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Microbee is a four-rotor model helicopter based on the [http://www.mikrokopter.de/ucwiki/en/MikroKopter Mikrokopter] system design. It's "brains" consists of 8 ARM-based microprocessors connected to various sensors and motors. It's equipped with the latest electronics hardware and is capable of photography, vision guided autonomous navigation as well as normal radio-control flying by a human being. An advanced vision recognition system is currently being developed based on the high performance, low power Texas Instruments OMAP3 platform.

All hardware & electronics is freely available in shops. The software is Open Source. Nothing is commercially-restricted.

Physical Characteristics

- Width: 40 cm (between opposite motors). 66 cm (propeller tip-to-tip).

- Height: 12 cm. (28 cm with [https://www.mikrocontroller.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=77&products_id=272&zenid=ad3b305fb0d23fb5d4c519cc63a37231 HiLander]).

- Weight: 700 grams (without battery).

- Flight Duration: ~15 minutes (with 167g/2200 mAh Lipo battery).


- [:en/FlightCtrl:FlightCtrl] ME v2.0.

- [:en/NaviCtrl:NaviCtrl] v1.1 navigation controller.

- [:en/MK3Mag:MK3Mag] magnetic compass module for direction detection.

- [:en/MKGPS:MKGPS] GPS receiver for navigation.

- [http:www.freescale.com/files/sensors/doc/data_sheet/MPX4115A.pdf MPX-4115A] barometric pressure sensor for altitude estimation.

- [http://www.spektrumrc.com/ Spektrum] 2.4 GHz R/C receiver.

- [http://www.schulze-elektronik-gmbh.de/alpha-e.htm Schulze alpha 5.35] 35 MHz R/C receiver (modified with PPM output).

- [http://shop.graupner.de/webuerp/servlet/AI?ARTN=4745 Graupner/JR MX-12s] 35 MHz R/C transmitter modified with 3 extra channels (1x 3-position switch, 2x trimpots) and Spektrum DM9 2.4 GHz module installed. Switchable between 35 MHz & 2.4 GHz.

- [http://www.radiotronix.com Radiotronix] WI232EUR 868 MHz radio modem with 1/2 wave dipole & yagi antennas. Note that the 1/2 wave dipole antenna works best on-board as it doesn't require a ground-plane and has a reasonably omnidirectional radiation pattern. For long distance communication (up to 4km), a yagi antenna is used at the ground station.

- [http://www.firmtech.co.kr/01pro/main_eng.php?index=100&proinfo=13 FB155BC] Class-2 Bluetooth module.

- [http://www.maxbotix.com/ Maxbotix] LV-EZ1 ultrasonic range finder.

- [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_polymer_battery LIPO] batteries 2200 mAh & 4400 mAh.

- An advanced computer vision system is being prototyped on a [http://beagleboard.org/ BeagleBoard] single board Linux computer. It's a latest generation, low-power, embedded processing platform. Basic computer vision algorithms have been implemented on it. The source code is being optimised to off-load the number-crunching to the DSP & GPU processors to achieve real-time vision performance.

  • 600 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 with NEON SIMD Co-processor
  • 430 MHz TMS320C64x+ DSP (fixed point, six parallel vector units)
  • 110 MHz SGX GPU

As the Beagle Board allows connection of keyboard, mouse, and display, it hosts the development toolchain and allows direct coding, compiling, and executing the embedded computer vision algorithms. Once stable, the smaller and lighter [http://www.gumstix.com/ Gumstix] Overo Water embedded module will be used on-board.


- [https://www.mikrocontroller.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=77&products_id=286&zenid=ad3b305fb0d23fb5d4c519cc63a37231 MK40] 40cm frame with anodized bars

- [https://www.mikrocontroller.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=88&products_id=317&zenid=ad3b305fb0d23fb5d4c519cc63a37231 Circular level 10mm]

- [https://www.mikrocontroller.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=77&products_id=272&zenid=ad3b305fb0d23fb5d4c519cc63a37231 MK HiLander]

- [https://www.mikrocontroller.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=77&products_id=301&zenid=ad3b305fb0d23fb5d4c519cc63a37231 MK HiSight Small]

- [http://www.canon.com Canon] IXUS-80IS camera


4x [https://www.mikrocontroller.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=73&products_id=199&zenid=ad3b305fb0d23fb5d4c519cc63a37231 Roxxy 2824-34] Brushless motors

4x [:en/BrushlessCtrl:BL-Ctrl] V1.2 brushless motor controllers

4x EPP1045 Propellers


- [http://www.airwave.com.tw/58GHz-Analog-RF-module.html Airwave AWM683TX] 5.8 GHz 100mW video transmitter with 3.2 dBi WiniZen W6E–UPW–10 dipole antenna

- [http://www.airwave.com.tw/58GHz-Analog-RF-module.html Airwave AWM682RX] 5.8 GHz video receiver with 7 dBi AWM-ANT58-PCB patch antenna

- [http://www.sparkfun.com/datasheets/Sensors/Imaging/CM-26N.pdf CM-26N/P] CMOS colour camera module

- [http://www.optics-online.com/dsl_fisheye.asp Sunex] DSL209A or DSL215B fisheye lens


On-board Software

- [http://svn.mikrokopter.de/mikrowebsvn/filedetails.php?repname=FlightCtrl&path=/tags/V0.74d/Hex-Files/Flight-Ctrl_MEGA644_V0_74d.hex Flight-Ctrl 0.74d] modified to control height with a [http://www.maxbotix.com/ Maxbotix] LV-EZ1 ultrasonic range finder (instead of the MPX-4115A barometric pressure sensor).

- [http://svn.mikrokopter.de/mikrowebsvn/filedetails.php?repname=NaviCtrl&path=/tags/V0.15c/Hex-Files/Navi-Ctrl_STR9_V0_15c.hex Navi-Ctrl 0.15c] modified with PID control of sticks.

- In development: Embedded computer vision algorithms running on the [http://www.angstrom-distribution.org/ Ångström] embedded Linux operating system.

Ground Station Software

- [:en/MikroKopter-Tool:MikroKopter-Tool].

- [http://mikrocontroller.cco-ev.de/mikrosvn/Projects/MissionCockpit Mission Cockpit] and [http://mikrocontroller.cco-ev.de/mikrosvn/Projects/MissionCockpit/branches/V0.2.0_EN/ English version].

- [http://www.ubuntu.com/ Ubuntu 9.04].

- [http://opencv.willowgarage.com/wiki OpenCV] Based on the work of [http://github.com/nzjrs John Stowers].

- [http://www.roborealm.com RoboRealm]. Was freely available but now only a demo :(

- Some parts of the [http://www.mikrokopter.de/ucwiki/en/Riddim Riddim] code.

- Some parts of the [http://www.mikrokopter.de/ucwiki/en/MoteCtrl MoteCtrl] code.

- [http://liblo.sourceforge.net/ liblo OSC] for fast & efficient interprocess communication.

- [http://paparazzi.enac.fr/wiki/GCS Paparazzi ground station] integration (under investigation).

Geographical Location

[http://map.speedyweb.at/fullscreen.php?link=MarkG Geneva, Switzerland]

attachment:microbee_park.jpg attachment:prop_flex1.jpg

Motodrone 2009

The microbee competed in the [http://www.motodrone.de/en/index.html Motordrone Challenge] in June 2009 and finished in 2nd place. Here are some photos of microbee at the event:

attachment:motodrone09.jpg Finowfurt ex-Russian airbase

attachment:motodrone09_camp.jpg Campsite

attachment:motodrone09_workshop.jpg Last minute adjustments (inside an aircraft bunker)

attachment:motodrone09_challenge1.jpg Task 1 - indoor track red circle

attachment:motodrone09_challenge3.jpg Ground station software

attachment:motodrone09_challenge2.jpg Task 1 - takeoff!

attachment:motodrone09_challenge4.jpg Task 2 - outdoor track