Apollo, The Everything Board

The best projects have a great story behind them, and the Apollo from Carbon Origins is no exception. A few years ago, the people at Carbon Origins were in school, working on a high power rocketry project.

Rocketry, of course, requires a ton of sensors in a very small and light package. The team built the precursor to Apollo, a board with a 9-axis IMU, GPS, temperature, pressure, humidity, light (UV and IR) sensors, WiFi, Bluetooth, SD card logging, a microphone, an OLED, and a trackball. This board understandably turned out to be really cool, and now it’s become the main focus of Carbon Origins.

There are more than a few ways to put together an ARM board with a bunch of sensors, and the Apollo is extremely well designed; all the LEDs are on PWM pins, as they should be, and there was a significant amount of time spent with thermal design. See that plated edge on the board? That’s for keeping the sensors cool.

The Apollo will eventually make its way to one of the crowdfunding sites, but we have no idea when that will happen. Carbon Origins is presenting at CES at the beginning of the year, so it’ll probably hit the Internet sometime around the beginning of next year. The retail price is expected to be somewhere around $200 – a little expensive, but not for what you’re getting.

35 thoughts on “Apollo, The Everything Board

  1. Wow, impressive! Back in the mid 70s I recall reading an issue of an electronics magazine that had an article by Forrest Mims on the MITS TransRoc, a 27MHz transmitter for model recketry. I thought what a fantastic piece of kit at the time (ad it was a kit), but unaffordable on my pocket money allowance. Things have come a long, long way…

    1. Yeah please put an image first.
      I’d much rather look at sharp a still image and read a good article than look at some unprepared guy ramble and hold something up on a blurry video. (This goes for all recent video-articles, not just this one).

  2. I find it fun that more and more products like this are hitting the market, but i’m sort of sensing a pattern in every projet i see now a days. Developpement boards. Everything to add to the Arduino or the launch pad. But I think that some are forgetting that developpement boards are made to developpe new products… not to create more developpment boards to fit existing developpment boards. I don’t want to sound like a troll or anything, but i’m starting to find this “It can do everything” trend very redondant. Thats only my opinion written in very poor english! ;)

    1. Your English works fine – I totally get what you’re saying.

      I think there’s a market for both. Sometimes I want boards that help me develop hardware. Other times I don’t want to develop anything and want a “it can do everything” board.

      I also think that if board developers do it right, you can have the best of both. The Apollo looks great, but it’d be nice to have two boards – one with the sensors, and one with the screen, trackball, and other inputs that you can stack onto the sensors.

      That way, combined, I’d have a “it can do everything” board.

      Take the inputs off, and I could use the screen and trackball on another project, or use the sensors in another project. Or when the quadcopter the sensors are on vanishes, only lose the sensors and not the trackball and OLED.

      1. Separating the screen and trackball would also lighten the load on the rocket/copter.
        One could also “talk” to the sensor board via Host USB (before launch or after landing) on a smartphone/tablet.

  3. I’ve got to say, in general, I agree, there do seem to be a lot more dev boards coming out than anything else at the moment (not that they’re not good, but we do need some actual things too). However, I belive that this isn’t just a dev board; So far as I know, it’s largely intended as a datalogger for model rocketry, with the option of other uses. If you look at it, the size and shape of it’s done to fit within the confines of an averagely-sized model rocket nose.

  4. There’s already the NavSpark, a tiny 100MHz SPARC based dev board with build in GPS and programable IO pins. That’s only $22. Add a 9DOF sensor board and aerial, the result should come in at less than $50.

    1. The current iteration of Apollo has the UBlox MAX-M8 GPS module, which is far superior in performance and quality when compared to the the NavSpark’s Venus838FLPx.
      Apollo’s GPS system works up to 50,000m AGL (164,042 feet). NavSpark’s GPS system works only up to 18,000m AGL (59,055 feet). Therefore you can use Apollo in high altitude applications without having to worry about losing GPS (like high altitude weather balloon projects, which usually reach ~100,000 feet)
      UBlox MAX-M8:http://tinyurl.com/kjzpz3j
      Venus838FLPx: http://tinyurl.com/m5vbsur

      The 9DOF chip on Apollo is far superior than anything else in the market. It uses the Bosh Bno-055, which has a dedicated built in 32bit microcontroller that runs the sensor fusion algorithm. This is incredibly powerful since your main MCU receives clean fused sensor data. This means you don’t have to include filters and sensor fusion algorithm in your code! IMU right out of the box.
      Bno-055: http://tinyurl.com/mcox4az

      Remember, Apollo also has 6 environmental sensors, WiFi and BLE. It aslo has built in power management and lithium charging circuitry. It also has a great UI with its backlit trackball and 64×128 OLED display.

      Apollo is built to standards that is rarely found in the hobby/maker industry. It has extremely high quality sensors and the hardware and software has been integrated and developed from the core, making it one of the best embedded sensors and networked development platform.

      Yes you can have a 9DOF + GPS system for ~$50. But you will not have the same performance. You will also spend a lot of time with integrating different hardware modules and will probably also spend time troubleshooting the libraries. Both the hardware and the software on Apollo has been designed to work perfectly out of the box.

      1. The NavSpark only has an altitude limit above speeds of about 1100MPH, so high altitude work is perfectly possible. Yes, the 9DOF module would require calibration and there are a couple of extra sensors included in the Apollo, but is that worth $150?

  5. Has similar features to the arduimu v4. (tinyurl.com/arduimuv4). I do like the idea of the screen and input options for doing preflight checking, but arduimu might be more cost effective for an on board you may not get back.

    1. Apollo is far superior to the ArduIMU V4.
      Here’s the good old spec comparison:

      Processor:
      Apollo has a 32 Bit, 84Mhz clock, 512 Kb Flash and 96 Kb SRAM
      ArduIMU has a 8 Bit, 16Mhz clock, 128 Kb Flash and 16 Kb SRAM

      Motion
      Apollo uses the Bosh BNO-055 9DOF chip which has a built in dedicated 32Bit microcontroler for sensor fusion. The main MCU doesn’t have to do any filtering of the data.
      The ArduIMU uses the Invensense 9DOF chip, which is great, but doesn’t do on board sensor fusion or filtering. The work is offloaded to the main MCU which in this case is pretty weak.

      Environmental:
      Apollo: Temperature, Pressure, Humidity, UV index, IR intensity, Visible light
      ArduIMU: Temperature, Pressure, Humidity, Visible light

      GPS:
      Apollo has a high quality UBlox MAX-M8 GPS integrated on the board.
      Since Apollo has the 9DOF and GPS integrated on the same board, out of the box it has dead reckoning.
      ArduIMU has a connector for GPS, which you need to purchase separately.

      Communication:
      Apollo has both WiFi and Bluetooth Low energy built in. So, right out of the box it can communicate with your mobile devises like phones, tablets and computers. It is also an internet of things (IOT) device.
      The ArduIMU has an Zigbee radio and you need a separate dongle to connect it to your computer.

      Lets face it, Apollo is far more superior than ArduIMU V4 in pretty much everything.

      ArduIMU retails at $129.95
      Apollo will retail at $199

      1. ^^ Don’t forget the OLED display + Trackball + Speaker + microphone ^^
        The user interface is the most important part of any product. We believe Apollo has one of the best user interfaces for a product of its class, size and price.
        With the default program that it ships with, it can act as a standalone device right out of the box.

  6. imo it’s expensive and over the top. 9 axis really? is it really needed? why not 4 axes? wifi AND bluetooth? er… to make it more expensive?
    nonsense. “oh let’s put all this shit together” done. no tkx.

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