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Carrier board aims DragonBoard 410c SBC at UAV apps

Jun 9, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 1,061 views

Gumstix and Arrow launched a customizable DragonBoard 410C expansion board for UAV and MAV applications, that adds NimbeLink LTE and camera support.

Gumstix and Arrow Electronics announced the availability of a $149 variant of its AeroCore 2 board called the “AeroCore 2 Expansion Board for DragonBoard 410C.” This more advanced version of the existing Gumstix AeroCore 2 baseboard for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) uses Arrow’s DragonBoard 410C SBC for its controller brain, rather than usual Gumstix DuoVero COM. The combo not only offers a far more powerful Linux and Android compatible computer, but also a new MIPI-CSI-2 camera connector along with a connector for a NimbeLink LTE radio.

AeroCore 2 Expansion Board for DragonBoard 410C, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The 11.5 x 6.65cm AeroCore 2 drone board is substantially redesigned, but except for the new NimbeLink and camera connections, it appears to have similar features. The AeroCore 2 continues to run the open source Nuttx RTOS real-time-task-oriented microcontroller on an ST Microelectronics STM32F427 microconroller (MCU), based on a 168MHz Cortex-M4 core.

The MCU supports low-level machine controls and sensors, while high-level Linux programs running on the DragonBoard 410c manage mission intelligence, including visuals. AeroCore MAV controllers support integration with open source projects like Robot Operating System (ROS), APM-based PX4, and PX4-compatible projects such as QGroundControl and MAVLink.

AeroCore 2 for DragonBoard 410C with the DragonBoard 410c on top
(click image to enlarge)

The new NimbeLink LTE connector supports NimbeLink Skywire LTE modules, which use Digi’s tiny XBee form-factor for wireless devices, and are “capable of transmitting data to laptop,” says Gumstix. It’s unclear if it supports only the LTE CAT1 device shown below, or also NimbeLink’s faster CAT3 and CAT4 LTE modules, and maybe its 2G and 3G modules.

Skywire LTE CAT1

The new MIPI-CSI-2 serial camera connector supports HD cameras, such as the Raspberry Pi Camera, says the company. As before, the AeroCore 2 supports GPS, but the receivers cost extra. Gumstix recommends its Pre-Go series of u-blox NEO 7P GPS/GLONASS receivers, such as the $79 Gumstix Pre-Go Precise Point Positioning GPS receiver. Like the original AeroCore 2, there’s also a Spektrum DSM-2 remote connector for RF support.

The AeroCore 2 for DragonBoard is further equipped with dual micro-USB ports, eight PWMs, three UARTs, I2C and SPI headers, a CAN header, and a 9-axis IMU motion sensor with altimeter and barometer. In addition to these and other features listed on the spec list farther below, the announcement mentioned 16-pin GPIO, but we saw no evidence of this.

DragonBoard 410C

The 85 x 54mm DragonBoard 410C, which was announced a year ago by Arrow and Qualcomm, was one of the first 96Boards form-factor SBCs to reach market, as well as one of the first 64-bit ARM hacker SBCs. The AeroCore 2 for DragonBoard appears to interface with the board’s standardized 40-pin low-speed connector.

DragonBoard 410c, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

With its Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC, which offers four 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 cores and an Adreno 306 GPU, the open-spec DragonBoard 410 SBC is far more powerful than a DuoVero COM. In fact, it’s faster than Qualcomm’s Ubuntu based Snapdragon Flight UAV reference platform, which runs on a Snapdragon 800 with four Cortex-A15-like cores. The platform supports OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL, and DirectX, and can handle [email protected] playback and record.

The DragonBoard 410c ships with its 1GB LPDDR3 RAM, 8GB eMMC, plus WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. It is further equipped with an HDMI, a microSD slot, and three USB ports. The SBC supports Android 5.1 and Debian 8.0.

AeroCore 2 Expansion Board for DragonBoard 410C specs

Specifications listed for the AeroCore 2 Expansion Board for DragonBoard 410C include:

  • Processor — ST Microelectronics STM32F427 (1x Cortex-M4 @ 168MHz)
  • Memory — 128KB non-volatile FRAM
  • Wireless I/O:
    • 5-pin GPS header
    • Spektrum DSM-2 Remote Connector
    • NimbeLink LTE connector
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x micro-USB ports (1x for MCU, 1x for DragonBoard)
    • 3x UART headers with USB-UART bridge
    • 2x I2C headers
    • Octal PWM header (8x PWM)
    • SPI header
    • CAN connector
    • 15-pin CSI-2 camera connector
  • Other features — 9-axis internal motion sensor; altimeter; barometer; buzzer; tactile switches; LEDs
  • Dimensions — 11.5 x 6.65cm
  • Operating system — Nuttx; Linux or Android run on connected DragonBoard 410c

Like the earlier AeroCore 2, the AeroCore 2 Expansion Board for DragonBoard 410C was designed with its Geppetto Design-to-Order online development platform, and customers can use Geppetto to customize the board using a library of hundreds of modules. Gumstix engineers will then test and validate the board design, and manufacture and ship the production ready board 15 days from order. Last November, Gumstix announced intentions to add 96Boards SBCs to its list of Geppetto supported embedded boards.

The AeroCore 2 news came a day after Gumstix and tech distributor and manufacturer Arrow Electronics announced a global distributionthat works with the DragonBoard 410C SBC agreement covering the full range of Gumstix products. Gumstix is primarily known for its Linux-ready Overo and DuoVero computer-on-modules running on single-core, Cortex-A8 and dual-core Cortex-A9 TI Sitara SoCs, respectively. It also offers baseboards for those COMs, as well as full SBCs such as the recent Poblano 43C. More recently, Gumstix has been focusing on its Geppetto Design-to-Order online development platform, and Geppetto-supported customizable carrier boards for third-party COMs and SBCs.

“This addition of the AeroCore 2 for DragonBoard 410C Expansion Board reinforces our commitment to guiding innovation forward for the growing maker community,” stated Murdoch Fitzgerald, vice president of supplier marketing at Arrow. “The Gumstix portfolio is an excellent addition to the Arrow line card given the booming demand for connected devices and customized internet of things (IoT) solutions.”

“We welcome Arrow as our first distribution partner,” stated Gordon Kruberg, Gumstix CEO. “Their dedication to innovation and customer service distinguishes them as a lead stocking distributor and we look forward to being part of their global network.”

Further information

The AeroCore 2 for DragonBoard 410C is available for $149 at, not counting any further customization work one might do on Geppetto. The DragonBoard 410c is available at Arrow for $75.

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