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AU$ 10,016 pledged of AU$ 50,000 goal
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By SubPos.org
AU$ 10,016 pledged of AU$ 50,000 goal
backers

About this project

What is the SubPos Ranger?

The SubPos Ranger is an open source development system for accurate distance measurement and positioning that's ready for manufacture. The Ranger has been designed as a flexible radio frequency platform for hobbyist robotics and educational applications, to enable you to realise your project’s positioning potential. This flexible design can even allow you to perform passive motion sensing to augment your existing positioning systems! 

Ranger Board
Ranger Board

Key Features  

  • Supports 2D and 3D Positioning – not just x and y, but z also.  
  • 2.4GHz ISM Spectrum – supported worldwide.  
  • Standards Compliant Hardware – supports 802.15.4 and can also utilise Zigbee or 6LoWPAN communication protocols.  
  • Reconfigurable RF Chipset – enables many different 2.4GHz ISM applications.  
  • Firmware Updates over USB – no need for any extra programming hardware.  
  • Open Source Hardware and Software – hack, repurpose and play to your heart’s content.  
  • Modular Design – the Ranger allow all sorts of connectivity options. You can connect it to anything such as a Raspberry Pi via USB or GPIO, Arduino or to your smartphone via Wi-Fi.
  • Low Level Raw Data and Parameters – access to all low level measurement data and parameter tweaks are available to discover interesting new applications (such as motion detection).  
  • Node Position Calibration – get the position of nodes automatically; no manual fixed node measurements required.  
  • 9-Axis Accelerometer – the client expansion board contains a 9 axis accelerometer for increased positioning accuracy.

What Can It Do?

The distance measurement or proximity capability of the Ranger Boards achieves accuracy of up to +-10cm in line of sight conditions. When combined with the client expansion board and Teensy module, the position is calculated completely on the client without any external processing required. 

When operational, the client will output its position and control information much like a GPS receiver, to a serial UART/GPIO or via USB. As such, the system allows you to develop an autonomous platform which always knows where it is indoors. You will now be able to eat every piece of cat hair with your modified robot vacuum, or guide your sustenance procurement bot 2.0 to the fridge to gather lemonade.  

The boards also support a remote ranging function that can be used to monitor the movement of another board. This means you can use an additional board to track the motion of another device, without being physically connected to it. If you order the 5 board positioning kits, you can use one of the boards to track another board and still have 2D positioning around 3 nodes, or add an additional board if you want 3D remote ranging.

The RF chipset on board also provides a true 2.4GHz ISM transceiver interface, this means that the Ranger Board is completely reconfigurable and not limited to only standards and positioning purposes. Because of this, you could also use it in an array of different RF applications such as radio modems, motion detection or wireless sniffing devices.

Ranger Board with Client Expansion Board and Teensy.
Ranger Board with Client Expansion Board and Teensy.

How Does the Ranger Work?

The Ranger Boards support a software load that uses the 802.15.4 standard to communicate information between each board. When determining distance between two Ranger Boards, they initiate a ranging handshake over 802.15.4 to then perform a distance measurement.

The Ranger Boards accurately determine the distance between one and other through phase shift/difference measurement and accurate timing techniques in the onboard Atmel AT86RF233 chipset. This is similar to how laser range finders work, except instead of light it uses 2.4GHz radio frequencies. The multiple antennas on board allow for multiple out of phase measurements to mitigate multipath effects, to best determine the distance between the Ranger Boards.

Two Ranger Boards showing how antenna diversity works with multiple phase measurements to obtain distance between each other.
Two Ranger Boards showing how antenna diversity works with multiple phase measurements to obtain distance between each other.

The client performs this measurement operation multiple times per second to all visible nodes in range. It then uses the node positions and these distances to determine its own position in relation to these nodes through trilateration.

The Ranger Client works with multiple Ranger Boards configured as Nodes by making a series of distance measurements.
The Ranger Client works with multiple Ranger Boards configured as Nodes by making a series of distance measurements.

Optional Wi-Fi Support

The expansion boards also support the addition of an ESP8266 module if you would like to enable Wi-Fi for you to connect to a multitude of devices such as your smartphone. The Wi-Fi module can be used to transmit data to a local server if you are using the Ranger Board for other purposes, such as motion detection, or using it as a Zigbee to Wi-Fi gateway.

One expansion board without Wi-Fi is included to convert a Ranger board to a client when you back the positioning system reward (and add a Teensy), however if you would like to support Wi-Fi on the Ranger Boards configured as a node, you can order additional expansion boards and the ESP8266 (ESP03) modules separately.

The positioning software libraries will also support the SubPos Wi-Fi Positioning System standard, when an ESP8266 Wi-Fi module with appropriate firmware is attached to both the client and nodes. The regular version of the SubPos Ranger Positioning System only supports up to 16 nodes, the standards supported version (when you add a Wi-Fi module) supports virtually unlimited nodes.

Click here to see how the SubPos Wi-Fi Standard works with the Ranger.

The different Ranger Board configurations (Teensy and Wi-Fi module not included as standard).
The different Ranger Board configurations (Teensy and Wi-Fi module not included as standard).

Ranger Board Technical Specifications  

  • Atmel ATxmega128A4U Microcontroller  
  • Atmel AT86RF233 RF Chipset  
  • Antenna Diversity (Phase/Multipath) 
  • RF shield (not pictured) is included
  • Built-in Ceramic Antennas  
  • USB CDC Serial Connection (No Driver Required) for Distance Output/Control
  • USB Firmware Update Bootloader  
  • Dual UART Serial (2xTX/RX) for Distance Output/Control
  • 8 GPIO Connections  
  • 3 LEDs  
  • USB 5V or External 3.3-16V Supply with Reverse Polarity Protection
  • Highly Stable TCXO  
  • 35mA @3.3V during normal usage
  • Dimensions 46x55 mm

Expansion Board Technical Specifications

  • InvenSense MPU-9250 Nine-Axis IMU  
  • Teensy 3.2 Support  
  • ESP8266 (ESP03) Support  
  • ESP03 Power Control (Easy Reboot for Firmware Update and Watchdog)  
  • UART Serial Position Output From Teensy
  • GPIO Output From Teensy
  • External 5-16V Supply with Reverse Polarity Protection  
  • Dimensions 46x39cm 

How Far Has The Ranger Come?

The Ranger Board is a complete design ready for manufacture, having already gone through various prototype revisions. The software is also operational and almost ready for public release. The Kickstarter funding will be immediately used to begin production at the scale that allows us to bring it to you for the lowest price.

The Ranger has also been designed for manufacturing in mind. The board itself can operate as either a remote node or client with the aid of a client expansion board. This reduces the overall manufacturing setup and testing costs. The board allows for connection to a programming jig for quick hardware verification and testing. A software load has also been developed to verify all components are working at the factory before being shipped.

All of the positioning and ranging software, documentation and hardware will be open source. The complete hardware schematics, documentation and source code will be available early on to backers to review before going public. This allows you as a user of the positioning system to support the community and give feedback on or implement changes and fixes that you believe should be included.


Timeline


About Us

Blair Wyatt, Sue Moon
Blair Wyatt, Sue Moon

 

We are husband and wife team interested in the hobbyist and education sectors. We spend many of our spare hours hacking away for fun and to develop learning programs for school students.

Sue Moon has experience in education, finance and logistics and brings a wealth of knowledge to help deliver on time and on budget.  

Blair Wyatt is a Simulations Systems Engineer and electronics hobbyist, with experience from design to manufacture.  

Together we created the SubPos Ranger as an extension of the SubPos Positioning System in our spare time, to provide a cheap and easy to use method of obtaining distance measurements and positioning indoors, for hobbyist robotics and education purposes.

We are releasing the Ranger as a Kickstarter because we want everyone to help make indoor positioning an accessible resource for every purpose. We hope that you come up with some extraordinary applications and solutions with your Ranger and then share them with the world!

Add-Ons

Makers are flexible and as such we have tried to keep the backer options are configurable as possible.
If you want to add extra components to your base reward (in addition to what is listed in the reward), you can put an additional amount on your pledge to match your preferred configuration. Please note that all positioning systems except for the deluxe version, require the addition of a Teensy 3.2 module if you don't have one already.
We will survey everyone at the end to confirm your preference, to make sure you receive the correct items. 

The Add-Ons:  
  • Wi-Fi Module (ESP-03) - $6AUD  
  • Expansion Board Without IMU - $12AUD  
  • Expansion Board With IMU - $25AUD  
  • Teensy 3.2 Module - $34AUD  
  • Extra Ranger Board - $54AUD  
  • Blank Ranger Board PCB - $9AUD

Each of the two expansion boards contain one set of header pins to connect to the Ranger Board. The Teensy includes a set of header pins to connect to the Expansion Board. Note these aren't pre-soldered by default and we will confirm with all backers at the end if they want them soldered or not. The header pins are in two parts (male and female) to make the boards removable.

The Expansion boards allow you to add Wi-Fi to a Ranger Board and/or turn it into a(nother) client when you also add a Teensy Module. The expansion board without the InvenSense MPU-9250 IMU still has the pads available if you want to add one yourself at a future date.

Risks and challenges

While the final production ready hardware design is complete and awaiting manufacture, there are always significant challenges when going to production and having it ship on time. To counter this, the Ranger will be manufactured and parts sourced as locally as possible. Blair Wyatt has experience, contacts and constant engagement with the Australian electronics manufacturing industry. This allows for oversight and accurate price estimation to ensure the product can be delivered on time and on budget, with the strictest quality control. All things going to plan, the Ranger will be completely Australian made.

While the ranging and positioning software is completely operational, there is always room for improvement and bug fixes after the hardware is released. With the ability for the modules to update their firmware via USB, end users will be able to load firmware onto their hardware as soon as new updates are released. They can also change the Ranger Board and client code as they wish, as it’s all open source!

As for shipping, the biggest challenge will be managing the large and varied list of destinations around the world. While Sue has a lot of exporting experience, we first need to wait and see how the campaign pans out before deciding how things are managed in that department. However, we do have plans in place for the Australian and US contingents and will manage these first. We ask if you are from elsewhere around the world for your understanding if there is a minor shipping delay. If you live in or want to visit Melbourne and order an early hand soldered positioning setup, we’d be more than happy to organise pickup or hand delivery so you are the first to get it.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 5 or more About $4

    DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY

    You will receive ongoing updates of the manufacturing process and early access to the open source Ranger repository.

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    10 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 9 or more About $7

    RANGER BOARD PCB

    Back this reward and receive a blank PCB for you to populate yourself or display in a nice picture frame in your lounge room.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
    AU$
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 53 or more About $40

    SINGLE RANGER BOARD

    A single board to hack about with 802.15.4 protocols and 2.4GHz RF, or combine with an expansion board and Wi-Fi module to create a Zigbee to Wi-Fi gateway.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 5 backers
    AU$
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 99 or more About $74

    RANGING SETUP

    Receive 2 Ranger Boards to perform distance measurements, or use as an 802.15.4 radio modem pair.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 9 backers
    AU$
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 244 or more About $183

    EARLY BIRD POSITIONING SYSTEM

    Receive 5 Ranger Boards and 1 Expansion Board with IMU (a 4 Ranger Node and 1 Client setup) for 2D or 3D positioning. Wi-Fi not supported (but can be upgraded to at a later stage by soldering a Wi-Fi module). Doesn't include Teensy module. One set of header pins included for client.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 11 backers
    AU$
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 274 or more About $206

    POSITIONING SYSTEM

    Receive 5 Ranger Boards and 1 Expansion Board with IMU (a 4 Ranger Node and 1 Client setup) for 2D or 3D positioning. Wi-Fi not supported (but can be upgraded to at a later stage by soldering a Wi-Fi module). Doesn't include Teensy module. One set of header pins included for client.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 3 backers
    AU$
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 359 or more About $270

    DELUXE POSITIONING SYSTEM

    Receive 5 Ranger Boards, 1 Teensy, 5 Wi-Fi modules and 5 Expansion Boards (1 with IMU and 4 without) to create a Wi-Fi supported, 4 Ranger Node and 1 Client setup for 2D or 3D positioning. All header pins included.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Limited 7 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge AU$ 379 or more About $285

    EARLY HAND SOLDERED POSITIONING SYSTEM

    Get the SubPos Ranger Positioning System before anyone else.

    Receive 5 Ranger Boards and 1 Expansion Board with IMU (a 4 Ranger Node and 1 Client setup) for 2D or 3D positioning. Wi-Fi not supported (but can be upgraded to at a later stage by soldering a Wi-Fi module). Doesn't include Teensy module. One set of header pins included for client.

    Includes "DONATE TO THE SUBPOSITORY" reward.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 3 backers
    AU$
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Funding period

- (28 days)