• Just looking around
    Posts: 10 from 2011/6/2

    Dave Haynie being PCB layout guy at some ex-toy company doesnt make him any special.

    PCB layout guy? Get your facts straight, Sherlock. I did do PC layout on the Nomadio Sensor and React. And everything other hardware task as well, and some software just for fun. And yeah, they were toys to you, I guess... much as the Amiga was a toy in its day to those who didn't know what they were talking about.

    Just to set the record straight, the Sensor was the first all digital R/C controller. It offered bidirectional communications, first of its kind for R/C racing. Four of the top five professional R/C racers used our radio. Yeah, I didn't know there were professionals either... but if you can drive an R/C car well enough, you can make well in excess of $100,000 a year doing that thing.

    The main reason was low latency.. a trained musician can detect about a 1ms difference in tempo... that's the goal that MIDI set out to meet, way back when. A typical R/C controller for serious hobby vehicles (eg, you'll be spending several hundred dollars US on the car, more for servos, etc) usually had a latency of about 20ms. We did it in about 5ms, typical. When you're racing a 1:10 scale car at an actual 60-70mph, this apparently makes a difference (I was no RCer).

    A version of this same technology was commissioned though a US government funded project to deliver a super low cost robot for bomb hunting and destruction. We put about 3,000 of these systems into Iraq, a few hundred more went to Special Forces... no idea what they did with them. This was a $5,000 robot system that could carry up to 10lbs of C4 explosive, with a camera system to let a soldier drive up to about 2,000 feet away. It was mainly used to identify and blow up IEDs along the roadside in Iraq. Without this, they would have sent some private... some of whom would have been killed. Not a thing that's touching a few million lives like the Amiga, but then again, the people who didn't get killed because they had a robot to send instead are presumably pretty happy they had this "toy" available.

    There are certainly other robots... our current radio, developed with funding from Homeland Security, is being used on the PackBot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PackBot) and other larger robots. A PackBot costs about $250,000 or so. In typical government behavior, the cheap robots were pretty successful, so they're not making any more. There's more being done with these expensive robots now, but only so much, because they're too expensive to just put in the back of every HumVee... they're for EOD squads only. And their default radio isn't good enough.. thus the testing with our new one. And yeah, I designed the custom hardware parts of that (does modified 802.11n, MIMO, on 5MHz and 10MHz channels, at any frequency between 400MHz and 2000MHz, with a secondary radio at 2200-2600MHz or 4500-5800MHz). It runs a proprietary mesh network... each radio is an end-point and a router. I had to teach myself hardcore RF design to build this... nothing I needed before Nomadio. I did the architecture, design, software, FPGA, and yeah, the PCB.
  • »02.06.11 - 09:49