We are now moving the blimpduino project to the next stage: PCB manufacturing (mrobotics.io is working on it now. Thanks Jordi!) The electronics has passed all the tests and the Arduino CODE is 70%-ish done. I have to confess that this “robot” development is being quite exciting. The blimpduino 2.0 has been created with the primary goal of being suitable and capable of controlling as many balloons types as possible. No matter its size or shape. It means that the sensors onboard have to be in charge of providing enough valuable info to the M0 processor to make the blimp controllable during the flights: no over-reaction, smooth navigation, altitude hold… Currently, the blimpduino has accelerometers (smooth turns), magnetometer (this one makes easier to keep the heading) and laser + barometer (providing altitude info). With all the sensors working, we have a fly-by-wire blimp controlled system. Once you try it, you won´t go back to the manual control.
We have been testing 6 different LIPO batteries (from 80 to 550mAh) looking for the perfect balance between size and flying time and the 500 mAh battery is giving the best results: lasting for 40-45 minutes in MANUAL piloting mode. NOTE: if the ASSISTED MODE is activated, with all the sensors helping to control the blimp, the battery is lasting up to an hour. For anyone looking to control a small balloon: just use a 80 mAh. It will last for 20 minutes (according to our test with 0612 size motors)
After testing many types of DC motors, we have picked the 0612 brushed model. They offered the best compromise between weight/power consumption and thrust. But that does not mean that any other motor can not be mounted. The motor drivers can provide up to 900 mAh*, so larger motors can be fitted to the blimp
* Still deciding which motor driver to use!
The blimpduino 2.0 control board contains a M0 processor (100% compatible with the Arduino IDE), sensors, motor controllers (4), WIFI module, battery charger and some ancillary elements. Everything compressed as much as possible. Below, the initial design of everything “connected” but not optimized. We will opt for a double sided components board trying to minimize the final size/weight of the PCB but keeping the cost as low as possible.
The Gondola design is still a work in progress. We currently have two 3D printed versions: the LITE and the BEAUTIFUL. The goal is to have a very lightweight frame and another capable of carrying ancillary devices like a micro-servo and a second lidar laser (to avoid obstacles) . The good thing: everyone will be able to designs its own frame only keeping in mind the motors separation.
Blimpduino 2.0 current features:
- Co-operative piloting: several pilots can control different things at the same time.
- 2 servo outputs
- Up to 4 motors
- WIFI controlled (via APP or bluetooth -OTG cable connected game-controller)
- Altitude hold (laser sensor for short distances + barometric sensor when flying high)
- Internal accelerometer for a smooth navigation
- Arduino coded
- Suitable for small to huge helium balloons
- OPENMV camera compatible (send video / photos to your smartphone / recognize patterns / play with its OPENCV features)
- Range: up to 150 meters.
- USB port LiPO rechargeable. Just connect the blimpduino to your smartphone charger. No need of an external Lipo charger.
Ideas / feedback / comments/ features request? Let us know in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you