SyncBoard - A high accuracy sensor timing board for UAV payloads
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The SyncBoard is a reconfigurable sensor timing board that accurately records the Time of Validity (TOV) from sensors, while acting as a protocol conversion tool. It is intended to be usable by people without expertise in hardware development. To allow accurate timing, the SyncBoard has a high performance microcontroller with a 32-bit timer clock running at a maximum of 100 MHz. By capturing the TOV signal using the Input/Interrupt Capture function of the microcontroller, sensor triggers can be captured with an accuracy of 10 ns, which is sufficient for most UAV applications. The SyncBoard supports sensor input from several commonly used protocols, in addition to simple digital and analog input. Sensors of different rates and data sizes are supported, and TOV detection can be configured to comply with the specifications of the sensor. For usage with very high-bandwidth sensors, such as cameras, the SyncBoard can output an external signal to be used as a trigger for the sensor. To be compatible with most on-board computers on UAVs, the SyncBoard primarily uses a USB interface for configuration and sensor output, but output can also be transmitted by any of the available protocols if needed. The SyncBoard also has functionality to switch on and off power to individual sensors as needed. This paper presents the SyncBoard system and experimental results in unmanned aerial vehicle payload systems for data acquisition.