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We recently released the A-Star 32U4 Micro, which we think is the best available AVR breakout board for its size. If you are like us, you enjoy taking factory tours, seeing how things are made on How It’s Made, and watching your Krispy Kreme doughnuts get created right before you personally eat them. Since most of you have not been able to visit us here in Las Vegas, we’ve made a video that shows how your A-Star Micro gets made!
The video shows how the A-Star Micro goes from a bare printed circuit board to an assembled and tested product. It is one of our more complex boards to make because it has components on both sides—this means two trips through the stencil printer, pick-and-place machine, reflow oven, and automated optical inspection machine. Here are some of the machines featured in the video:
For those of you who like to be mesmerized by big machines moving thousands of tiny components quickly, we also have a video that shows the full pick-and-place sequence of a panel of forty A-Star Micros. (Note that this is not an accurate representation of the assembly time since the feeders are moved to the side to make room for the camera.)
For more videos like these, see our YouTube playlist: Pololu manufacturing: how our products are made and subscribe to our channel. By the way, you can still get a free A-Star Micro with your order over $100.
On May 29, LVBots held a maze solving competition at Pololu. The goal in maze solving is to get from the start to the finish in the shortest time. Contestants had four tries to solve the maze. The first run is typically in a learning mode where the robot goes slowly and explores the maze. On subsequent runs, the robots would attempt the shortest path, and the best robots had progressively more aggressive speeds.
I would have liked to see one of the custom-built robots win, but despite their best attempts, none of the other competitors were able to beat a stock 3pi robot running Ben’s maze solving code from six years ago. The old video below demonstrates how the 3pi solves a maze and also describes how the course is built.
This year, we tried to hone our rules about robots cutting corners of the maze. No robot will follow the line perfectly, so we have to allow some corner-cutting, but we do not want to make it so lax that the robot could dead reckon directly to the finish. After a lot of debate, we settled on two rules:
It was exciting to see Paul’s robot, Dr. Maze, use dead reckoning to cut the corners. Paul was hoping to get away from line following and rely on encoders to navigate the maze. Unfortunately, this caused the robot to get lost on the long straightaway and fail to solve the maze. Dr. Maze exhibits its corner-cutting skills at the end of the first video.
Are you in the Las Vegas area? Check out the LVBots Meetup page to get involved.
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
“Missing” features fifty robotic speakers that rotate to face the listeners. Each speaker uses an A4988 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier.
Check out this kickstarter: the Linkbot modular robot by Barobo uses Pololu motors.
Featured link: http://madebyfrutos.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/vertibot/
Tiny Bot, by Erik Kringen, is an autonomous obstacle-avoiding robot tank that uses a Pololu track set.
Featured link: http://www.mycontraption.com/introducing-tiny-bot/
This balancing robot by Mark Williams is controlled by a Raspberry Pi. The project web page explains the balance control algorithm. PiBBOT uses a Pololu MinIMU-9 v2, metal gearmotors with encoders, and Pololu wheels.