At $35 the Raspberry PI is a DIY Droner's dream: a 700Mhz ARM processor with Floating Point Unit, 512M of on board RAM, nearly limitless SD Card solid state disk storage, embedded Linux, small, lightweight, and consuming only around 1W of power.

It clearly is a fantastic computing engine, but actually of little use because the board has practically no user I/O ports.

Enters RIO (for Raspberry IO), a smart IO card that stacks on top of the Raspberry and that opens a world of possibilities, with a special focus on Robotics and Autonomous Navigation.


RIO is a project that was posted on April 25 on kickstarter. You can view the card's full specifications and a demo at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/95547492/smart-io-expansion-card-for-raspberry-pi

A few features will stand out to the DIY enthusiast:

- On-board AHRS, complete with 3 axis magnetometer, gyro, accelerometers and fusion software

- RC inputs to capture and convert signal from RC receiver

- RC servo driving capability. This is actually not shown in the kickstarter page but most of the digital inputs are capable of generating the 1.0-1.5-2.0ms pulse needed by servos

- Serial port and 5V output for connecting to GPS modules

- Direct interface to Ping ultrasound distance sensor

- Onboard 32-bit ARM Cortex MCU, that can be user programmed to handle all critical tasks that require quick real-time response.

RIO needs your support to become real. So please spread the word and make your pledge on kickstarter.






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  • The new BeagleBone Black is selling for 45 dollars and:

    is open-source hardware that combines the capabilities of a microcontroller and a Raspberry Pi into a single board. It features a single-core Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 processor clocked at 1GHz, 512MB of DDR3 RAM, and 2GB of eMMC memory that holds the pre-installed Angstrom Linux operating system. The board also features two Programmable Real Time Units (PRU) that run in parallel with the ARM processor and are responsible for the microcontroller duties.

    Out of the box, the BeagleBone Black includes a single DC power barrel connector, two USB 2.0 ports (one micro USB), a micro SD card slot, a micro HDMI port for video output, and a 10/100 Ethernet jack (internally USB, just like the Raspberry Pi). In addition to the somewhat-standard PC/mobile IO options, the BeagleBone Black has two 46-pin connectors on either side of the PCB that can accept cape expansion cards (more on that later). The expansion cards can extend the board’s functionality by adding sensors, FPGAs, serial ports, LCD displays, batteries, motors, and even 3D printer hardware.

    This may be potentially interesting. http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/154100-beaglebone-black-raspberr...

  • Would this board be of any interest as a starting point? Here's the blurb:

    Raspy Juice is an experimental expansion board to supply a Raspberry Pi (RPi) host computer with a regulated +5V from a wide-range voltage source. The board also contains a real-time clock, an RS232-level translator for the host console serial port, and an expansion AVR ATmega168A microcontroller (MCU). This MCU provides the service of controlling 4 channels of RC servo outputs, an RS485 interface, and a half-duplex software-based RS232 interface. In addition, the spare pins of the MCU are brought to an expansion header which may be used for other purposes. The MCU itself is interfaced to the host computer through an I2C/TWI interface, in which the former is a slave device.

  • It is mostly a publiciy platform for Newatk/Farnell/Element14 which makes practically no money with it (compared to its distribution business).

    This is totally untrue. The rationale for the Raspberry Pi Foundation (a charity) can be found here http://www.raspberrypi.org/about

    It is an educational goal, not a marketing ploy for Farnell etc.

    Doesn't the processor suck too much power?  Looked at it a while back for a work project and it wasn't acceptable because of that...nice to have linux on it though.

    The processor will use about 1 watt if you don't use the GPU. It can use up to 5W in total if the GPU is being hammered. Note that it is now systematically overclocked to 800MHz without any problems.

    all those offering older arm devices in essence do not know what they are doing ;-)

    The goals of the Pi included a maximum price point of about 25 pounds and low energy consumption. They chose the SoC based on those goals.

    Apparently there have been GPS attached to the Pi before. I'm not at all an expert in the subject, but you can find loads of accessories already for the Pi, for example here .

    Somebody is already looking at an autonomous Pi-powered boat here with the PoC using the fiollowing components

    By all means go ahead with the kickstarter, but don't try to belittle the Pi Foundation's efforts as some form of marketing effort on behalf of electronics companies.

    There are current real time OS developments here and here and there are probably others. It's an interesting platform that is attracting a lot of varied development.

  • realtime - anything older than an arm a9 is some sort of pain.
    all those offering older arm devices in essence do not know what they are doing ;-)

    i looked at the kickstarter project and found just the common keywords but no detail about the used hardware. there is also no information about the interprocess communication.
    the wrong design design leads to a system not being deterministic.

  • Moderator

    I agree , need right software and it's big.

    for our application .

  • There are a number of alternates to the Raspberry, some of which I learned about in this discussion. They all seem to suffer from the same lack of I/O limitation, which is to be expected since they all are based on systems on chip that were primarily designed for the mobile telephone market. So, if one of these alternates becomes very popular, we'll just create a version of RIO with a different shape: the hard work on RIO is the schematic, the firmware needed to process the I/O, and the seamless software integration with Linux (using a memory miroring technique).

    Many have commented that RIO costs more than the Raspberry (or alternates). This is correct but it is more because the Raspberry is unusually inexpensive, than the other way around. Raspberry is fabricated in very high volume (1M have been claimed to be sold), with very little margin. It is mostly a publiciy platform for Newatk/Farnell/Element14 which makes practically no money with it (compared to its distribution business). This is why, I would remain skeptical of other similar boards, which offer nice features at an equally attractive price, but whose makers will eventually lose interst and disapear if they cannot make a minimal profit to sustain a business.

    RIO does not have super high volume ambitions. The 15K kickstarter goal means around 150 boards. If demand is high and production volume rises in the thousands, price will definitely come down.

    The good news is that RIO has already reached 10% of its funding goal in the first 24 hours. Several backers come from DIY Drones. My warmest thanks to them.

  • Way to much for what you get. If it were in the $50 range I would consider it


  • BTW a Cubieboard with 1Ghz ARM A8, 1 GB DDR3, 4GB Flash, SdCard, HDMI, USB etc sells for 58,50€ here in Germany. Adding some sensors and an I/O STM/Arduino is really no problem. The Problem is the right software. So this kickstarter is just another example of rounding up 15K$ for nothing but hot air.

    Cheers Kraut Rob

  • I miss DIP personally.

    Unfortunately, the simple fact of the matter is that it is necessary for this level of sophistication to use professional assembly as well as board manufacture.

    Of course that means you need to make a bunch at a time to make it economically feasible too.

    So use commercial SBC and your own interface board and when you are absolutely sure you have it right, lay out error free PCB and send them off to somebody who can handle ball grid (definitely not for modded toaster oven).

  • Moderator

    Yes i saw that platform .. it's very nice ... so i think that this is natural evolution of our fly platform .. With neuron i try to doing some test and define some scenario ... The main problem of advanced platform is that is not so simple assemble it . Normally this processor use ballgrid and not tqfp so is not so simple DIY this kind of product.

    With Neuron is possible .. the package of processor is a TQFP ... but is not so cheaper as RPI if your produce it in a small number of pcs.



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