Futaba Selects Silicon Sensing Gyro for Model Helicopters

PLYMOUTH, U.K. -- Futaba, a leading Japanese manufacturer of remote control model helicopter electronics and controls, has chosen Silicon Sensing's new PinPoint miniature precision MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) gyro for its next generation servo-controllers.

Chosen for its combination of tiny footprint (6 x 5 mm), ultra-low power consumption (12 mW), wide measurement range (900°/s) and exceptional stability, PinPoint represents a significant step forward in the evolution of this technology in the remote control (RC) model helicopter world. Compared to gyros available to this market less than two years ago, PinPoint delivers the same function and performance in a package which is under 1/100th the size and weight, draws less than 1/10th of the power and is 1/3rd of the cost. Its performance brings improved endurance and precision control to a wide range of aircraft.

Silicon Sensing has supplied MEMS gyros to Futaba for many years. The yaw rate information from the new PinPoint gyro will be used by the Futaba controller to automatically stabilize the helicopter's heading by controlling the tail rotor, thus reducing pilot workload and allowing him/her to concentrate on flying the aircraft. PinPoint is available in two surface mount configurations, designated CRM100 and CRM200, which allows full yaw, pitch and roll control to be achieved on a single small printed circuit board assembly.

PinPoint is equally applicable to designers of automotive, consumer and industrial products—market sectors that Silicon Sensing has been supplying for a number of years. Where reliable gyro performance is required on limited cost, space and power budgets PinPoint provides the solution—at under 6 x 5 x 1.2 mm, weighing less than 0.08 g and drawing 4 mA from its 3 V supply.

Eric Whitley, Business Development Executive, Silicon Sensing explains: "Several low-cost gyros have been launched recently with impressive claims, but these have left the designer disappointed with the real-world performance delivered. The difference with our MEMS gyros is in our patented balanced resonating ring sensor design which is common across all Silicon Sensing's gyros. This design is proven to provide a reliable yaw rate signal even under quite severe vibrations."

PinPoint is the only MEMS gyro to use a fully balanced vibrating silicon ring, whereas others use various forms of simple open-loop vibrating mass structures (e.g. tuning fork / comb type). The 3 mm diameter balanced ring of PinPoint, which resonates at 22 kHz in a closed-loop control system, can be thought of as an infinite number of tuning forks integrated to create a fully balanced vibrating circular structure. This provides unrivalled rate output stability over time, temperature, vibration and shock for a MEMS gyro in its class.

Apart from the outstanding bias stability of PinPoint, other useful features include a hermetically sealed ceramic LCC SMT package, analogue and digital SPI output modes, user-selectable dynamic ranges between 75 and 900°/s for optimum sensitivity, user-selectable bandwidth up to 150 Hz for noise performance optimisation and internal temperature output enabling external thermal compensation.

About Silicon Sensing
Silicon Sensing has provided a respected and highly popular range of silicon MEMS gyros and inertial systems to automotive and commercial markets for over a decade. It has a formidable reputation in the automotive industry—supplying over 3 million ESC yaw rate sensors per year with warranty returns less than 1 part/million.