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Aerocore 2 drone board runs on Jetson TX2

Jul 25, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 1070 views

Gumstix announced a version of its Aerocore 2 drone control board that runs Linux on Nvidia’s Jetson TX2. The Geppetto customizable board provides a Cortex-M4 running PX4, and offers USB 3.0, micro-HDMI, and support for LTE, GPS, and 4x HD cameras.

The Aerocore 2 drone control board arrived in 2014 and was followed in 2016 by a more advanced version that swapped out the original’s Gumstix Overo module for a DragonBoard 410C SBC. This DragonBoard version was updated earlier this year. In 2017, Gumstix announced a Intel Joule based version that fizzled when Intel discontinued the Joule. Now, Gumstix is back with a $275 “Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson” board that works with Nvidia’s Jetson TX1 and Jetson TX2 modules and can be customized in Gumstix’s Geppetto online design service.



Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Linux-supported Jetson TX2 module has recently appeared in devices including Axiomtek’s eBOX560-900-FL box computer and Deepwave Digital’s SDR-focused AIR-T Mini-ITX board. Nvidia also released a more rugged Jetson TX2i model that adds vibration resistance as well as support for -40 to 85°C temperatures and 10-year lifecycles. Gumstix informs us that the Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson is currently being tested for the TX2i, and that it should work fine with this pin-compatible module.


Jetson TX2

The Jetson TX2 is equipped with dual high-end “Denver 2” Arm cores and 4x Arm Cortex-A57 cores. The 256-core Pascal GPU with CUDA libraries for running AI and machine learning algorithms offer the potential for improved image recognition applications in drones and robotics. The Aerocore 2 is best suited for small drones called micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs), but it can also be used for larger drones, robots, and other image processing applications.

The Jetson TX2 module provides the Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson with 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 32GB of eMMC 5.1, and 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth. The Aerocore 2 carrier board adds an ST Microelectronics STM32F427 Cortex-M4 chip clocked at 168MHz. This MCU is pre-loaded with the open source NuttX RTOS and APM-based PX4 firmware for real-time drone autopilot operation. It should also work with PX4-compatible projects such as QGroundControl and MAVLink.

Since the Jetson boards are modules rather than an SBC like the quad-core Snapdragon 410 based DragonBoard 410, the Aerocore 2 carrier board has added more ports and other features to compensate. The board ships with a microSD slot, as well as micro-HDMI, USB 3.0 host, micro-USB OTG, and micro-USB device ports.



Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson detail view
(click image to enlarge)

There are two separate 4-lane MIPI-CSI-2 interfaces that support Gumstix’s $30 Caspa 4K cameras, which are built on Sony’s 13-megapixel IMX214 AF Camera sensor and support 4208 x 3120-pixel stills and 4K video at 30fps. In addition, you get a pair of 2-lane CSI-2 connectors for 5-megapixel cameras with 2592 x 1944 resolution. The Aerocore 2 board is capable of driving 4x cameras with HD or higher resolution simultaneously.

The Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson is further equipped with a serial connector for adding a Gumstix Pre-GO GPS module. There’s also an LTE modem socket for an optional Sierra Wireless 4G module, as well as a SIM card slot and dual U.FL antenna connectors.



Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson and its module connections diagram
(click images to enlarge)

A CAN port supports robotics control, and you get a 3-axis gyroscope, 6-axis accelerometer, and barometer. Other features include a buzzer, a DSM-2 remote connector, and a 40-pin GPIO interface.

Additional I/O pins include 3x UART, 2x I2C, an octal PWM header, and SPI and ADC interfaces. A bit of SPI flash and EEPROM memory is also onboard. For power, there’s a 6-36V battery connector, or you can use the micro-USB device port.

Like other Aerocore boards and most other Gumstix boards, the Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson can be customized with the Gumstix Geppetto D2O online development platform. The Geppetto drag-and-drop GUI interface lets developers add network connections or I/O, as well as create multiple projects and compare alternative designs for features and costs.



Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson customization in Geppetto D2O service
(click image to enlarge)

Geppetto supplies free automated documentation on demand with all saved designs. The service lets you develop custom BSPs and go straight from a design to an order in one session, with 15-day manufacturing turnaround.

 
Further information

The Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson is available for $275. More information may be found in Gumstix’s announcement (PDF) and its Aerocore 2 for Nvidia Jetson shopping and product page.

 

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