Home > Project Description > ZephyrEye: Rev1 vs Rev2

ZephyrEye: Rev1 vs Rev2

OK folks, I’ve received quite a few requests so here’s what’s up with the circuit boards I have available.  They are Revision 1, and have some hardware bugs (all of which can be corrected with a scalpel, soldering iron, and a fair amount of skill).  I’d like to go through the rundown once here so everyone understands what’s up.

The plan is to get started with Revision 2 soon.  There are quite a few feature improvements that would make the ZephyrEye work a lot better, and I’d like to list them.  I’m not trying to talk anyone out of a Rev1 board, I will gladly send them (without charge but unpopulated) to anyone until I run out, but I would like to avoid anyone having false expectations of what it can do.  That being said, it will probably be at least a few months before Revision 2 is ready.

If you are thinking about building a ZephyrEye, please use this post to consider your options.  Remember, it really can’t do much of anything by itself – it only tracks other ZephyrEyes, so think in pairs.  And Rev2 is very unlikely to be backwards compatible with Rev1.

Revision 1

I feel kind of like I’m hanging out my dirty laundry, these are some pretty silly mistakes:

  • LCD connector is missing two traces, which requires hand soldering wires to this connector.
  • Traces ran too close under the LCD connector, so installing the connector requires bending the pins down at an angle and soldering them without the connector having full flush contact with the board.  This bug proudly brought to you by the autorouter.
  • An extra voltage regulator needs to get patched in for the XBee, which outdid the current supply capabilities of the original regulator.

Hardware that is still untested:

  • Microphone to ADC
  • ADC channel for voltage monitoring
  • Charging indicator from LiPoly chip

State of Software:

  • Has a bootloader for easy, wireless program updates
  • Can do simple system setup
  • Can play King of the Hill, but currently limited to 2 players (I currently only have two ZephyrEyes to play with ;)
  • Still has a few bugs, graphic artifacts, etc.
  • Still needs other games programmed into it.

I only have unpopulated circuit boards (e.g., bare as the day they were born), so it’s up to you to have the tools, AVR programmer, XBees, GPS module, and pretty much every other part if you are considering putting one of these together.  Alternately, if enough people request it and are interested, I might put together some kits.  Email me or leave a comment if interested.

Revision 2

On top of the features Revision 1 already has, I would like to add the following features.  Note that some of these are crucial to be successful in playing paintball with a ZephyrEye.

  • Clear epoxy filled case that can take direct paintball impact and other abuse
  • Capacitive touch buttons, which would enable the above feature.  These would replace the tact switch buttons for the menu, zoom, and power buttons.
  • Digital compass for heading compensation.  This way the “radar” is oriented the direction you’re facing, rather than just pointing north, which is a little confusing if you aren’t a well-oriented person.
  • Helical GPS antenna, for better reception when near other objects (like your arm, body, or hopper)
  • GPS module (or chipset) with higher sensitivity and output frequency (> 1Hz)
  • Swap out the Series 1 XBee for either a 900MHz XBee or a MeshNetics ZigBit module, which have longer range and more complete, ZigBee compliant firmware.
  • If possible, an optional external ZigBee antenna for better transmissions in, say, densely forested or urban arenas.
  • Use the newer, faster XMega256.  More peripherals, and runs at a blazing 32MHz.  She’s fast enough for you, old man.

Make sure and post comments here or join the Google Code project if you’d like to have input on what Version 2 will be able to do.

Edit: I’ve also just created a Google Group for project development discussions.  If you think you’d ever be interested in using a ZephyrEye, for paintball or other, please join the group and put your thoughts up.  Revision 2 hardware development will begin in earnest soon, so now is the time to ask for features.  I’m torn between adding a can-opener or laser pointer … surely your ideas are better.

  1. phip
    11 February 2010 at 11:53 PM

    I am tremendously excited about this project, and the prospects for rev2. One thing I’d propose as a feature is the lowest component cost possible. This thing is tremendously exciting, however if they’re $200 each it seems less likely I’ll be able to get together ten friends with them. The compass is an absolutely fabulous idea, but in general I say keep it simple and look for as many ways to economize as possible.
    Thanks, Good luck to you!

  2. 12 February 2010 at 12:04 AM

    Thanks Phip, awesome to hear people are interested. Upper management reminds me with every project that cost is queen ;) Most of the above improvements, with the exception of the helical antenna and compass, should be more or less cost neutral. I’m hoping to find a cheaper GPS chipset that can be embedded directly onto the board, which should help offset some of the cost increase. I think overall, it might cost $20 more.

    I’m definitely interested to hear if people have any ideas for alternate uses. If adding an LED or well specified expansion port allows scientists to monitor other scientists, then it makes the same hardware much more useful. Throw your ideas out there, they might just get used.

  3. 12 February 2010 at 12:21 AM

    Great project, I really like where this is going. I just wanted to mention re: your ideas on rev2, How well does a capacitive touch button function when smeared with rain & paint, and operated with mud caked gloves? (I don’t know.) Maybe a sealed membrane keypad would be more robust? (like this: http://bit.ly/cN1Cpy or this: http://bit.ly/cK0izz)

    • 12 February 2010 at 9:53 AM

      The capacitive chips I’m looking at using are from Quantum Research (I think they were actually bought by Atmel since the last time I bought a chip from them). The QTouch chips only cost a few bucks, and they have pretty advanced auto-calibration routines. That should minimize effects from rain, mud, and paint. I’m afraid even the most sealed industrial keypads I’ve seen would still have trouble with close paintball shots, and they are more difficult and expensive than capacitive touch. The capacitive parts will be completely internal and backed with hardened epoxy throughout the case, almost removing entirely the possibility of the input device being damaged.

      I will definitely bookmark those keypads, though, they are pretty sweet!

  4. 15 February 2010 at 11:42 PM

    I edited the Rev2 list: I propose using the new XMega AVRs. They fit in the same form factor, most AVR tools are able to support them now, they run at 32MHz, are lower power, and seem pretty darn cool. Should be able to push faster graphics with it, also, which will help with processing a compass-directed screen.

  5. Nicholas
    1 June 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Hey Brad,

    I love the Zephereye idea and I am excited to purchase a couple of these. Any idea when they will be ready?


    • 11 July 2011 at 8:12 PM

      SparkFun and I had been working getting something available for the masses – unfortunately, I had to focus on graduating from college and the collaboration went stale. I’ll follow up and see if it might still happen.

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