Project Z: Stereo Range Finding Based on Motorola Dragonball Processor Zach Allen Chris Chan

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Project Z: Stereo Range Finding Based on Motorola Dragonball Processor

  • Zach Allen

  • Chris Chan

  • Ben Wolpoff

  • Shane Zinner


  • Introduction

  • System Overview

  • Hardware

  • Software

  • Features

  • Implementation

  • Potential Issues

  • Schedule


  • Purpose

      • Familiarize and learn about embedded computing based on a state of the art processor.
      • Learn about Board Layout and Issues.
      • Learn about an embedded operating system and issues associated with a real-time environment.
  • High Level Functionality

      • Precision range finding based on a stereo range finding system.
      • Run embedded software.
  • Goals

      • Fabricate the board and run simple code.
      • Interface with video encoding chip and code for range finding.
      • Run embedded Linux.

System Overview



  • Range Finding

  • Image Processing

  • LCD Interaction

  • Memory Management

  • Embedded Linux (uCLinux)


  • LCDs

    • Plain ASCII Text LCD
    • 640x512 TFT Grayscale LCD
  • Embedded Operating System

    • uCLinux
  • Range Finding

    • Dual Camera Stereo Vision
    • Laser Pointer Tracking
  • Large Internal Storage

    • 32 MB Flash Memory

Board Implementation

  • Board Design

  • Layout in P-Cad

  • Fabrication and Population

Hardware Implementation

  • Stereo Range finding

    • 2 NTSC Cameras
    • Conexant BT835 Graphics Processor
      • Up to 4 Analog NTSC Inputs
      • Outputs in YCrCb Which Is Easily Converted To An RGB Signal
      • Hardware Scaling and Filtering
      • Low Cost Solution
    • 1 Common Physical Point Are Found From Both Cameras (Laser Pointer). Based on the positions of the Cameras and the pixel differences in the red laser dot, a distance can be calculated.
  • Motorola Dragonball MC68VZ328 Processor

    • TQFP
    • Product Specs Can Be Found At:

Software Implementation

  • LCD Interaction

    • Drivers
  • Range Finding

    • Trigonometric Algorithm
    • Convert to RGB Scale
    • Find Common Laser Points
    • BT835 Drivers
  • Memory Management

OS Implementation

  • uCLinux

    • uClinux is a derivative of Linux 2.0 kernel intended for microcontrollers without Memory Management Units (MMUs).
    • Common Linux API
    • uCkernel < 512 kb
    • uCkernel + tools < 900 kb
    • Successfully Run On the Motorola Dragonball EZ Processor and Other 68k Derivatives


  • Project Timeline

    • Overall Layout of Tasks
    • Timeline for Completion
  • Milestones

    • Milestone 1
    • Milestone 2
    • Expo
  • Potential Problems

  • Contingency Plans


  • Milestone 1

    • Board designed around Dragonball VZ processor, laid out, fabricated and populated.
    • Boot monitor designed, tested and working.
    • Design, test, and run RAM interface and be able to run simple instructions (nop).
  • Milestone 2

    • Boots internally.
    • Rangefinder built, and code developed for video chip interface, range finding, and LCD display.


  • Expo

    • Get system to run embedded Linux.
    • Linux interfaces with graphics chip.
    • Modify code to run on Linux.
    • Final Debugging.
    • Magical Demonstration and working project. It will be “the one.”

Potential Issues/Problems

  • Interfacing Between the Conexant BT835 and Motorola Dragonball Processor.

  • FPGA Bus Speed Issues.

  • Addressing Issues With Large Amount of Memory.

  • May Need Some External RAM Storage for LCD.

  • Various Real Time Issues.

  • Embedded Linux (Drivers, Compilation, Running)

  • All or Nothing Fabrication Process (Finances).

  • Learning All The Software (P-Cad, uCLinux, CodeWarrior/Microtek)

Contingency Plans

  • Instead of Stereo Range Finding Switch To Ultrasonic Range Finding.

  • Select Different FPGA In The Event of Bus Speed Issues.

  • Reduce Memory Size or Redesign Addressing Space In the Event of Address Space Issues.

  • May Need To Use Part of Flash Memory For Peripherals or Integrate DRAM (needs to be done before board fabrication) if LCD needs External Storage.

  • Will Need To Keep Real Time Issues In Mind and Modify Coding Style.

  • Embedded OS

    • Drivers – Interact Directly with the Device
    • Do Not Run an Embedded OS.

Parts List

Cost/Expense Estimates


  • Military

  • Survey Sites

  • Golf

  • Aerospace Applications

  • People That Like to Think They’re James Bond

Investment Returns


  • Stereo Range Finding

  • Motorola Dragonball VZ Processor

  • Real Time Embedded Software

  • Modularity in Design

  • Sufficient Market Demand

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