Flight of the Gumstix

COMs Power Research in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

July 5, 2013 | Andrew Simpson

Over the last few months, we’ve seen lots of great research projects powered by Gumstix pop up in a variety of journals. We covered some of these last month in our article for Electronic Products magazine, which showcased many different kinds of projects going on in robotics right now. One of the most-watched areas in the field is that of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and we’ve certainly seen quite a few articles recently focused on them.

Real-Time Airborne Target Tracking and Laser-Navigated Indoor Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Xiang Gao and his colleagues have developed a real-time, embedded video target tracking algorithm that can track multiple targets using a moving camera. The system automatically tracks targets picked up by the UAV’s onboard camera as it flies over them. Using a Gumstix Overo COM with an onboard DSP processor, the researchers were able to reduce video processing time by up to 60%, while still being able to fit desktop-like power directly onto a UAV.

Moving indoors, Fei Wang and his colleagues have designed a UAV that navigates indoors using a laser-range finder and an Overo Fire COM that handles control and navigation processing. By using a COM, the researchers have been able to leverage the wireless communications capabilities and processing power to deploy their navigation algorithms.

An Intelligent Portable Aerial Surveillance System and Flying WiFi

Meanwile, Ruixiang Du at Worcester Polytechnic Institute proposed an “Intelligent Portable Aerial Surveillance System” (or IPASS for short) for his Master’s thesis. IPASS, a U.S. Air Force-sponsored project, aims to “[develop] a low-cost, light-weight unmanned aerial vehicle that can provide sufficient battlefield intelligence for individual troops.” A Gumstix Overo FE COM is at the heart of IPASS’ communications subsystem, and communicates OpenCV processed images back to a base station via WiFi.

Finally, at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, the institution’s Information Processing Group, Laboratory for Intelligent Systems and SenseFly have developed “a project aimed at developing a testbed to experiment with self-organized wireless networks carried by autonomous unmanned aircrafts.” SenseFly-created UAVs will ultimately carry the infrastructure for a self-organized WiFi network with the goal of rapid deployment. The researchers hope that this technology can one day be used in applications such as remotely communicating with rescuers and people on the ground in the event of catastrophe. The onboard Gumstix Overo Tide connected to a USB wireless card provides small and light hardware with which to power the WiFi network.

These are just some of the great research projects in UAVs using Gumstix at the moment. If you know of any others, give us a shout in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

Meet Alto35

The First Geppetto-Built Expansion Board

June 4, 2013 | Andrew Simpson

A few months ago, Gumstix unveiled Geppetto, our new design platform that lets you build a completely custom computer. Michael Questo over at Texas Instrument said that “once [he] learned how to use the tool…[Geppetto made] PCB design as easy as playing Sim City.”

Well, the design process might be as easy as playing Sim City, but the resulting board is definitely real; as proof of that, Gumstix is today announcing its first commercially-available expansion board built entirely with Geppetto, the Alto35.


The Alto35 was designed as the successor to the Palo35, Gumstix’ popular Overo-series expansion board featuring a 3D accelerometer and support for a 3.5″ touch screen.

The Alto35's Geppetto design process.
The Alto35’s Geppetto design process.

In addition to these two, the Alto35 also offers the same audio in/out jack, two USB mini-B ports and console port as the Palo35. The Alto35 also adds an RC servo, LEDs in four different colors, two tactile switches and an included 3.5″ resistive touch-screen display. Moreover, users will now be able to customize all of the features on the existing design in Geppetto to meet their exact specifications.

The Alto35 with an Overo showing the boot splash screen.
The Alto35 with an Overo showing the boot splash screen.


One of the biggest benefits of the expansion board being available both as an off-the-shelf solution and a Geppetto-customizable design is the ability to try out a stock Alto35 at an early stage in the design process, and then move on to your own customized version as your design evolves. Users of Gumstix’ expansion boards have always been able to make their own custom versions, since all our expansion boards are 100% open-source, but, until now, it’s never been as easy as dragging and dropping.

Head over to Geppetto and see the customizable design for the Alto35 for yourself!

Geppetto is our free online design tool that allows you to create a custom hardware design — no electrical engineering required from you. Moreover, we handle everything, from sourcing of parts to production, to ensuring that your board boots out of the box. We take care of production while you focus on your software or application.
We will deliver your pre-tested, production-ready boards after 15 business days.

Gumstix’ Blog says Hello World

Welcome aboard!

May 31, 2013 | Andrew Simpson

It’s been an exciting week here at Gumstix! Today, we’re announcing something we’ve been working on lately: The blog you’re reading right now.

Hello World

With so many fantastic projects going on in the embedded world, we needed a place to share them with everyone in the Gumstix Community.

Be sure to subscribe to get all the latest updates about what’s happening. From awe-inspiring space exploration to research in autonomous robotics to the latest advancements in embedded design, we’ve got you covered!