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The Next Generation OS Multicopter Project


The Project

Project details:

The History

The acronym U.A.V.P. stands for Universal Aerial Video Platform.

UAVP is a flying object, ideally suited for making aerial videos and photos (aerial photography), but also suits fun flying a lot, no matter whether indoors or outdoors.

The project uses mainly standard RC model components, so it is basically a model aircraft. The layout of the UAVP project is quite variable, there are virtually no limits in size and lifting weights. Since UAVPs use high quality gyros to allow for stable flight, it is much easier to pilot than model helicopters.

Most of the NG developers came to the Quadcopter hobby by flying a Quadcopter of The Original UAVP Project or of the commercial sister project called The MK Project (Mikrokopter@27c3).

This was in summer 2007, the original UAVP was out for half a year and all over the world UAVPs started to get built. The Mikrokopter was quite new then and the community was able to build Mikrokopters (MKs) for 3 months, but the real MK boom had yet to happen...

At that time, many of us started dreaming of bigger and more powerful processors, peripherials and sensors. The current projects seemed not to be able to scale according to our needs, so the idea of something new was born.

In April 2008, about a year later, there were about 500 UAVPs airborne around the world!

The Idea

Having flown both of these other open projects some of us decided that they do not offer the resources we would like to have on our copters. Especially when looking into the future it seemed that none of them have the scaling possibilities needed. Studying the available processors we realized that we need to switch processor types to get the computing power we dreamed of. Neither PIC nor Atmel could provide what we needed.

In the end we decided to go for an ARM7 and started the Next Generation Quadcopter Project.

Its goal: The development of a free Open Source Quadcopter software and hardware framework for further research based on a high performance 32bit ARM7 RISC CPU.

The Modern History

The HW-0.10 is airborne since the january 2008! The system has been flown and the software has been extended with a lot of new features since then.

A new hardware revision 0.20 has been worked on over summer 2008 and the first prototypes were produced some weeks before 25C3. The new hardware was airborne in december 2008. After 25C3 we improved the flight control software a lot and started work on the peripherial controllers of the new hardware.

In summer 2009 we started work on the next hardware revision 0.21. We finished work in june 2009 and produced enough boards for all beta testers and developers. The hardware was airborne in august 2009.

Discovering small problems and print issues we decided to produce another hardware revision 0.22 fixing those. We did small changes in the print and design and incoperated them into HW-0.22.

HW-0.22 was produced in bigger quantity in preparation of the first public release. At the 26C3 we did a first public hardware release of HW-0.22. The HW-0.22 PCB are now available in our non-profit Shop.

The Current State

The source code was publically released under a GPLv3 license at 27C3 and a new, smaller hardware called HW-0.22-mini was developed and went through 3 revision cycles (r1, r2, r3) during summer 2011. Later on we produced HW-0.22-mini-r3 in bigger quantities and released it to the public in Q3 of this year.

A picture of our HW-0.22-mini:

Mini-ng side web.jpg

A new hardware revision called HW-0.23-mini was designed in the meantime, incorporating a new combined 3D accelerometer and gyro in one sensor making room for a GPS sensor directly on the main flight control board. This version is currently being produced and we hope to bring first prototypes of HW-0.23-mini-r0 to the 28C3 congress.

On the 28C3 we plan to work on the software for the upcoming HW-0.23-mini release. Also we plan to further develop HW-0.30, which is currently in it's design phase and will feature two new CPUs - one for work and one for pleasure ;) - both with floating point support combined with a dual-port RAM for fast direct memory communication, mind-boggling speed and more room for future extensions, like a new (and faster) bus-system and redundancy for big (i.e. expensive) copters.

Besides our new hardware revisions, some developers are currently working on new brushless-controllers, a controller for lights called NGlight and other fun projects. We're looking forward to discuss, improve upon and show prototypes of them on 28C3.

More informations on the software side of things can be found in Amir's newest blog article. He describes the newest NGOS developments there and shows the newest ground station software.

On the following picture you see the GPS Map view showing 5 waypoints, a target and a NG flying towards the first waypoint:


The following shows a side by side size comparison of HW-0.22 and the new HW-0.22-mini:


The Community

The initiators of the NG project had a free and open project in mind. The boards have beeen made available to the public and the software was released soon afterwards. We have become an international team from all over the world.

We hope to be able to provide a platform for new ideas and new research on the Quadcopter topic. The firmware is built modular and allows different closed-loop control algorithms at the same time to allow different developers to share and compare their algorithms and designs.

We implemented an abstract closed-loop controller framework, which will allow non-programmers like mathematicians, closed-loop engineers and similar minded folks to implement new closed-loop control algorithms without having to understand more than input and output structures of their algorithms!

Everybody - who can agree to the idea of a non-profit, non-commercial Open Source project - is invited to join us and our project on IRC or in the NG Forum!

The Source Code Release

After 3.5 years of development time, we finally released the source code of our project in december 2010 at 27C3 under a GPLv3 license! More informations on our licenses is available here.

You can find the Release Announcement in the UAVP-NG Forum. If you would like to contribute to the project, make sure to check our Development page and to visit us on IRC (#uavp on!

The Organisation:

Developer Meeting at 28c3

The following developers will show up for sure:

Name Status Presence Comments Phone Extension
Spida Developer 26.12-31.12 will bring HW-0.22 copter 4217
trh Developer 26.12-30.12 will bring at least HW-0.22-mini-r1 copter  ?
DracosCarazza Developer 27.12-31.12 will bring HW-0.22-mini-r1 copter, NGLight and compass boards for the HMC5883L
Amir Head-Developer 26.12-31.12 will bring HW-0.22-mini-r1 copter fully GPS ready and a HW-0.23-mini-r0 prototype 2828
Jeroen Developer 26.12-30.12 will bring HW-0.22-mini-r3 hexa-copter 2255
Markus Head-Developer 26.12-30.12 -  ?
Falstaff Developer 26.12-30.12 will bring HW-0.22  ?
Ben Head-Developer 26.12-30.12 will bring HW-0.22-mini-r3 and a HW-0.23-mini-r0 prototype 2827
Toxios Head-Developer 26.12-30.12 will bring HW-0.22-mini-r3 and a HW-0.23-mini-r0 prototype  ?
Axel Developer 26.12-30.12 will bring sun, fun and a happy face ;)  ?
J-Zero Pilot 27.12-30.12 -  ?
Grisu Pilot 27.12-30.12 -  ?
Coptergeek Beta-Tester 27.12-30.12 will bring HW-0.22-mini-r1  ?

Events at the Congress

The following events will take place during different times at the 28c3:

Hardware Presentation

Since most of us will bring one or more of their Copters with them, we will have quite some hardware of different hardware revisions to show.


Quick-Answers (for the hasty)

What are we doing?

How many seats do we need?

Where we'd like to be placed?

Contact email address

What we need (besides seats/space)?