Posts by Ben

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New products: Pololu Carriers for Sharp GP2Y0A60SZLF Analog Distance Sensor

Posted by Ben on 15 October 2014
Tags: new products
New products: Pololu Carriers for Sharp GP2Y0A60SZLF Analog Distance Sensor

Last month, we introduced our new carriers with Sharp GP2Y0A60SZLF analog distance sensors, a part we are very excited about and have been trying to get for the past five years. Those complete sensor modules ship with the GP2Y0A60SZLF installed on our compact carrier board, which includes all of the required external components and provides a more convenient interface to the sensor (and a mounting hole!). Well, we are now offering the carrier boards without the sensor for those who already have Sharp GP2Y0A60SZLF units and are looking for an easy way to incorporate them into their projects. The carrier boards are available in two configurations: a 5V version for operation from 2.7 V to 5.5 V and a 3V version for operation from 2.7 V to 3.6 V:

For more information, see the product pages.

Free magazines: October 2014 Circuit Cellar and Elektor

Posted by Ben on 15 October 2014
Tags: new products

Get FREE copies of Circuit Cellar magazine’s October issue and Elektor magazine’s October issue with your order, while supplies last. To get your free issues, enter the coupon codes CIRCUIT1014 and ELEKTOR1014 into your shopping cart. Each magazine will add 6 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.

For back issues and more information, see our free Circuit Cellar magazine offers and free Elektor magazine offers.

Free magazines: September 2014 Circuit Cellar and Elektor

Posted by Ben on 30 September 2014
Tags: new products

Get FREE copies of Circuit Cellar magazine’s September issue and Elektor magazine’s September issue with your order, while supplies last. To get your free issues, enter the coupon codes CIRCUIT0914 and ELEKTOR0914 into your shopping cart. The Circuit Cellar magazine will add 6 ounces and the Elektor magazine will add 7 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.

For back issues and more information, see our free Circuit Cellar magazine offers and free Elektor magazine offers.

New product: Sharp 15cm GP2Y0D815Z0F digital distance sensor

Posted by Ben on 12 September 2014
Tags: new products
New product: Sharp 15cm GP2Y0D815Z0F digital distance sensor

Sharp’s optical rangefinders and distance sensors have long been a favorite among robot builders for quick, easy, and affordable obstacle detection. We are excited to add to our selection the new digital GP2Y0D815Z0F sensor, which can detect objects ranging from 15 cm (6″) to almost touching the sensor face. The GP2Y0D805 and GP2Y0D810 digital sensors we have had for years are great because of their small size, high sampling rate, and small minimum sensing distances, but their short detection ranges have limited their applications. We have always wanted a version that could see farther, and now we have one! We have the sensor available by itself and on a carrier that makes connecting and mounting it a lot more convenient.

Pololu engineers win at AT&T Car and Home Hackathon

Posted by Ben on 10 September 2014


Pololu engineers win at AT&T Car and Home Hackathon

Last weekend, Pololu engineers Brian, Jeremy, Kevin, and Ryan participated in the AT&T Car and Home Hackathon. They competed against around 300 people who came to The Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas to participate in the event. The sponsors provided hardware, development boards, supplies, and APIs for the teams to work with, and they had 26 hours from Saturday to Sunday to make a home automation or “connected car” project.

Team Car Bon, which also included local programmer Dylan Simpson of the Las Vegas Ruby Group, hacked together a carbon monoxide sensor that would be installed in a car or garage and connected to the internet. The idea was for their system to monitor carbon monoxide levels, and if the levels became dangerous, to shut off the car engine, open the garage door, and alert your phone.

Team Car Bon’s Home Module: a demonstration of an internet-connected garage door opener.
Team Car Bon’s Car Module: an internet-connected carbon monoxide sensor.

The project won the best use of mbed award and took 1st place in the Home Automation Challenge. Here is Nixie Pixel (Nicole Allen)’s coverage of the project:

You can find out more about the project on the team Car Bon GitHub page and find out more about the event on AT&T’s blog post of the event.

Our engineers also took first place (in one of many categories) at another AT&T hackathon earlier this year, which sets a high bar for future Pololu participants. Come out here to compete in the next AT&T hackathon and help put the pressure on our next team!

Video: Race around the Pololu building

Posted by Ben on 29 August 2014


Yodapus Rex.

A few of us are at work late having our Palm Tree League fantasy football draft after a week of qualifying events to determine draft order, including guessing how long it would take to print a 5cm-tall Yodapus Rex with a 3D printer we assembled recently. (Answer: 5.25 hours.) By far the most entertaining event was the race we ran yesterday around the outside of the Pololu building. The race was a little over 300 meters long, and many people from Pololu participated. Congratulations to Jon for winning for the second year in a row (although much of the margin he beat me by was from his false start). And Candice might want me to point out that she is pregnant so she has a decent excuse for finishing last.

Palm Tree League 2014 fantasy football draft at Pololu.

Pololu Labor Day weekend sale

Posted by Ben on 29 August 2014


In the United States, the first Monday of September is Labor Day, a holiday celebrating the contributions of workers. As a robotics company, we appreciate all the physical and creative work that goes into the creation of “labor-saving” devices, and we hope you will join us in celebrating these efforts, perhaps by spending the long weekend working on your own robotic creations.

We are having a big Labor Day sale throughout the weekend, with 15% discounts on over 400 products when you use the coupon code LABORDAY14. Note that we will be closed on Monday, so orders placed after 2 PM Pacific Time on Friday, August 29 will be shipped on Tuesday, September 2.

Free magazine: August 2014 Circuit Cellar

Posted by Ben on 30 July 2014
Tags: new products

Get a FREE copy of Circuit Cellar magazine’s August issue with your order, while supplies last. To get your free issues, enter the coupon code CIRCUIT0814 into your shopping cart. The Circuit Cellar magazine will add 6 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.

For back issues and more information, see our free Circuit Cellar magazine offers.

And don’t forget that free copies Elektor magazine’s double-sized July/August issue are still available.

Free magazines: July 2014 Circuit Cellar and July/August 2014 Elektor

Posted by Ben on 23 July 2014
Tags: new products

Get FREE copies of Circuit Cellar magazine’s July issue and Elektor magazine’s July/August issue with your order, while supplies last. To get your free issues, enter the coupon codes CIRCUIT0714 and ELEKTOR0714 into your shopping cart. The Circuit Cellar magazine will add 6 ounces and the Elektor magazine will add 9 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.

For back issues and more information, see our free Circuit Cellar magazine offers and free Elektor magazine offers.

Big price reduction of Pololu MEMS sensor carriers and IMUs

Posted by Ben on 13 June 2014
Tags: pricing

We have some very exciting price reduction news to share with you, but first:

A little background

3-axis accelerometer carrier, released 22 Apr 2008.

MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) devices are everywhere today, from airbag crash sensors to smartphones to inkjet printer heads, so it is easy to take this ubiquitous technology for granted without considering just how impressive it really is. The defining characteristic of a MEMS device is the presence of microscopic mechanical elements that are similar in size to the features of the electronics in an integrated circuit – if you look closely enough at the silicon of a MEMS inertial sensor, you will see tiny moving cantilevers or springs right alongside the electrical elements that let you interface with them.

Several of us here at Pololu fondly remember using our first MEMS sensors around the turn of the century (the “Y2K” one, not the horse-and-buggy one) as they became affordable enough to consider for our college engineering projects. At the time, it was around $20 for a single-axis accelerometer, and that seemed like a pretty sweet deal! Since then, widespread use of MEMS technology in mobile devices has led to rapidly improving performance and falling prices, putting some amazing technology well within the financial reach of students and hobbyists. However, these same market pressures favor compact, surface-mount ICs that can be integrated into ever-shrinking consumer products, making them very difficult to work with, and this is where we come in: our goal is to make these great sensors available to a much wider audience. We design and manufacture breadboard-compatible carrier boards for these MEMS ICs that include all of the additional required components along with voltage regulators and level-shifters that allow direct integration into 5V systems.

LISY300AL single-axis gyro carrier, released 24 Dec 2008.
L3GD20H 3-axis gyro carrier, released 5 Feb 2014.

One side effect of this rapidly evolving technology is that if we want our MEMS products to remain relevant, we have to update them more quickly than our other products. For instance, our 3pi is approaching six years old, yet it is still a decent basic robot platform (see my stock 3pi dominate our recent LVBots maze-solving competition). In that same time, we have gone from our first MEMS carriers – a 3-axis accelerometer for $20 and a single-axis gyroscope for $30 – to a complete IMU with 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis magnetometer, 3-axis gyro, and pressure sensor, each with performance much better than those earlier units.

So far, we have generally kept our prices the same or had modest decreases as we have released newer units with higher performance, but today we are announcing significant price cuts to our latest-generation boards:

The LSM303D 3D compass and accelerometer carrier is now $9.95, down from $14.95. This inertial sensor consists of a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis magnetometer in a single package.

The L3GD20H 3-axis gyro carrier is now $12.95, down from $19.95. This inertial sensor measures the angular rates of rotation about the roll, pitch, and yaw axes.

The MinIMU-9 v3 is now $19.95, down from $39.95. This IMU module features an LSM303D 3D accelerometer+magnetometer and L3GD20H 3D gyro, providing nine independent rotation, acceleration, and magnetic measurements that can be used to calculate the module’s absolute orientation.

The AltIMU-10 v3 is now $27.95, down from $49.95. This IMU module is equivalent to a MinIMU-9 v3 with an integrated LPS331AP pressure sensor, providing ten independent pressure, rotation, acceleration, and magnetic measurements that can be used to calculate the module’s altitude and absolute orientation.

This fast technology progression makes planning challenging – it sometimes takes six months or more from the time we order a newly-announced component to when it arrives, and by the time we get it and build a board around it, the next great part is announced. This leads to a somewhat complicated lineage of products in various life-cycle stages. The following diagram shows the progression of our products based on ST’s MEMS sensors, which we have been most excited about lately thanks to their digital interfaces and many user-configurable settings:

Evolution and release dates of Pololu carriers for ST’s MEMS sensors through May 2014.

The constant product refreshing also leaves us with older-generation boards that we generally put on clearance. We have decreased the clearance prices of these products so they remain compelling lower-price alternatives to the latest-generation boards. These boards are not recommended for new designs where continued availability is important, but if you just want to play around with a cheap sensor that was state-of-the-art a few years ago, these are a great deal while they last:

The LSM303DLM 3D compass and accelerometer carrier has a new clearance price of $5.95.

The LSM303DLHC 3D compass and accelerometer carrier has a new clearance price of $7.95.

The L3GD20 3-axis gyro carrier has a new clearance price of $9.95.

The MinIMU-9 v2 has a new clearance price of $14.95. This IMU module features an LSM303DLHC 3D accelerometer+magnetometer and L3GD20 3D gyro.

The AltIMU-10 has a new clearance price of $22.95. This IMU module is equivalent to a MinIMU-9 v2 with an integrated LPS331AP pressure sensor.