A Very, Very Small IMU

The reason we’re playing with quadcopters, flight controllers, motion controlled toys, and hundreds of other doodads is the MEMS revolution. A lot is possible with tiny accelerometers and gyroscopes, and this is looking like the smallest IMU yet. It’s an 18mm diameter IMU, with RF networking, C/C++ libraries, and a 48MHz ARM microcontroller – perfect for the smallest, most capable quadcopter we’ve ever seen.

The build started off as an extension of the IMUduino, an extremely small rectangular board that’s based on the ATMega32u4. While the IMUduino would be great for tracking position and orientation over Bluetooth, it’s still 4cm small. The Femtoduino cuts this down to an 18mm circle, just about the right size to stuff in a model rocket or plane.

Right now, femtoIO is running a very reasonable Kickstarter for the beta editions of these boards with a $500 goal. The boards themselves are a little pricey, but that’s what you get with 9-DOF IMUs and altimeter/temperature sensors.

18 thoughts on “A Very, Very Small IMU

  1. Thanks! Fwiw – with the community’s support, we want to get these down to $29 a pop or cheaper, assuming a second crowd fund campaign and community interest. The designs are in the develop branch of the femtoio/femto-beacon github repository. ( See hackaday.io )

  2. Wow, that’s the most modest kickstarter I’ve ever seen. He’s only selling 80 boards!

    Cool bit of kit. This could make for some interesting teensy multicopters, but I don’t know of any controllers that use zigbee for radio. Or multicopters really, the most I’ve seen was for telemetry.

  3. Pledged. This looks like a really awesome board for a few projects I’m planning on doing in a few months so the timing is good too. The integrated processor and the available IO on it make it look like it should be a really sweet board to attach a GPS to also and have a single place to manage all of that telemetry in a really compact place.

    1. It’s quite dense and it’s Bluetooth SOC processor is similar to the Femtobeacon plus one 80 and one 250MHZ Mips cores. Also… it also can drive a WVGA screen, has 5 buck/boost regulators, and 25 LDO’s (I checked, this is not a typo). This just sounds confusing. It probably also has a BGA style backing behind that multilayer board.

      However, they claim support in the Arduino programming environment!

      Yeah, I don’t see any normal person soldering one up.

  4. Ohh :(
    I designed such a thing, minus RF; plus big flash(64Mbit), it was intended for a mini-contest and to be sent to USA to participate in the PongSat thing, but the PongSat dude never replied our emails(from University), so I sacked the project.
    Neat none the less.

  5. If I ever had the resources (read: Money) to build my own quadcoper, I’d have to design my own motherboard and IMU, because laying out a PCB is half the fun!

  6. For those that haven’t looked at them, These SAMr21 parts are super cool; they have the whole zigbee capable 2.4ghz radio built right in, and loads of io, Almost like those cheap wifi modules all over the place now! There are so many cool projects that can be built with them, and this is a great way to leverage the capability that is there!

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