Pololu Blog (Page 21)

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.

Wixel used with Arbotix Commander V2

Posted by Ryan on 21 September 2012
Wixel used with Arbotix Commander V2

This post in the Trossen Robotics Community forum shows a pair of Wixels are added to an Arbotix Commander V2 remote control, allowing it to send its signals to a computer. The author gives us a nice compliment:

Not to be a shill, but that was easier to set up than any MCU + Xbee configuration I’ve seen.

Dalek Robot

Posted by Paul on 21 September 2012

This autonomous, obstacle-avoiding robot is controlled by an Arduino and uses two 25D metal gearmotors, which are attached to a dual VNH2SP30 motor driver carrier.

Ten years in Las Vegas

Posted by Jan on 5 June 2012
Ten years in Las Vegas

Starting with the move from our dorm to an apartment in Watertown, Massachusetts, Pololu has moved or expanded ten times. The most significant was our move to Las Vegas, which represented a commitment to doing this thing for real. This past Sunday was the 10-year anniversary of arriving in Las Vegas, so I figured I should commemorate it by putting up some old pictures. Continued…

Thoughts on Open-Source Hardware

Posted by Jan on 26 April 2012
Thoughts on Open-Source Hardware

As open-source hardware (OSHW) has become more prominent over the past five years or so, I have heard questions about where I or Pololu stand on the subject. Most recently, I got into a bit of a discussion with Phillip Torrone of Make and Adafruit on one of his blog posts, and his questions and subsequent interview pushed me to try to organize some of my thoughts about OSHW. Because there are many aspects to OSHW, I don’t have a simple conclusion like, “It’s great!” or “It’s the future!” or “Pololu will never release an OSHW product.”. I am skeptical of some of the claims by OSHW proponents and of the significance of the more organized aspects of the OSHW movement. However, what is going on is very significant to me because it affects Pololu’s business and involves issues I care about a lot, such as freedom, creating things, and education. Continued…

Three and a half months to plug in our machines legally

Posted by Jan on 29 March 2012
Three and a half months to plug in our machines legally

This post is an account of the difficulties I have had for the past four months in getting permits to run our equipment at our new location, which we moved to in December of 2011. I am writing this partly as notes for myself and others at Pololu, but the main point of sharing this is to warn and commiserate with other businesses having to deal with such problems and to give other readers some awareness of the real-world ramifications of the regulations much of the public seems all too eager to embrace. I still have a hard time believing we really had to go through all of the hassle and expense, so I am also hoping that some readers might point me to some resources so that I can avoid this in the future. I realize there is speculation and hearsay in my report, but I want to emphasize that my impressions are based on many vendors, contractors, public employees, and manufacturers: in all, I spoke to dozens of people about our experience. I will try to be as specific as practical without unnecessarily exposing individuals who were trying to be helpful to undue scrutiny. Continued…

November 2011 update: new building, new machines

Posted by Jan on 30 November 2011
November 2011 update: new building, new machines

Five months ago, I wrote that we “just finished a big facility expansion that was taking up a lot of my attention this year, so I have some more time now …” Well, that turned out to be wrong. It’s also been over a year since I started this blog, and so far, I am way behind my target of an article per week. It doesn’t help when I don’t post for four months, but some exciting stuff has happened in that time. Continued…

Continuous-rotation servos and multi-turn servos

Posted by Jan on 26 July 2011
Continuous-rotation servos and multi-turn servos

As I discussed in the introduction to servos, one of the consequences of hobby servos’ intended use is that rotation range is limited to about 180 degrees. In this post, I will talk about two exceptions to this general rule: continuous-rotation servos and multi-turn servos. Each of these products loses some features in return for increased rotational range, so none of them are the ideal actuators many would like them to be. There are some specialty servos developed for robot applications that get around the limitations, but those servos are not as standardized and do not really fit into the hobby servo category, so I am not going into any more detail on those beyond mentioning that they exist. Continued…

How an idea becomes a product

Posted by Jan on 22 June 2011
How an idea becomes a product

The Wixel Shield for Arduino that we released today represents a personal milestone because of what I did not do on it: the shield is the first electronic product made by Pololu that I did not design. That’s not to say I did not have some input on it or that other engineers here did not have substantial contributions to other products, but the Wixel Shield is a first because the basic product concept, the circuit design, and physical implementation (i.e. the PCB layout) were all done by someone else. We also just finished a big facility expansion that was taking up a lot of my attention this year, so I have some more time now to think about our design process and what it takes to go from a new idea to a finished product. Continued…

RC servo speed control

Posted by Jan on 6 May 2011
RC servo speed control

It is often desirable to control the speed and acceleration of hobby RC servos. Understanding your options can be confusing since there are various speeds involved, many similar terms are used, and the terms are not used consistently by different companies or end users. You might also have an idea of what you want your servo to do without knowing what to call it or how to describe it or how to implement it. To get a good understanding of what is going on, it is helpful to picture the position of your servo in relation to the commands you are sending it. A simple first attempt might look like this: Continued…

Advanced hobby servo control using only a timer and interrupts

Posted by Jan on 5 May 2011
Advanced hobby servo control using only a timer and interrupts

In this last article about generating pulses for hobby servo control, I will present what I think is the best solution to controlling many servos or controlling some servos while still leaving enough processing time to do other tasks. It’s not that easy to make this approach work well, so my recommendation in most cases is just to get one of our servo controllers, which use this technique. Continued…