Welcome to the Pololu Blog, where we provide updates about what we and our customers are doing and thinking about. This blog used to be Pololu president Jan Malášek’s Engage Your Brain blog; you can view just those posts here.
LVBots held a mini-sumo competition at Pololu on September 19. With a total of 19 robots participating, we got to see a lot of different strategies, from passive to aggressive to deliberately misleading. Sensing technology was of key importance, with robots using everything from sonar and optical rangefinders to accelerometers. See the range of designs for yourself in this video compilation from the contest:
Do you live in Las Vegas, or are you passing through? Stop by this evening to see the robots in person! You can find out more about LVBots or sign up on our Meetup page.
Forum user Jim Remington has been working on getting the Talkie speech synthesis library to run on an Orangutan robot controller. The Talkie library, written by Peter Knight for the Arduino, has its roots in a Texas Instruments speech synthesis system that dates from the 1970s and was used in the Speak & Spell educational toy.
When we read about what Jim was doing on the Pololu Forum, we wanted to try it ourselves. We modified Jim’s Orangutan LV-168 code to work on the Orangutan SV-328, and we discovered that the Orangutan’s motor driver could be used as an improvised audio amplifier. This video demonstrates the result:
(Yes, those numbers are a little implausible, but they’re a good way to show off Jim’s number-to-speech routine.)
We now carry the Arduino Robot, the first official Arduino on wheels, which includes a pair of ATmega32U4-based platforms that control two motors, sensors, and more. From the Arduino blog post about it:
For more information about the Arduino Robot, see the product page.
We’ve just released a new USB-to-serial adapter based on the Silicon Labs CP2104 USB-to-UART bridge. This tiny, inexpensive board makes it easy to connect a logic-level serial device to a PC, offering access to all of the data, control, and GPIO pins on the CP2104 while measuring only 0.6″ × 0.95″, including its Micro-USB connector. The adapter’s versatile pinout allows it to be used in a number of different ways, including on a breadboard or as a six-pin FTDI cable replacement.
And in case you don’t have a compatible cable lying around, we now also carry Micro-USB cables in two varieties: a standard cable that works with high-speed USB devices, and a thinner version that is lighter and more flexible but limited to low- and full-speed USB.
We saw a tweet from Atmel that “Qtechknow”’s Fuzzbot—a robot based on a Zumo that helps clean floors by dragging a dust cloth around while avoiding obstacles—won the New York 2013 World Maker Faire Educator’s Choice award. Qtechknow was recently featured in a Popular Science article.
Related post: Fuzzbot
In this video, forum user Dev255 controls a standard (HD44780 parallel interface) 4×20 LCD display with a Mini Maestro 24-Channel USB Servo Controller and displays the value of the potentiometer (converted to a percentage) on the screen. You can find out more about his project and see his Maestro script in his forum post.
We are now carrying the V4 revision of the RoboClaw 2×60A motor controller from Orion Robotics. This new revision is similar to the original 2×60A version but has a new board design and some new features like USB connectivity. We expect to have an updated datasheet soon.
Read more on the product page.
Jacques Bitoniau built a custom control system for his quadcopter that replaces a conventional RC transmitter/receiver and features the ability to switch between two different operators for training purposes. In his system, the operator moves a joystick and a WiFi-equipped PC sends commands to a Raspberry Pi, which communicates with one of our Maestros to produce signals for a flight controller.
Jacques also wrote a C++ library for Windows, Linux, and Mac to control the Maestro using its serial interface. (You can now find this as a Recommended Link on our Maestro product pages.)
You can read more about Jacques’s control system in his forum post.
For more information about the Arduino Yún, see the product page.