This is the Draco control board, a rocket guidance/steering system that could in theory be used to stabilize as well as record and transmit the flight of model rockets. I developed this board for my own personal use, but wasn’t too sure as to the rocket I would use for it, so I decided to cram it full of features so that I could use it for multiple purposes. Here are some hardware features:

  • 10 servo outputs
  • 3 detonator circuits for launching rocket/deploying parachute
  • Camera interface connector for 808 style cameras
  • Atmega2560 MCU
  • RFM95HW Long-Range (LORA) radio transceiver
  • Micro SDCard Connector for logging
  • LSM9DS1TR‎ IMU for accurate positioning and orientation
  • SAM-M8Q GPS module
  • Multi-purpose connector
  • MS5607 Barometer
schem

Main schematic sheet for the Draco board. A 3.3v to 5v logic-level converter was used to get the MCU to talk to all of the individual components.

pcb

PCB layout of the board. I added a sick logo as well, something I haven’t done in the past.

I used the newest version of KiCad to create this project. One of the features of KiCad is its ability to model the PCB in 3D, which is something I would later use to create a rocket-mount for the board:

20180127_191150

As well as creating the design using KiCad, I also made a single working prototype of the board for my own use. I got the PCBs made using the ALLPCB service, and assembled it using hot air soldering techniques.

This board will most likely be later utilized in my rocket or high-altitude balloon projects. The prototype I built worked pretty much first try, except for the IMU, which I had to re-heat and re-solder until it worked.

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In addition to the main Draco board, I also soldered up a second USB-powered board, which contains an Arduino Nano and LORA radio. I will use this board to receive and transmit commands to the Draco board. But first, I have to build the thing that uses this board!