Does your drone have a brain? The VR Brain takes flight control to a new level in the DIY drone community. This multipurpose board comes loaded with the 32-bit version of the Arducopter firmware and its ground station is based on the Mission Planner software. Once you have your copter up and running, the autonomous mode will have your multicopter flying wherever you program it to go.
What is the VR Brain?
The VR Brains is a flight control project that’s three years in the making. The main developer and founder of the project, Roberto Navoni, fell in love with the idea of building his own drones.
But he quickly became frustrated when he realized that his drones were a closed source project, and he couldn’t access the flight algorithms.
Roberto searched for open source projects to join, and after stumbling on the AeroQuad project and various other autopilot projects, he decided to create his own board – the MultiPilot 1.0.
Eventually Roberto would team up with Chris Anderson (founder of the popular DIYDRONES community) on a new project called Arducopter. Roberto would go on to develop an updated version of his board – the VR Brain and create the Virtual Robotix team.
VR Brain Features
The VR Brain board is designed for DIY enthusiasts and comes with the following features:
- 8 RC output
- 168Mhz ARM CortexM4F microcontroller
- 6 RC input
- 1 can bus
- A data flash drive for logging data
- MEMS accelerometer and gyro, barometric pressure sensor and magnetometer
- 1024kb flash memory
- 192kb RAM
- 3 serial ports
- 3 digital switch
- 1 input control
- 1 buzzer output
- GPS module
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That’s a pretty impressive list of features. As far as firmware goes, the VR Brain supports the following:
- Mavlink 1.0 protocol telemetry control
- Stable flight
- Acro flight
- Simple flight mode
- Autonomous flight with user-controlled waypoint navigation
- Automatic return
- GPS hold
- Various configuration management options. including quad, octo and hexa
- Gimbal stabilization management
To put it simply, the VR Brain puts flight control in your hands, so you can create your own waypoints and develop your own custom multicopter.
How VR Brain Works
The VR Brain comes equipped with powerful autopilot controls that use accelerometers, gyroscopes and other electronic components to control the copter during flight.
And with the GPS module in place, the drone receives location data that allows you to set waypoints.
The VR Brain board is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s the “brain” for your drone, but you still need to connect your brain to your copter’s other key components.
These other components include:
- A frame, or body
- Radio receiver and transmitter
- Electronic speed control, or ESC, of the motors
This is the one aspect of the “brain” that may turn users off. Unless you’re an avid member of the DIY drone community, you’re probably not interested in building your copter from scratch.
But for those who love it and are well experienced in the art of building drones, the VR Brain is an exciting development.
Plus, the team offers a thorough quick start guide to help you through the process of building your own drone.
Three versions of the brain are offered:
- VR Brain Lite – This version really gives DIY’ers the power to develop their own RC applications. It supports many advanced sensors and works great for multicopters, rovers and boats.
- VR Brain CPU with no sensor – Another version that allows you to develop your own applications. It’s a great option for anyone who’s in need of a powerful CPU and plenty of data storage.
- VR Brain – The VR Brain includes all of the same features you would find in the Lite version, but also comes with a GPS. The GPS module allows for automatic flight, waypoint navigation, hovering and even return to home functionality. These are the same types of features you would find on higher-end “ready to fly” drones like the DJI Phantom 2.
On the project’s Indiegogo page, there was discussion about offering a complete “ready to fly” kit with the board. But we’ve yet to see such a kit in the Virtual Robotix store.
The VR Brain Indiegogo campaign closed in February of 2013. While the team only managed to raise 4% of their $50,000 goal, Virtual Robotix has gone on to develop and release the VR Brain (version 5).
Thus far, the impressions have been positive, and the cost of the brain is surprisingly modest (175 €). Just take a look at this video that demonstrates the VR Brain’s take off, waypoint navigation and automatic landing.
What the VR Brain does is put flight control into the hands of users. With a brain in your drone, you can set your own flight waypoints for automatic flight. Takeoff is smooth and automatic landing makes it easy to complete your flight mission.
For DIY enthusiasts, the VR Brain is a welcomed addition to the world of UAV systems.
- VR micro Brain 5: The micro drone invasion began. Totally autonomous (VR Leash and integrated telemetry) , lightweight <1kg , reliable, equipped with VR micro gimbal and full HD camera. – on DIYDrones.com
- VR Brain 5 (PRO) vs VR Micro Brain vs Pixhawk – on DIYDrones.com
- VR uBrain 5.1 32 bit from Virtualrobotix next gen autonomous and follow me drone. – on RCGroups.com
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