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Intro to the Open Panzer Project - and a new Tank Control Board

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Intro to the Open Panzer Project - and a new Tank Control Board

Old 06-15-2017, 12:08 PM
  #126  
Peregrine7
 
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I just now found this thread and am so thankful I did.
I read most of the comments on the 1st and last page of this thread, and kind of skipped the middle.. too much to read now at work, but I did spend reading up for about half hour on the OP site late last night.

Before I give my opinion, a little intro. I only started with RC tanking about 1.5 years ago, and it's an on/off hobby because my free time is limited. My interest was spawned after playing on WOT for several years (kind of like RC is the next step stone.. lol). Soo... I've actually had NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE with RC hobby before then WHATSOEVER, and everything I know now is by various research and experimentation. And now I've expanded my skills, so I have a Taranis with a very complex model that I've created from scratch and I'm already at a point where I wish my ASP2 had more flexibility and features than it does.. lol

And IBU and Elmod, as many nice features as they may have, are really products for novice users, with simple and very limited radio configurations, so I would not bother with those at all.

I've seen a lot of comments in this thread related to KISS, plug and play, and simplicity in general. I do agree with that. I'm a procrastinator and I like things handed to me on a silver plate without much effort.. lol. But I also strongly believe that a product should have all the features anyone could be interested in using, ranging from simple to very advanced, which makes it versatile, applicable to a broad range of needs. A quick example:
You buy a simple PC because you're new to computers. In few months you learn a lot more about them and you notice that your PC has a lot of low level components/limitations. You start to recognize and learn how to improve your computer by installing upgrades. And ultimately you end up with a superior gaming rig that you pretty much built yourself for much less than you would've if you bought it retail.
Now, imagine another scenario: You buy a Mac with superior power and graphics and you're very happy with it because it's so much better than the PC you could've bought. In few months you learn more about computers, and you learn and recognize some defficiencies in your Mac. You would like to upgrade it.. well, you're **** out of luck!

This may not have been technically the best example, but the point is that a PC is a very flexible solution, and Mac is not, and so you shouldn't limit your potential options even if you're not familiar with them now. I've seen amazing tank modeling jobs on this and other forums, and then I see this pattern of people wanting to take very simple and easy routes in controlling their tanks (it may not be the same people. I'm just recognizing a general pattern here). So to me it looks like there is much more interest and growth in modeling of RC tanks, than in remotely controlling them. This is fine, because different people have different skills and interests. But if you are really serious about RC tanks, recognize that the 2 letters (RC) are a very big part of the hobby. It may not be to some people, but that is their own choice and they shouldn't be limiting development of RC options for those of us who want to utilize RC to its full potential.
In other words, if you want to KISS, keep it to yourself, and don't force your limitations on others. And remember if you want better features, but just don't have the skills or time to learn how to do some things, remember that this, being open source, will have plenty of support not only from the OP but all other users. So for instance, if you're not familiar with creating a radio profile, get a common radio, and another person that will have that radio can share the profile with you for free (kind of like opentx or ersky9xr open-source community sharing plenty of resources). You won't have to program any signals, just load a ready profile. Hoping I will get the chance to use this product, I will definitely make my Taranis profile available to others.

Therefore I am VERY excited to hear about this new option. My praises about open source would be redundant here. And even though I had no chance to read everything on the OP site yet, I've already read enough to recognize this is a far superior product in terms of versitility, support and future enhancements. I can't wait to see all the products available for purchase. The OP website is also very well organized, with details and clarity about everything we need to know about. This is a big plus, as opposed to some other product (which I won't mention here..lol). This good organization is also a good sign of support dependability, and if it's done by the same person, it also makes me confident that the programming (which I haven't look at) is also very well organized and thought thrugh.

However, as much as I love this new product opportunity, it wouldn't be right for me to evaluate anything without being a fair critic. And so, based on what I've seen so far, I do have 3 concerns/requests for start (I may have more when I complete learning everything about the OP products):

1) 6 user sounds is great, but since we can install up to 32GB of MicroSD in OP sound card, it would be really beneficial to allow more user sounds and with no time limits (there probably aren't any right now anyway). This may seem like an overkill for some people, but I've filled every user sound spot in ASP and could still use few more (and ASP has way more than 6 user sounds). In my case, I'm mainly filling the sounds with sountracks from WOT and UT announcer. But I'm sure a lot of other serious RC users will have plenty of sounds they would want to add, as well.

2) The OP sound card sounds like it will only have an output of 2.6W, which means for real life 1/16 tanks with commonly loud brushed motors and driving in open areas like a park, the sound will be totally drowned. So we would have to add an exteranl amp. It doesn't seem like a big deal, and yes, allows us the flexibility of choosing the amp with exactly the specs we want. But is there really a benefit to that? If someone has a powerful amp and speaker and it is too loud, they can alwasy lower the sound. So instead of us having to research and connect yet another board to a chain of other boards we already need, wouldn't you be able to combine a better amp into this sound card? And maybe just make the output selectable in OP Config, so if someone wants to use stock HL or Taigen speaker, they could select a lower watt output on the amplifier. And if someone wants for example to use FRS7 4Ohm, you'd allow selecting the rated output for that speaker: 8W. Ideally, it would be nice if your amp allowed to go as far as 15W at 8Ohm or 20W at 4Ohm or something similar. But anything around 10W would be acceptable to me personally, too.

3) Modular design - I emplore you to enhance your TCB, OP Sound Card and Scout ESC to be modular, meaning, to allow to sandwich them together in some compact and secure way to allow for a combined single unit placement. I see the benefits of having those units individually, so people have more options, I understand that and I like it. But for those who would be pleased with getting a full solution from OP, you should think about making it possible to combine (sandwitch/stock-up) the boards. Please consider this seriously. It is one thing to connect all these individual units on a table, it's another, very hard task, to fit them individually into a tank with an already tight space. Sure, you may be able to cram them up, but when it comes to control boards and a lot of wires and plugs, everything should be tight an neat, not only for ease of connections, but to ensure nothing gets fried when the tank drives.

Again, thank you for taking up this project and driving it through. I foresee this as future of RC tanking and hoping you will consider the above enhancement requests.

Now, I just hope this review will not contribute to jacking up prices for any of the boards.. lol.. or I won't be able to afford them.
Old 06-15-2017, 02:17 PM
  #127  
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So much I said above, yet I think I failed to clarify one other thing.
As much as I appreciate the idea of having a separate sound card and ESCs, I share the view of others here where I would not have time nor interest researching any different ESC controllers or sound cards. And price of benedini and the whole ordeal with those separate configurations doesn't make that a viable solution for me. I am really interested in the whole solution from OP only at this point. So there would really be no point for me to even buy TCB until the other 2 boards are available for sale as well.

Again, I'm just not ready nor interested in anything else, but I appreciate knowing that one day when I want to expand my options, perhaps change ESCs to control brushless motors, I would have that option to do so
Old 06-16-2017, 03:52 PM
  #128  
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Peregrine, thanks for your comments and suggestions. I appreciate the compliments and enthusiasm for the project. A few notes on your specific suggestions:

1) Yes, the OP Sound card can play sounds of any length so long as they will fit on a 32 GB sound card. The 6 user sounds are in addition to the dozens of sounds that would make up all the usual effects for a model tank. User sounds could be things like music or narration as you suggested. There is no reason we can't make the number greater than 6. That seemed like a lot to me but I guess for some it's not enough! This can be added to the to-do list.

2) A future revision of the OP Sound card could certainly use a more powerful amplifier. At this stage the sound card is in pre-beta. There is no guarantee anyone will agree to manufacture it so for all intents and purposes it is also vapor-ware for the time being. The focus at this point is proof of concept and firmware development. The firmware is open source and could be adapted to any number of hardware platforms. I will say the amp used on the beta version is approximately equivalent in power to what you will find on the Benedini Mini, Tamiya, or other existing products. It is plenty loud enough to give you a headache with crap sound files, which is mostly what exists today.

3) Modular and/or all-in-one design - There are several reasons why development did not take that path which have been alluded to before in this thread and others, but regardless of that history I hear what you're saying. I agree with you absolutely that would be a desired evolution of the project. I can't predict if or when it will happen. The future of the project really depends on how successful the TCB is in its present incarnation, and even more importantly, what sort of community of developers may or may not coalesce around this endeavor. We have come nearly as far as one unpaid volunteer can take things, and for the foreseeable future my time is going to be taken up entirely in support and maintenance of the project in its present state. More manpower will be needed if there are to be new products or revisions of existing hardware.
Old 06-18-2017, 05:34 PM
  #129  
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Thank you, Luke.

1) Excellent, thank you.

2) I'm having a hard time getting convinced that 2.6W will be sufficient for our applications when my FRS7 4Ohm driven by Asp2 20W amp is being drowned down by a mild wind in the park and a sound of tracks, gearboxes and motors..
I understand it's a proof of concept, but perhaps it would be a stronger proof from the onset when you mount at least 10W amp and let the max output be regulated via OPconfig?

3) I totally understand the limitations you have to battle with right now. My point is purely from the perspective of end user's functionality. It will be very annoying to a lot of people having to deal with several separate control boards as opposed to a typical one they're used to. This may in fact limit sales.
But thinking about it more, I think it would be rather acceptable if we could fit Scout ESC in between gearboxes. Not in all cases, and certainly not in Tamiya, but in HL/Taigen/Torro typically this becomes a fully or partially unused space where a small board could very well fit. The key point here is that Scout ESC would have to measure not wider than the distance between gearboxes in a narrowest tank (perhaps a Panzer III, not sure). So that leaves only the OP sound card attachment to TCB. I know the sound card is not ready, but to make this solution modular, perhaps you could whip up some mounting points or posts for the TCB where the sound card could just attach later, and send the updated plans to HK before they start printing a sh.itload of cards where we won't be able to attach anything.

Thank you.
Old 06-18-2017, 06:36 PM
  #130  
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Originally Posted by Peregrine7
Thank you, Luke.

1) Excellent, thank you.

2) I'm having a hard time getting convinced that 2.6W will be sufficient for our applications when my FRS7 4Ohm driven by Asp2 20W amp is being drowned down by a mild wind in the park and a sound of tracks, gearboxes and motors..
I understand it's a proof of concept, but perhaps it would be a stronger proof from the onset when you mount at least 10W amp and let the max output be regulated via OPconfig?

3) I totally understand the limitations you have to battle with right now. My point is purely from the perspective of end user's functionality. It will be very annoying to a lot of people having to deal with several separate control boards as opposed to a typical one they're used to. This may in fact limit sales.
But thinking about it more, I think it would be rather acceptable if we could fit Scout ESC in between gearboxes. Not in all cases, and certainly not in Tamiya, but in HL/Taigen/Torro typically this becomes a fully or partially unused space where a small board could very well fit. The key point here is that Scout ESC would have to measure not wider than the distance between gearboxes in a narrowest tank (perhaps a Panzer III, not sure). So that leaves only the OP sound card attachment to TCB. I know the sound card is not ready, but to make this solution modular, perhaps you could whip up some mounting points or posts for the TCB where the sound card could just attach later, and send the updated plans to HK before they start printing a sh.itload of cards where we won't be able to attach anything.

Thank you.
That would be like the older version of EL-Mod were the sound card mounts on top of the driver card .
Jimmy
Old 06-18-2017, 07:06 PM
  #131  
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I'm not familiar with an older version of elmod, but I assume it was just like in ASP, with header pins that hold the board and pass all the communication between the 2 boards.
Those directly integrate sound card with the main control board.
Although this would be ideal here, I realize it would be time consuming to modify from the existing plans. So I'm asking at least to add some physical points where sound card can be securely mounted on top of TCB, even with little posts and screws, and connections between 2 boards would stay as they are for now.
And in the future revision of TCB, hopefully the integration header pins could be added to eliminate the excessive connections.

Last edited by Peregrine7; 06-18-2017 at 07:11 PM.
Old 06-19-2017, 05:43 AM
  #132  
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Originally Posted by Peregrine7
I'm not familiar with an older version of elmod, but I assume it was just like in ASP, with header pins that hold the board and pass all the communication between the 2 boards.
Those directly integrate sound card with the main control board.
Although this would be ideal here, I realize it would be time consuming to modify from the existing plans. So I'm asking at least to add some physical points where sound card can be securely mounted on top of TCB, even with little posts and screws, and connections between 2 boards would stay as they are for now.
And in the future revision of TCB, hopefully the integration header pins could be added to eliminate the excessive connections.
Yes it was the way the older EL-Mod mounted just like you said .
The mounts could be the small plastic pins that they use to use for computer mother boards to keep board away from the metal frame it would work for stacking boards .
Jimmy
Old 07-03-2017, 06:35 PM
  #133  
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From the open panzer page .

July 1, 2017

HobbyKing indicated last week they had received stock of the TCB in the warehouse (I presume the Global warehouse). They wait now only to put the item up on their website. No idea how long that could take, they said one day but it's already been a week so perhaps a few more weeks.

Maybe we're getting closer, or maybe we're as far away as ever, hard to say!
Old 07-04-2017, 04:14 AM
  #134  
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Too bad it's too late for the Hetzer. The IBU2 goes in today.
Old 07-04-2017, 06:53 AM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by bowlman
From the open panzer page .

July 1, 2017

HobbyKing indicated last week they had received stock of the TCB in the warehouse (I presume the Global warehouse). They wait now only to put the item up on their website. No idea how long that could take, they said one day but it's already been a week so perhaps a few more weeks.

Maybe we're getting closer, or maybe we're as far away as ever, hard to say!
This is excellent news!
Old 07-04-2017, 08:44 AM
  #136  
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I can ask Hobby King for updates and they can give me a response, but so far every response they've given has been factually incorrect. Bottom line they themselves don't actually know what their timelines are. We could be close, but we just won't know until we know!
Old 07-05-2017, 02:18 AM
  #137  
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Originally Posted by LukeZ
I can ask Hobby King for updates and they can give me a response, but so far every response they've given has been factually incorrect. Bottom line they themselves don't actually know what their timelines are. We could be close, but we just won't know until we know!
Thanks for the Update!
I am wondering how many units they have produced for sale? And, what will be the long-term availability of the TCB thru HobbyKing? - given the above.....
Sorry to sound a bit negative; but, it sort of is with pondering.... And, pondering while we wait is something we all will do.....
I want to support the project, and I am VERY committed to purchase and use the TCB. But, will it be a one-off or a main-stay depends a lot on my belief in the manufacturer/seller, not just the product.....

Well, a little more time to ponder.....

Springman

PS - How are we on the Open Source Sound (OSS)?
Old 07-05-2017, 02:03 PM
  #138  
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Hobby King has not divulged to me how many they intend to produce, or what their long term plans are. The success of this project is really going to depend on its reception by the RC tank community, and not by anything HobbyKing does. If it proves popular and can make somebody money, somebody will be willing to make them. The design is open source so manufacturing can be performed by anybody, but if it's a flop or the market is too small, then obviously no one is going to want invest in it.

I wish I could answer your questions but these are things we won't know until the future. I can tell you HK is not going to make any money on this run, and as much as they sometimes frustrate me I am very fortunate to have their support, because no other hobby concern is large enough to afford to blow a bunch of cash basically as charity for an unproven open source project.

As I've said many times, the future of the Open Panzer project belongs to and will be determined by the public. Buying the TCB is one way to support the project, but writing reviews, helping other users by answering questions in the forums, or volunteering actual development time and resources will all be critical to the continued success and evolution of the enterprise. Whether that base of people exists in the small corner of the RC world occupied by tankers, is an open question. But I don't blame anybody for being skeptical.

As for the Open Panzer sound card, I have a half-dozen or so prototypes that will get sent out to some testers for further development, after the TCB is released. Keep in mind that product development is a very long process, and in our case, we can even have a completely finished product and still not be able to purchase it (ie, the Scout ESC). So nothing is going to be available anytime soon.

Perhaps in a year if HK concludes the TCB was a success by whatever measure they use, they would be more willing to consider manufacture of the Scout and sound card.

One step at a time!

Last edited by LukeZ; 07-05-2017 at 02:06 PM.
Old 07-06-2017, 02:37 AM
  #139  
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Hi Luke,
I have just a quick question, after my initial glance over the open panzer config introduction pages.
Is the program layout , configuration, drivers etc only for pc windows or is it mac os compatible ?
Thanks
AK
Old 07-06-2017, 08:45 AM
  #140  
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Short answer: OP Config is only available for Windows.

Long answer: OP Config is developed using Qt, an open source, cross-platform compatible software development environment. It is certainly possible to compile OP Config for Mac, but we need a volunteer to do it. I don't have a Mac to test with nor have I ever used one in my life, or plan to. If someone is familiar with Qt and would like to compile for Mac that would be a wonderful contribution to this project. If you look at the TCB To-Do list this is one of the items on there.
Old 07-07-2017, 11:19 AM
  #141  
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The day has finally arrived - the TCB is available for purchase from HobbyKing! Click here for the product page.

It's not quite the correct shade of Open Panzer purple but the price is even better than I expected. The price is less than it cost me to make prototypes by hand, and my labor is free!

I don't see the Tamiya adapater cables for sale - I've asked HobbyKing about it and will post here when I get an update. Could be they just haven't made it on the site yet.
Old 07-07-2017, 11:33 AM
  #142  
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That's great, and even coming from the global warehouse to Detroit the shipping (with tracking) was only $3.35 US, for a total of less than $58.

The one thing that surprised me is that it showed the price of $54 but that didn't change when I signed in. I usually get a bit knocked off because I have platinum status. But still a great price. Maybe one of these will go in the Hetzer after all.
Old 07-07-2017, 11:37 AM
  #143  
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That's great news, but to me it's kind of useless without the OP sound card and scoutESC. Any update on progress there, and if hobbyking would also produce those to make it a package deal?
Old 07-07-2017, 12:04 PM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by Peregrine7
That's great news, but to me it's kind of useless without the OP sound card and scoutESC. Any update on progress there, and if hobbyking would also produce those to make it a package deal?
ESCs are SUPER cheap and I'm actually glad they were separated from the main board. I like modular systems and this is exactly how I like it. I understand others may not like it, but it is the most economical way to build a system. You can use your own high quality or super cheap ESCs, waterproof brushed ones are under $10 each these days for ~20A or so and are plenty for the tanks. This also leaves more options for brushless as well for larger tanks or just for poos and giggles. The sound card issue I don't see a big deal atm, you have the Benedini and soon the Taigen card (in a month or so from the US) which will hold over just fine for now. Also, diagnosing issues is a TON easier with modular pieces you can take out and check one piece at a time as well as fixing. No need to send in the whole board or buy a new one because you got some bigger motors than you should of run
Now don't get me wrong, the Scout is great (amazing actually, Luke did a TOP JOB on it!) but you also have other options to use as well as a Sabertooth, Polulu, and any brushed/brushless ESC you want. This in my opinion is a much better option as you can build to your budget or goal. This way you are not stuck to a certain scale, your ESCs determine the power you can push. Modular is also a lot easier to test and diagnose too. I think the OP project is probably the best thing the tank community has had in a LONG time. We now have some amazing code (which btw just wait until you drive with the TCB, it is a very pleasing experience) to experiment with, share, and modify as well tons of options for the future. Being open source and open hardware it is totally possible to redesign the TCB as well to include motor drivers and a sound card. Personally I think OP is doing it right by going modular first.
Old 07-07-2017, 01:27 PM
  #145  
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Originally Posted by Peregrine7
That's great news, but to me it's kind of useless without the OP sound card and scoutESC. Any update on progress there, and if hobbyking would also produce those to make it a package deal?
Any updates will be posted in the Project Status thread, feel free to subscribe to it. Also check out this FAQ I have just begun.
Old 07-07-2017, 02:12 PM
  #146  
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sweet will get one next week .
Jimmy
Old 07-07-2017, 02:27 PM
  #147  
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Thanks Luke.
Thanks Erik, most of what you shared about modular design etc is what I already agreed on earlier
But I did earlier lookup sabertooth 2x30 suggested by someone here and it was over $100 !!
So where do I find the cheap ESCs you're describing? And bare in mind, although I used Imex gearboxes in all my tanks, I use the long red 480 motors. HL 2.4 board has no problem controlling those, so I'm assuming Taigen board would have no problem too. Are they using 2x20 or 2x30? Basically, would the cheap 2x20 you're describing be as strong as the ESC mounted on Taigen and HL boards?
Old 07-07-2017, 02:34 PM
  #148  
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Read the FAQ I just posted, this exact question is answered: What speed control should I use?

Unless your tank is getting ready to blast off to Mars, you do not need a Sabertooth 2x20 or 2x30 (also there is no such thing as a Sabertooth 2x20 or 2x30 ).

If price is a concern, buy two XCar 45 ESCs. They're $10 bucks each, 45 Amps, sold by Hobby King so pick them up along with your TCB order. This is all discussed in the Wiki! Please read it from start to finish!
Old 07-07-2017, 04:47 PM
  #149  
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Originally Posted by Peregrine7
Thanks Luke.
Thanks Erik, most of what you shared about modular design etc is what I already agreed on earlier
But I did earlier lookup sabertooth 2x30 suggested by someone here and it was over $100 !!
So where do I find the cheap ESCs you're describing? And bare in mind, although I used Imex gearboxes in all my tanks, I use the long red 480 motors. HL 2.4 board has no problem controlling those, so I'm assuming Taigen board would have no problem too. Are they using 2x20 or 2x30? Basically, would the cheap 2x20 you're describing be as strong as the ESC mounted on Taigen and HL boards?
here is one place
https://www.ebay.com/p/Dimension-Eng...75.m4097.l9055
Jimmy
Old 07-07-2017, 05:37 PM
  #150  
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Originally Posted by LukeZ
Read the FAQ I just posted, this exact question is answered: What speed control should I use?

Unless your tank is getting ready to blast off to Mars, you do not need a Sabertooth 2x20 or 2x30 (also there is no such thing as a Sabertooth 2x20 or 2x30 ).

If price is a concern, buy two XCar 45 ESCs. They're $10 bucks each, 45 Amps, sold by Hobby King so pick them up along with your TCB order. This is all discussed in the Wiki! Please read it from start to finish!
Thank you for the wiki explanation Luke. I guess I'll have to measure the wattage. I wouldn't want to end up in that 5%.
Sabertooth 2x30 - I was bringing it up from memory, from what others were talking about in this thread. So, ok, I meant sabertooth 2x32.
Sabertooth 2x20 - I never said that existed, I was just referencing 2x20 specs Erik brought up.

Originally Posted by bowlman
Thats $70 shipped for 2x5... ridiculous price...
Where is the 2x20 for less than $10 that Eric brought up?

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