Keeping Ridgeback Updated


If you are upgrading your Ridgeback from an older version of ROS, please refer to our upgrade instructions here.

Ridgeback 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 Ridgeback 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 Ridgeback’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-ridgeback-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 Ridgeback’s MCU:

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

  2. Ensure that Ridgeback 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. Ridgeback is now in its bootloader, ready to receive new firmware.

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

rosrun ridgeback_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, Ridgeback 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 Ridgeback’s computer has become inoperable, or for any reason you want to restore it to the factory state, begin by opening Ridgeback, 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 Ridgeback boot ISO from the following location:

Use unetbootin or a similar tool to flash the ISO image to a USB memory stick. Boot Ridgeback’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 Ridgeback on once more, and run the following:

rosrun ridgeback_bringup install

This installs Ridgeback’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

PS3 Controller Pairing

If your Sixaxis controller runs out of batteries, or you purchase a new one, you might want to re-pair your platform and controller. To do this, lower the computer tray and plug the controller into an available USB port using a standard Mini-B USB cable. Then, from the prompt, run:

sudo sixpair

You should see a notice that the MAC address of Ridgeback’s bluetooth adapter has been written into the controller. Now disconnect the USB cable and you should be able to press the pair button and achieve a pairing. Note that this first pairing may cause the joystick to come up as /dev/input/js1 rather than /dev/input/js0. If Ridgeback does not respond to your commands, power-cycle the full system and you should be set.

PS4 Controller Pairing

  1. The first step is to check if Sixad is installed using: dpkg -l sixad which should return with to packages found.

    • If you have sixad installed then it needs to be removed using sudo apt-get purge sixad

  2. Charge the controller for a while, the controllers sometimes have issues pairing when the battery is low.

  3. Unpair the controller using sudo bluez-test-device remove XX:XX:XX:XX:XX:XX (You can get this by putting the controller into to pairing mode and running hcitool scan).

  4. Check to make sure Bluetooth is enabled by running sudo service bluetooth status.

  5. If bluetooth is not enabled start the Bluetooth daemon with sudo service bluetooth start and make sure the bluetoothd is executable with ls -la /usr/sbin/bluetoothd. If not make it executable using sudo chmod +x /usr/sbin/bluetoothd but this a temporary solution, you should update your packages to fix this.

  6. Power cycle the controller before trying to pair it.

  7. Finally, press the PS and share button simultaneously so the controller Bluetooth is enabled for pairing and use sudo ds4drv-pair.