Jacob Dahl is a community contributor from Salt Lake City, United States. He contributes to PX4 firmware, and currently working on a UAVCAN enabled smart battery. You can find him on GitHub at: https://github.com/dakejahl
Can you tell us the story of how you got into PX4?
I started work on my own flight controller while still at my IoT job. I ended up getting an offer from Teal drones, who were mostly excited by the fact that I was trying to build my own. I learned about PX4 while I was at Teal, and subsequently learned just how hard building a flight controller is, and completely stopped working on my own design to focus on learning PX4.
What company do you work for and what’s your “day role”?
Freelancer/consultant helping people/companies use PX4 in general. Previously Teal (consumer drone) and Sarcos Robotics (counter UAS).
What is your current project based on PX4?
UAVCAN enabled smart battery. Smart batteries are safer, more reliable, and last longer. No one wants their big expensive drone to fall out of the sky or over-discharge an aging battery. We recognized there is a lack of a commercially available smart battery that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. We are probably going to start with larger (6S) packs, but we still need to ask for input on what people would like to see made available. Another idea would be to sell just the smart battery module (without the battery itself) and provide instructions on how to calibrate it/set it up correctly with a customer’s battery.
What is your professional and educational background?
BS in electrical engineering from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Started with Arduino in college like everyone else. After college worked at a small IoT company for a year (PCB design and firmware), then Teal Drones (PX4, sensor drivers, smart battery), then Sarcos Robotics (ROS, PX4/APM/DJI, custom QGroundControl, radar, radios, etc). I most recently started working as an independent freelancer, and I finally made my own flight controller 🙂
What is your “area of expertise” within PX4?
Hahaha… drivers!!! But I’ve kinda touched it all at this point.
What is the most unique thing you have done in drones/robotics?
A drone hunter! We chase baddie drones around with a radar and capture them with a net.
What is your current favourite setup for development kit (hardware, software..)?
Ubuntu. GCC. Sublime Text 3. Nvdia Jetson(s). Pixhawk4/Cube. JLink mini. I really like these Arduino Teensy boards!
What languages do you speak?
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Anchorage Alaska baby! I moved to Salt Lake 2 years ago.
What’s your favorite book?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
What advice would you give to fellow drone developers who just joined the PX4 community?
Please contribute back your bug fixes and other useful work! Strive to leave the codebase better than you found it 🙂 Try to write better code than you would at your day job. There are so many people working on this project from so many diverse backgrounds, so it’s really important that everyone can just read the code. Which means – keep it simple! Write your code in a way that is obvious, simple, and well thought out. Too many people just get something working and then submit a PR.