New IMU board for Paparazzi--but is it open source?

By Chris Anderson

February 25, 2011

The Paparazzi team have released a new IMU board called Asprin [ ]. It's just the accelerometers, gyros and magnetometer sensors (no processor) and is available for $110 [ ] at Joby Robotics.

Strangely, I can't find any mention of it being open source. Is it actually possible that Paparazzi is no longer supporting open source hardware? That would be sad if true. They seem to have deleted the Hardware folder from their repository [ ]. [Correction: the hardware repository is here [ ]. It only has the schematic of Lisa (no board file) and no files at all for Asprin]. I've asked for clarification, but haven't heard back yet.

Remember that Paparazzi's tagline [ ] is "Bringing freedom to UAV since 2003". Maybe it should be "Bringing freedom to UAVs, 2003-2010" ;-)

[UPDATE: The official statement [ ]: "For the time being the Eagle files for Aspirin are not released in a OSHW definition compatible way. We at Joby Robotics would love to be able to release the files. But we don’t feel comfortable with that at the moment. It is a continuing discussion here at Joby Robotics, so let’s hope for the best!

P.S. Aspirin is not a “Paparazzi” design as such, it was developed at Joby Robotics with close collaboration with Paparazzi community. It may have not been reflected by the article properly for some readers."]

[UPDATE2: On March 3rd, the Joby team did decide to release the files and open source the boards. Lisa is here [ ] and Asprin is here [ ]. Good news!]


By Eric Parsonage

February 27, 2011


I am interested why you are so interested in this IMU ? Do you fly Paparazzi ? Do you contribute to Paparazzi ? or is open in this case just a one way street for you ? (ie more a case of Download It Yourself drones rather than Do It Yourself drones).

If you don't have any stake in Paparazzi why the apparent concern in how the Paparazzi community conducts itself ?


By John Arne Birkeland

February 27, 2011

Eric, I think that should be obvious considering Chis is one of the driving forces behind the whole open hardware movement..


By Eric Parsonage

February 27, 2011

I have had no response from Chris yet so I don't think anything is obvious. That is why my post above contained 5 questions. None of which either you or Chris have yet answered. Perhaps you can spell it out for me ? because I certainly don't see a connection between Paparazzi and Chris that would lead him to be so concerned.


By Chris Anderson

February 27, 2011

Eric, as John says I'm an open source hardware evangelist and encourage it everywhere. We were glad to count Paparazzi in our camp and I sang its praises for this in many speeches. I'd be sorry to lose that.

As it happens I do own a Paparazzi setup, although I don't fly it. But this community has many Paparazzi uses, so the future of that platform is of journalistic interest to me, too, in our role as an information resource.


By Eric Parsonage

February 27, 2011

Chris, If you have relegated your Paparazzi setup to status of paper weight I still fail to see your concern with the with how the Paparazzi community conducts itself and note that you have only answered one of the 5 questions I posed to you.

The bizarre suggestion in this blog that Paparazzi no longer supports open source hardware (given the hundreds of existing open source platforms using Paparazzi which continue to function) and the totally misleading URL to a location that has never hosted the Paparazzi hardware files are an illustration of the lack of this boards primacy as an information source regarding Paparazzi.

Your claim to having a "journalistic interest" implies you consider yourself a journalist. Do you not consider that this role comes with the responsibility to do some fact checking before publishing fallacious claims ?

I would suggest the tag line for this article gives a more accurate indication to the underlying motives for your article.


By Chris Anderson

February 27, 2011

Eric, to answer your (rhetorical) question: no, I do not contribute to the Paparazzi project. Are you suggesting that only contributors have a right to comment? Apparently your commitment to openness does not extend to free speech.

You seem to think that I have some "motive" other than those we've articulated here: sharing information of interest to this community and supporting the growth of open source hardware. So rather than make insinuations, why don't you come right out and say what you think my motive is, so everyone can evaluate it here in public? It would be the open thing to do.


By Felix Ruess

February 27, 2011

Easy there guys...

While the guys at jobyrobics decided to currently not publish all the eagle files (and of course can do so if they wish), they are also contributing a lot to paparazzi and everyone profits from that. While a lot of people would like to see all hardware files released under an open license (including myself), we have to respect their decision.

However that does of course not mean that paparazzi is going closed source, it just adds support for this hardware to paparazzi. Nothing more, nothing less...

No one is complaining that the hardware files for the VectorNav IMU are not available, but it is supported. The difference being that aspirin (and the Lisa autopilots are supported by JobyRobotics themselves and VectorNav by the community.


By Chris Anderson

February 28, 2011

Eric, you're new here so maybe you don't understand how DIY Drones works. It's a community site where anyone can post about their own personal projects, and hundreds do. Most have nothing to do with our core team project such as ArduPilot, and there is the full range of open source and closed source models.That's fine--to each their own.

You, in contrast, introduced Asprin on the official Paparazzi blog with these words: "Today we are pleased to announce the public release of our next generation IMU, Aspirin!" This is why we are concerned. You yourself have described this is a Paparazzi project, and it is not open source. The same appears true of the previous official Paparazzi IMU board, Lisa.

I should warn you that your continued attacks on what is a legitimate interest here is not being received well. I've now had several former Paparazzi users contact me privately to confirm that they, too, have been told that the hardware is going closed source and they have left the platform as a result. I will be soliciting comment from the Paparazzi team leaders on this.

It's been fascinating to research Joby Energy, the parent company of Joby Robotics, which is making Asprin and Lisa. Could the adoption of Paparazzi by a commercial company using it for wind power (tethered UAVs) be influencing the direction of the hardware side of the project? So many questions--this is getting interesting!


By Eric Parsonage

February 28, 2011


This article contained more noise than information as result of your unwillingness to check facts. Was this due to incompetence or intent ?

Your article asks the pejorative question:

Is it actually possible that Paparazzi is no longer supporting open source hardware?

You promote yourself as a purveyor of information. A reader believing this hyperbole might think this question was based on some pertinent fact.

To help you understand the effect of such rhetorical devices. Consider the slur that would be conveyed if I where to ask you "When did you stop beating your wife?". The idea behind such a device is to imply the truth of some statement that you are not willing to state as fact.

Your claim that I am making insinuations is based on my live demonstration of the use of such a linguistic trick.  I note your indignation when you are the object of such devices. Thus demonstrating that you don't think the use of such techniques is appropriate.

Perhaps now you can explain why this article was written in such a pejorative fashion.

The reason why I am asking you to do this is because what I see in the photo is an available, affordable IMU which is incredibly small and supported by an opensource UAV project. Yet somehow you have turned this in to negative news. Why ?


By Chris Anderson

February 28, 2011

We're going in circles here. I've been clear from the start: I'm an advocate for open source hardware and was proud to count Paparazzi among our ranks, and would be sorry to lose that. That's my focus. There are lots of nice IMU boards out there, both open and closed, and we post on them as they arrive. But when Paparazzi, an open source project that we respect and count as comrades-in-arms, make an official announcement of one of their own, that deserves special attention.

As for the facts, they are simple. Either the .brd files are available and a product is open source hardware, or they are not. In this case, they are not. What additional facts would you like me to check?


By Eric Parsonage

February 28, 2011


Was this article about an IMU ? How does the IMU look ? Does it have any technical merit ? Did you forget to post that part of the article ? Perhaps this article was about Paparazzi ? If so you seem to doubt that Paparazzi no longer supports open source hardware.

 Is it actually possible that Paparazzi is no longer supporting open source hardware?

This, you have the ability to check for yourself. You have the hardware why not download the latest code and see if it runs or perhaps ask somebody who would know ?

They seem to have deleted the Hardware folder from their repository

You had to update this comment because you didn't check the facts before you posted.

I don't see why you thought it necessary to generate a completely negative news article when from my point of view another cheap IMU is a plus. The fact there is open source code to drive it is yet another plus.

In conclusion your original article was light on fact and heavy on fallacious supposition. Perhaps you actually already know that this article has little journalist merit and would prefer to obfuscate rather than admit to its deficiencies.


By Eric Parsonage

February 28, 2011


I have but one small addendum to the above posts. You really don't seem understand my perspective as to the deficiencies of your article. So I have a proposal. Why don't you let me write an article on this subject and post it in your blog ? We can then let your readers decide on which article is the more informative and objective.



By MarcS

February 28, 2011

Where are the comments?? Itīs hard to make comments on comments that come and go :-)

So, I think the arguments between two people here are getting personal which has nothing to do with the original question, which was legitimate.

Felix told you the facts. So I think it is just a question how "official" is referred to in the different projects.

And here I see the huge difference between paparazzi and e.g. APM.

APM has a relatively small core team of developers who are focused on one HW. And many people buy and use this.

In contrast there are many people and groups in the paparazzi community which develop hardware to their needs. So there is no real "leading group" when it comes to HW, just announcements and uploads.

And here ist the simple thing, that was not absoutely clear (even to me until now), that LISA and Aspirin are at the moment not published. So it could be noted "third party hardware supported by PPRZ SW". Which would probably also solve the concerns of Chris?




By Chris Anderson

February 28, 2011

Eric, that wrong link I originally posted was the one that YOU gave me! I asked you for comment and you pointed me to that repository. You may now apologize.

BTW, you still seem confused about this site. This is a community site, where any member can publish a blog post (as long as it adheres to site policies). You don't need my permission. Maybe if you'd gotten a chance to understand this community and its culture before you came in with guns firing, this unfortunate thread wouldn't have had to happen at all.


By Felix Ruess

February 28, 2011

Peace guys, please!

@Chris, the link in the blog points to the correct source of the drivers. We recently moved the sw part to github and keept the hw at savannah for now. You pointed to an out of date branch (HB) instead of master, but I guess that was not by intention.

As Marc pointed out there is a lot of different hardware that people made and use with Paparazzi. Most of that is open source, however you can't just buy one ready to go. And support for it might not be as good since the hw is not so wide spread and it depends partly on the original designers to keep drivers up to date.

The initial designs of Lisa/L come from Antoine Drouin from ENAC, so this is research driven and not specifically driven by the needs of JobyRobotics. Paparazzi developers at JobyRobotics made improvements and refinements on the design. Aspirin hw was designed by the guys there and the software is developed together with other Paparazzi devs. They are able to manufacture and sell the boards and provide support. The guys at ENAC can not provide this (this is why the Tiny and Twog autopilots are manufactured and sold by others like PPZUAV).

It was sometimes hard for people to get their hands on new Paparazzi hardware because the original designers could not (and never wanted to) sell the hw. While it would of course be great to have all the hardware design files (for Lisa and Aspirin) available under an open license now, it is just a fact that this is not the case at the moment.
But I don't think this is such a big deal and we should not blow this out of proportion!

However this is really great hardware! And I think it is important that you can just buy this well tested and supported hw from JR and all the software is still (and always will be) Open Source.
The main point is also that this makes it possible to manufacture in greater quantities and offer good hw at a reasonable price. It is just way cheaper and less error prone for everyone than if lots of people make t


By Felix Ruess

February 28, 2011

Oh, I guess that was too long for one post, here we go:

It is just way cheaper and less error prone for everyone than if lots of people make them in small batches and probably resulting in boards with small differences and bugs that get harder to support. As a lot of people probably know, manufacturing hw is something you want to get right!

While I can't really speak for JobyRobotics, I know some of the guys there are big proponents of Open Hardware in general and have released quite a few Open Hardware designs themselves.
Personally I hope that they will do so in the future, but that is their decision and should be respected!

But right now I really see this from a practical standpoint:

If you are unhappy with that you can always start designing and contributing boards under an open license.


By Felix Ruess

February 28, 2011

So to sum up:

Chris, I think it was not a nice gesture to imply that Paparazzi is going closed source and it is simply not true.
But Chris has a valid point: Unfortunately Lisa and Aspirin hw files are currently not available under an open license.

Maybe some of the confusion is coming from the Paparazzi blog where some of us Paparazzi developers try to inform about ongoing work. This includes Piotr who is currently working at JobyRobotics. I guess it should have been made more clear!

So please stop knocking each others heads in and let's not spill any bad blood over this! It is totally unnecessary and doesn't do any good for anyone.

I strongly believe in openness and I'm convinced that we can all work together to do fun and amazing things!.


By Chris Anderson

February 28, 2011

Nicely summarized, Felix, and thanks for chiming in with a reasoned, level-headed response. I'm happy to give you the last word!


By Chris Gough

March 2, 2011

The final word?

Thanks a lot :)


By Chris Anderson

March 3, 2011

Chris--that's great news! Many thanks for the news.

For those confused by the above, it looks like the Paparazzi team has now open sourced the Lisa and Asprin hardware.


Copyright 2011