Releasing NavStik, a Micro Navigation and Control Module

3689479390?profile=originalWe are glad to announce the release of a micro navigation and control module to serve as an autopilot for UAVs/MAVs. NavStik is one of the smallest and most powerful such platforms available with open-source RTOS based software/drivers that can be used for a variety of applications related to mobile robotics.

This module is intended for use by researchers and hobbyists. All the firmware and drivers are available in open-source to help users start building their applications, quickly.

Key features of this module are:

  • 3-axis Accelerometer
  • 3-axis Gyroscope
  • 3-axis Magnetometer
  • Barometer (Static Pressure Sensor)
  • GPS
  • Temperature Sensors for Temperature Compensation of Sensor Data
  • Cortex M4 Based Microcontroller (STM32F4: 32 bit, 168 MHz)
  • Onboard SPI Flash with 16 Mb Memory
  • Connectors for Interface Board (required for power and interface to external world)
  • Connectors for Gumstix Overo® (optional - available from Gumstix; for power intensive applications)
  • Connector for GPS Antenna (optional; required for GPS applications)
  • Differential Pressure Sensor (optional; for air-speed estimation)
  • Power Regulators and Switches (for programatically controlling power to subsections)

Interface board (IvyPRO) provides following additional features:

  • 12 PWM channels: In/Out Reconfigurable
  • Micro-SD Card Support
  • Telemetry Port (UART)
  • 2 Full-Speed USB Ports (one can be used for firmware upload)
  • Port for Spektrum Receiver (UART)
  • Gumstix Overo® UART and USB (2 nos) ports
  • Debug Port (for connection to IvyGS for JTAG debugging and console)
  • Onboard current measurement
  • Battery voltage monitor
  • Efficient DC-DC converter for wide input voltage range (4.5 V - 14 V)
  • Automatic power switching between USB and Battery
  • ESD and short-circuit protection

The ground-station board (IvyGS) connects to the interface board using the debug cable, and provides these functions:

  • JTAG debugging
  • NavStik console
  • Overo® console
  • Telemetry port for GCS (UART)

A suitable interface board may be selected based on the application. A debugging (JTAG) and ground-control-station board (with telemetry interface and console) is also available. For more details please checkout the community portal: Limited boards are now available and can be ordered from the NavStik store:

We look forward to feedback from the research and hobbyist community on NavStik and how would they want it to evolve. Please do leave your comments below or write to us at

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  • @Curt: The max sampling rate for the gyros is 8k/sec and for accelerometers is 1k/sec. You can find more details on inertial sensors used on NavStik here:

    Overo will connect directly to NavStik main board. However, access to Overo's communication ports is made available by IvyPRO or IvyLITE interface boards (IvyEZ does not provide Overo support). NavStik communicates with Overo by fusing the USB or UART ports of Overo and NavStik through the interface board (check the image here: No ports are directly connected on main board. This has been done on purpose to allow maximum flexibility on how you want to use the communication ports (for making Overo talk to NavStik or for making it talk to any other external devices). 2 USB ports and 1 UART of Overo are made available by IvyPRO. 1 UART (UART3) of Overo connects to IvyGS (ground and debugging board) via debug cable to provide Overo console on the PC.

    Fail safe mux for RC receiver in NOT built-in.

    Your project looks really cool. In fact, it is the kind of application that NavStik has been designed for! You will love NavStik because it will take care of Overo power, console (via IvyGS) and help you easily fuse required ports between Overo and NavStik in an extremely small and light package. Of course, NavStik also offers a very powerful micro-controller and a great set of sensors. This is how NavStik with IvyPRO and Overo looks like:

    3692513156?profile=original3692513147?profile=originalThis stack (with NavStik, IvyPRO and Overo) weighs about 17-18 grams. If you replace IvyPRO with IvyLITE, you can get it to weigh about 12-13 grams.

    You will need USB bridge and UART Cross cables for fusing respective Overo and NavStik ports. These cables are included in the PRO Pack or can be ordered separately.

    I know the online documentation needs more information :) Please bear with us. You should see a lot more information on within a week.

  • Hi Nitin: what is the sampling rate of the sensors on your module?  If I am interested in connecting a gumstix (overo) com.  Does it come with the connectors right on the board or do I need to get an expansion board for that?  Specifically how does the navstik communicate with overo (what overo interface? what data rates?)  Does it have fail safe mux circuitry on board?  I have recently updated my overo based autopilot to run with an APM2 as the sensor head.  I wrote a 5-part blog series starting here:

    I had a very successful flight this past friday.  Your hardware is interesting because it is so compact and if I understand correctly has a direct interface to the overo?  But it's always the details where things get tricky and hard.

    Hacking the APM2 Part #1: Introduction
  • @David: The main module weighs about 4 grams (without differential pressure sensor), and 5.4 grams with all sensors. The interface boards weigh between 3.2 and 8.6 grams. So, depending on the interface board you choose, you can get the complete autopilot hardware between 7.2 and 14 grams. Oh, and you will need to add an appropriate GPS antenna (and telemetry module), which will add a few more grams, depending on the one you choose.

  • @Crashpilot1000, @Peter: NavStik has been designed for quality and performance, and is one of the most powerful systems available, while being the smallest and lightest, at the same time. It is meant for serious automation applications, including applications where a Gumstix Overo® needs to be integrated in an autonomous MAV (sub 100 gram) for heavy processing. To the best of our knowledge there is no other hardware platform that provides this functionality, today.

  • How much does it weigh?

  • Too expensive IMHO...

  • @Ellison Chan: The static pressure sensor is built-in (for altitude measurement). Differential pressure sensor is optional. It is required for some applications (esp. fixed-wing) for measurement of air-speed (pitot-tube). In case, you are planning to work on multicopters, you probably don't need a differential pressure sensor. GPS antenna is required for GPS applications.

    For selection of the interface board, pl take a look at this comparison chart: Interface Boards

  • Complete rip off

  • @Nikhil: NavStik provides the hardware platform to implement autopilot and other automation applications. It is not an off-the-shelf autopilot system. It is designed for researchers/DIY enthusiasts who plan to develop/implement their own algorithms on this board. In due course, we should be able to see NavStik being used in a variety of systems. IIT Kanpur is already planning to use this platform for a few of their MAVs, currently under development.

    @MarcS: NavStik comes ready with a set of drivers for RTOS (for all interfaces, sensors, uSD card support, etc.) and code samples for making use of these drivers and writing multithreaded applications, etc. A console application for testing the hardware is also included. Details and screenshots of all these will soon be uploaded.

    So, this provides a platform for researchers/DIY enthusiasts to develop their own autopilot. For standard autopilot applications, several open-source code-base (for both, onboard and GCS) are already available that can be easily ported to NavStik. We will provide examples of this in due course.

    @Ellison Chan: $299 is for the main board that consists of the controller and all the sensors (including a high quality GPS), except the differential pressure sensor. The only other item required for basic setup is one interface board (IvyPRO, IvyEZ or IvyLITE). It is highly recommended to also get the ground-station board (IvyGS), as it provides a lot of functionality (JTAG debugger, console, telemetry support) and integrates tightly with the rest of NavStik setup.

    BTW, a youtube video of the main board is available here:

  • One thing I gotta say is that it's very expensive.  $299 for just the controller, and then you have to buy the sensors, and I/O boards on top of that?

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