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New product: Pololu DRV8835 Dual Motor Driver Kit for Raspberry Pi B+

Posted by Paul on 22 August 2014

When the Raspberry Pi Model B+ was released last month, one of the most exciting features for us was the availability of a second hardware PWM output that can be used for motor control (previously, only a single hardware PWM output was available on the Model A and Model B). Two is a really useful number for robot builders, since that’s what you need for a basic robot platform, so we thought it would be a great time to make a dual motor driver kit for the Raspberry Pi.

The new Pololu DRV8835 Dual Motor Driver Kit for Raspberry Pi B+ is a minimal, low-cost motor driver expansion board based on the Texas Instruments DRV8835 dual motor driver, one of our favorite motor driver chips for small robots like the Zumo because of its excellent combination of size, cost, and performance. We carry a basic breakout board for this chip and just released an Arduino shield based on the DRV8835 last week.

Pololu DRV8835 dual motor driver kit (assembled) on a Raspberry Pi Model B+.

When assembled, the board plugs into a 2×17 block of pins on the Raspberry Pi GPIO header. Power and motors are connected to a separate block of pins, and you can use the included terminal blocks for easier wiring. The board takes an input voltage of 2 V to 11 V and provides two bidirectional motor channels capable of 1.2 A continuous or 1.5 A peak. You can also reconfigure the board for a single channel with twice the current.

Bonus feature – power your Raspberry Pi from your motor supply!

The Raspberry Pi requires a regulated 5 V supply, which is usually provided via the Micro-B USB power port. This is fine for a stationary setup, since you can just use a USB wall power adapter. On a battery powered Raspberry Pi-based robot, however, you need to somehow incorporate your own 5 V regulator capable of supplying about 500 mA. To help simplify your project, the motor driver kit includes a connection point for a three-pin regulator with the standard VIN-GND-VOUT pinout.

In the picture below you can see a complete setup using the motor driver board and our Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S7V7F5 to drive two Pololu plastic gearmotors and power the Raspberry Pi from a set of four AA NiMH cells. This regulator is a good match for the range of input voltages of the DRV8835, though below about 4 V you might need something with higher current capability.

Driving motors with an assembled Pololu DRV8835 Dual Motor Driver Kit on a Raspberry Pi B+. A step-up/step-down regulator provides 5 V to the Raspberry Pi.

For more information, including schematics, pinout diagrams, and example Python code, see the product page.


Can this be used to drive a high-torque servo motor? My application changed and a servo would end up working out a lot better.
Hi Doug,

Servos have built-in motor drivers, so the DRV8835 Raspberry Pi Kit would not be practical to use with them. The good news is that since servos work with logic level signals, you might not need any additional specialized hardware to control a servo with a Raspberry Pi. There is an Adafruit tutorial that shows one way this can be done.

Alternatively, if you need to control many servos at once, or the overhead of the PWM signal timing becomes problematic, you might consider using one of our Maestro servo controllers, which can be controlled with serial commands from the Raspberry Pi.


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