Command Center

The Command Center is a YUAA project designed to fulfill the electronics needs of any future craft developed by the organization. The main goal was to create a modular package capable of redundant communications methods, computational processing, location tracking, motor control, and sensor data logging. After a year of design, the Command Center supports a variety of features that meet the general criteria of the project goals. These features will allow it to control any aerial platform the YUAA builds and develop autonomous control of these projects.

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Features:

  • 1 gHz Beaglebone Black Linux Processor
  • Transceiver Point to Point Communication
  • Cell Network Communication
  • Orientation, Gyro, and Heading Measurement
  • GPS Tracking
  • PWM Output for Servo Control
  • Analog Signal Input
  • Digital Signal Input and Output
  • Internal Temperature Monitoring

Command Center opened

DETAILS

The Beaglebone Black (BBB) combines the interfacing capabilities of an Arduino with the power of the Linux operating system. The BBB features 5 UART communication lines, 2 SPI busses, 2 I2C busses, and GPIO pins broken out to two 46 pin expansion headers for easy access. Combined with its 1 gHz processor, the BBB is capable of compiling and processing the variety of data that are collected by the peripheral components of the Command Center. It is only with the power of the BBB that the Command Center will be able to make the calculations necessary to run an autonomous aerial system.

The Command Center has two modes of communication. It features powerful 1 watt Digi International transceivers with a range of up to 40 miles point-to-point with the appropriate high gain antennas. These transceivers are the main method of communication as they provide instantaneous data streaming between the Command Center and ground controllers. The Command Center also features a GSM cell module for communication through the cell network. This adds redundancy and reliability for situations where the transceiver signal is weak or lost due to interference or obstructions. The cell module is capable of sending and receiving text messages with ground controllers.

In order to design a successful control system for a craft, the system needs feedback information about the state of the craft. The Command Center uses a Vectornav VN-100 IMU to collect orientation, heading, and angular velocity data. This data is vital to closing the feedback loop of a control system. The Command Center also uses a GPS chip to gather location and altitude data for general navigation. Together, the IMU and GPS provide the necessary data to stabilize and navigate an aerial craft. The Command Center can use this data to create a feedback solution which controls the flight surfaces or motors of the craft using the PWM output generate by a servo controller.

Finally, the Command Center is equipped with the input and output ports to measure a variety of data about its surroundings. The on-board analog to digital converter can read 7 analog signals into the BBB. These can be used for any type of sensor, from temperature, pressure, or even strain measurements. There are also 8 available digital input or output pins for interfacing with additional components. The Command Center monitors its internal temperature as well to protect it from overheating. By integrating a variety of sensors, the Command Center is fully capable of managing the communications, stabilization, navigation, control, and data collection of any aerial platform designed by YUAA.

This year, the UAV team will be implementing the Command Center to control their RC plane which will be deployed from a rocket at altitude.