Posts tagged “arduino” (Page 4)
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We posted recently about how progress in MEMS sensors has resulted in a constant stream of improved Pololu breakout boards. This week, we brought some of that technological progress to our Zumo robot with the release of a new “v1.2” version of the Zumo Shield for Arduino. This new version upgrades the previously-included LSM303DLHC compass to nine channels of inertial sensing using the newer LSM303D compass and L3GD20H gyroscope.
That means that the new Zumo shield includes a full inertial measurement unit (IMU) – the equivalent of a MinIMU-9 v3 – letting you turn it into a complete AHRS by adding an Arduino or compatible controller.
The v1.2 update extends to three new products:
- Zumo Shield for Arduino, v1.2
- Zumo Robot Kit for Arduino, v1.2 (No Motors)
- Zumo Robot for Arduino, v1.2 (Assembled with 75:1 HP Motors)
Other parts, such as the Zumo chassis, sumo blade, and reflectance sensor array, are not affected by this update, and the new Zumo shield is mechanically and electrically compatible with the previous model. They are also completely code-compatible except for the MEMS sensor aspects, which are already supported by our open-source Arduino libraries.
Today we released a general-purpose AVR microcontroller breakout board, the A-Star 32U4 Micro. But before I get to the A-Star (A* for short), I would like to mention some of our history with AVR boards.
Some of our history with AVR boards
Original Orangutan Robot Controller (back view) from 2004.
It has been almost ten years since we introduced our Orangutan Robot Controller, which featured an AVR microcontroller, dual motor drivers, and user-friendly features like a display and buzzer. Over the years we expanded the line, making larger, more complicated Orangutans like the Orangutan SVP as well as the miniature Baby Orangutan.
I have used the Baby Orangutan in many of my own projects, because I like its simplicity and small size. Ironically, the built-in motor driver gets in the way when I want to use a newer motor driver such as the DRV8835 in a project, since valuable PWM pins are unavailable. So I have built my more recent robots using minimal microcontroller breakout boards without motor drivers, such as Arduinos and the Wixel. (I posted about my latest such project last week.)
Our focus has been on boards that include motor drivers, and we have not had a really simple microcontroller board for people who don’t want the motor driver. Even though there are far more powerful controllers available, 8-bit AVR microcontrollers continue to be popular in the community, and the basic AVR breakout board is something we have wanted to make for a long time.
Original ATmega168-based Baby Orangutan robot controller from 2005 (left) next to A-Star 32U4 Micro boards.
Introducing the A-Star 32U4 Micro
That is why I am excited today to announce the A-Star 32U4 Micro, a Pololu breakout board for Atmel’s ATmega32U4 AVR microcontroller:
A-Star 32U4 Micro pinout diagram.
Compared to the popular ATmega328P microcontroller that we used on several Orangutan models, the ATmega32U4 is a newer processor with features like more analog inputs, more PWM outputs, and, most importantly, USB support. The USB connection, which we have broken out to a Micro-B connector, makes programming easy and enables interesting projects involving connections to a PC.
Also, since the ATmega32U4 is used on the Arduino Leonardo, Arduino Micro, and many other breakout boards, there is a large community with experience using the microcontroller. To support this community, we are shipping the A* with an Arduino-compatible bootloader and have followed Arduino conventions including pin numbering and LED connections.
Since we wanted to make a minimal breakout board, we decided to make it as small as we could, hoping that it would be small and cheap enough to go into (and stay in) almost any project. The result is that the A-Star 32U4 Micro is, as far as we know, the smallest ATmega32U4 breakout board available. It is even smaller than some AVR boards with less powerful microcontrollers that implement USB support in software and have only a few general-purpose I/O lines available.
The Pololu A-Star 32U4 Micro is about half the size of an Arduino Micro.
Now that we have reached a reasonable extreme on the minimal end, we intend to expand back toward more integrated features, eventually replacing our older Orangutan robot controllers with versions offering more modern power handling and perhaps other features like inertial measurement sensors. What would you like to see in an integrated robotics or automation controller? Did we leave out too much on the A-Star 32U4 Micro? Please let us know in the comment section.
For more information, see the A-Star 32U4 Micro product page.
We added the code we used for the LEDs in our Christmas video last week to our GitHub page. Ben cleaned it up a bit and added lots of comments, so we hope it’s helpful if you want to use it as a base to write some awesome sequences for your own LED strips.
In case you missed the video, here it is again:
Merry Christmas! We got some new LED strips in a week or so ago that are based on the WS2812B. I was pretty excited to play around with them, so I decided I would decorate Ben’s house and make him film this video with me. (I know. I should have decorated my own house, but I live far from the office… and don’t have a wife.)
We should have the code we used for the LEDs available on our github page in a couple of days.
We now carry the Arduino Robot, the first official Arduino on wheels, which includes a pair of ATmega32U4-based platforms that control two motors, sensors, and more. From the Arduino blog post about it:
Designed in cooperation with Complubot, 4-time world champions in the Robocup Junior robotics soccer, the Arduino Robot promises endless hours of experimentation and play. It is a self-contained platform that allows you to build interactive machines to explore the world around you.
You can use straight out of the box, modify its software, or add your own hardware on top of it. You can learn as you go: the Arduino Robot is perfect for both the novice as well as those looking for their next challenge.
For more information about the Arduino Robot, see the product page.
Arduino Yún is the combination of a classic Arduino Leonardo (based on the Atmega32U4 processor) with a Wifi system-on-a-chip running Linino (a MIPS GNU/Linux based on OpenWRT). It’s based on the ATMega32u4 microcontroller and on the Atheros AR9331, a system on a chip running Linino, a customized version of OpenWRT, the most used Linux distribution for embedded devices.
Like a Leonardo, it has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator and a micro USB connector.
Like any modern computer, it’s Wi-Fi enabled, it has a Standard-A type USB connector to which you can connect your USB devices and it has a micro-SD card plug, for additional storage.
For more information about the Arduino Yún, see the product page.
The SparkFun Inventor’s Kit has everything you need to construct a variety of circuits that will teach you how to use an Arduino-compatible RedBoard to read sensors, display information on an LCD, drive motors, and more. No previous programming or electronics experience is necessary, which makes this a great way for beginners to get started with embedded systems. The V3 version includes a RedBoard and detailed instructions for building 15 educational circuits with the kit components.
This replaces the older SparkFun Inventor’s Kit for Arduino with Retail Case.
For more information about the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit, see the product page.
The SparkFun Starter Kit for RedBoard is an easy way to get started building entertaining and educational circuits with SparkFun’s RedBoard, an Arduino clone that is compatible with the Uno R3. The kit includes a RedBoard along with various types of sensors and indicators. A downloadable guide features example projects to introduce you to the world of embedded electronics.