The Bluetooth Telemetry Bridge is a portable device that allows you to use your tablet or smartphone as a ground station for your ArduPilot Mega powered vehicles.
The Bridge makes the connection between your tablet and your ground station telemetry radios, linking them wirelessly via BlueTooth.
Many tablets and smartphones don't have a full size USB connector, requiring an adapter to even plug in a telemetry radio. Even then, the radio is left dangling from your otherwise sleek ground station... Not a very good solution. The Bridge is an easy to use device that you just power on and set down when you're ready to fly. It has a built-in battery so no cables or other devices are needed. Since it's a separate device, it can be placed in an ideal spot for radio reception as well.
Who it's for
The Bluetooth Telemetry Bridge is for anyone looking to use a tablet or smartphone as their primary ground station when operating any ArduPilot Mega powered device. The Bridge is compatible with 3DR Radios, both 433 and 915MHz versions, as well as RFD900 radios (915MHz version only).
- Compatible with 3DR Radios, 433 and 915, or RFD900
- Requires a Bluetooth compatible device capable of running a supported ground station
- Compatible with DroidPlanner & Andropilot
- Transmit Power: 100mW
- Range: ~1km
Inside the case, all programming headers are easily accessible, including FTDI headers for the Hope RF telemetry module and the RN-42 Bluetooth Module, should you decide to tinker under the hood a bit.
Not sure what all the numbers mean? The Bluetooth Bridge is basically just two different types of radios put together to get the best of both. The Bluetooth side operates at a single frequency worldwide, that's easy. Bluetooth is great but its range is very limited, so to talk to our drones we've hooked it up with a longer range telemetry radio. These radios have the power to communicate over longer distances, but they're also less standardized worldwide. Some countries require you to use 433MHz and some require 915MHz.
If you already own any 3DR Radios, the frequency is usually written in white text on the back of the module. Match your order with that frequency for happy flying. If you don't have any radios but want to get some, refer to this map to see what region your country is in. In Region 1, select 433MHz. In region 2 select 915MHz. Region 3 could go either way, it's best to check local regulations regarding ISM band recreational use.
The Next Steps
Like most electronics projects, the cost of building each unit drops a lot when you build more than a few at a time. If we build a lot of telemetry bridges at once, we can get the cost down low enough to offer them for $139 each including the ground side telemetry radio and rechargeable LiPo battery. We're going to put up about half of the money needed to run a large first production run but we need some help to raise the rest - that's where your pledge helps us get these out!
About the Team
This project is a collaboration between Event 38 Unmanned Systems and Henway Technologies - a UAS manufacturer and an electronics design firm. Together we have expertise in UAS operation, circuit board design and manufacturing. We have worked together successfully in the past and even share an office!
As soon as funding is complete, we'll start by ordering the largest batch of parts we can, taking advantage of volume discounts as much as possible. We already have reliable providers in place for parts, PCBs and stencils who we work with on other projects on an ongoing basis. Part procurement will take about 10 days. Given the new year holiday, we expect to receive parts around January 14th. From there, we will assemble the PCBs by hand-placing parts and using a production-quality reflow oven. We expect it will take about 1 week per 100 units for assembly and test once we're set up, but we're also giving ourselves about 3 weeks of buffer time at the beginning in case something comes up. This puts the first 100 units shipping around February 11, 2014. If there are more than 100 pledges, then we will continue from there.
Testing will be done on each unit by charging each battery, powering the units up, pairing with a tablet and an ArduPilot Mega and actually testing that the connection is complete. Shipping will be by First Class Mail in a protective box.
Risks and challenges
Since we already have a working prototype and enclosure, there is one main risk to on-time delivery of rewards. Although our team has experience with small to medium batch production and access to a full stencil printing/pick and place/reflow oven manufacturing line, issues can always arise in the manufacturing process. We may also have trouble procuring parts if there are many more pledges than anticipated and/or any parts go unexpectedly out of stock.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (24 days)