AshimaCore flying on a few different frames. This is actually the same AshimaCore brain in all the movies – it only takes a couple of minutes to move it from frame-to-frame. We added some new levels to our Kickstarter project for people just wanting to get an “almost ready to fly” quad (the “almost” is because we can’t reasonably ship a 100% assembled quad in the mail).
We launched the AshimaCore Kickstarter project today! The project has a few different combinations of the main board, the programmer / power board, various XBee antennas, debugger, and extras available. The goal is to get a batch of the boards built using automated production and to establish a production line that we can setup for distribution via an electronics / hobby retailer.
A month or so ago we showed you the unpopulated versions of our flier boards. Since then, we populated the main processor board and its daughter programmer / power board and been doing some testing. The image below shows the prototype main and daughter boards, along with a penny and a micro-SD card for scale.
We’ve started calling the combined unit the AshimaCore. It packages together a few nice pieces of kit that we think are likely to be of use for other projects. Here’s what is in the AshimaCore:
- STM32F4: a 168 MHz, ARM Cortex M4 with FPU, 1 Mb Flash, 192K memory
- MPU 9150: a compact, collocated, co-aligned accelerometer, gyro, and mag
- The usual host of digital, analog, and bus I/O that you expect for microcontrollers
Some times while working on one project, it ends up being necessary to build a tool that doesn’t exist in the form you want. That recently happened while we were building our open-source STM32F libraries. The result of this, however, turned out to be kind of cool and we figured it might be useful for others. So we stuck it in a GitHub repo.
What the code does is help pdftotext to extract well delineated (black rectangular bounded) table cells, and outputs them in a number of different formats for use with down stream tools. In one format, the code can output the scanned table and colour code what it thinks are distinct cells, so you can check that it’s getting things right (see figure, below).
The latest flight boards are back from the manufacturer. On the right at top we have the “wing” electronic speed controller (ESC) for the “Pod” flier, and below it a more standard rectangular form-factor version of the ESC. On the left is the main processor and sensor board (top) and its associated daughter board. For reference, the short axis on the rectangular ESC is 2.8 cm, or just over 1 inch.
Over the last few months we’ve been working on the board designs for our main flight controller, the mini hexcopter esc’s (electronic speed controllers), the vehicle sensor board, and a commercial esc board that shares all of the non-hexcopter-specific functions of our internal esc board but in a more standard rectangular form factor. A lot of time is spent on things like playing around with layout. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a video of the kind of stuff involved. We thought this was fun just seeing the board tweaked around. Admittedly, this might be a hard-core geek thing, but it made us smile…
Here’s a quick image of our miniQuad test article during a static test of the vehicle thrust. We don’t consider the miniQuad a real flight vehicle – it’s a testbed that uses our new modular and integrated ESC / battery / motor (“wing”) boards we showed a couple of months ago; and it drives them with the old centre board from the bigger quad that you can see flying in several of our prior posts. The rest of the structure on this “Franken-vehicle” is the harness needed to couple the old and the new for this temporary test system. The testbed is being used to conduct functional tests and thrust measurements using the new “wing” boards. The next step in the vehicle development will be the new centre boards.
So far we had been using a nice little CMOS low-light camera on the quad. However, we also wanted to test and demonstrate the system with a popular off-the-shelf camera. The advantage in this case being that we ought to be able to obtain a live feed at moderate quality over a wifi link (as with the prior system) but also an HD video when we landed and popped out an SD card. Voilà: a quad flight demonstration with a GoPro Hero2. We’ve embedded snippets from our filming from the ground (including some shots of our live feed monitor) on the HD video we recovered from the GoPro after flight. Make sure to crank this sucker to 1080p on the youtube settings and run fullscreen else it won’t seem any different from the earlier videos! (on the flip side, the sound is from the on board, might want to crank that down – these motors really aren’t *that* loud… unless you’re like 10cm from them)
We are updating our Mars panorama WebGL tool to include the latest Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) “Curiosity” panoramas as they get created at JPL. The display system demonstrates some capabilities of WebGL – an API that allows browser-based systems, via HTML5, to directly exploit the power of your system’s graphics card.
Ashima Arts is developing a range of technologies to allow developers to use WebGL more effectively and efficiently. Check out our upcoming presentation at the 2012 OCaml Users and Developers Workshop (Sept. 14, 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark). The usual caveat is in place that the display tool will not work for some combinations of browsers and graphics cards (and as usual, friends don’t ever let friends use Internet Explorer). In case this doesn’t work on your machine, here’s a youtube video showing the demo running on one of our Mac laptops.