Hi everyone! I am finally ready to show off something I've been working on for months! It's a motherboard (which I am calling the MAXboard) that all the various electronics for a multirotor aircraft plug into. It eliminates pretty much any possible wiring mistakes, and all soldering. It makes it much easier to build, repair, and upgrade your aircraft.

This is an open source project, and am I running a Kickstarter campain to get some funds to continue development. I am also really hoping to get the support of the DIY Drones community to help me test it and work out bugs.

There is also a frame I designed to go with it as well as a ground station I think you'll like. I'll post more information on those, as well as some videos, soon.

For more info, or to help support the project, please take a look at my Kickstarter. Thanks! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1703258614/maxrotor-open-source...

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Comment by Mark on June 23, 2013 at 2:18pm

I saw your kickstarter earlier today and thought it was a pretty cool idea - any particular reason you're using the APM2.5 hardware instead of the PX4?  It's such a kind of future-looking and featureful platform, I expected some 32bit core running on it.  If it was using the PX4/PX4Flow, I would have jumped on it immediately (I already have enough APM's around, but no PX4's).

One other suggestion, since you've got pretty much everything and the kitchen sink on there, and since it's all the buzz these days, why not also have 3 motor controllers for a 3 axis brushless gimbal?   That's about the only thing missing...

Comment by Michael Colton on June 23, 2013 at 2:24pm

When I began development, I didn't feel like the P4X was sufficiently mature. Is the PX4 pretty solid these days? I imagine I'll make a variation of this design to support the PX4 when I have time.

I totally agree about the brushless gimbal. I want to make an add-on for the MAXrotor to support it, but again they weren't really a thing when I started development and I didn't want to put things on hold to add that in.

Thanks for the kind words on the project!


MR60
Comment by Hugues on June 23, 2013 at 2:30pm

This is a great idea. Did you plan to let the user choose for either integrated or remote components, for the sonar, optical flow and video tx for example ? (a little bit like the PCI addon cards in a PC, connecting to the motherboard, but with ...cables). Indeed it might be too restrictive to have to usse your frame to take benefit of such an integrated board. Some other frame might need another placement of the sonar or optical flow or video Tx.

Comment by Michael Colton on June 23, 2013 at 2:35pm

I hadn't really thought about it. My goal was to make things really easy, at the expense of some flexibility I guess. Then again, all of the modules just plug in through headers, if those headers were removed you could solder wires to extend any part you want to some other location. I could probably break out an additional solder location for most of those parts so you could either use the existing plug, or solder your own cables in. I'm adding that idea to my list!

Comment by Michael Colton on June 23, 2013 at 2:37pm

Thanks Monroe! I'm not sure what aspect you are referring to. The module nature of the board?

Comment by Nick Arsov on June 23, 2013 at 2:48pm

Hi Michael,

Good work, but until there are no standards for device dimensions, connectors, pin assignments...etc., your board could be used just for devices you used. Any change with another device will make the motherboard useless or some cables will be needed.

It might be good for you to think of an easy to use mainboard with device holders+flexible cable sets+universal connectors+routing of commonly used signals. Thus, one could arrange the wiring according the devices used.

Best regards

Nick

Comment by Michael Colton on June 23, 2013 at 2:49pm

Awesome! We'll I'm glad I could help! I actually designed most of the module boards as single components in my PCB software so I can more easily move things around and design other boards. That might save you some time too. (I'd send you the part files, but unless you are working in PADS, they wont do you much good.)

Comment by Michael Colton on June 23, 2013 at 2:55pm

Nick, you're totally right, if these modules had standardize dimensions and connectors the MAXboard would be much more useful to use DIYers, but if I make it too flexible, then it's not as easy to use, which was my primary goal. I guess it's a trade off. Hugues's idea of additional headers might be a good compromise. This isn't the final design, just the first prototype, so I'm totally open to ideas.

Monroe, if you take a look at the frame (you'll have to head over to the kickstarter, as I haven't posted it here yet.) you'll see that the entire upper half of the frame, with all the electronics, are vibration isolated from the motors. Additional vibration isolation on top of that may be necessary, we'll see.

Comment by Michael Colton on June 23, 2013 at 2:56pm

I keep catching typos right after I post. Is there a way to edit posts?

Comment by Gary McCray on June 23, 2013 at 3:14pm

I really like the plug and play concept and it is nice and tidy as well.

But there are few issues: like Monroe said, the flight controller board really needs vibration isolation and with all that DC wandering around in the vicinity of the magnetometer, you probably need to use an external magnetometer as well as the GPS.

Obviously it is designed to be on the bottom of the Quad facing down so it would really help to have some kind of cowling or cover, but then the Sonar and Optical flow would still need ports.

It will be interesting to see how some of these issues are tackled.

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