The GizmoCopter Project

GizmoCopter Project Results for ELJ Contest, Aug 2001

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OK, it's contest deadline time and GizmoCopter isn't flying yet. We'll say that up-front.

But the deadline has arrived to post what we have. And so here it is. For the contest judges at Embedded Linux Journal, this is what we've got so far and what we've overcome to get here.

Points of Interest for the ELJ Contest

Here are some notes we believe will be relevant for the judges.
Development of Open Source Software
Libraries and drivers are all under GPL. The GizmoCopter Project entered into cooperation with Armadillo Aerospace (AA) of Dallas, TX to create the OpenVTVL Project at SourceForge, in order to publish our source code. (VTVL stands for "vertical takeoff, vertical landing", a rocketry term equivalent to VTOL used for aircraft.) AA, led by John Carmack of Id Software (of Quake and Doom fame), has successfully achieved a short controlled VTVL flight, the first ever by an amateur rocketeer, earlier in 2001. It can be done!
Software Progress in CVS
It's all still in development. But you can see where it is in CVS on SourceForge, including the following:
Use of Open Source Software
We are using the following packages on-board the flight computer.
Public Presentation
We briefly showed GizmoCopter to the Silicon Valley Linux User Group (SVLUG) before the main speaker began at the Aug 1, 2001 meeting. The response was enthusiastic, and a great moarale boost for our team after all the time spent on this project so far.
Hardware Installation
The MZ104 board sent to us by ELJ for the contest turned out to be easier to work with than the two Ampro 486DXe processor boards which we had already bought. But we still had problems to overcome. The memory that came on the board either had a flaw or was damaged by electrostatic discharge at some point. We were unable to install a kernel even to a connected hard drive until we bought a replacement SO-DIMM memory. The Disk-on-Chip remains inaccessible and hasn't been verified working.
Embedded Linux Kernel Deployment
A Linux 2.4.6 kernel was installed and boots from either of an attached hard drive or the on-board boot flash on the MZ104 board. Our "flight kernel" is a modified Linux 2.4.6 kernel as follows: The merged combination of the external patches we used can be downloaded from OpenVTVL. And as stated above, we're writing our own "dmm-aio" kernel driver for the Diamond Systems PC/104 analog I/O board.
"Pushing the Envelope" for Model Aircraft
By doing vertical takeoffs and landings, GizmoCopter is pushing the envelope for model aircraft in several areas.

Status of the Project

The status of Gizmocopter, as of July 31st, 2001 is as follows:

Parts List

Quantity Description
2 Solid state X-Y gyro PCBs from Gyromouse "GyroPoint Desk" mouse, which contain solid state X-Y gyro PCBs with Murata ENC05EA & ENC05EB solid state gyros. We acquired these at the surplus Weird Stuff Warehouse in Sunnyvale.
2 Analog Devices ADXL202EB 2G two axis accelerometer evaluation boards.
1 Parallax BS2SX Basic Stamp PCB.
1 Tri-M Systems MZ104 Single Board Computer
1 M-Systems Disk-On-Chip 2000
1 Diamond Systems MM-AT 16-channel 12-bit Analog I/O Board
4 AstroFlight Astro Cobalt 035 motors
4 AstroFlight 4.36:1 gearboxes
4 AstroFlight 217D motor speed controllers
2 Master Airscrew 14X7 (standard) 3-bladed propellors
2 Master Airscrew 14X7 (pusher) 3-bladed propellors
1 Custom Aluminum airframe built by ERPS machinst
1 Ampro MiniModule PCC PC/104 to PCMCIA 2 socket adapter
1 Parvus Systems Snap-Stik Starter Kit PC/104 mounting kit
4 12 cell sub-C 2400 mA-hr nicad battery packs (14.4 VDC)
1 5 cell A NiMH battery pack (6 VDC)
1 Agere Systems (formerly part of Lucent) Orinoco PCMCIA 802.11B wireless ethernet adapter

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GizmoCopter is a trademark of the Experimental Rocket Propulsion Society, Inc., a California non-profit organization.