Pololu Blog

Welcome to the Pololu Blog, where we provide updates about what we and our customers are doing and thinking about. This blog used to be Pololu president Jan Malášek’s Engage Your Brain blog; you can view just those posts here.

Popular tags: community projects new products raspberry pi arduino more…

New product: Zumo 2040 Robot!

Posted by Kevin on 22 November 2023

We’re happy to announce the release of the Zumo 2040, our newest RP2040-based robot built on our Zumo tracked chassis!

The Zumo started out as just that chassis: a simple mechanical base designed to be the foundation of a small tracked robot (and the right size for Mini-Sumo competitions). Later, we made the Zumo Robot Kit for Arduino that lets you build a complete robot with just the addition of an Arduino board, and a while after that, we released the Zumo 32U4 featuring a main board with an integrated AVR microcontroller.

Pololu Zumo chassis kit, assembled top view, shown with motors and original white sprockets.

Assembled Zumo robot for Arduino with an Arduino Uno (with original white sprockets).

Assembled Zumo 32U4 robot.

This new Zumo 2040 is the next big step in the evolution of the Zumo family, swapping out the Zumo 32U4’s 8-bit processor for a Raspberry Pi RP2040, a 32-bit dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ microcontroller running at 125 MHz, along with 16 MB (128 Mbit) of flash memory. The more powerful processor (the same as on the Raspberry Pi Pico) enhances both what the Zumo can do and how you can work with it.

Assembled Zumo 2040 robot.

We particularly like how easy it is to get started programming the Zumo 2040 with MicroPython: just like with our 3pi+ 2040 Robot, you can simply connect the Zumo to a computer with a USB-C cable and start editing the included example Python programs with a text editor.

MicroPython drive showing Zumo 2040 demo programs.

The blink.py demo program in a text editor.

There are lots of pre-loaded examples that demonstrate how to use the various features on the Zumo 2040. Here’s one that uses the Zumo’s proximity sensors to locate and turn to face an opponent or other object (in this case, a 3pi+):

Although I summed up the history of the Zumo platform in a few major milestones above, that doesn’t really tell the whole story; there have been other smaller changes along the way (both accompanying and between the big releases) that have made it more of a continual process of improvement. For example, although the Zumo originally came with the white sprockets that you see in some of those pictures, we now ship the chassis and all of the robots and kits with black spoked sprockets that make assembly and disassembly easier (and look cooler). And a couple years ago, we revised the Zumo 32U4 with a better display (in the form of the Zumo 32U4 OLED), an upgrade that has carried over to this new Zumo.

The Zumo 2040’s new I2C0 connector is one such smaller improvement, but it’s something that I hope will make a difference when it comes to expanding the robot with additional electronics. This is a 4-pin JST SH-compatible connector that provides access to the RP2040’s I2C0 bus, and it has a pinout compatible with Sparkfun’s Qwiic and Adafruit’s STEMMA QT connection systems, so that should make it easier to add I²C sensors and other devices to the Zumo.

The I2C0 connector on the Zumo 2040.

The Zumo 2040 robot is available as a kit (with motors not included so you can select your own to customize performance) or as a fully assembled robot with your choice of 50:1, 75:1, or 100:1 motor options.

Our Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale has started!

Posted by Emily on 21 November 2023

Our Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale is back! Visit the sale page to see all the available deals and add the necessary coupons to your cart. The sale runs through Monday, November 27,and most of the sale coupons can be used on backorders if we happen to run out of stock, but you should still get your orders in early since lead times on some popular products can get long.

Please note that during the sale, our order fulfillment times might be longer than usual, but we will do our best to get your order shipped as fast as we can. Additionally, we are closed Thursday, November 23 for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving!

Labor Day Sale going on now!

Posted by Emily on 31 August 2023

We are having a Labor Day sale starting now through Tuesday, September 5! Check out the sale page for more information. Please note that we will be closed Monday, so orders placed after 2 PM Pacific Time Friday, September 1 will be shipped on Tuesday, September 5.

Independence Day Sale going on now!

Posted by Emily on 29 June 2023

We are having an Independence Day sale starting now through Wednesday, July 5! Check out the sale page for more information. Please note that we will be closed Tuesday, so orders placed after 2 PM Pacific Time Monday, July 3 will be shipped on Wednesday, July 5.

More Motoron motor controllers!

Posted by Jan on 23 June 2023

We recently added six new low-power variants to our Motoron line of basic serial motor controllers: four Mxx550 1- and 2-channel versions, as well as 3-channel versions for Arduino (M3S550) and Raspberry Pi (M3H550).

1- and 2-channel micro motor drivers

The new M1T550, M1U550, M2T550, and M2U550 are single- and dual-channel serial motor controllers in a micro footprint. With a maximum motor supply voltage of 22 V, the Mxx550 versions are a great way to control small motors powered by power supplies up to 12 V and battery packs up to 12 cells in series for alkaline, NiCd, and NiMH, or up to 4 cells in series for LiPo. These are lower-voltage, pin-compatible versions of the Mxx256 models we released earlier this year, which have a maximum motor voltage of 48 V and can deliver slightly more current but are otherwise almost identical.

Here is the full array of tiny Motoron options, including I²C and UART serial interface versions:

Motoron motor controllers
micro versions








Control interface: I²C or UART serial
Motor channels: 1 (single) 2 (dual) 1 (single) 2 (dual)
Minimum motor
supply voltage:
1.8 V 4.5 V
Absolute max motor
supply voltage:
22 V 48 V
Recommended max
nominal battery voltage:
16 V 36 V
Max continuous
current per channel:
1.8 A 1.6 A 2.2 A 1.8 A
Available versions
with I²C:
Available verions
with UART serial:
Price: $12.49 – $14.49 $15.95 – $17.95 $16.95 – $18.95 $23.95 – $25.95

3-channel motor drivers for Arduino and Raspberry Pi

We also released larger (but still small!), 3-channel versions in Arduino (M3S550) and Raspberry Pi (M3H550) compatible form factors. These again have a maximum motor supply voltage of 22 V and correspond to the 48 V max M3S256 and M3H256 versions we released in 2022. Here is the full line of larger Motoron serial motor controllers, including the even higher-power, dual-channel Motorons in full-size Arduino Shield or Raspberry Pi Hat form factors:

Motoron motor controllers
Arduino and Raspberry Pi form factor versions












Control interface: I²C
Motor channels: 3 (triple) 2 (dual)
Minimum motor
supply voltage:
1.8 V 4.5 V 6.5 V
Absolute max motor
supply voltage:
22 V 48 V 40 V 30 V
Recommended max
nominal battery voltage:
16 V 36 V 28 V 18 V
Max continuous
current per channel:
1.7 A 2 A 14 A 16 A 18 A 20 A
Available versions
for Arduino:
M3S550 M3S256 M2S24v14 M2S24v16 M2S18v18 M2S18v20
Available versions
for Raspberry Pi:
M3H550 M3H256 M2H24v14 M2H24v16 M2H18v18 M2H18v20
Price: $20.95 – $30.95 $34.95 – $44.95 $59.95 – $69.95 $115.95 – $124.95 $59.95 – $69.96 $95.95 – $104.95

The great thing about the Motorons is that you can easily string together or stack multiple controllers, mixing and matching sizes to fit your application. For example, you could use one high-power dual motor version for drive motors on a mobile robot and then add a smaller 3-channel motor controller for additional actuators. This arrangement with three stacked Motorons on an Arduino Uno allows simple control of up to 9 motors:

The common protocol between versions also makes it easy to change motor sizes and to reuse your code between projects. Want to make a bigger version of your first prototype? Just use a higher-power Motoron! Want to make a tiny robot next time? Use a tiny Motoron! Want to… you get the idea.

While the 3-channel boards are designed to stack on Arduinos or Raspberry Pis, they are also easy to use on breadboards:

It may be easy to view the six new Mxx550 Motorons as just lower-voltage versions of the previously available Mxx256 Motorons, but I am especially excited about them because we are able to offer them at a very low price, extending the legacy of the Dual Serial Motor controllers that were among our first products over 20 years ago. We are launching the 2-channel M2T550 and M2U550 at just $15.95, a lower price than the original Dual Serial Motor controller from 2001 (without even adjusting for inflation!).

The chip shortages of the past several years have made it especially difficult to introduce new products and to keep their prices down, but things are finally seeming to get better on that front. You can see in the tables above that the higher-power 2-channel Motorons are much more expensive; those prices are still elevated because we are limited on some critical components we use there and in our other products. We should be able to manufacture plenty of the new Motorons without being constrained in a similar way.

New products: S13V25Fx step-up/step-down voltage regulators with fixed 3.3V to 15V output voltages

Posted by Ben on 9 June 2023
Tags: new products

We have expanded our S13VxFx family of step-up/step-down voltage regulators to include options with a variety of output voltages from 3.3 V to 15 V. Like the original 5 V members of the family, these new S13V25Fx units take an input voltage from 2.8 V to 22 V and efficiently increase it or decrease it as necessary to produce the regulated output voltage. Even with their compact 0.9″ × 0.9″ size, they can deliver typical continuous output currents between 1 A and 3 A, making them our most powerful buck-boost converters. (That’s almost half the size of our previously highest-power step-up/step-down units, the S18V20Fx family, which are still being impacted by the global semiconductor shortages.) The graphs below show a more complete picture of the kinds of currents you can expect for different combinations of input and output voltages:

These new S13V25Fx versions do not include a 5V option because we already have that in the S13V30F5. They are pin-compatible with that 5V module and have the same overall board dimensions, but please note that the tall components (i.e. electrolytic capacitors and inductor) are in different locations. Here is a comparison of the new S13V25Fx regulators (left) next to the S13V30F5 (right):

Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S13V25Fx, top view with labeled pinout.

5V, 3A Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S13V30F5, top view with labeled pinout.

This table shows what the full family looks like now:

Regulator Output voltage Typical max continuous output current Input voltage range Typical efficiency Size Price
#4083: S13V10F5 5 V 1 A 2.8 V – 22 V 85% – 95% 0.35″ × 0.475″ $6.95
#4084: S13V15F5 5 V 1.5 A $8.95
#4085: S13V20F5 5 V 2 A $12.95
#4082: S13V30F5 5 V 3 A 0.9″ × 0.9″ $12.95
#4980: S13V25F3 New! 3.3 V 2.5 A $13.95
#4981: S13V25F6 New! 6 V 2.5 A $13.95
#4982: S13V25F7 New! 7.5 V 2.5 A $13.95
#4983: S13V25F9 New! 9 V 2.5 A $13.95
#4984: S13V25F12 New! 12 V 2.5 A $13.95
#4985: S13V25F15 New! 15 V 2.5 A $13.95

As a reminder, we manufacture these boards in-house at our Las Vegas facility, so we have the flexibility to make these regulators with custom fixed output voltages. If the voltage you need is not one of our standard options and you are interested in customization, please contact us.

3pi+ 2040 Robot full release with additional motor options

Posted by Ben on 8 June 2023

We have transitioned from our initial early-adopter release to a full release of the 3pi+ 2040 Robot family! With the full release, we also have some additional motor options. Here’s the full lineup:

3pi+ 2040 Version Products Micro Metal Gearmotor Top Speed Comments
Standard Edition assembled or kit 30:1 MP 6V 1.5 m/s good combination of speed and controllability
Turtle Edition assembled or kit 75:1 LP 6V 0.4 m/s longest battery life, easiest to control, good for swarm robots or introductory robotics courses
Hyper Edition assembled or kit 15:1 HPCB 6V ~4 m/s very fast and difficult to control, easy to damage; only recommended for advanced users

The Turtle Edition is a great choice for educational environments or anyplace else where slow, controlled speed is important. On the flip side, the Hyper Edition uses high-power motors with a low-gear-ratio gearbox to offer a LOT of speed, but this also means reduced control and a higher risk of the robot damaging itself, so we only recommend it for advanced users who want to push the limits of what this robot platform can do. We also make the 3pi+ 2040 control board and 3pi+ chassis available separately for those who would like to do something custom with one of our many other Micro Metal Gearmotor options.

To recap from our early adopter release announcement, this robot combines our 3pi+ chassis with the power of the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller, and it’s full of cool features:

We have a comprehensive set of example Python programs to help get you started using all of these features, and we expect to continue adding more over time. Let us know if there’s something in particular you would want to see that is not already covered!

MicroPython drive showing 3pi+ 2040 demo programs.

The blink.py demo program in a text editor.

Moving sculpture Kinetic Little Rain

Posted by Emily on 1 June 2023

This hypnotic video from customer Alain Haerri shows Kinetic Little Rain, a moving sculpture that was inspired by the sculpture Kinetic Rain in the Changi Airport in Singapore. Alain’s sculpture features 100 blown glass drops that are moved by stepper motors. Each motor is driven by its own Tic T500 Stepper Motor Controller and the whole setup is controlled by an Arduino Mega 2560.

Memorial Day Sale going on now!

Posted by Emily on 26 May 2023

If you have followed the electronics industry or even general news, you’ll know that for the past several years we’ve been dealing with parts shortages, rationing, and associated price increases. We are relieved to finally be getting net increases in parts on hand! In the past few months we have taken hundreds of products off rationing, and we are celebrating and highlighting them in our Memorial Day Sale. Use coupon code MEMORIALDAY23 to save 23% on all non-rationed Pololu-brand products with an “Active” or “Active and Preferred” status, limit 5 units per item, now through Tuesday, May 30.

Check out the sale page for more information. Please note that we will be closed Monday, so orders placed after 2 PM Pacific Time Friday, May 26 will be shipped on Tuesday, May 30.

Laser cutting part of a 50:1 model of the James Webb Space Telescope

Posted by Arthur on 28 March 2023

50:1 scale model of the James Web Space Telescope model with laser-cut and etched gold-mirror acrylic and gold-mirror styrene parts.

Retired aerospace engineer Robert Maier shared with us this awesome 50:1 scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) he made with his brother Mark and a little help from our custom laser cutting service. We cut the JWST’s main mirrors for him out of 1.5 mm gold mirrored styrene sheets from Midwest Products, and the hexagon patterns were laser etched onto the surface. He also had us laser cut various silicone bands to hold the moving pieces of the structure as the model folds/unfolds.

JWST model, partially unfolded, with plastic figure to show 50:1 scale.

JWST model with thermal insulation Mylar, partially unfolded.

We more commonly work with 3 mm mirrored acrylic, but the model’s mirror required something thinner, and the more expensive styrene was perfect for the job. For comparison, the spiral label sitting beneath the figurine’s feet was cut from gold mirror acrylic.

Spiral label for a JWST model, laser cut end engraved on 3 mm gold mirror acrylic.

Gold mirrored acrylic.

Mark uses the model in the Astronomy 101 classes he teaches at San Jacinto College in Southern California. He recently wrote an article about the model, which is published in the April 2023 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine (it’s on page six). Additional photos of the model are included below, and even if you’re not a subscriber to the magazine, you can preview the article online.

JWST model, folded as it would be inside the Ariane 5 payload bay.

50:1 scale models of the James Web and Hale Telescopes

A close up of the unfolded JWST model’s primary mirrors, laser-cut from gold mirrored styrene.

Do you have a fun idea in mind that can benefit from laser-cut parts? Submit a quote request or contact us to discuss how we can help.

New Products

Motoron M3S550 Triple Motor Controller Shield Kit for Arduino
9V, 2.5A Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S13V25F9
5V, 3.4A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D30V30F5
ACS724 Current Sensor Carrier -30A to +30A
9V Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S8V9F9
Motoron M3S550 Triple Motor Controller Shield for Arduino (Connectors Soldered)
Motoron M2T550 Dual I²C Motor Controller (Header Pins Soldered)
Motoron M2U550 Dual Serial Motor Controller (Header Pins Soldered)
Zumo 2040 Robot (Assembled with 75:1 HP Motors)
5V Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S8V9F5
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