Sunday, November 20, 2016

Test Bench For QuadCopter

As mentioned in my previous post, I managed to free up some time on a weekend and started to progress this project. My first task was to build a test bench so that I can test out various modules/functions of a QuadCopter, such as the motors. See below for the final product.

QuadCopter Test Bench - Final
QuadCopter Test Bench - Final

The test bench is made up of the following:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New Project "Ascension"

From my last post on Zynq development board comparisons, to which I chose the Zybo, I have taken my first step towards a new project, finally.

The new project will be called "Ascension" and I will start adding posts about it and opening up a GIT spot in the coming weeks.

The new project is to design and build a custom quadcopter drone, hence "Ascension". I know I know, it's been done many times before, but I have a few ideas on some improvements and a couple of ideas I want to try out, plus it will be fun. I will post more about the project as I get a chance to work on it.

I am in the early days of the project and I have some research and tech development to do before I can start the main design. Now that I have a platform, Zybo, I can really start "doing" work along side more research. I actually built a test bench for drone motors and the Zybo last weekend and I will post about that soon, here's a pic until then.

Home built drone motor test stand
Home built drone motor test stand

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Zynq Development Boards

One of the first things I need to do is find a suitable development board so that I can test some of my ideas and have a sandbox to play in.

I already decided to use the Xilinx Zynq SoC. I have used them before and to be honest, they have best of both worlds, which is a uC and FPGA. Also the Xilinx tool-chain is easy to use and well supported (and free). The question now is which development board should I use.


Xilinx Zynq is an SoC with a hardcore uC built in, specifically a dual-core A9 ARM processor.

Xilinx Zynq Overview
Xilinx Zynq Overview

For the Zynq development boards I will be comparing, they are usually one of two versions of the Zynq SoC (low end). See below for a comparison of the Xilinx Zynq SoC for the Z-7010 and Z-7020.

Low End Zynq IC Comparison
Low End Zynq SoC Comparison

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Update Sept 2016

Slightly over two years since my last post, how time flies.

Now what happened... Well, shortly after starting this blog two years ago I took a new position at a tech startup. If you're reading this blog and have worked at a startup tech company before then you will understand why I disappeared for the last two years. Startups will consume all of your time and mental energy. But at the same time they are super fun and challenging, I love it!

I have mostly gone through all the very difficult stuff like creating a product from whiteboard to production in 6 months, with no resources, no money and daily requirements changes. The picture below pretty much sums it up.

With all that aside, I wanted to get back to my blog and home projects. During the last two years I have actually still been thinking of projects I want to work on and the occasional research here and there. It was hard to actually get into it since so much of my time was dedicated to work and personal life.

My first goal to get my hands on a development board so that I can brush up on some skills and jump back into my long term goal of designing an autonomous drone, see about page for more info.

Stay tuned...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Uploading Old Projects - Part 2

Project Ates

C# (.Net/Mono) Bitcoin CPU/GPU Alternative Mining Program

Part 2 of this series is for a "newer" old project called "Ates". I googled a four letter word to use as a project name starting with the letter "A" and this is what I got. It has nothing to do with Bitcoin or mining, but oh well.

This home project started around summer 2013 when Bitcoin was starting to get pretty popular. I actually heard about Bitcoin back in 2010 but at the time I thought to myself "this will never go anywhere". Oh how I was so wrong. When I started investigating more into Bitcoin and this whole thing about mining I got instantly hooked. It was such an interesting idea, users "mine" coins by computing a hash algorithm to give a certain output. 

Uploading Old Projects - Part 1

Project Frogo

My first attempt at a autonomous robot

A while ago (2010) I got very interested in robotics. I wanted to build a robot so I went out and bought a bunch of parts from Digikey and Pololu,

I based my design on the Atmel Xplain development kit for the brains and used motors and wheels from Pololu.

My original goal was a four wheeled robot with ultrasound sensors and bumpers so that it could navigate itself around a room. A lot like the iRobot Roomba vacuum machines. When I first started sketching out my idea my wife mentioned that it looks a lot like a frog, so she nicknamed it "Frogo". So it became my project name!

My original vision:
  • Four wheeled, controlled by DC motors with encoders
  • Double decker wood base
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries
  • Breadboard for some glue circuitry (i.e. power regulators, motor drivers, etc.)
  • "Frog eyes" i.e. ultrasound sensors
  • Brains by Atmel Xplain development kit
  • 4.3" LCD screen for diagnostic purposes as well as to look cool

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tools of The Trade - Part 2

In this second part of the series about tools I will talk about HARDware related tools, i.e. schematics, PCB layout, etc. This took more time to select; therefore, I made a little review of the contenders. In the end my decision was partly quantitative and partly subjective. It's how I feel about a tool that matters, we will be spending a lot of time together.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tools of The Trade - Part 1

Before I officially start my first project on this blog, I decided to set up an environment first. There were many projects before this blog but were never properly documented (except chicken scratch on Realtor note pads and mad scientist looking thingamabobs).

For my first post (and first part of this series) I will talk about the different tools I am using as well as the ones I am evaluating.