The 18-channel Mini Maestro 18 raises the performance bar for serial servo controllers with features such as a native USB interface and internal scripting control. Whether you want the best servo control available (0.25μs resolution with built-in speed and acceleration control and pulse rates up to 333 Hz) or a general I/O controller (e.g. to interface with a sensor or ESC via your USB port), this compact, versatile device will deliver. Header pins are included but not soldered into this partial kit version (all surface-mount components are soldered).
Getting started with the Maestro Servo Controller
For a full list of products shown in this video, see its YouTube description.
The Mini Maestros are the newest of Pololu’s second-generation USB servo controllers, offering more channels and features than the smaller six-channel Micro Maestro. The Mini Maestros are available in three sizes, and they can be purchased fully assembled or as partial kits:
The Mini Maestros are highly versatile (and compact) servo controllers and general-purpose I/O boards. They support three control methods: USB for direct connection to a computer, TTL serial for use with embedded systems, and internal scripting for self-contained, host controller-free applications. The channels can be configured as servo outputs for use with radio control (RC) servos or electronic speed controls (ESCs), as digital outputs, or as analog/digital inputs. The extremely precise, high-resolution servo pulses have a jitter of less than 200 ns, making these servo controllers well suited for high-performance applications such as robotics and animatronics, and built-in speed and acceleration control for each channel make it easy to achieve smooth, seamless movements without requiring the control source to constantly compute and stream intermediate position updates to the Mini Maestros. The Mini Maestros also feature configurable pulse rates from 1 to 333 Hz and can generate a wide range of pulses, allowing maximum responsiveness and range from modern servos. Units can be daisy-chained with additional Pololu servo and motor controllers on a single serial line.
A free configuration and control program is available for Windows and Linux, making it simple to configure and test the device over USB, create sequences of servo movements for animatronics or walking robots, and write, step through, and run scripts stored in the servo controller. The Mini Maestros’ 8 KB of internal script memory allows storage of up to approximately 3000 servo positions that can be automatically played back without any computer or external microcontroller connected.
Because the Mini Maestros’ channels can also be used as general-purpose digital outputs and analog or digital inputs, they provide an easy way to read sensors and control peripherals directly from a PC over USB, and these channels can be used with the scripting system to enable creation of self-contained animatronic displays that respond to external stimuli and trigger additional events beyond just moving servos.
The fully assembled versions of the Mini Maestro ship with 0.1″ male header pins installed as shown in the respective product pictures. The partial kit versions ship with these header pins included but unsoldered, which allows the use of different gender connectors or wires to be soldered directly to the pads for lighter, more compact installations. The Micro and Mini Maestros have 0.086″ diameter mounting holes that work with #2 and M2 screws.
Maestro Comparison Table
1 This is the weight of the board without header pins or terminal blocks.
Application Examples and Videos
An example setup using a Micro Maestro to control a ShiftBar and Satellite LED Module is shown in the picture below and one of the videos above. Maestro source code to control a ShiftBar or ShiftBrite is available in the Example scripts section of the Maestro User’s guide.
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