Taniwha Flight Computer Home Page
NOTE (2001): I still have no kits and probably wont have any any time soon - the DAC is no longer easily available - we need to lay out a new board for a more modern part
New Software available - I'm releasing the free compiler I've been working on for the past year
it's a simplified language intended for relative non-programmers but with a
C subset sort of tacked on top - it's intended to be ported to other people's
flight computers (if they'll have it) so please encourage any other vendors you know
of to get in touch
NOTE (July 24th 1998): I have a small number (6) of bare boards available - contact me before you
send in an order so I don't overcommit. The price has unfortunately gone up to $15
NOTE (Dec 6th): A note about a board bug you should fix
In case you have stumbled onto this page (or if you were surfing and washed up here) it describes a small cheapo flight computer designed to be flown in a high-power (or model) rocket - more information about which can be found here.
This page is designed to be a home for the Taniwha Flight Computer which I'm building and kitting for a number of other interested people. This is NOT a for-profit
enterprise - the idea is to get a critical mass of people up and using the same hardware so that they can write
cool and interesting code (or make cool and interesting hardware) and share it
with everyone else who's using the design.
A quick note about copyrights etc - all the stuff here is marked with my copyright - this is something I do
with everything I design to retain control of my designs should I decide to
sell them for profit in the future. However everything in these pages,
the design itself and the software that runs on it (at least the stuff I provide) is hereby provided it for anyone's use - but I retain ownership and copyright
(even feel free to build them commercially if you want).
"Open Source" is now all the rage - we've been running this project that way for the past 4 years - so as always "feel free to steal anything on these web pages".
The version 1.0 of the flight computer documentation is still available here.
The V2.0 version of the kit is described below - changes are marked with (*).
The basic computer can be considered to be roughly equivalent to an Apple II
in memory and power - features are:
Here is the current version of the V2.0 assembly instructions, and
here, here and here are the schematics.
- 80C32 processor (256 bytes ram, serial port, 16-bits of availiable parallel
- 32K bytes of static RAM
- 32K bytes of ROM containing:
full ROM sources (and the assembler to build them) are available.
- Monitor - so you can download assembly code and run it.
- Basic - Intel's public domain 8052 Basic
- Forth - a public domain Forth interpreter
- 3 Pyro channels capable of firing an electric match or flashbulb - plus one arming channel (*).
- Pads/traces for a 4 channel A/D converter (*).
- Pads/traces for an ADXL50 accelerometer(*).
- Pads/traces for an 64Kbit eeprom (*).
- Pads/traces for R/C in and out (*).
- Dimensions: 3cm x 21cm (1 1/4 " x 8 1/3 ") (it can be shaved down to 29mm with care).
- Power supply - 6-12v at 40mA.
I have started a sources page containing the sources for then assembler and monitor/ROM.
The kits consist of
5 things which I will be selling at cost (I'm sure someone can find the parts cheaper - these are the prices I've been able to come up with for small runs without me
chasing bits all over the valley) - a first time buyer should normally buy a parts kit
($33) and an RS232 kit ($6):
What DON'T you get - the kits are only for the base computer - they don't include the
A/D converter, ADXL50 or EEPROM or associated capacitors or resistors - the idea here is to get
the basic price down as low as possible. I will be publishing where you can buy the bits,
the ADXL50 in particular is almost as expensive as the whole rest of the board.
This is NOT a working altimeter
out of the box (or baggy) you need to add sensors, A/D converters and programming - there's a list
of commercially available rocketry altimeters here.
- Plans and code - free - they're here.
- Parts kits - $33 - a board and all the bits to build a flight computer.
- Boards - 2 sided boards - you buy the bits and stuff 'em yourself - $15 each (check before you order these I don't always have spares - one is included in the parts kit so don't order it seperately unless you want a spare).
- RS232 converter - $6 - the ground based part of the flight computer that converts the flight computer's serial I/O port to RS232 to talk to your PC. This is one chip plus some capacitors you must put them in a box etc check out the assembly instructions above for more information. You MUST specify whether you want a Mac (DIN-8), PC (DB9) or general (DB25) connector. You need at least one of these to connect your Mac/PC etc to one or more flight computers.
- Documentation $5 - don't buy this all documentation will be available free from this web site.
I will hold all checks and not cash any untill I ship people kits.
Orders go to:
c/o Paul Campbell
6652 Dana St
Oakland CA 94609
Make checks payable to "Paul Campbell" - foreign orders should contact me first at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure you include your e-mail address.
Board space (pads/traces) for all the following are included on the V2.0 board as well as some proto space:
- I've written an application note describing how to add a 4 channel A/D converter to your flight computer suitable for sampling sensor data - software is also available.
- I've also added a piece of software that lets you listen to an R/C servo channel and get the value (ie stick position) that would
normally be sent from a receiver to a servo.
- And also how to drive an R/C servo from the flight computer.
- Here's an application note explaining how to drive LEDs using the pyro drivers.
- The ADXL50 is an accelerometer - here's how to wire it to your computer.
Other people's pages
Larry Lynch-Freshner has been doing some great stuff with the flight computer including
eeprom drivers and flight software - check it out here.
- Doug Steinfeld has been doing some interesting work with the OS and has his own set of ROMs a great writeup
of what he's been doing can be found here
"Taniwha" is pronounced tun-e-far and you wouldn't want to meet one on a dark night.