Saturday 25 October 2014

Version 10 BlueFlys

In the next six weeks I expect to release the version 10 range of BlueFlyVarios. The range will consist of three models:
  • BlueFlyVario_Bluetooth_v10. This model represents the evolution of the original BlueFlyVario which started a few years ago. It is designed for Android users who want to use a vario app on their phone. However, it is also popular as a stand alone vario.  
  • BlueFlyVario_TTL_GPS_v10. Used with the Kobo (or other eReaders) running XCSoar. 
  • BlueFlyVario_USB_v10. A new model. Designed to provide a minimalist audio vario.
They all share a few new features; updated firmware, user update-able firmware, a new button design, and improved PCB quality. Some of the things you have come to expect from the BlueFly will just be the same: super sensitive vario, low cost, very hackable, great support, and open designs. See the table below for a detailed list of technical specifications.

Technical Specifications

Planned release
November 2014
(Replaces BlueFlyVario_Bluetooth_v9)
November 2014
(Replaces BlueFlyVario_TTL_GPS_v9)
December 2014
(New device)
What is it designed for?
Interfacing with Android free flight applications (BlueFlyVario app, XCSoar, other apps).
Using as a standalone audio vario when not connected via Bluetooth.
Interfacing with the Kobo running XCSoar (or other eReaders).
Using as a minimalist standalone audio vario.
Primary Data Interface
(UART 2)
RN42 Bluetooth module using the Serial Port Protocol. Simple interface to most devices supporting Bluetooth SPP (not iOS).
3.0V TTL interface via headers on the module.
On board FTDI FT230X USB-to-Serial converter. Appears as a serial port on PC. Can be interfaced to Android OTG devices.
Secondary Data Interface
(UART 1)
Exposed for hacking.
Onboard PA6H GPS. Data is multiplexed with pressure data.
Exposed for hacking.
Hardware Setting Procedure
BlueFlyVario Android App.

BFVDesktop application on PC’s with Bluetooth adapters.
Telnet into Kobo (when installed).

BFVDesktop application with a USB to Serial converter.
BFVDesktop application.
Board and battery protected by heatshrink.

Acrylic prototype case included.

3D printable enclosed case design to be distributed.
Board protected by heatshrink.

3D printable enclosed case design to be distributed.
Board and battery protected by heatshrink.
Physical dimensions
With included acrylic prototype case. 53 x 34 x 18 mm --- 41 g
The module in heatshrink.
50 x 17 x 9 mm --- 10 g
The module with battery in heatshrink.
50 x 14 x 12 mm -- 12 g
Power Supply
Included 600mAh LiPo battery charged via micro USB adapter (no data connection).

Lasts more than 10 hours with bluetooth and audio running.
Powered from TTL header.
Included 200 to 300 mAh LiPo battery charged via USB.

Expected life greater than 10 hours.
Hardware Button
Long press for soft power on/off. Short press for audio on/off.
Will be upgradeable via ds30loader.
Pleasant sounding 95dBA electromagnetic transducer.
Other audio outputs hacks possible using exposed headers.
Available Hardware Settings
Similar to BlueFlyVario version 9 devices, with some extra settings.
Pressure Sensor
MS5611 accurate to 10cm updated at 50Hz.


A few months ago I planned these next versions to be ready based on the expected demand of the version 9 range. However, they once again proved to be more popular than planned and there are no more of the version 9 models available. I am waiting on a few parts to complete the first batch of the version 10 models. If you order the Bluetooth or TTL_GPS version 9 model in the next few weeks consider it a pre-order for the version 10.

Friday 3 October 2014

BlueFlyVario_Bluetooth_v9 Released

I have been shipping the BlueFlyVario_Bluetooth_v9 for a while but did not get a chance to blog about it. This is only a minor update to Version 8. A summary of the important changes from earlier versions is listed below:

Hardware Changes
  • I have added a small battery connector (Molex 1.25 mm) instead of soldering the battery to the board. The wires now wrap around the edge of a board in a small milled slot. This makes assembly a bit quicker and will allow users to change batteries without soldering.
Firmware Changes
  • The firmware now has a minor and major version. The $VER* command now responds with '$BFV MAJOR MINOR*'. The firmware version is currently 9.4.
  • I have included a bootloader. It is a slightly modified version of the ds30loader. At some stage I will blog about how to use the bootloader to update the firmware from a pc.
The circuit diagram and PCB layout for this release are shown below:

The way ahead

I am planning the version 10 hardware lineup with three models based on the primary external interface. These will probably incorporate a button instead of a slide switch. They are some months away I think.:

  • A Bluetooth model with battery similar to this model - designed for integration with Android devices. 
  • A TTL with GPS modules - designed for integration with devices such as the Kobo. 
  • A new USB model with battery - designed for stand alone use.