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Re: [Paparazzi-devel] Introduction, Q's about STM32 development

From: Chris Gough
Subject: Re: [Paparazzi-devel] Introduction, Q's about STM32 development
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 09:50:12 +1100

Hi Jake,

I can't answer your questions about using a STM32 discovery board, but
I'm curious to see what others have to say about that.

I'm concerned that you are adding a non-critical electronics hardware
development component to a project that has more interesting and
critical technical challenges. Perhaps it would be more satisfying for
you if you eliminated "cost optimisation" (scale-out) to a later
stage, once you have demonstrated the nesiscary functionality (prove

I don't think you'll find much waste in the existing autopilot
designs, you can get them made in bulk quite cheeply if that's what
you need.

>  I'm very interested in using UAVs to collect unique biological samples from 
> inaccessable
> areas like remote areas, high altitude areas, open seas, arial samples, etc..

Please elaborate on "collecting biological samples", it's boggling my
mind. I've captured samples of soild, sticks and leaves but only on
unplanned landings (never collected one deliberately/remotely and
carried it home). How did you imagine this working?

Chris Gough

On Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 10:34 PM, Jake Stewart <address@hidden> wrote:
> Hello Paparazzi list members!  I'm a microbiologist from Idaho (USA).  I have 
> a basic electronics background with some experience with RC flying and a 
> little bit with Atmega8 programming.  I'm very interested in using UAVs to 
> collect unique biological samples from inaccessable areas like remote areas, 
> high altitude areas, open seas, arial samples, etc..
> Your project is amazingly impressive!  So much so that it is pretty 
> intimidating to a non-expert such as myself.  I have a few questions about 
> where to begin.  I've done a fair bit of reading on the project, but perhaps 
> need some advice on getting started.  Feel free to let me know if I'm out of 
> line, or reply off-list, or ignore any or all of my questions if it's 
> something I should be able to figure out myself.
> I am currently playing with STM32 VL Discovery boards from ST.  I got a 
> handfull of them from Arrow for the insane price of $2.20 each! Link and 
> datasheet...
> It's essentially a STM32F100B chip with all the pins exposed on headers, on a 
> board with a STM32103 for USB programming support, a couple lights and 
> buttons, and with all the voltage regulators and whatnot that you'd expect 
> for a simple dev board.  I'm curious what I could do with such a cheap board. 
>  I figure that they're essentially disposable for all intents and purposes, 
> so no worries about going soldering iron crazy and trying to prototype some 
> interesting circuits.
> I'm curious about the extent that the code is tied to the hardware...
> What hardware features are there beyond a proto/dev board that are necessary 
> for the project?
> Would it be possible to implement something on a cheap board like the one I 
> mentioned?
> Is the code dependent on any of the hardware on the LISA boards?
> What are the memory requirements for the firmware?
> I ask because I'm currently using Atollic in Windows with my board and 
> haven't yet set up a linux environment/toolchain to work with.  Any tips or 
> pointers to info on that would also be much appreciated, although I think I 
> saw some info on that somewhere.  My only linux install at the moment is BT3. 
>  Should I try with that or install debian/ubuntu?
> I reallize these are all pretty noobish questions, but I just wanted to 
> introduce myself and see if I couldn't make a contact or two who have done 
> similar work or could easily give me some answers.
> I plan to put some serious work into this project and think I have most of 
> the tools needed.  Besides my $2.20 dev boards I have soldering irons, lot's 
> of spare components, a few prototype boards, two o-scopes, multimeters, etc.. 
>  For the project I've gotten a 9DOF IMU (ST chips), a few pressure/barometer 
> sensors, a differential pressure sensor for an airspeed tube, a Fastrax GPS 
> module, and a couple generic RF serial modems (sub-G TI chip based).  I also 
> have an electric plane, laptop, 3 small cameras, and a 900mhz video 
> transmitter.  As far as I can tell I have everything to build a prototype UAV 
> and just need to wire everything together and program it! Easy right? 
> (kidding)
> If running on different hardware platforms is not something easily done with 
> the project I'm hoping I can put together a more basic program running a 
> subset of the normal features.  One reason I'm thinking of this is that I 
> need to do things on the extreme cheap side as I don't have a lot of 
> confidence that a very high percentage of my planes would actually be 
> returning due to the dangerous nature of what they would be doing.  Maybe I'm 
> wrong there, but I don't envision a whole lot of my hardware returning to me 
> and I'd be happy with a 50/50 crapshoot if I can keep the hardware within 
> budget.
> At the moment I'm hoping to use the components I've gotten for testing. Not 
> sure I really even need a radio.
> STM32VLDiscovery board - $2.20 (arrow)
> 9DOF IMU - $50 (
> Fastrax GPS - $28 (mouser)
> Cessna 182 (electric, 1.4m wingspan) - $130 (hobbyking)
> --------------------
> Total $210.20
> So if I can get any sort of reasonable return rate (many missions would 
> probably be pretty safe) I should be able to get samples for fairly cheap 
> (<$500).  That should be much cheaper than collecting them by hand and open 
> up a lot of areas that simply aren't accessable.  Am I crazy to think this 
> might be possible?
> -Jake
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