I've been hard at work this week on the Balloon Controller. It's an ARM-based embedded system with a bunch of sensors, intended to be flown as a payload on a high-altitude balloon. I'm very nearly finished with the PCB layout, but I thought I'd post a picture of it anyway:


The board features:

  • MakingThings Make Controller
  • Microhard Corp n920 radio comm link
  • GPS
  • Compass
  • Digital altimeter, 10 - 1300 mBar
  • Internal and external temperature sensors (internal is on the altimeter, external is a thermistor)
  • SD Card
  • System battery voltage sensing
  • Two USB ports, one for downloading new code, the other with an FTDI to access the debug serial port
  • Wide supply voltage range, 9 - 28 V (we'll probably use an 11.1V LiPoly pack for R/C cars

This is just a prototype. The next version will feature an Atmel SAM3S MCU instead of the Make Controller, some GPIO, and more refinement. It might even have an image sensor interface and be able to downlink images in real-time. And they'll be available for purchase, although we'll look at alternatives for the communications link, because the n920 radios are fairly expensive.

Stay tuned for updates.