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.
Last week we announced the Pololu RC Switch with Relay, the first product in our overhaul of the RC Switch family. Today we released the second new RC Switch product, the Pololu RC Switch with Medium Low-Side MOSFET. This board converts hobby radio control pulses to digital on/off signals and has an integrated medium, low-side MOSFET that allows it to drive moderate loads (up to around 15 A), such as lighting or small actuators.
This product replaces item #1211 and includes valuable new features such as a safe-start mode and user-configurable input direction and threshold.
For more information about the Pololu RC Switch with Medium Low-Side MOSFET, see the product page.
Forum user Erich created a custom Zumo Robot Chassis PCB to use with our Zumo chassis kit. The board is designed to accept a large number of plug-in modules, such as a DRV8835 dual motor driver carrier, encoders, and voltage regulators. Sensors that can be mounted on the robot include a Zumo reflectance sensor array, some distance sensors, and an ultrasonic sensor, and it also supports several wireless communication modules. Instead of an Arduino, it uses a Freescale FRDM-KL25Z as the microcontroller board.
You can follow his robot’s progression by visiting these forum posts:
March 2013: Zumo Robot with FRDM-KL25Z Board
September 2013: Zumo Robot with Pololu Plug-in Modules
October 2013: Zumo Robot with Pololu Plug-in Modules, assembled.
We are overhauling our RC Switch family of products, starting with a new and long-awaited addition, the Pololu RC Switch with Relay. This RC relay board makes it easy to control large loads within radio control (RC) systems. Here is an example setup with a typical RC receiver controlling the switch:
The Pololu RC Switch with Relay has advanced features not present in earlier RC switch products, including a safe-start mode and configurable input direction and threshold.
In addition to the assembled version shown above, a partial kit is available for specialized applications such as custom connectors or alternative relays:
For more information about the Pololu RC Switch, see the product page.
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.
Featured link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biiSHoyjBzY
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.
Featured link: http://forum.pololu.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7402