Report from the European Conference on Mobile Robotics 2017

[Manuel Lopez-Antequera] and I just returned from the 8th edition of ECMR held in Paris. It was a great experience with most contributed works centered on solution for UAVs. In this regard, my personal favorite key-session was that of [Scaramuzza]. It was not only very inspiring, but also introduced us to event based cameras, which have a extremely high refresh rate when compared with standard cameras.

All in all, it was a very great experience. The organization was excellent and we were very well received. Also, I liked that the conference was single track, meaning that we didn't miss a single contribution. As for [Manuel] and me, we presented the following works respectively:

Enhanced commercial multicopter for research in autonomous navigation

I just wanted to share with you a fully autonomous drone I built some time back for my degree in electornic engineering. It was a time when there were no fully autonomous drones, as the needed hardware was still too heavy to be flown piggyback all around your backyard. Still, I managed to pack everything I needed on top of a commercial RTF-Y6 hexacopter, including an RGD-D camera and an ARM computer.

If you feel like, take a look at the corresponding paper published during the 23th Mediterranean Conference on Control and Automation, 2015. Also, don't miss the video after the break.

Delete songs from HDD while listening to them on audacious

I digitalized my old CD music collection (very) long time ago. And the other day listening to it I stumbled over some tracks I did really not like. I used to listem to them (unless I was willing to stand up and press the next track on my Hi-Fi), but in 2017... no more!

In this post I will show you a small script you can bind to any key combination on your keyboard. When a song comes up that you don' like, simply move it to the trash (you don't want to listen to it forever, right?) and also delete it from Audaciou's playlist.

TMUX: useful key-bindings

Continuing my TMUX series, this post will show you some useful keybindings which will make you much more productive, not only when working with TMUX, but also while configuring it to your liking.

How to create tasks on FreeRTOS

FreeRTOS is a great tool for those of you who want to get the most out of their microcontrollers and do something more than blink a LED. It enables you to run several tasks concurrently (i.e. simultaneously, but no in parallel) and do things like, while one process is waiting for your I²C interface to finish (the task is blocked) let different process take advantage of the waiting time to do work.

In this post we will take a look at how to create two simple FreeRTOS tasks that run concurrently on Arduino, although this is perfectly applicable to any other microcontroller you have lying around.

Run FreeRTOS on Arduino UNO (ATMega328P)

On one hand we have FreeRTOS, an awesome tiny operating system you can run on almost any microcontroller in order to run concurrent processes. It is also great to learn how more complex operating systems, say Linux, work under the hood. And on the other hand we have Arduino, a small, low-cost and user-friendly microcontroller development board.

So, why not combine both? Let's have a look at it.

Supercapacitors VS Batteries
image by Adafruit

By now you have probably hear about supercapacitors and: an alternative to batteries, with ultra short charge times and high output-power peaks.Be assured that this is true, and that you can already buy supercapacitors for a relatively low price. 

However, supercapacitors are usually misunderstood, as they do not substitute batteries but offer a functionality for which most applications used to resort to them: short term (i.e. less than 1 minute) power  storage. Also, do not confuse supercapacitors with graphene-based ultracapacitors, which do in fact have the potential to make chemical batteries obsolete.

In this post I will cover the main differences between supercapacitors and batteries (e.g. lead-acid and LiPo/LiIon batteries), and show you a quick equivalence formula to compute how big a supercapacitor must be to replace a given battery.