Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Did you see a new gadget or toy and start brimming with ideas? See something that has tons of potential? Discuss these thoughts here.

Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby b00nafide » June 3rd, 2012, 1:57 pm

After a long and sober consideration of what I'm up against and the discouraging discovery that the GPS isn't working at all anymore (I blame my soldering), I've all but abandoned my quest to make the existing RT5350F do what I want it to do. Not to discourage others who are keen on altering the existing SoC to suit - obviously a working implementation of the wireless exists, is possible and in due time the required code will be released (in theory).

Sorry- tried my best, but it looks like a parasite is the closest I'm going to come to completing this idea by the summer.

Not to let the entire weekend go to waste, I opened up a TL-WR703N and took the plunge. Absolute bliss by comparison. Grabbed the latest trunk from openwrt, quickly performed the serial mod (don't solder directly to TP_OUT and TP_IN - the pads come off), added a 4-port hub, performed the pivot_root to a USB flash drive, added UVC video support, attached a UVC webcam... no problem!

The final step is to communicate properly with the helicopter's microcontroller. This should be trivial compared to months of wading through wireless module code. Update soon.
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby Samot » June 3rd, 2012, 9:01 pm

Sad to listen that RT5350F is being abandoned but I understand the limitations. I'll have to consider getting a TL-WR703N as my hacking skills are very limited.

Just in, case yesterday I also wrote to the manufacturer asking for any details oh I2C and source code (long shot, I'm not expecting great news).

Today I took my WiFli outside with a very calm breeze and found that can not keep it up with the air current. Maybe some mods are necessary. Removing (or reducing) the giro's weight may improve the forward flight at expenses of stability tough I haven't try it yet. An other option adding some nose weight which will make the chopper move forward even in the "rest" position or try enlarging the the rotor propeller. I'll try to experiment with the second one.

So long, today's experience has cost me a landing skid which I'm glueing right now.
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby b00nafide » June 5th, 2012, 2:19 pm

Samot wrote:Sad to listen that RT5350F is being abandoned but I understand the limitations. I'll have to consider getting a TL-WR703N as my hacking skills are very limited.

Just in, case yesterday I also wrote to the manufacturer asking for any details oh I2C and source code (long shot, I'm not expecting great news).

Today I took my WiFli outside with a very calm breeze and found that can not keep it up with the air current. Maybe some mods are necessary. Removing (or reducing) the giro's weight may improve the forward flight at expenses of stability tough I haven't try it yet. An other option adding some nose weight which will make the chopper move forward even in the "rest" position or try enlarging the the rotor propeller. I'll try to experiment with the second one.

So long, today's experience has cost me a landing skid which I'm glueing right now.


I'm not completely giving up on the RT5350F being useful someday, just realizing that I'm running out of time and have alternatives available to me.

So, hooked up the arduino for sniffing the serial data.

TX data (uchar):
170 (100+ controller ID) (0-255 power) 0 (>128 left / <128 right) (>128 backward / <128 forward ) 0 0 187

RX data (uchar):
238 (100+ controller ID) 100 50 (0-100 battery level) 0 (9-10 a status indicator?) 0 221.

EDIT: Surprise! The data is exactly the same as what's being transmitted / received over tcp port 2000 by the phone app. We don't need the proprietary application to talk to the microcontroller, we just need to send the packets back and forth between tcp port 2000 and the serial port at 9600 baud. (ie. ser2net for linux!)
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby b00nafide » June 7th, 2012, 12:15 am

Success?

To parasite the wifli helicopter:

- install openwrt on a small router (ie. TL-WR703N!) - lots of good help elsewhere for this.
- perform serial mod, usb hub mod, extra bit-banging via GPIO is often available as well
- attach your USB devices, add support in openwrt, ie. pivotroot, mjpg-streamer, etc.
- install ser2net.
- use another tty for the system console if there is only one serial port available (I altered inittab)
- remove the RT5350F from J2 on the helicopter and attach your openwrt-supported platform of choice instead.

The pinouts for J2:

GND
TX - to RX on your openwrt platform
RX - to TX on your openwrt platform
3.3V - from your openwrt platform's 3.3V rail (to power the microcontroller)
~4.0V - battery power from the helicopter (to power your openwrt platform)

- create a ser2net configuration file to listen on tcp port 2000, raw, no timeout, with the serial device at 9600N81 no flow control.
- create a wireless network on your platform, it doesn't matter what the SSID is.
- start ser2net, it will write trace files to the /tmp directory (if you configure it that way) for troubleshooting/data capture.
- make sure the address 192.168.11.123 port 2000 is reachable on the platform.

Fire up the phone app or your favorite python script to control the motors. Connect. Fly!
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby Samot » June 7th, 2012, 7:55 am

When you succeed it would be fun to see a video!
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby b00nafide » June 7th, 2012, 12:26 pm

Samot wrote:When you succeed it would be fun to see a video!


Yeah :) I was hoping to fly the parasite outside today but I have an issue with USB power. When the motors are started, they pull a lot of current and the USB webcam (500mA) is temporarily disconnected from the bus. I have to find the best way to prevent that, otherwise the video output is halted as soon as the helicopter lifts off... I'm not into a separate source of power for USB but I suppose that's one (heavy!) way I could try to go.
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby Samot » June 7th, 2012, 8:49 pm

You could experiment putting a capacitor in parallel with the motor. Not sure which capacity though...
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby b00nafide » June 7th, 2012, 10:05 pm

Samot wrote:You could experiment putting a capacitor in parallel with the motor. Not sure which capacity though...


Yup, I tried a 100mA and a 470mA 10V cap on the USB VCC to see if it would prevent the low power condition causing disconnects. Nope!

Instead I connected a very small very lightweight rechargeable 3.7V battery to VCC on the HUB (disconnecting it from the router's VCC). I pulled the battery from an old keychain LCD pictureframe and kept the tail on the battery so I can still monitor it's battery levels and recharge it with the correct charging circuit when needed.

It works!! video and motors are happy!

...it looks pretty crappy! I have to put it together and balance it now. Video very soon!
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby SureshotM6 » June 8th, 2012, 9:48 am

Just got one of these a couple days ago. Looking forward to adding some sensors.

If anyone is interested, I've updated @Myrhev's python control script to support the XBox 360 gamepad and made a couple of improvements:
http://code.google.com/p/wifli-control/ ... atamari.py

You control the helicopter 'Katamari' style with the two sticks, and the throttle with the analog triggers. The L and R trigger buttons control trim, A kills the throttle, and B exits the program. It's much easier to control this way than with the standard app. It requires pygame to be installed (preferably the nightly build since the stable release prints out debug).

For the Rx data, the unknown byte is the number of packets received in the last second (kind of useless). I think the max is 0xf (15). Also, if you don't send any packets within 5 seconds, the throttle gradually powers down over 1-2 seconds, so it won't fly away.
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Re: Anything interesting in the post-holiday clearance bins?

Postby b00nafide » June 10th, 2012, 7:16 am

SureshotM6 wrote:If anyone is interested, I've updated @Myrhev's python control script to support the XBox 360 gamepad and made a couple of improvements:
http://code.google.com/p/wifli-control/ ... atamari.py


Cool, that link isn't working for me at the moment but I'm glad others are getting involved.

I'm so excited that I've parasited the helicopter that I keep cutting corners putting it all together. Vibration is a problem, so anything soldered to the router needs extra attention (I've settled for little dabs of hot glue in addition to reflowing problem areas). I have to take it all apart and put it all back together again at least one more time before I'm going to have a durable unit - just noticed a ground wire in a hard to reach place that popped off after my last test.

I'm still balancing and trimming off all the extra weight I can. But at this point, I flip the thing on (two power switches now, one for the helicopter and one for USB), connect to the video stream once it's booted, and control the motors from the phone app which properly displays the battery level for the motors. Running the motors doesn't disturb USB operation.

It's extra work and I have a lot of projects on my plate, but I will eventually slap up a webpage with a summary of my discoveries and a howto for the TL-WR703N parasite.
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