Exciting Firmware Updates

A few of you have been asking for updates so to help kick off 2020 here’s what I’ve been up to on the electronics side of things for the X4

Spoiler: Batch 4 owners can get all of the upgrades by updating and batch 5 owners will get the latest firmware on their OpenPPG right out of the box.

  1. Altitude and temperature display Always wanted to know how high you are actually flying or how cold it is up there? Well now the OpenPPG throttle displays that information right on the built in screen!
    We are using the barometer and temperature sensor built into the hub that started shipping with batch 4 so current owners can easily upgrade. :slight_smile:
    Also when arming the system the “takeoff” altitude is saved as 0 so you can see how high you are flying above your launch zone.

  2. WebUSB I’ve recently added support for the new experimental WebUSB standard. Whats that?
    “The WebUSB API provides a way to safely expose USB device services to the web.”
    So basically this means that you can now plug in your OpenPPG controller to your computer (Mac, PC, Android, etc) and configure settings all from our website in your Chrome browser (other browsers support is coming). This is huge for easily changing your altitude from the above feature from meters to feet for example all without having to download any drivers or install software!
    I’ll do a video going in more in depth but think of how much of a pain it would be setting the current density altitude for your area to get accurate altitude above sea level (MS) using that small screen and two buttons :grimacing:.

  3. Easier controller updates Updating the hub has always been super easy. Thanks to the work that @MiguelFAlvarez did all you need to do is paste an update file on an SD card, pop it in the hub, and power it up. Now we have the same easy updates on the controller. No need to install drivers, download the Arduino IDE and libraries, or run a script. With the new UF2 bootloader (originally pioneered by Microsoft) plugging in the controller to your computer (or Android device) in update mode will make the controller act like a simple USB flash drive. All you need to do is paste the controller update file onto the faked USB drive and the controller will update itself and reboot in seconds. Doesn’t get much easier than that! :white_check_mark:

There are lots more smaller tweaks and improvements, but these are some of the features I’m most excited about. I’ll probably end up making a few quick videos about using these features and updating if anyone wants that.
As always if anyone wants to see the code behind these features, offer suggestions, or just pose a question, feel free to comment below or contact me directly!

Happy new year and don’t worry, we’ll have plenty more updates for you all soon.

7 Likes

This is exciting stuff! Thanks

Thanks for this update Zach. The WebUSB thing got me wondering a little about security though. For example, could a malicious attacker plant some code on the site that re-programs the system to shutdown mid-flight? It is of course very unlikely, but since we are talking about a flying contraption… well it is good to know how much firewalled the core system is.

Otherwise, I hope that batch 5 will ship real soon. I just can’t wait to get e-flying at the local airfield!! :slight_smile:

If we have hackers attacking the paramotor code then I’ll be very proud of reaching such a milestone haha.
In all seriousness the WebUSB connection isn’t “reprogramming” anything. It is simply adjusting predefined settings that are already coded into the controller.

Alright, thanks for the clarifications!! :slight_smile: