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

From: Rui Costa
Subject: Re: [Paparazzi-devel] Introduction, Q's about STM32 development
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 15:50:26 -0100

Hi Prashanth,

I'm also interested in some more info on how you sampled the air on board an unmanned aircraft. I'm doing resource about the applicability of UAV's.

Rui Costa

On Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM, Christoph Niemann <address@hidden> wrote:
Dear Jake,

since you didn't do anything with paparazzi at all, I  would recommend you to use something, that has been used with paparazzi before, because that is challenging enough. What about using an established or at least tested Autopilot first like TWOG or Umarin? I calculated the costs for an Umarin with 120-130€.
Please don't get me wrong, I don't want to discourage you, but once you are used to the System and you have an overview about how to build a new AP, you can Still invent new, fancy APs as well.



2012/1/19 Jake Stewart <address@hidden>
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?


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