Thursday, October 13, 2011

Introducing the MAVRK

What is the MAVRK? MAVRK stands for Module and Versatile Reference Kit. It is a new hardware platform developed by Texas Instruments which will allow you to evaluate almost any configuration of Texas Instruments' products. I have been given the opportunity to evaluate this kit before it is released and will be generating content for the community. This post will introduce you to the MAVRK and give a brief explanation of what the kit is.

While I am still not sure who Texas Instruments is targeting with this board , I think that professionals, students, and hobbyists all will be able to find some interesting uses for this system.
MAVRK with two modules installed.
This is a picture of the MAVRK board with two modules installed. I think it's pretty cool looking!

Instead of trying to explain exactly what the MAVRK is, I will give you a scenario in which you would want to use the MAVRK. Imagine you want to build a quadcopter that can be monitored and/or controlled wirelessly from a nearby computer. Instead of taking lots of time and money building prototype after prototype till you get the design right, you can use the MAVRK. First you would need a motor module, a wireless module (say Wi-Fi for example), an MSP430 module, and a few analog or digital input modules. All of these things TI apparently plans on offering at quite low prices.

You would plug everything in to the motherboard, hook any accelerometers you have to the input modules, hook a few test motors up to the motor module, and start programming away. The MAVRK programming tool chain is supposed to make the integration of these modules easy and quick. If all goes to plan, you should have a working model within days, not weeks. Now all that is left is to take the MAVRK setup, and turn your working design into a custom PCB; this step should also be easy considering the MAVRK and all the modules are open source, including the hardware.

I will be started a separate blog about the MAVRK system which will go into more detail about the kit and how to get started with the kit. Stay tuned! Let's see what this baby can do!

6 comments:

  1. Very cool! Any idea when this will be released to the public?

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  2. Honestly? I am not 100% sure, but I believe it should be released by the end of the year. Don't quote me on that though, no promises my guess is accurate.

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  3. $200 not bad, maybe a good TI deals item at $100

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  4. It's an interesting idea.

    First, think about the Arduino and its "shields", which are stackable expansion boards -- you can get motor driver shields, Ethernet shields, relay driver shields, etc.

    Now this MAVRK takes the shield idea, and spreads them out in 2D space instead of stacking them all atop each other. While the MAVRK's spread-out design is going to be much more costly, and will have some fixed limits to the number of expansion boards, it overcomes the Arduino stacked shield limitations that mean only the top shield's surface is accessible.

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  5. I think this board would be much more powerful if someone were to take it's core design and make it ... 1.) less proprietary and 2.) cheaper/more robust. It's those custom connectors that make any sort of adapting it to other boards difficult. There is a huge ghost town on www.mavrkboard.org but all of the hardware design files and BOM are there.
    Props though for the concept. TI has a huge portfolio and really hasn't even scratched the surface of leveraging it.

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  6. Sadly, it is my understanding that the MAVRK project has been cancelled although I could be mistaken. I agree with your comments, it is a very interesting idea. Maybe one day the project will be revived.

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