Keeping Jackal Updated

Jackal is always being improved, both its own software and the many community ROS packages upon which it depends! You can use the apt package management system to receive new versions all software running on the platform.

Getting New Packages

Each Jackal leaves the factory already configured to pull packages from as well as To update your package and download new package versions, simply run:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

If you see any errors, please get in touch and we’ll see if we can get you sorted out.

MCU Firmware Update

When you update packages, there is periodically a new version of Jackal’s firmware available. You will know this is the case in one of two ways:

  1. The firmware and PC are unable to connect to each other, which will be apparent if the two-arrow comms indicator fails to come on after system bootup.

  2. If the firmware version number in the /status message does not match the package version output by dpkg -s ros-kinetic-jackal-firmware. In the future there will be an automated check for this which outputs a diagnostics warning when a firmware update is available to be applied.

If new firmware is available, follow the below procedure to flash it to Jackal’s MCU:

  1. Place Jackal up on blocks. Firmware loading does not usually result in unintended motion, but it’s safest when off the ground.

  2. Ensure that Jackal is on and open.

  3. In the top-middle of the main circuit board, look for a small left-right switch in between two buttons.

  4. By default it is in the left position, but move it now to the right position.

  5. Press the reset button to the left, labeled M_RST. Jackal is now in its bootloader, ready to receive new firmware.

Now, from Jackal’s PC (connected via SSH or screen/keyboard), execute:

rosrun jackal_firmware upload

You should see about 20 seconds worth of lines output beginning with “Download from image …”. When this is complete, move the switch back to the leftmost position and quickly push the reset button again. You’re now running the updated firmware!

If you’re too slow on pushing the reset button, Jackal will power off, including the internal PC. It’s okay if that happens; just press the external power button again, and you should be back in business.

Starting From Scratch

If Jackal’s computer has become inoperable, or for any reason you want to restore it to the factory state, begin by opening Jackal, lowering the computer tray, and connecting a screen and keyboard, as well as a wired internet connection. You can then download the most recent version of the Jackal boot ISO from the following location:

Use unetbootin or a similar tool to flash the ISO image to a USB memory stick. Boot Jackal’s computer with the USB memory connected, and you should be in the purple Debian/Ubuntu installer. The installer runs by itself and shuts down the computer when finished.

Once done, turn Jackal on once more, and run the following:

rosrun jackal_bringup install

This installs Jackal’s robot_upstart job, so that ROS starts each time the robot starts.

Note that if you may need to re-pair your gamepad to the robot, and you’ll have some extra work to do if you have integrated accessories which require additional launchers or URDF.

Bluetooth Controller Pairing

If your PS4 controller runs out of batteries, or you purchase a new one, you might want to re-pair your platform and controller. To do this, put the controller into pairing mode by pressing and holding the Share & PS buttons until the controller’s LED flashes rapidly in white. Then SSH into the robot and run

sudo ds4drv-pair

Once the pairing is complete you should be able to control the robot using your controller. Note that the first time you pair the controller it may be enumerated as the wrong device. If the robot does not respond to your commands, power-cycle the full system and you should be set.