Redtree Hydra: A modular platform for robotics

The Redtree Hydra is the 1st computer for robotics designed to easily add components, communicate with groups of other robots and share data

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The Redtree Hydra is a project created by Redtree Robotics, a startup out of Waterloo, ON.

It was built to solve three problems. First - it is difficult and takes a long time to connect all the sensors, motors and parts to a robot. Second, communication is usually an afterthought in robotics. Third, robots are increasingly data focused, but design of robots is not.

The Hydra uses an FPGA to enable plug-and-play like connectivity of sensors, motors and components to the computer. We also provide software that reduces the need for low level driver development to make connecting parts easy. The Redtree Hydra also comes with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 4G/LTE along with software that manages these connections so you don't need to be an expert in communications. Our software supports swarming and cloud connectivity. Our cloud software lets you visualize sensor data and manage fleets of robots in real-time anywhere in the world.

The Redtree Hydra is designed for connectivity. We have made it easy to attach sensors, actuators and motors with our hardware so you no longer need to design complicated circuits.

Our software tools help to auto-generate device drivers so that plugging in a component is almost as easy as plugging a mouse into a computer. This means you can get data from sensors into the computer so you can focus on writing programs and working with the data right away.

Hydra's seamless networking API makes it simple to share data with other robots or to the cloud where it can be used anywhere in the world. The Hydra middleware automatically sets up and managing your wireless connections so your robots are always connected.

We use a cutting edge Zynq dual-core ARM-A9 processor with an FPGA. This is the ideal tradeoff between performance and energy efficiency.

Sensors, motors, actuators and components can be added to our system with up to four modular I/O cards. You only pay for what you require.

Out of the box, we provide Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with the option to add Zigbee and 4G/LTE. Our seamless technology uses all of them together to always stay connected.

Our real-time linux kernel means data gets where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

We know engineers are used to their tools. We support everything from c/c++, ROS and OpenCV, to Matlab / Labview.

It's easy to share data with other robots, store it in the cloud and analyze it in real-time with Hydra.

Four I/O slots are provided, and can be populated with these cards:

Reconfigurable I/O Card - Can support any set or combination of digital interfaces. A total of 20 lines at 5V are supplied and can be configured with our yet-to-be-released configuration tool. All you have to do is assign each line to an interface. Digital interfaces supported:



Quadranture Encoders


UART (Full or Half Duplex and modem signals optional)



SPI (2, 3, or 4 wire and as many chip selects as desired)

etc, the list goes on

For example, with 20 lines you can have 4x UARTs, 4x PWM, 1x I2C, and 6 GPIO, or maybe you want to have 10 I2C interfaces. The combinations are endless, and all accessible and in our Linux environment.

Analog I/O Card - 32 Analog input Channels of 0-5V at 16 bits and 1ksps per channel. Never run out of analog interfaces again. Can be configured to a lower number of channels for a higher data rate for audio applications.

Standard Interfaces - These always come with our system:

1x Gigabit Ethernet

4x USB 2.0 Highspeed Ports

Wireless Inteferfaces -

WiFi 802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth EDR v4.0

ZigBee 900 MHz (Optional)

3G/4G/LTE (Optional)

GPS (Optional)

Our main board also comes with a 9 degrees of freedom IMU (gyro/accelerometer/magnetometer).

The target price of the Redtree Hydra + one I/O card will be between $200 and $300. We also plan to offer a drone kit, a rover kit (each around $700-1000) and drone / rover kit (around $1000-1400). We intend on crowd funding this project and will post links to the campaign when we launch in the fall of 2015.

In the long run, we want to miniaturize all of this further so that it can be integrated as a system-level component into your own designs while retaining all of the benefits of our technology so that scalable, affordable, easy to build robotics are possible.

  • 1 × Xilinx Zynq 7010 Dual core ARM-A9 and FPGA
  • 1 × 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 1 × 4G/LTE Exact Module TBD
  • 1 × TI WiLink8 Wi-Fi Bluetooth Module
  • 1 × Zigbee Exact Module TBD

View all 9 components

  • Complete Rover Build

    Redtree Robotics07/29/2015 at 13:07 0 comments

    Assemble the Rover Frame

    We used a rover kit from Robotshop: Assemble it according to their instructions to build the frame and attach the motors. You can also use other kits, but you may need to make adjustments to the current outputted to the motors if you use something else. It should look something like this when you are done.

    Attach the motor controller

    We used a motor driver from Robotshop: - wire up the motors to each channel, wire up power and ground from the battery and attach the wires to the motors. It should look like this when you are done:

    Insert the Redtree I/O card into the Redtree Hydra

    Insert the ribbon cable from the Redtree Hydra into the I/O card. Attach the I/O card wiring harness to the card and then wire the wires into the motor driver. You can configure which wires / pins control the signals with the FPGA configuration tool. We attach the appropriate wires from the configuration tool to the signal wires on the motor driver. Our I/O card also provides power and ground so we attach these to the motor driver as well. The yellow wires are the signal wires and the black is the ground wire on the motor controller.

    Attach Voltage Regulator

    The Voltage regulator converts the battery from around 11 volts to 5 volts which is what the Redtree Hydra requires. We also added a switch here so we can turn the whole robot on and off. We have this wrapped in this black styrofoam / electrical tape to give it a bit of a cleaner look.

    Attach Xbox Receiver and Cleanup

    The last hardware step is attaching the Xbox receiver: since we are using an Xbox 360 controller to drive the robot around, and cleaning everything up. We basically just cable tie the wires and hot glue everything down so that it stays in place.

    Programming the FPGA

    For more detailed information, see FPGA configuration tool. In this step, we use the web tool which will be available at to program the fpga. This tells the Hydra what pins on the I/O card are attached to the motor controllers. In this case, we are using two digital I/O, so we click "digital out" twice to add this to the pinout, and click finish.
    When you click finish, the tool will automatically generate the files to program the FPGA when the Redtree Hydra is booted. Take the SDcard out of the Redtree Hydra and insert it into your computer. The two files 'boot.bin' and 'system_wrapper.bit' should be moved to the SDcard. The SDcard can then be ejected and re-inserted into the Redtree Hydra.

    Programming the Robot

    Next, turn on the robot, connect to its Wi-Fi network (default is rtr), and ssh to the robot. Default IP is The username and password is "redtree" and "robotics".

    Check out the "hello rover" example from the Redtree Apps repository:

    svn co redtree-apps
    cd redtree-apps/hello_rover

    or if you prefer git:

    git clone
    cd redtree-apps/hello_rover

    You'll notice a makefile, a header file, and a .cpp file file. The Makefile has been setup to download the Redtree libraries automatically. It is also set up to automatically compile together any .cpp that exist within the folder, so feel free to add your own .cpp files as your projects become more complicated.

    Compared with the previous two examples, we have spit this one into a header and source files. This shows a slightly different way to organize the files instead of doing everything in the source file. Let's start with the header file. There are a few key things here.

    First is including the "rt_input_user" file. This brings in all the code for handling user input from Joysticks, Xbox controllers etc.

    Second is "XBOX_Joystick Joystick{"Joystick"};" - this defines the xbox controller module within...

    Read more »

  • Redtree Hydra: Software Model

    Redtree Robotics06/05/2015 at 10:59 0 comments

    In the Redtree Hydra system, everything is an m_module. This could be algorithms, entire robots, sensors, motors or anything else which might make up the "robot". This class defines what makes up the component (data types, other m_modules, m_devices etc).

    A special type of m_module is an m_device. This is similar to an m_module except that it has defined behaviour states for handling failures. This is useful for things like motors or sensors. You might wish to attempt to land a flying device on a sensor failure to try to avoid a crash.

    Repeating executable functions are given the type m_worker in the Redtree Hydra system. Functions which should run once are given the type m_job.


    An m_module has several important functions which define the behaviour when the module loads.


    The configure() function is called for every single tag, device, and module in reverse creation order.

    The configure function lets the user set data dependicies for m_extern tags and low level settings like queue sizes based on low level settings. Which means this step is to setup the device/module/etc. into a state that it can then be initialized.


    The initialize function is used to apply the configuration that was created in the previous step. This steps are separated because parent modules and devices will likely change the configuration of child tags/devices, and modules. (i.e. A the CANOpen protocol module will change the baud rate tag of the CANBus Peripheral, or a Motor will configure the gains of its Control System Module)


    The setup function is provides an intermediate step between initialize and the device/module/or tag starting its runtime behaviour. Sometimes this is necessary depending on the complexity of module/device or tag.


    Finally, the start method is called. The start function of any tag, module, or device must bring that component to its normal runtime state, and execute "Started = true;" once the unit is functional and runtime capable.


    An m_device inherits all of the previous functions specified from the m_module above. In addition, there are some extra functions which are used to handle failure cases.


    In order for a module or device to run executable functions periodically or continually, the code must be wrapped as an m_worker. This allows the code to function with tags and take advantage of the real-time and seamless networking features of the Redtree Hydra system.

    Here is an example of a globally available m_worker:

    m_worker<void, void> my_task{"my_task",[&](){
    	cout << "Executing my task function" << endl;

    And here is an example of an m_worker defined within a class:

    class myclass : public m_device
    		using m_device::m_device;
    		void configure(void){}
    		void initialize(void);
    		void setup(void){}
    		void start(void){Started = true;};
    		int sockfd;
    		struct addrinfo *servinfo;
    		void send(void);
    		m_worker<void, void> myclass{this, "myclass", std::bind(&myclass::my_task, this)};
    myclass my_instance{"my_instance"};
    void my_instance::my_task(void)
    	cout << "Executing my task function within a class" << endl;

    Periodic User Functions

    User functions within an m_module or m_device can be run every x microseconds.

    For instance, if you have an m_worker called my_task, you can run it every 500ms as follows:


    Continual User Functions

    You can also have a function run continually (it does not wake up on enforced time schedules - it is essentially a non-realtime task)

    This is the type of function you would run a busy loop inside of if, for some reason you needed one. Note - in either of these cases - both of the functions never return - they will just be called over and over again.

    Right now, it is only possible to run continual functions on a trigger (for example when the module has started) - but in the future we plan to allow functions to just "run" as soon as possible by removing the constraint. See triggered functions below.... Read more »

  • The Redtree Hydra Software

    Redtree Robotics05/22/2015 at 14:32 0 comments

    The last few posts were pretty much all about progress so far related to hardware. This update will be focused on software. What makes the Redtree Hydra run, how do you program it and what is the current state.

    FPGA Configuration / Programming:

    Since the Hydra runs an FGPA - and this is how all of the peripherals are connected (enabling really flexible I/O assignments and near plug-and-play robotics) - we have a configuration tool being completed where you specify with a graphical interface exactly what you are connecting to the robot. For instance, you might some UARTs, and some analog I/O for your particular robot configuration. You might want to come back later and add I2C as well - that is all easy and possible. Our toolchain will then configure the FPGA bitstream for you so you don't have to program in VHDL or Verilog.

    Real-time Linux:

    Next for the operating system. One of the key limitations of many of the existing platforms people use for robotics is that they aren't real-time. In some cases - they are "deep-embedded" and don't run Linux so they are totally dependent on the libraries created for the platform. We have a customized Linux 3.14-RT kernel. This means you get the benefits of real-time along with the flexibility of full compatibility with anything that runs on Linux. Furthermore, we run Debian, so you can also take advantage of anything in the Debian armhf repositories.

    Library Compatibilities:

    We know that people who build robots like to use whatever tools are available, and we aren't interested in re-inventing good things ourselves. Our systems are compatible right out of the box with ROS, OpenCV and other popular robotics tools. Further down the line we can see compatibility with Matlab / Labview as well.

    Redtree Middleware:

    In order to make it easy to access data from the sensors, motors and components connected to the robot, we also provide a library of function calls that work with the FPGA side of things. In addition, this library also provides a framework for easily programming real-time tasks, tasks that fire on data changes and lots of other cool features we'll post about in future updates. Finally, because the Redtree Hydra comes with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G/LTE and Zigbee - part of the middleware manages all of these networks for you. The software will automatically form mesh networks between groups of Hydras in range of each other. If one network goes down (eg: Wi-Fi) the Hydra will automatically continue to use another option (eg: 4G/LTE). The same libary also provides the ability to send any data point (ie: variable) into the cloud with a single function call.

    Wireless Configuration:

    On first boot of a Redtree Hydra, the system creates it's own Wi-Fi access point which the programmer can connect to with a computer. The programmer can then visit a webpage and configure it, similar to how setting up a DD-wrt router works. This is an early version that just lets you configure the Wi-Fi SSID, name the robot (this is important if you want to write code in one robot that depends on a very specific second robot), and some of the cloud connectivity.

    Cloud Connectivity:

    On the cloud side, anything from the robot can be visualized in near real-time (all the data is dumped to a MySQL DB so you can use the cloud infrastructure we are building or use your own - you own all of your own robot data). Here's a short video that shows a little bit about what this means:

    There will be more details to follow including some sample code in the coming days, but hopefully some of this has piqued people's interest.

  • Prototype 3: Redtree Hydra Drone (WIP)

    Redtree Robotics05/21/2015 at 15:39 0 comments

    This prototype system is a bit of a work in progress. To show that the Hydra system isn't just made for rovers, we wanted to also put it on some drones. We are working on a bolt-on kit for getting it integrated into the typical commercial drones such as 3DR and DJI, but in the meantime, we're also building one ourselves.

    Here's a few of the original renders of it:

    And here's what we have so far. We made a laser cut frame to put everything on (everyone keeps telling us it looks to heavy to fly, but we'll see - it feels pretty light, and according to Tom's calculations is something like 800grams, and each motor provides 1000grams of thrust, so should be okay (Our computer is pretty light as well).

    And a foam "body" to go over top of it:

    And here's a quick video of the Hydra spinning up the props:

    We just need to find some time to try to fly it and work on the stabilization now. More to come...

  • Prototype System: ODG J5

    Redtree Robotics05/20/2015 at 13:03 0 comments

    After getting a couple of the Redtree Rover prototypes working, we set out to put our system on more of a "serious" robot. We connected with a local company called Ontario Drive Gear, that makes awesome all-terrain vehicles (most of them people drive and have up to eight wheels and can float). They also have a robot version - called the J5, which is used by the military. We set out to replace the computer that was currently used in it and see how quickly we could do it.

    Inside, it ships with either no computer or a single board intel-based computer (basically a laptop without the case). While this type of setup has lots of processing power, the ability to add video cards to extra vision processing etc. it lacks the ability to easily add sensors and components to the system. The current method is usually just adding another USB --> <insert x standard> + a bunch of software to make things work.

    With the Redtree Hydra, since it is flexible and supports most standard interfaces its possible to connected directly to the CANbus for example and control the motors on the machine directly. More importantly, the same computer can also be used to connect LIDAR, IMUs, Manipulators and all sorts of other cool things directly and without a ton of extra adapters. Furthermore, the data from all these things is easily sharable with other robots (if you are building a swarm for example) or can be monitored live through our web interface.

    Here's a few pictures and video's of our progress.

    Tom doing some CANbus programming on the Redtree Hydra so we can control the motors.

    Redtree Hydra inside the ODG J5 - also has a smaller footprint than most computers that control these types of robots (it is sitting on top of the existing computer it is replacing. Note: we steer the robot around with an Xbox 360 controller, but it is also possible to use a longer range controller like a Futaba, which is more common with these types of machines.

    This video is our first test of the system running the robot! Overall, it took us about a day and a half to get it to work with this robot - and most of it was programming and debugging interoperability with the CANbus for the motor controllers - in the future - this will all be available for anyone using the Redtree Hydra so that type of code won't need to be re-invented again. It will be packaged as part of our API libraries.

  • Prototype System - Redtree Rover

    Jason Ernst05/19/2015 at 18:51 0 comments

    The first prototype system we built around the Redtree Hydra was a rover. We got a small rover online and added the Redtree Hydra to it, along with some QEIs to measure the wheelspeed, and xbox controller receiver to control it (although you can actually control it from a computer over the network as well) and some power electronics to power it from a drone battery. (I'll detail this more in a full build instruction type of post later for anyone interested in trying to build one of these themselves).

    Here's a few pictures and videos of the first versions of the rover:

    (version 1: running on some really early prototype hardware - not all of our boards are being used yet - no I/O cards - just some hacked together stuff mostly to test the software out)

    Our most recent version using the prototype I/O card and our full hardware as well the software. In addition to providing the motor control for the robot, it is also possible to add a variety of other sensors, cameras - even a full robot arm and control it all with this single computer. In other projects this is often done by adding another micro controller or processor every time a new component is added to system. By keeping everything connected to one unit, it becomes more maintainable and easier to work with.

  • The Hardware Evolution of the Redtree Hydra

    Redtree Robotics05/15/2015 at 12:50 0 comments

    Today's log will bring you up to speed with the progress we have made up to until now from a hardware point of view (software side coming soon).

    First, way back in 2011 when we were trying to figure out what was possible, we started to play around with a GumStix. It was attractive because we wanted built in wireless and a decent processor at the time (also fairly low power).

    We quickly found out that to make the "plug-and-play" type of robotics we wanted, we would need a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). This is sort of a software defined processor. It's useful in this project so that we can reconfigure the circuitry and connect hardware using different interfaces (I2C, Canbus, UART etc.) without a ton of external circuitry.

    So after getting some of the code running on the Gumstix and convincing ourselves that this was worth pursuing we started on selecting a new platform that had an FPGA and some of the other features we wanted.

    We ended up deciding on the MicroZed because it had a dual core ARM-a9 and an FPGA built-in. There also seemed to be a growing open-source community around the product, which was perfect since we also want to open source as much of our product as possible as well.

    While it does not come with built-in wireless, we found a module called the TI Wlink8 which has WI-Fi and Bluetooth and had lots of documentation on getting in running with the microzed (and AVNET has been really helpful in working closely with us to get it up with our own board we developed).

    After one hardware iteration, we had a fairly large footprint and the Microzed sitting on top of the board. In our next revision, we shrunk a little bit while sorting out some of the previous problems. The I/O connectors are now moved off onto external cards that would plug into the side of a case.

    In our final production model, we are actually eliminating the Microzed completely and just utilizing the Zync 7010 processor and RAM (not sure how much yet, but likely more than 1GB).

    The above picture shows the evolution of the Redtree Hydra from around 2011 when it was mostly software running on a Gumstix to today where we are on revision 3 of our hardware and on the way to a manufactured production model sometime towards the end of this summer. The first version of our hardware was produced in April 2014, the smaller version in October 2014, the case in December 2014. We produced 15 of the most recent prototype which are being loaned out to early adopters at Universities and companies around North America. Our "manufacturing-ready" final version is expected in mid-to-late summer of 2015.

    Above is a picture of the I/O boards on the side of the case that let you connect sensors, motors and other components to the Redtree Hydra. Eventually we think we can get the entire system down to this size or smaller so that people can incorporate the entire "chipset" into their own designs for mass production while retaining all of the features of the Redtree Hydra.

    This is the entire system - or what's in the box. Our final production model will eliminate the Microzed that sits on top of this prototype.

    This is a picture of us testing one of the original I/O cards that we produced.

  • The Redtree Story

    Jason Ernst05/14/2015 at 20:45 0 comments

    For our first project log, I'll start with telling you our story - how we came to work on this project and some details about our background.

    Tom and I met in grad school. Tom was doing an MEng in computer engineering and was inventing some kind of electromechanical valve train for cars. I had just finished my MSc in wireless mesh networks and was about to start a PhD in heterogeneous wireless networks (think of using all of the wireless there is - bt, wifi, 4g, etc. in combination or some subset of them). Tom and I both ta-ed a course together and started talking about robotics and wireless and how we could build something awesome together.

    A little while later, Tom started working at a company (while still doing his masters) doing spectroscopy and robotics. One of the projects he was involved in was a Mars rover prototype for the Canadian Space Agency. It was here he started to notice how often the wheel is re-invented during robotics. Adding sensors, motors and components is the same work being done all over the world at similar companies. There was always complex circuits, specialized code and device drivers and customization. This is where we knew we could start to make a difference. Tom was also motivated by some previous work at a water engineering company which used Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). In the 1970s, the PLC was created so that people didn't need to re-invent the wheel in factories when connecting up machines.

    After a bit of preliminary work in this direction, we also started to think about how I could bring my expertise to the mix. We knew that moving robots were going to be the future. With my research background and work on wireless network protocols, we knew that one of the challenges when things move is keeping them connected. We decided to start combining this ability to remain connected to other system to the idea of easily connecting sensors and parts. We created a software layer that made networks automatically organize themselves so that groups of robots could communicate easily.

    Also motivated by the PLC, we wanted our robots to be focused on data. Increasingly we are now finding that this is important. Robots are often created to monitor environments where it is unsafe or impossible for humans. This means lots of sensors and lots of data. For this we added the ability to easily get sensor data into algorithms (for autonomy and for inter-operability with ROS, OpenCV and other common robot tools), and the ability to easily send this data to the Internet. We have created a simple cloud service on Amazon Web Services (AWS) that lets you see all of the robots in your fleet, monitor and visualize their data in real-time.

    At the same time we were developing this, Tom was completing his PhD in computer engineering working on a food processing machine that trimmed the fat off of pork loins more efficiently and I worked on my PhD in wireless communications specializing in heterogeneous wireless networks. I also got involved in projects involving cognitive agents, machine learning and other things useful for robotics.

    In the upcoming logs, we'll show off some of the features that work now in more detail, and describe the direction we'd like to see this project go in the future.

View all 8 project logs

  • 1
    Step 1

    Setting Up the Environment

    Redtree Hydra currently requires a Ubuntu or Debian based development environment. For the remaining instructions, open the terminal application in Ubuntu. In Ubuntu It can be found by clicking the Ubuntu search icon on the toolbar, and then typing terminal.


    This command will install all of the tools required to build applications for the Hydra robot computer:

    sudo apt-get install subversion git build-essential g++-4.8

    At the moment, we currently support development in c/c++. We do not have an in-house IDE, so you can use whatever you are comfortable writing code in. All of the code will be compiled in the terminal with a Makefile we provide.

    We currently like using Geany because it's simple. You can get it on Ubuntu / Debian with:

    sudo apt-get install geany

    Setting up environment to run Redtree Hydra code on your computer:

    It is also possible to run Redtree Hydra code on your Linux (preferably Ubuntu / Debian) computer (in case you want to make apps that control robots from your computer, or a phone or whatever). This will require an additional step. You need to checkout and install the Redtree Hydra middleware library (only the first time) - after that it will always be installed on your computer in the /lib directory. *note* This is not required on the actual Redtree Hydra unit as the units will ship with libaries already setup. Right now, we only support 64-bit Ubuntu / Debian computers, but will shortly also support 32-bits.

    svn co
    cd redtree-lib

    Or for those of you who like git instead:

    git clone
    cd redtree-lib

    You can see more information on our wiki:

  • 2
    Step 2

    Hello Robot

    Making your first program for the Redtree Hydra is really easy. Just check out the example code and change to the hello_robot folder:

    svn co redtree-apps
    cd redtree-apps/hello_robot
    or if you prefer git:
    git clone
    cd redtree-apps/hello_robot

    You'll notice a makefile, and a .cpp file file. The Makefile has been setup to download the Redtree libraries automatically. It is also set up to automatically compile together any .cpp that exist within the folder, so feel free to add your own .cpp files as your projects become more complicated,

    Hello robot.png

    Let's look in more detail at what is inside the hello_robot.cpp file. This file contains the code that will run on the robot. You can open this with your favourite editor and work on the code in here. When you open the file you should see something like this:

    #include <rtr.h>
    #include <iostream>
    using namespace std;
    void configure(void) {}
    void initialize(void) {}
    void setup(void) {}
    void start(void)
      cout << "HELLO FROM THE ROBOT" << endl; 
    Notice it looks like a normal c/c++ main - the only real change is including the rtr.h. Our toolchain and libraries take care of all of the rest of the work for you. To compile, just type make in the terminal where you checked out the code with subversion.
    Note: the first time you compile a Redtree app you may need to install a bunch of dependencies.

    Running the code on the robot

    If you did this process on the robot itself (via SSH or through a USB serial connection for example) you just restart the robot and it will automatically run the new code you created. For now this is only way to get code onto the robot - but we're working on some easier ways such as through an IDE, over a web form or through the cloud service to deploy code to groups of robots.

    Running the code on your computer

    Make sure you've installed the Redtree Hydra library on your computer (see here)

    Note: you need to run rtr-mid as root right now to take advantage of the networking libraries.

    sudo rtr-mid

    You should see something like this after you run:

    Robot output.png

    You can find out more information on our wiki

  • 3
    Step 3

    Attaching a Sensor

    In order to attach a sensor, motor, camera or other component to the Redtree Hydra, the FPGA inside must be programmed. We know that this is normally a tricky task, so we created a tool to simplify it. The Redtree Hydra has four I/O cards, each of which can be connected to devices. Our web tool lets you configure what is attached to each I/O card so that it will work with the Redtree Hydra API. The tool is located at: (coming soon).


    Digital or Analog I/O

    The first step is to select whether the I/O card in each slot is digital or analog (right now we do not support mixed cards - but we do support a mixture of analog and digital cards).



    If the card is analog, the next step is to specify the number of pins that will be used. Typically this will be 16 or 32 bit, but any number may be selected up to 32 bits.



    If the card is digital, the next step is to specify the types of interfaces connected to the card. At the current time, we support IIC, UART, SPI, PWM and general purpose Digital. As interfaces are clicked, they are added to the pinout diagram which you should use when connecting the components to the Redtree Hydra.


    Repeat for Remaining I/O Cards

    Additional cards can be configured at this time by changing the slot and repeating the previous steps.


    Finish and Program the FPGA

    When you click finish, the tool will automatically generate the files to program the FPGA when the Redtree Hydra is booted. Take the SDcard out of the Redtree Hydra and insert it into your computer. The two files 'boot.bin' and 'system_wrapper.bit' should be moved to the SDcard. The SDcard can then be ejected and re-inserted into the Redtree Hydra.


    The last step is to connect together all the motors, sensors, cameras and all the other components and start up the Redtree Hydra. You can now begin programming with C/C++ and the Redtree Hydra API and interacting with the components.


    You can find out more information on our wiki

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