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Toys Linux Hardware

From the Nuremberg Toy Fair, a New Linux System For RC Cars 81

Posted by timothy
from the good-tech-makes-good-toys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last weekend, during the Nuremberg Toy Fair 2012, I spotted a really cool new system for 'professional' RC models based on Embedded Linux. The WiRC allows you to control an RC car (or any other RC vehicle) with an iOS/Android device using WiFi. The core of this system is a 240 MHz ARM9 processor, with 16 MB SDRAM and 4 MB FLASH (with 2 USB ports and 802.11b/g WiFi, a microphone input and a Speaker output). It features 8+4 channels of output. A free software SDK is now in development to code your own transmitter applications."
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From the Nuremberg Toy Fair, a New Linux System For RC Cars

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  • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @12:37PM (#39011877) Homepage

    -bash: rc: command not found

    :(

    • by noh8rz2 (2538714)
      "anonymous reader" = manufacturer. just sayin'
      • by bviragh (2573295)
        We are happy to hear that WiRC made it to slashdot. By the way if the "anonymous reader" would be us (Dension), then we would linked the official website [dension.com] instead of an Italian site, especially since we are located in Hungary :)
  • by oakgrove (845019) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @12:43PM (#39011933)
    Put a little camera on it and an arm that I can control from my Xoom and watch out!
    • by camperslo (704715)

      Put a little camera on it and an arm that I can control from my Xoom and watch out!

      It's a conspiracy to nab cookies from the kitchen I tell you!

  • by JavaBear (9872)

    WiRC? Why not RCos? (possible pronunciation: Arcos?)

  • by victim (30647) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @12:51PM (#39011967)

    might appreciate the vendor's site in English [dension.com].

  • Controlling a simple rc car is a rather simple task. Lets see someone strap that system into a full collective pitch rc chopper and control it from a idevice. The idevices make for a horrible control interface for any rc application.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      I would not trust the inconsistent latency effects of wifi (e.g. when it losses association and has to sign on, again). I'd rather have a straight transmitter, even if it is digital, not encrypted, but with encryption of a command summation.

      • by Lussarn (105276) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @01:57PM (#39012361)

        I fly RC Helicopters and I would not trust something like this, period. We take signal quality very, very seriously. Any loss of signal and you are basically doomed the way we fly these days (low to the ground and stickbanging). Even the major manufacturers have signal problems, altough it's very good. Have never had any signal hickup with my Futaba 2.4 gear, but they have done everything in there power to make the signal as optimized for the application as possible. For a slow moving vehicle, sure. But anything flying, no thanks. Latency is another matter. 20ms stick to servo is considered good. The touchscreen alone is probably 100ms, Consider a car at 60mph, it will move several feets before even starting to turn at those latencys.

        Cool, possibly. But more of a toy thing.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          I fly RC Helicopters and..

          Hey friend, you know of any not-too-expensive quadrlcopters you would recommend for someone just getting started in RC 'copters?

          You know anything about something called a "Parrot"?

          • by Lussarn (105276) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @02:45PM (#39012739)

            Hi, The parrot seems to be something you actually do control with a phone. It's most proably self-stabilizing and very easy to fly altough most certanly very innacurate. http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/en/ [parrot.com]

            It is a "toy", I normaly don't recommed them as it's worlds apart what I fly, but you could probably get some enjoyment out of it. Don't set your expectation bar too high though...

            If you are truly interessted you can buy quad-chassis, motors, speed controlers, flight computer (with gyros and other sensors), and there is open source software for it too. These are the real thing, but since I just fly regular copters I don't know much about them I'm afraid. http://aeroquad.com/ [aeroquad.com] (Don't know if this is the best, but a place to start reading, if interessted)

            • by PopeRatzo (965947)

              Ah, the Aeroquad looks like exactly what I had in mind, since my purpose is survey and cinematography (not to mention "fun"). I do some work with a group involved in very large-scale art installation. We hired a guy who had a pretty sophisticated RC fixed wing airframe, but it was too expensive and couldn't be stationary. We've got a budget, and I've got access to everything but aviation experience in one or another member of the group or friend. So, I figure we might as well try some commercially-av

          • by EETech1 (1179269)

            When I was flying a few years ago, there were beginners models with a one year warranty that covered any damage, even from crashing. A reassuring thought the first time it smashes into 20 pieces!

            Also a gyro on the tail rotor can be very helpful when you start out!

            Stand behind it for the first few hours to get the hang of it, as all of the controls get reversed from your perspective when you turn it around. It's much easier to land it and regroup than trying to fly it once it gets turned because you will b

        • by camperslo (704715)

          It's a throwback to the old days of 23-channel CB radio. There were basically gaps after every 4th channel, with those frequencies being used for things like radio control of toys and garage doors. I feel sorry for anyone who had a garage door opener on those frequencies. Besides interference from splatter and overload from strong signals, the congestion of CB led some to venture off into frequencies they shouldn't have been on. Eventually, being unusable for anything else, those channels became part o

        • by codepunk (167897)

          Exactly I don't want to loose body parts because of some packet loss. A rc heli is pretty much a lawn mower flying upside down, getting hit by a rotor blade would not be a fun experience.

    • by ClaraBow (212734)
      • by codepunk (167897)

        That sir is not a full collective pitch 3d capable helicopter.

        • by ClaraBow (212734)
          Touché -- I was afraid of that!
        • by powerlord (28156)

          That sir is not a full collective pitch 3d capable helicopter.

          I thought one of the advantages of a Tri/Quad copter over the traditional collective pitch Helicopter design was that the multi-blade copter allowed for greater stability in the platform?

          Isn't that a "good thing" from the perspective of having a wider user base, since it would allow a lower skilled operator (even leaving aside the whole concept of turning one into a UAV).

    • by freeze128 (544774)
      Not only that, but guess what? You really don't NEED an entire OS to control an RC car or plane. Simple transmitters have been around since the 70's and the technology has gotten MORE SECURE, faster, lighter, and more power efficient. Adding an entire OS to the mix just ends up with code you don't need, to add delays and security vulnerabilities that you don't want.

      Not everything needs to have an OS in it for god's sake!
      • by Tsingi (870990)

        Not everything needs to have an OS in it for god's sake!

        Pretty hand to have one in a robot though.

      • by cynyr (703126)

        What if i want to use this with 4 motors (each wheel) and simulate AWD in software, including limiting the total power output.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @01:02PM (#39012029) Homepage Journal

    How long until there's an Android app that keeps a swarm of cars scurrying around me as I walk around?

    Swarm of copters?

  • Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Rally cars? In Nuremberg?

  • by cdrnet (1582149) on Sunday February 12, 2012 @01:04PM (#39012043)

    In order to control any RC device like a car or some multi-copter even remotely professionally you need precise controllers, reliable connectivity and low latency, all of which any iOS/Android touch devices seriously lack, by design.

    Even intermediate hobbyist senders (actually bidirectional these days for telemetry, FPV etc.) have precise and adjustable mechanical contol sticks, come with specialized circuits to bypass the controller's CPU where low latency is of importance and use frequency hopping RC for more reliability and to allow hundreds of pilots in a close range.

    • +1 There is no way you could control an RC helicopter using this. As you said, the controls are too imprecise and in addition wifi probably has too much lag.
    • +1

      Don't need to run my nitro buggy into a fence (or worse) because the phone twitched.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The whole thing is just stupid overcomplex. 266 Mhz ARM system for controlling a few motors? I could do the same thing with a $2, 8 Mhz AVR or similar. Add on wifi, or better, a more direct (and cheaper) RF system without the latency of wifi and you're done. It would perform better using "slower" components.

  • I guess it's a rally car, then.
  • You can get all the PWM functions out of an AVR chip strapped to the embedded controller of your choice. I can buy a tablet with more horsepower and a 7" display for less. Someone ought to be able to sell something just like this for fifty bucks. It doesn't even have onboard WiFi, it's USB. Which is included, but let's face it, a micro wifi dongle is five bucks now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will it run Windows?

  • Have there been any public trials?

  • Open protocol**
    ** Contact us for further information
    Software SDK**
    ** Contact us for further information

    In other words, the protocol it uses is proprietary.

    This has some robotics potential. It's supposed to support cameras, servo outputs,4 digital inputs, and 4 digital outputs, and 1 analog voltage input, in a compact package.

    • by bviragh (2573295)
      The method we send the protocol specification is a bit embarrassing but we just would like to see how many people are interested in it (and see the possible usage scenarios). However currently we have got so many requests that it seems it would be better to make the specification downloadable on the website.
  • Its a slightly more refined version of sticking a wireless router on a car.
  • ....in any sense. Professional RC applications are high end rigs that demand precision and low latency. "Professional" RC racers require the same kind of response time and controls that grant tight precision. This system covers not a single requirement. Essentially it can only bee for one of two things...
    - Hobbiest geeks
    - Automated RC tasks
  • The helicopter they had last year is already in the clearance section

  • looking at the video on their site, the lag on the camera alone makes it unusable at speeds > 1km/h. It might be cool as a kids toy, but racing ? no.
    • by bviragh (2573295)
      the best case latency in the camera stream is around 300 ms, however the latency in the control stream is much better ~20 ms, so it can be used with higher speed than 1 km/h :)
  • How long does this thing take to boot? The fastest boot time I've seen on a Linux system is 6 seconds. That's if you include USB which seems to suck up 2/3 of the boot time.

    • by bviragh (2573295)
      In default AP mode the WiFi network is created around the 15th second after startup, but note the smartphone should be also connected to this network and it takes time too. By the way you are right, the kernel boot time is about 5..6 sec, and the WiFi AP creation takes further 8-10 sec (maybe this network creation can be polished).
      • IMHO, this is what keeps embedded Linux from gaining universal acceptance. Some applications don't care about boot times. Some don't care because you don't boot them regularly. But a two-second boot time and a power-loss tolerant file system are needed for any Linux appliance that runs off batteries.

  • So this is the Linux version of WiFli?

    http://interactivetoy.com/IATC1011/home/bladerunner.html [interactivetoy.com]

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