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An on screen display can be used for first-person view (FPV) remote control of vehicles. It can display critical information about the vehicle and its location by means of a GPS and other sensors. I propose to design a PCB that will contain a microcontroller, GPS module, on screen display IC, necessary support components and power supplies, and an RF IC to allow for data telemetry.

System Block Diagram

Below is the full system block diagram. The primary blocks are the MCU, GPS, OSD generator, and RF IC.

File:Rev0SD Block.png
rev0SD System Block Diagram.

Block Descriptions


The MCU will be a TI MSP430F5508, which I have been using in my senior project. I have familiarity with the IC and programming environment, and have written drives for SPI and UART which are needed to interface with the RF IC and GPS. The MCU firmware can be uploaded via a USB interface.


The OSD generator is a Maxim MAX7456, which contains on-board memory to store custom characters and handles the video generation and synchronization.


The GPS is a GlobalTop FGPMMOPA6B module, which has a built in patch antenna and Mediatek chipset, and outputs NMEA at 9600 baud.


The RF IC is an Analog Devices ADF7012, which is a 75-1000MHz transmitter capable of FSK and ASK modes. It is controlled over SPI. A Skyworks SKY65017 100mW amplifier will be used to boost the signal, and a low pass filter will be added to the output to prevent harmonic or spurious emissions.

Analog and Power

A current sense resistor and current sense amplifier (TI INA214) will be used to measure the RC system current, which can be read by the MCU and displayed. A TI TPS5430 step down regulator will step down the battery voltage (9-12.6V) efficiently to provide up to 3A to servos and other systems requiring a 5V supply. A linear regulator (TI TLV1117) will provide the 3.3V needed by the MCU, GPS, and RF IC. A 12.6V step up regulator (TI TPS61085) will provide up to 150mA to maintain a constant output voltage for the video transmitter to ensure consistent output power.

Schematic + Layout

Schematic for rev0SD v1.1.
PCB Layout for rev0SD v1.1.

The final schematic retains all the original functions of the block diagram and adds a video switch to select between one of three video inputs. There are 2 servo or general digital inputs, a 10.24V analog input, and a 16.8V analog input for reading RSSI and secondary battery voltages, respectively. The boost converter is powered by the 5V step down regulator, since the maximum voltage input is 6.5V. The overall system can run from a battery voltage of 6-26V (limited by common mode input range of the current shunt monitor), allowing for operation on up to 5S LiPo batteries (with modified voltage divider for voltage sense circuit).

Testing + Debug

5/11/2012 - After the board underwent reflow, solder bridges were cleared using solder wick and flux. After a visual inspection, the necessary components for the buck converter were soldered. The input was connected to a variable current-limited bench supply, and the output was verified to be 4.96V, within specification.

5/13/2012 - The remaining components were hand soldered and visually inspected between. The board was again connected to a current-limited bench supply to verify correct operation. The microcontroller was first connected via micro-USB to a computer and initialized for bootloader operation. The PC indicated an error with the USB device. The circuit was then compared to a known good circuit (MSP430F5508 Test Board) to ensure no errors in schematic or layout. No errors were found, so a programming header was soldered to the test pads on the board to allow programming over SPI-Bi-Wire. After loading a test program, I determined that the 24MHz oscillator was not starting. Measurement with a multimeter showed that there was a short of ~3-4 ohms to ground on the crystal input (P5.2, XT2 In). Close inspection with a magnifying lens and flashlight showed that there was a small solder bridge behind pins 44 and 45 of the device. The pins were reflowed with flux to clear the solder bridge. Proper operation was then verified by running a test program to blink the LED at 1Hz, and connecting the board to a PC in bootloader mode.

5/15/2012 - After some debugging of the video system, I discovered that the MAX7456's /RESET line was left floating. The line must be tied high if the application is using software or power on reset. After soldering a small wire to tie the line high, code was written to initialize the OSD generator and write characters, strings, and variables (numbers) to the OSD. Code was then written to initialize and use the ADC on the MSP430F5508. The ADC measured voltage was then recorded for several points and compared to a multimeter-measured input voltage. An offset/gain correction was applied to each of the ADC channels to reduce the measurement error. The program now displays the battery voltage and current in the upper corners of the screen. I realized that the 3.3V I/O of the MSP430 cannot turn off the P-channel MOSFET controlling power to the power amplifier. In order to correct this, the same circuit used to turn on/off the 12.6V boost converter can be used (N-channel MOSFET gate and pull-up resistor connected to P-channel MOSFET gate).

Circuit Errors/Corrections

The following have been corrected in v1.2:

  • Add pad/through hole to connect battery ground to the PCB
  • Tie U9 (MAX7456) /RESET line to +5V
  • Add pull-up resistor and NFET to gate of Q3 (PA switch)
  • Add PTC on battery input to system to prevent damage
  • Increase size of tactile switch pads for easier hand-soldering

Project Timeline

Below is the proposed timeline for the project. The down time waiting for the PCB to arrive will be spent researching the components and beginning design of the program. Interface with the RF IC and GPS has already been done as part of my senior project and should not be much of a burden. Most ICs can be or already have been obtained as free samples from the major manufacturers (Analog Devices, Maxim, TI).

File:Rev0SD Timeline.PNG
rev0SD Project Timeline.

Bill of Materials

IC Quantity Unit Cost Total Cost Source
MSP430F5510 1 $4.27 $4.27 Digi-Key
FGPMMOPA6B GPS Module 1 $26.15 $26.15 eBay
TPS5430DDA 1 $6.30 $6.30 Digi-Key
TPS61085DGKT 1 $3.30 $3.30 Digi-Key
TLV1117-33 1 $0.66 $0.66 Digi-Key
LM4040A20IDBZR 1 $2.88 $2.88 Digi-Key
INA214AIDCKT 1 $2.39 $2.39 Digi-Key
MAX7456EUI+-ND 1 $16.44 $16.44 Digi-Key
ADF7012 1 $4.28 $4.28 Digi-Key
SKY65017-70LF 1 $1.63 $1.63 Digi-Key
Passive Quantity Unit Cost Total Cost Source
SDR0302-3R3ML 1 $0.42 $0.42 Digi-Key
HC9-220-R 1 $2.59 $2.59 Digi-Key
1206 10uF 10V Capacitor 3 $0.19 $0.19 Digi-Key
1206 10uF 35V Capacitor 3 $0.57 $0.57 Digi-Key
220uF Capacitor 1 $0.75 $0.75 Digi-Key
PMEG3020ER 3 $0.48 $0.48 Digi-Key
PMEG3050BEP 1 $0.52 $0.52 Digi-Key
BC817 1 $0.15 $0.15 Digi-Key
AO3401A 1 $0.45 $0.45 Digi-Key
USB Micro B Connector 1 $0.87 $0.87 Digi-Key
0603 Capacitor ? $0.0096 $0.13 eBay - mib_instruments
0603 Resistor 30 $0.00294 $0.09 eBay - mib_instruments
0603 Inductor 9 $0.00294 $0.02 eBay - mib_instruments
5931 5mOhm Current Shunt 1 $3.37 $3.37 Digi-Key
SMD Tactile Switch 2 $0.1198 $0.24 eBay
SMD 24MHz Crystal 1 $1.43 $1.43 Digi-Key
SMD 27MHz Crystal 1 $0.81 $0.81 Digi-Key
0603 Green LED 1 $0.11 $0.11 Digi-Key
0603 Red LED 1 $0.13 $0.13 Digi-Key
Male Header 17 $0.01 $0.36 eBay
PCB $0.00 $0.00 IME 458
Total Unit Cost $91.38