New Blog Features

Blog Accounts

Hi Everyone,

I’ve enabled some new features on the FM blog.  You can now register your own user name – this gives you the ability to add comments without having to put your username and email each time.  Also, you can go back and edit comments you previously posted without time limits.  You can still post anonymously, but it will only give you a 10 minute time window to edit the comments after it is posted.  Of course, if you ever want to edit or delete an old comment, you can just shoot me an email and I’ll take care of it.

Let me know if the new system is giving you any problems with registering.  You can register by clicking the Register link in the “Login/Meta Data” section on the left side bar.

I envision a future where additional contributors will be posting to the blog, so having unique accounts will be required for that.

Job Postings

You may have noticed a new Job Postings menu item on this blog site – its a plug-in for WordPress that I am testing which will allow us to list job openings and accept candidate applications.  I’m just trying it out, and our two job openings are not posted there yet (because we are in the process of defining the roles, responsibilities and required skill sets).   It may go away in the future, but I just wanted to let you know what that was all about.

Skycar M200

George Stevens and I have been working on the Skycar M200.  This is a mock-up design, the first ever full-scale Skycar built by Moller International.  It has some simple automation features that were not working so well, as age has caught up to the systems.  George has been working on fixing the pneumatic system which opens the cockpit canopy and front lifter-fan cover

Skycar M200 (aka Merlin)

I worked on fixing the animated display.  The original display was a simple animation, written in C and compiled on  Borland C++ using BGI.  This graphics library is only available with this old compiler, and anyways it’s such an old animation I decided it was time to replace it.   Below you can see a couple videos I made of the old animations. (Flight Instruments, Engine Monitors and Navigation)

For the original animated display there were two Dell desktop systems in the M200, and they were connected to a small LCD display in the instrument panel.  The LCD was not working (back-light was dead, and LCD wasn’t displaying a clean NTSC video from it’s RCA input).

I replaced all that hardware with a Raspberry Pi 3 and a touchscreen LCD designed for the Pi.  Here are the two systems, side by side:

With an RPi, we have a lot more options for animations, but just to make it simple for now, I decided just set it up to loop a short video of an EFIS display I found on YouTube.  Super easy and no coding.  We can always add additional capabilities in the future.  The nice thing about the RPi is it has built in WiFi, so I can connect to it remotely to make updates, copy new videos, etc.   It’s also a lot smaller and less power hungry than those ancient desktops.

Here are a few more pics of the RPi when I put it together, and a video of the new animation:

RPi 3 mounted to LCD touchscreen controller
Back cover for LCD touchscreen installed
RPi3 running EFIS video, compared to old LCD above it
RPi Screen mounted in M200 Instrument Panel

In the future it will be fun to update the model, rebuild the instrument panel, maybe add some sound effects.  For now we are just fixing the obvious issues.

Best Regards – Dave

Author: David Sastry

David has two decades of experience as a senior engineer at Intel Corporation, Freescale and Marvell Semiconductors. Before joining Freedom Motors he was a Principle Consultant for Infosys in their IoT Practice. David holds BS and MS degrees from Ohio State University in electrical engineering, with an emphasis on computer architecture and digital design. David is responsible for Freedom Motors' IT systems, social media outreach, managing corporate operations and contributing to business development.