Posts by Brandon

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New products: CC3000 Wi-Fi breakout board and Arduino shield from Adafruit

Posted by Brandon on 22 July 2014
Tags: new products
New products: CC3000 Wi-Fi breakout board and Arduino shield from Adafruit

Adding wireless connectivity to an electronics project is a great way to enhance functionality and make it stand out. Our selection of wireless electronics includes radio frequency modules, such as the Wixel, and Bluetooth modules, like the BlueSMiRF Silver from SparkFun, but until recently, we did not carry a good solution to adding Wi-Fi to a project. That’s where the newest additions to our wireless selection come into play.

We are now carrying two CC3000 Wi-Fi module carrier boards from Adafruit: the CC3000 Wi-Fi Shield for Arduino and CC3000 Wi-Fi breakout board. The CC3000 is a self-contained wireless network processor with an SPI interface, so it is not limited to a fixed UART baud rate, and the Adafruit carrier boards include level shifters, so they should be simple to connect to almost any microcontroller. Adafruit’s CC3000 Arduino library and example sketches make them especially easy to use with an Arduino-compatible board.

Adafruit CC3000 Wi-Fi breakout board with onboard ceramic antenna.
Adafruit CC3000 Wi-Fi Shield, assembled and connected to an Arduino UNO R3.

The CC3000 Wi-Fi Shield for Arduino offers a MicroSD card socket, a prototyping area for soldering extra circuitry, and a button for resetting the Arduino. The CC3000 Wi-Fi breakout board (v1.1) is much more compact and is also breadboard-compatible. Both products include an onboard ceramic antenna.

Wi-Fi controlled Zumo Chassis with DRV8835 and GoPro

Posted by Brandon on 26 June 2014

Forum user Pablo shared his Wi-Fi controlled robot with pictures and videos from his Instagram. In Pablo’s forum post, he summarizes his project, which consists of a custom PCB that he designed himself to interface a PIC18F26K20 with a MRF24WB0MA Wi-Fi module. His custom board also carries a DRV8835 motor driver and is mounted on a Zumo Chassis. The robot is controlled through Wi-Fi using a custom Android app and has a GoPro camera mounted on the Zumo blade. Finally, to top it all off, he placed a 6" Domo plush doll on top.

The picture below shows his fully assembled PCB, and Pablo posted a sped up video of its assembly.

For more details, including links to more of Pablo’s Instagram videos of his project like this one, please see Pablo’s original post.

New products: Aluminum mounting brackets for Pololu Plastic Gearmotors

Posted by Brandon on 24 June 2014
Tags: new products
Pololu stamped aluminum L-bracket pair for plastic gearmotors.
Pololu extended stamped aluminum L-bracket pair for plastic gearmotors.

We designed these new stamped aluminum L-brackets specifically for our larger Pololu plastic gearmotors (228:1 offset, 120:1 offset, 200:1 90-degree, and 120:1 90-degree). There are two versions of this L-bracket to choose from – a compact version and an extended version, which allows for a wider variety of mounting options. The brackets are sold in pairs and come with the hardware required to secure a motor to each bracket. As a bonus, they are also compatible with the Solarbotics plastic gearmotors (GM2, GM3, GM8, and GM9) and make great alternatives to the GMB39 and GMB28 brackets.

See the product pages for additional information:

Nick Moxley's DIY racing simulator

Posted by Brandon on 14 May 2014

Nick Moxley made a DIY seat mover (with two degrees of freedom) and shared his build on our forum. This racing simulator is powered by two of our Jrk 12v12 USB Motor Controllers with Feedback and controlled from the popular XSimulator software. The picture below shows Nick’s jrk motor controllers, which he modified by adding heat sinks for additional cooling.

This is one impressive build that I highly recommend checking out, especially if you are interested in making your own DIY racing simulator. You can find details about the parts he used (including where he found some of them) as well as many pictures documenting different parts of his build in Nick’s post on the Inside Sim Racing forum. A shorter version of this can be found in Nick’s post on our forum.

New products: Colored miniature tank tracks

Posted by Brandon on 17 April 2014
Tags: new products

We have expanded our selection of miniature tank tracks to include a variety of colors. The new tracks are identical in function to the black miniature track links, but now come in blue, red, and yellow. Track links of different colors can be combined to create fun and interesting patterns to give your robot some added character.

These miniature track links work great for small indoor robots, especially on carpet, and they are compatible with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets such as:

L3-G0: the full-size, LEGO R2-D2

Posted by Brandon on 14 April 2014
L3-G0: the full-size, LEGO R2-D2

Shawn and Lara Steele, known on the Pololu forum as kresty, built a functional, full-size, LEGO R2-D2 named L3-G0. L3-G0’s design is based on plans from the R2-D2 Builder’s Club, and it is made from around 16,000 LEGO bricks. It weighs roughly 30 kg (65 lbs) and can travel at a speed of 8 km/h (5 mph). The astromech has a fully functional rotating dome with multiple blinking lights. The dome is rotated using our 80mm wheel fitted with a high-traction sticky tire and powered by one of our 37D gearmotors. L3-G0 is controlled using a 9-channel RC transmitter and features an Arduino along with dedicated motor controllers and sound boards. Electric scooter motors were used for the drive wheels. The astromech also uses Pololu motor controllers and voltage regulators, as well as a SparkFun MP3 Trigger for audio. Continued…

New product: 130-size, high-power brushed DC motor

Posted by Brandon on 3 April 2014
Tags: new products
New product: 130-size, high-power brushed DC motor

These new 130-size motors are great for applications that require a lot of power in a small package. They are a generic alternative the Solarbotics RM2 motors, which have the same form factor and nearly identical performance. With a free-run speed of 17,000 RPM at 3 V, they are great for upgrading projects driven by lower-power 130-size motors. For example, see this post from last year about upgrading flywheel NERF guns. This motor is also compatible with our larger Pololu plastic gearmotors (228:1 offset, 120:1 offset, 200:1 90-degree, and 120:1 90-degree) and Solarbotics plastic gearmotors (GM2, GM3, GM8, and GM9).

For more information see the Brushed DC Motor: 130-Size, 3V, 17kRPM, 3.6A Stall product page.

Brandon's dead reckoning robot

Posted by Brandon on 25 March 2014
Tags: lvbots
Brandon's dead reckoning robot

For the recent LVBots dead reckoning competition that was hosted here at Pololu, I decided to make a robot based on the Baby Orangutan robot controller. This post details my robot and some of the considerations made while I went through my design process. If you would like more details about the competition rules and how it was judged, see the LVBots dead reckoning rules (23k pdf).

I started by choosing my parts and making sure that my robot, which would later be named “Baby Blues”, would be able to function in the way I wanted. I decided on using the Baby Orangutan because of its integrated motor driver and compact size. Continued…

Maestro-controlled Pan, Tilt, and Zoom (PTZ) dome camera

Posted by Brandon on 18 March 2014

Pololu forum member Dev255 modified a PTZ dome camera system to be controlled by an old Xbox joystick using a 24-channel Maestro servo controller. The Maestro reads 5 potentiometers on the Xbox joystick, along with some buttons, and correlates the readings to a speed and direction value. This data is converted to the Pelco D protocol that is used by the camera and gets sent to the camera from the Maestro. The LEDs on the joystick are used to indicate the program status. He also uses the Maestro to control a 4×20 character LCD display shown in the video below.

For more information on this project, see Dev255’s original forum post.

New product: SparkFun Inventor's Kit - V3.1

Posted by Brandon on 6 February 2014
Tags: new products
New product: SparkFun Inventor's Kit - V3.1

We are now carrying the latest version of SparkFun’s Inventor’s Kit (V3.1), which adds a mini screwdriver and replaces the translucent red breadboard from version 3 with an opaque white one that is easier to read. Version 3.1 includes everything else that was part of the previous version, such as the Arduino-compatible RedBoard and all of the additional components needed to build the 15 basic electronic circuits detailed in the guide.

For more information see the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit – V3.1 (with Arduino-Compatible RedBoard) product page.