Posts by Jon

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Jon's dead reckoning robot

Posted by Jon on 10 April 2014
Tags: lvbots
Jon's dead reckoning robot

Like other engineers here, I made a robot for the LVBots dead reckoning competition. Before I knew about this competition, I hadn’t made a successful dead reckoning robot. By the end of this competition, I still hadn’t made a successful dead reckoning robot. However, I did learn more about myself and a little more about line following. This post describes my robot, Usain Volt, and details some of what I was thinking when I designed it. Continued…

ToDo and Babel by Chris Eckert

Posted by Jon on 17 March 2014

Chris Eckert makes devices that explore the artistic potential of factory automation. One of his works, entitled ToDo, is an automated wall mounted device that seems to continuously write a never-ending list of things to do. Two stepper motors control the position of a pen over a roll a paper, and a servo controls the pen’s up/down movement. The device is controlled by an Arduino Uno and two of our A4988 stepper motor drivers. You can find more details about the construction in Chris’s blog posts about Todo and see more of Todo on its gallery page.

Chris is currently working on another project called Babel, which will feature about 20 devices similar to ToDo.

You can learn more about Chris and his artwork on his personal website.

Hope's Edge LED Banner

Posted by Jon on 6 February 2014
Hope's Edge LED Banner

Local indie artist and Pololu employee Tracey, intent on reviving her programming skills and exploring her budding interest in electronics, shed some light on her creative personality by making an LED banner for her band, Hope’s Edge. The banner is a briefcase-sized container that uses an addressable LED strip to shine through a stencil of the band’s logo in a wave of brilliantly changing colors. The stencil and the rest of the panels in the container are made from 1/16" black ABS, all of which were cut with our custom laser cutting service, and a sheet of gift-wrap tissue paper is taped to the inside of the front panel to act as a diffuser. The banner runs off of a 5V wall wart, which is boosted to 9V to power an Arduino Uno that runs Ben’s Christmas light LED code.


New product: 5V wall power adapter with USB port

Posted by Jon on 13 January 2014
Tags: new products
New product: 5V wall power adapter with USB port

Looking for a power supply for your Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, Wixels, or Maestro servo controllers? Look no further!

This UL-certified AC-to-DC converter gives you an easy way to deliver up to 1 A to your USB-powered device from a US-style AC electrical socket. It has been specifically designed to supply 5.25 V instead of 5 V to help ensure that the device it is powering receives close to 5 V even when the current draw is high. This converter is safe for use with USB-compliant devices.

This adapter does not include a USB cable, but it features a USB “A” port that you can plug a standard USB cable into, which makes it great for transitioning your project from USB to wall power.

For more information, see the 5V wall power adapter product page.

Mini Sumo Tournament (with Zumos!)

Posted by Jon on 17 December 2013
Mini Sumo Tournament (with Zumos!)

Erich, a professor at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland, posted to our forum about their first Mini Sumo tournament, which took place this past weekend. The tournament was a part of Erich’s embedded systems programming class, for which he created a custom Mini Sumo robot platform for his students to modify. His robots use a custom PCB that mounts to the Zumo chassis kit and connects to the reflectance sensor array. Instead of an Arduino, his PCB uses a Freescale FRDM-KL25Z as the microcontroller board. Students customized the modified Zumos with their own sensors (we saw at least a few of them using our IR proximity sensors). 21 robots were entered into the competition, and a winner was determined over 5 rounds. Links to a competitor showcase video, several battle videos, and more information about the competition can be found in his forum post.

We are also excited to see a list of performance tweaks that Erich created for Zumo robots to be more competitive in Mini Sumo. We have made this available as a resource on the Zumo product pages.

While he was experimenting with our Zumo chassis, Erich posted to our forums a few times updating us on the progress of his modifications. 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

New Product: Pololu 2013 T-Shirts

Posted by Jon on 25 October 2013
Tags: new products

Do you like our Zumo Robot?
Does royal blue look good on you?
Do you like T-shirts that have robots on them?
Does the phrase “Push.” motivate you?

If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you might just be interested in our 2013 Pololu T-Shirt!

These royal blue T-shirts feature our Zumo robot and are available in small, medium, large, and extra large. They are made from 100% cotton, pre-shrunk.

Some of our favorite examples of when/where to wear this T-shirt:

  • In the delivery room!
  • During a mini-sumo competition!
  • During an actual sumo competition!
  • Inside your local hackerspace!
  • At your local robotics club meetings!

You can find these and last year’s shirts in our shirts category.

Using a Maestro to control a quadcopter

Posted by Jon on 17 September 2013
Using a Maestro to control a quadcopter

Jacques Bitoniau built a custom control system for his quadcopter that replaces a conventional RC transmitter/receiver and features the ability to switch between two different operators for training purposes. In his system, the operator moves a joystick and a WiFi-equipped PC sends commands to a Raspberry Pi, which communicates with one of our Maestros to produce signals for a flight controller.

Jacques also wrote a C++ library for Windows, Linux, and Mac to control the Maestro using its serial interface. (You can now find this as a Recommended Link on our Maestro product pages.)

You can read more about Jacques’s control system in his forum post.

Paper ROM and balsa wood airplane

Posted by Jon on 26 August 2013

Customer Mike Kohn recently wrote to us about two of his projects that use Pololu parts:

This paper disk is marked with black and white patterns spread across four distinct rings and can store a total of 16 bytes of data. Mike decodes the data with one of our QTR-1RC reflectance sensors. Read more about “PAPER-ROM”…


This balsa wood airplane uses an ATtiny85 to interpret signals from a Syma S107 helicopter remote controller, and it uses our 5:1 micro metal gearmotor HP to spin its propeller. Read more about this airplane project…

Mike has documented many of his other software and electronics projects on his web site.

Brute Force Car Radio Code Solver

Posted by Jon on 19 August 2013

Forum user Christian, writing from Germany, posted this video of an automated system he built that pushes buttons on a car radio (Becker Mexico CD 876) as a brute-force method to determine its radio code. In his system, he uses our Mini Maestro 12-Channel USB Servo Controller and 10 servos to extend rods of wood to press the numbered buttons on the radio console. You can read more about his system in this forum post.

The setup had already run for 3 days straight, but Christian expects it to take another 30 days to finish entering all 10,000 codes. We look forward to hearing back from Christian once it finishes.

Camera Control and Stabilization via PC

Posted by Jon on 16 August 2013

In this video, x-ioTechnologies uses one of our Maestro USB servo controllers with their x-IMU to demonstrate control and stabilization of a 3 DOF camera mount.