505

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on August 5, 2012 at 6:12pm

Looks cool! How does it compare to the Jdrones IO board, which is optimized for MAVLink?

Comment by Jordi Orlando on August 5, 2012 at 11:17pm

Hi, thanks! As of now I have yet to write the firmware, but it would be awesome if it was MAVLink compatible. However, I don't know much about MAVLink and how I might do that, so if you or anyone else had any advice it would be much appreciated.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on August 5, 2012 at 11:22pm

I guess my question is, what does this do that the Jdrones IO board does not? It's also Arduino-compatible and is already available for $16.

Comment by Jordi Orlando on August 5, 2012 at 11:40pm

Good point. This has 24 outputs, as opposed to 6, and a regulated 12v supply, but I do see what you mean. Even if there is no interest, It does what I need it to do, and it's my first attempt at something like this :p Thanks!

Comment by Jordi Orlando on August 5, 2012 at 11:43pm

Oh sorry I forgot this in my last comment, all 24 pins are PWM.

Comment by Martin Szymanski on August 6, 2012 at 12:31am

Very nice to see a muliplexed board that offers signals to the processing chips in coordination.

This is what embedded design means.

Comment by Jordi Orlando on August 6, 2012 at 5:35am

Thank you!

Comment by Mike on August 7, 2012 at 4:54am

Since you are planning to use the FTDI chip, check out whether to use their default product and vendor ID. To see if this option fits with your overall plan, follow-up with reading this FTDI technical note. All the best.

Comment by Jordi Orlando on August 8, 2012 at 5:52am

I think I should be able to use the default VID and PID, thanks!

Comment by Jonathan Lederer on August 14, 2012 at 3:15am
Sounds very cool. I am always looking for trick night-flying setups for single rotor 3D helis, and so might have some suggestions that you might consider incorporating into your design that would not only make your product more useful for unique lighting setups, but would also help to answer the inquiry from Mr. Anderson about what differentiates your idea from already existing similar solutions such as the jDrones board mentioned above.

If possible, try to incorporate:

1. an inverter port (or 4 individually programmable ones...pleeeease) capable of driving lengths of glow string (electroluminescent "EL" wire).
2. Outputs from possibly one of many available 7-segment display drivers that can also drive LED matrices and support scrolling text and simple dot-matrix graphics.

There are many other possibilities that I am undoubtedly either overlooking or just don't know about, but these two ideas, IMO, would at least make the utility of such a product more appealing to a more diverse clientele. Just a thought.

My $0.02:

Ever since learning to fly acrobatically with CCPM helicopters, I have had an addiction to night flying. When I attended an overnight event at my local flying field, I was mesmerized by these very well designed night setups that these semi-pro level r/c pilots had come up with. Unlike the sharp and point-style lighting produced by the typical LED strips or individual LEDs placed as they might be to emulate navigation lights on a scale model, the most appealing setups I found to be were those which utilized "glow string" primarily while using LEDs for spotlight effect, if at all.

Using lighting on any type of r/c vehicle in low-light environments is, at it's root, to provide the pilot a clear view of the model's orientation. For multirotor aircraft, though, glow string is not nearly as desirable as are LEDs; highly visible point-lights that have enormously long lifespans and typically don't need special voltage converters to power them. They are also quite useful in communicating flight-modes, battery voltage, and many other telemetric values at a distance. This is probably why we rarely see EL wire being used on multirotors. Function over fashion -- but cant see any reason to exclude those whose priorities are flipped upside-down; where it's all about aesthetics and looking awesome whilst flying a visually impressive tumbling routine across the night sky. If the components I've suggested are small enough and the design is bring created for scratch, why not include these unique abilities in an all-in-one lighting control board?

Here is a short description I copied from www.glowire.com that was chosen randomly from a quick google search:

What is GLOWIRE?
GLOWIRE is an electroluminescent wire - a copper wire coated with a phosphorus material and wrapped with two tiny transmitter wires.  It is then sealed in a waterproof casing.  GLOWIRE looks very similar to neon when powered.

What makes it glow?
GLOWIRE must be powered by a driver (inverter) in order to glow.  A driver takes a DC input voltage and provides an AC output voltage of approximately 120 volts.  Both 9 volt and 12 volt drivers are available with varying frequencies ranging from 400 to 4000hz.  Brightness is determined by voltage and frequency.  The lower the frequency, the dimmer it glows, the higher frequency the brighter it glows.

How do I know which driver to use?
You need to determine the length of GLOWIRE you want to run and the type of power source you are using.  9 volt drivers will generally run a maximum of 12-14 feet of GLOWIRE.  Using longer sections of wire will decrease the brightness.  You also need to use a minimum of at least 3 feet or the driver may overload and be damaged.  Some of the 12 volt drivers can power 120 feet of wire or more.  All of the drivers can be used with any diameter of GLOWIRE.

How is GLOWIRE used?
The uses of GLOWIRE are limited only by your imagination.  Some of the most common uses are for RC models, car interiors, costumes, safety equipment, motorcycles, decorations, art projects, backlighting or mood lighting, signs and model trains.  The list goes on and on.

Does it come in different colors?
General purpose and Heavy Duty GLOWIRE comes in 10 colors:  aqua, blue, green, lime, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow.

Anyway, good luck with your creation and PM me if and when you have a beta board for me to test. I will be your first guaranteed sale -- sign me up for 4 of these PCBs when the are finally produced!!

Have a nice day and I hope this helps somehow someone who takes the time to read this super-long post! ;)



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