Monday 31 March 2014

BlueFlyVario version 8 released

I am super happy to release the BlueFlyVario version 8 prototype together with the BlueFlyVario_TTL. This next iteration of the Bluetooth design does not change much for most users, but under the hood I have changed the processor, updated the firmware extensively and provided a great base for ongoing improvements. The TTL version replaces the Bluetooth module with a TTL (3.3v) interface and will be covered in detail in a separate post.

BlueFlyVario Version 8 prototype

The key changes are:
  • A serial port of the PIC micro controller (UART1) is exposed with V+, Rx, Tx and Gnd (3.3v TTL interface). By default this port is configured at 9600 Baud to accept NMEA sentences from widely available GPS modules. All sentences starting with $ and ending with /n (carriage return character) are stored then immediately multiplexed with the information being sent out the Bluetooth serial port. XCSoar is smart enough to interpret the multiplexed stream via a single device.
  • I upgraded the voltage regulator from 3.0V to 3.3V. This provides slightly more power for any external device on UART1. It also provides a slightly more stable power supply which improves the performance of the pressure sensor a little. 
  • The micro controller was changed to the PIC24F32KA301. This has twice the memory of the previous micro controller which allows much more flexibility for growth. The current v8 firmware was updated to use the XC16 compiler. It takes about half of the program space. 
The image below shows the new layout. Note that this shipped device has the same pretty blue acrylic case, LiPo battery, neoprene cover (for the pressure sensor) and heatshrink. 


I have already shipped more than 50 of the version 8 prototypes. Europe is waking up from winter and the demand this spring is once again a little more than I predicted. I should be able to meet demand over the next few weeks but please understand if it takes a few weeks for me to get your order ready to ship.

Other new stuff

In conjunction with the release of the version 8 prototype:
  • See the Support page for a new Hardware Settings Manual and BFVDesktop App. 
    • The Hardware Settings Manual is a comprehensive description of all of the settings for the version 8 prototype. It expands on a previous blog post and provides information for users and developers. 
    • The BFV Desktop App is used for testing the BlueFlyVario and altering the hardware settings. It is a Java desktop application and it theoretically compatible with any platform that can run Java 6. 
  • I have updated the pricing policy. This has not changed the price, but does reflect the current reality. Essentially, the price for the BlueFlyVario includes components, production time, shipping and PayPal fees. You don’t pay for development costs, warranty, dealer mark-up, profit, website costs, taxes or profit 

The images below show the schematic and PCB layout for the version 8 prototype.