Nod Developer Center

Backspin Startup Guide

The Nod Backspin uses natural hand gestures to control drones with the wave of a hand, or to interact with objects within a virtual reality experience. It features a built-in game controller, including a joystick and a familiar set of buttons.

The Backspin starter kit includes:

  • Backspin for VR and drone control
  • Micro USB cable for charging


Holding the Backspin

Hold the Backspin with the second finger through the ring, the thumb on top of the joystick, and the remaining fingers pressing the Backspin against the palm of the hand:


Backspin Buttons

The Backspin controls include:


  • Joystick / Select Control — The joystick can be pushed/pulled in any direction with the thumb, for example to control the orientation of a drone or VR missile launcher. It can also be pressed directly downward, which would typically invoke a select operation, for example to select a VR object that is currently being pointed at.
  • Trigger — The Trigger can be easily accessed with the first finger. It is typically used to initiate an application-specific action, such as firing a VR cannon, or triggering a drone servo-drop mechanism.
  • A — Gesture on/off button. Press the A button to begin a gesture, such as moving the hand to the right. Then release A to end the gesture.
  • B, X, Y — Application-specific buttons. These buttons are available for software-defined purposes, such as turning on and off a VR laser beam, or switching between drone power modes.
  • Bumper, Nod Logo, and Grip buttons — Special function buttons. These buttons are typically used in combination with the Joystick Press Down in order to perform actions that only happen occasionally, such as a reboot or firmware update. These buttons are designed to be a little out of the way, making it hard to press them accidentally, especially in combination.
  • Left, Right buttons — Navigation buttons. These buttons are typically used to navigate through menu items, for example when interacting with setup utility programs.
  • LEDs — Red and blue indicator lights. The LEDs are used to indicate the Backspin power and connectivity/pairing status.

Charging the Backspin

Charge the Backspin as follows:

  • Connect the Backspin to a PC or wall charger using the Micro USB cable in your starter kit.
  • The Backspin takes about two hours to fully charge.
  • Battery life is approximately four hours of active usage.

Note: The firmware on the Backspin does not provide power management.

Pairing and Connecting the Backspin

The Backspin will start advertising its identifier after it reboots. To reboot the Backspin and place it in pairing mode (so that you can establish a Bluetooth connection with the Backspin):

  • Press and hold the three buttons [ Bumper + Nod Logo + Joystick Press Down ], then release all buttons.
  • The red LED next to the bumper will turn on, indicating that Backspin is powered ON and is in pairing mode.
  • The Backspin will advertise as ‘Nod-004xxx’.
  • Go to your Android, Windows, or iOS device Bluetooth settings and connect to Backspin.

See Backspin Reboot & Pairing

Rebooting the Backspin

Rebooting is the same as putting the device in advertisement mode:

  • Press and hold the three buttons [ Bumper + Nod Logo + Joystick Press Down ], then release all buttons
  • The red LED next to the bumper will turn on, indicating that Backspin is powered ON and is in pairing mode.

See Backspin Reboot & Pairing

Using Gestures with the Backspin

Currently, Backspin supports the following gestures:

  • Left
  • Right
  • Up
  • Down
  • Clockwise
  • Counterclockwise

To perform a gesture:

  • Press and hold down Button A.
  • Move your wrist in the direction of the gesture you wish to make.
  • Release Button A after finishing your gesture.

Video: Gestures Using Backspin (View the video in full screen mode in order to see the output to the Android device.)

Developing with the Backspin

The current Backspin release is targeted at developers only.

The Backspin enables a wide range of use cases. Here are some examples:

  • Control the speed and orientation of drones
  • Trigger drone pickups and drops
  • Aim and control drone-hosted cameras
  • Coordinate the fight paths and timing of multiple drones
  • Send drones to specified locations at the click of a button
  • Use hand gestures to initiate autonomous drone behaviors, e.g. to aerially inspect specific enterprise assets
  • Play VR games using natural hand and arm motions
  • Walk through and interact with VR simulated environments
  • Enhance VR training experiences with natural body movements
  • And many more use cases

To develop Backspin applications, you first choose the operating system that the Backspin will interact with. For example:

  • A drone might be based on an Android controller.
  • A VR application or game might be PC based, and use the Unity Engine running on Windows.
  • Alternatively, a VR experience might utilize an Android smartphone attached to a head mounted device (HMD).

Backspin applications consist of software that runs on the required OS or game engine, and makes API calls against the corresponding port of the OpenSpacial SDK. By using OpenSpacial, applications can receive and respond to Backspin messages that convey user interactions. For example, Gestures Using Backspin shows an OpenSpacial-based application (the Nod app) capturing Backspin gestures, such as Left, Right, Clockwise, etc.

It is up to the application to perform actions in response to the received Backspin messages, such as invoking the corresponding drone behaviors or VR game interactions.

Backspin development is currently supported on the following platforms:

Sample Apps

To access any of our demo apps from the Android playstore:

Firmware Update

The Backspin firmware can be updated over USB using DFU-UTIL, an open source tool.

Step1: Install DFU-UTIL

Install DFU-UTIL on Ubuntu

$ tar zxvf dfu-util_0.8.orig.tar.gz
$ cd dfu-util-0.8
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install

Install DFU-UTIL on MacOSX

  • Run the following command:
brew install dfu-util

Install DFU-UTIL on Windows

  • Download Zadig from
  • Place the Backspin into Flash Mode (see Step 3, below) and connect the Backspin to a Windows PC.
  • Run Zadig and perform the following:
    • Click Options List all devices
    • Select “STM32 Bootloader” & “libusbK”
    • Click “Install Driver”
    • Wait for popup that indicates “The driver was installed successfully.”

Step2: Download the Latest Firmware

To download the latest Backspin firmware:

Step3: Place Backspin into Flash Mode

  • Connect Backspin to your PC or Mac machine via USB cable
  • Press and hold down Y button
  • While holding down on Y button, press and hold the following three buttons [ Bumper + Logo + Joystick Press Down ]
  • Release all the buttons, but make sure Y is the last button to be released
  • All LEDs will be turned OFF

Backspin Flash Mode

Step4: Flashing Command

Macintosh and Windows:

dfu-util -d 0483:df11 -a 0 -s 0x08000000:leave -D ~/<Path to backspin.bin>


dfu-util -d 0483:df11 -a 0 -s 0x08000000 -D ~/<Path to backspin.bin>

Backspin FAQ

How do I know my Backspin is paired correctly and working on my Windows device?

Bluetooth pairing means that two Bluetooth enabled devices agree to communicate. When pairing is successful, the two devices become a trusted pair. In this state, communication between the two devices can bypass the discovery and authentication phases, enabling faster exchange of data.

  • The solid RED and BLUE LEDs on the Backspin indicate that your Backspin is paired to a host.
  • Install the latest Nod Windows connector service from:
  • After successfully installing Nod Windows connector service to your Windows, go to system tray on the bottom right of your desktop and double click on Nod Configuration app icon.
  • Follow the steps in the Nod Configuration app to create your Nod account.
  • Login to your Nod account in the app. The app will now show any Nod connected devices. When connected, Backspin will show up in the app as “Backspin ID-xxxx”.
  • At this point, Backspin is successfully connected to Windows and Nod connector service is working as well.
  • You can now download the latest Windows SDK and start your development.

How do I determine the current firmware version on my Backspin?

The firmware on the Backspin does not report the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) firmware revision characteristic.

Why does battery percentage on Backspin always show 100%?

The firmware on the Backspin does not report battery percentage accurately.

How do I power off/shut down the Backspin?

The firmware on the Backspin does not have power management. Power save states such as sleep, deep sleep, and shut down have not been implemented yet. Your Backspin should take about 2 hours to fully charge and its battery life is around 4 hours of active usage.

What do the color LEDs indicate?

A solid RED indicates Backspin is powered ON.
Solid RED and BLUE LEDs indicate Backspin connected to a host.

How do I know that my Backspin is working properly?

Connect your Backspin to a micro-USB cable and plug it into your desktop or wall charger. You should see a solid RED LED next to the Bumper button. No button press is required.

How do I know that my Backspin is paired correctly and working on my Android device?

  • The solid RED and BLUE LEDs on the Backspin indicate that your Backspin is paired to a host.
  • Join the Nod Alpha Testers Google Groups at:
  • Download Nod App from:
  • Follow the steps in the Nod App to create your Nod Account.
  • Sign in to Nod App. Skip the tutorials, as these are specific to Nod rings only.
  • When connected to your Android device, Backspin will show up in the app as “Backspin ID-xxxx”.
  • At this point, Backspin is successfully connected to your Android device and Nod service is now working.

Is HID profile support available on Backspin?

Bluetooth mouse / HID profile is not supported on the Backspin.

Why is the Backspin not appearing within the Nod application?

Bluetooth settings on my device indicate that Backspin is paired and connected, but it still doesn’t appear in the Nod app.

  • The Nod connector service normally takes from 15 to 30 seconds to update the Bluetooth connection status. You can do a manual refresh of the connection status by switching between the different tabs in the Nod app and returning back to the Nod app settings page. Your Backspin should now appear in the list of connected devices.
  • If you still do not see Backspin in the list of connected devices, try the following:
    • On Android:
      • Reboot your Android device. This is a quick method to restart the Nod Connector service that is running in the background.
    • On Windows
      • Close the Nod Configuration app.
      • Go to Task Manager Services Check that OpenSpatial Service is running
        If OpenSpatial Service has stopped running, simply restart the service.
      • Relaunch the Nod Configuration app from the system tray.
      • Your Backspin should now connect to Nod Configuration app.

Why does the Nod app not refresh the device status following pairing or un-pairing?

Android or Windows devices can take from 15 to 20 seconds to broadcast the connection state. The Nod app refresh can be slow. If this is the case, try switching between the different tabs in the app and returning to the Nod main settings page to force refresh the connector service.