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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.

Heat-seeking Zumo? An IR camera plugged into the Zumo 2040’s I2C0 connector enables thermal imaging capabilities.

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.

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.

Introducing the 3pi+ 2040 Robot

Posted by Jan on 7 March 2023

I am super excited to introduce our newest robot, the 3pi+ 2040. This robot combines the 3pi+ chassis, which we initially released in late 2020, with the power of the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller. Here is a quick overview of its features:

This summer will mark 15 years since we released our original 3pi robot, which was designed to be fast enough to be competitive in line following and maze solving events. The high speed offers interesting programming challenges not present in typical robot kits of that era; here is a video from back then in which Ben demonstrates his 3pi learning a maze and then going extra fast on longer straightaways:

Although we developed our first injection-molded parts (wheels, ball caster, and motor mounting brackets) for that design, it was still largely a “PCB on wheels” kind of robot. The next-generation 3pi+, with a chassis mechanically independent of any circuit board, had been in development for several years when the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020. We kept working on it throughout that year, culminating with the November release of the 3pi+ 32U4.

Original Pololu 3pi robot.

3pi+ 32U4 Robot.

The 3pi+ delivered the most-requested feature missing from the 3pi, wheel encoders, along with many other improvements including a full IMU, bumpers, and programmability over USB (the 3pi required an external AVR programmer). With its support in the Arduino environment, the ATmega32U4 continues to offer a good entry point for working with microcontrollers, but the 8-bit architecture and 32 KB of program memory feel increasingly outdated and constraining, especially with the new sensors available on the 3pi+.

That brings us to the new 3pi+ 2040, powered by the Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller (32-bit dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+) with 16 MB (128 Mbit) of flash memory. The robot ships preloaded with a MicroPython interpreter, so you can get started right away by plugging into its USB C port and editing the included example Python programs with your favorite text editor. No special programmers or programming software are required, and you can write MicroPython code from practically any desktop or mobile operating system as long as it has a text editor and the ability to copy files to a USB drive. For a basic Python IDE that lets you run code interactively, we are recommending the Mu editor. (See the User’s Guide for instructions on setting it up.)

MicroPython drive showing 3pi+ 2040 demo programs.

The blink.py demo program in a text editor.

There are many other programming environments and languages that you can use with the 3pi+. Since it shares the same RP2040 processor as the Raspberry Pi Pico, anything that works for the Pico should be usable on the 3pi+, including C, C++, and the Arduino environment. We already include some basic C examples in our example code repository, and we plan to write more examples and expand the software support for this robot. Do you have a favorite IDE that works with the Pico? Is there some language or system you’d like to run on the 3pi+?

The menu of pre-installed demo programs on the 3pi+ 2040 Robot.

Early adopter special: We are initially offering the 3pi+ 2040 Robot as a limited release intended for advanced customers who have had some experience with robotics or Raspberry Pi RP2040 programming (e.g. with a Raspberry Pi Pico). The initial release is available with 30:1 MP motors (the “Standard Edition”), either assembled for 38% off or in kit form for 50% off. Early adopter robots will generally need to be backordered as they are built to order; we expect to ship within a business day of ordering. The robot hardware is finalized so the only changes we expect for the full product release are in the initial firmware configuration and pre-installed example programs. Documentation will also continue to be developed as we release the robot to a wider customer base. Early adopters who publicly share their 3pi+ 2040 experiences will be eligible for an additional robot with an extra $25 discount.

New products: Motoron dual high-power motor controllers

Posted by Kevin on 9 August 2022

We’ve expanded our Motoron series of motor controllers with some dual high-power motor controllers: the Motoron M2S family for Arduino and Motoron M2H family for Raspberry Pi! These new Motorons have the same I²C interface as the M3S256 and M3H256, and though they only have two channels instead of the three on their smaller counterparts, they can drive much more powerful motors with up to 20 A of current at 30 V or 16 A at 40 V. There are four combinations of voltage and current ranges, available in versions designed to work as Arduino shields and as Raspberry Pi expansions.

Using a Motoron M2S Dual High-Power Motor Controller Shield with an Arduino.

Using the Motoron M2H Dual High-Power Motor Controller with a Raspberry Pi.

These eight additions bring the Motoron family up to a total of ten members overall:

Motoron Motor Controllers

M3S256



M3H256

M2S24v14



M2H24v14

M2S24v16



M2H24v16

M2S18v18



M2H18v18

M2S18v20



M2H18v20
Motor channels: triple (3) dual (2)
Max
input voltage:
48 V 40 V1 30 V1
Max nominal
battery voltage:
36 V 28 V 18 V
Max continuous
current per channel:
2 A 14 A 16 A 18 A 20 A
Available versions
for Arduino:
M3S256 M2S24v14 M2S24v16 M2S18v18 M2S18v20
Available versions
for Raspberry Pi:
M3H256 M2H24v14 M2H24v16 M2H18v18 M2H18v20
1 Absolute maximum.

As with the smaller Motorons, the high-power versions can also be stacked and their addresses configured to allow many motors to be controlled with only one I²C bus. For a stack of M2S boards on an Arduino, we recommend soldering thick wires to the kit or board-only version because 5mm terminal blocks are tall enough that they would cause short circuits within the stack. However, the M2H boards can be set up to stack safely by trimming the terminal block leads and adding extra nuts to the standoffs for additional spacing.

Three Motoron M2S dual high-power motor controller shields being controlled by an Arduino Leonardo.

Two Motoron M2H boards with terminal blocks can be stacked if you trim the leads on the terminal blocks and space out each board using hex nuts in addition to the 11mm standoffs.

It’s also possible to stack different kinds of Motoron controllers so you can control different kinds of motors:

A Motoron M2H and a Motoron M3H256 being controlled by a Raspberry Pi, allowing for independent control of five motors.

Unfortunately, the current state of the electronics supply chain is affecting how we’re making and selling these Motorons. In the past, when we released boards in multiple versions that have different MOSFET footprints, it was primarily to get us different power levels. Typically, we would make a less expensive one with smaller, lower-power MOSFETs and a more expensive one with bigger, higher-power MOSFETs. While we’re still doing this kind of thing with the M2S and M2H Motorons (the 24v14 and 18v18 use smaller MOSFETs and the 24v16 and 18v20 use bigger ones), in this case, it’s largely about maximizing parts options.

When we don’t know how many months (or years!) it will take for us to get more of a MOSFET, it’s hard to offer a product line where each model is totally dependent on one specific part. So we’ve chosen to make the different Motoron versions less distinct; the specified performance and prices are not as different between the small- and big-MOSFET versions since we want them to be viewed more interchangeably. Their performance specifications are also a little on the conservative side to give us more room to use different MOSFETs.

Even with those considerations, we still haven’t been able to get the parts to make as many of these new high-power Motorons as we want to. That’s why they are listed with a “Rationed” status in our store, with lower stock and higher pricing than we’d like. But we hope that as parts availability improves, we will eventually be able to ease up on those restrictions.

In fact, that just happened with the smaller M3S256 and M3H256: we received some long-awaited critical components that will let us make a lot more of those, so you should see more in stock soon, and we’ve already removed their Rationed status and lowered their prices!

New product: Motoron M3H256 Triple Motor Controller for Raspberry Pi

Posted by Kevin on 24 May 2022

Our Motoron M3H256 Triple Motor Controller for Raspberry Pi is now available! The M3H256 is a stackable I²C motor controller that can drive up to three brushed DC motors bidirectionally at voltages between 4.5 V and 48 V and continuous currents up to 2 A per channel. Unlike its M3S256 sibling, which is designed as a shield for an Arduino, the Motoron M3H256 is intended to stack on top of a Raspberry Pi (Model B+ or newer), similar to a HAT (Hardware Attached on Top). With an I²C address that can be configured uniquely for each board, a stack of Motorons let you control many motors at once without taking up lots of GPIO pins and PWM outputs from the Pi.

A robot with three omni wheels and motors controlled by a Raspberry Pi with a Motoron M3H256 Triple Motor Controller. A D24V22F5 regulator powers the Raspberry Pi.

If you decide not to plug it into a Raspberry Pi, the Motoron M3H256 can also be used in a breadboard or another custom setup with your own wiring:

An Arduino Micro on a breadboard using a Motoron M3H256 to control three motors.

Motoron M3H256 or M3H550 Triple Motor Controller for Raspberry Pi pinout.

The Motoron M3H256 is available in three different configurations similar to its Arduino shield counterpart: you can get one fully assembled with stackable headers and terminal blocks already soldered, a kit that lets you pick which of the included connectors to solder in yourself, or the board alone if you already have or don’t need connectors and standoffs.

And to help you get started using the Motoron with a Raspberry Pi, we have a Python library you can use to configure the M3H256 and send it commands:

import motoron

mc1 = motoron.MotoronI2C(address=17)
mc2 = motoron.MotoronI2C(address=18)

# Clear reset flags to allow Motorons to run
mc1.clear_reset_flag()
mc2.clear_reset_flag()

# Set up acceleration limits for Motoron #1
mc1.set_max_acceleration(1, 200)
mc1.set_max_acceleration(2, 200)

# Set up acceleration and deceleration limits for Motoron #2
mc2.set_max_acceleration(1, 75)
mc2.set_max_deceleration(1, 250)
mc2.set_max_acceleration(2, 80)
mc2.set_max_deceleration(2, 300)
mc2.set_max_acceleration(3, 75)
mc2.set_max_deceleration(3, 250)

# Drive the motors

mc1.set_speed(1, -100)
mc1.set_speed(2, 100)

mc2.set_speed(1, 300)
mc2.set_speed(2, 200)
mc2.set_speed(3, 50)

We’re sure there are plenty of applications where the convenience and scalability of Motorons will be useful. What kind of projects can you think of that would make good use of one (or several)?

For more information about the Motoron M3H256, see the product pages and the comprehensive user’s guide.

New product: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

Posted by Jan on 25 July 2018
New product: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

We are now carrying the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. The Raspberry Pi is a popular credit card-sized computer that can run ARM Linux distributions. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ has many performance improvements over the Pi 3 Model B including a faster CPU clock speed (1.4 GHz vs 1.2 GHz), increased Ethernet throughput, and dual-band WiFi. It also supports Power over Ethernet with a Power over Ethernet HAT. Continued…

New Product: Dual TB9051FTG Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi

Posted by Patrick on 17 July 2018

I am excited to share the second Pololu product for which I routed the PCB, the Dual TB9051FTG Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi. This board complements the TB9051FTG Single Brushed DC Motor Driver Carrier and the recently announced Dual TB9051FTG Motor Driver Shield for Arduino by making it easy to control two motors with a Raspberry Pi (Model B+ or newer).

The TB9051FTG can deliver a few amps across a wide operating voltage (4.5 to 28 V), which makes this expansion board ideal for controlling two small or medium size motors in your Raspberry Pi project. You can optionally connect a voltage regulator, like a D24V10F5 or D24V22F5 step down regulator, to power the Raspberry Pi with your motor power supply. The board also provides a prototyping area to help you construct clean custom circuits without the need for additional prototyping PCBs beyond the footprint of your Raspberry Pi.

The Dual TB9051FTG Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi is available in two versions:

  • a partial kit, with connectors included but not soldered in
  • fully assembled, with the female header and terminal blocks soldered to the board

The board adheres to the Raspberry Pi HAT (Hardware Attached on Top) mechanical specification, although it does not conform to the full HAT specifications due to the lack of an ID EEPROM. (A footprint for adding your own EEPROM is available for applications where one would be useful.)

With the addition of this product, we now have eight Raspberry Pi motor driver expansion boards for you to choose from. To control more powerful motors, we offer various high-power motor drivers for Raspberry Pi. If you don’t need all the power provided by the TB9051FTG, consider our small and inexpensive DRV8835 Dual Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi or the dual MAX14870 motor driver expansion board (the first board I routed).

We have an introductory discount to go with this new product announcement. The first 100 customers to use coupon code RPITB9051INTRO can get up to two units for just $10.95 each. Note that this introductory offer applies only to the units without connectors soldered in. The introductory coupons for the single TB9051FTG carrier, the dual TB9051FTG Arduino shield, and some other products introduced this year are still available; you can see all the coupons available on our specials page.

New products: Dual MAX14870 Motor Drivers for Arduino and Raspberry Pi

Posted by Patrick on 28 March 2018

For my birthday, I am excited to share two new products to help get your projects moving: dual motor driver boards for Arduino and for Raspberry Pi based on Maxim MAX14870 drivers, which on these boards (without additional cooling) can power motors with a continuous 1.7 A (2.5 A peak) from a voltage source anywhere from 4.5 V to 36 V. This makes the driver ideal for powering a wide range of motors including our high power micro metal gearmotors, and our 12 V 20D mm metal gearmotors. We like the MAX14870 so much that already we make a single driver carrier for it, and we use it on our A-Star 32U4 Robot Controller SV. These new boards make it easy to control two motors using the MAX14870 with an Arduino or Raspberry Pi.

The Dual MAX14870 Motor Driver Shield for Arduino is designed to plug directly into an Arduino or another microcontroller board with the Arduino form factor. It connects the Arduino I/O pins to the two-pin speed/direction interfaces as well as the fault output pins, and our open-source library is available to help you get started. The shield can be set up to power your Arduino device from your motor power supply, which is especially helpful if you are using an Arduino or compatible device with an operating voltage similar to that of the MAX14870, such as our A-Star 32U4 Prime SV. Additionally, the board can be customized to use the advanced features of the MAX14870 drivers or change the pin mappings.

The Dual MAX14870 Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi has many of the same features as the Arduino version, but it is designed to plug into the GPIO header on a compatible Raspberry Pi (Model B+ or newer), including the Pi 3 Model B and Model A+. We provide an open-source Python library to make it easy to interface with the board. This board also has a location to connect a step-down 5 V regulator to power the Raspberry Pi from your motor’s power supply.

Dual MAX14870 Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi (assembled) on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.

D24V10F5 5V 1A step-down voltage regulator soldered directly to Dual MAX14870 Motor Driver for Raspberry Pi (compact, permanent connection).

I am really excited about these boards because the Raspberry Pi expansion board is the first PCB I ever designed, and the Arduino shield was designed by my friend David S. Both of us are engineering students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who work at Pololu to complement our studies. It has been a great experience for us to learn how to design these products from the development engineers here at Pololu. Plus, getting to share these products for the first time with you is a fun way to celebrate my birthday!

As usual for our new product releases this year, we’re offering an extra introductory discount: the first 100 customers to use coupon code MAX14870INTRO can get any mix of up to 3 of these boards for $7.77 each. (Click to add the coupon code to your cart .) Note that this introductory offer applies only to the units without connectors soldered in.

We're having a Pi Day sale, and it starts tonight!

Posted by Mark on 12 March 2018

Pi Day is nearly upon us, and to celebrate, we are discounting a variety of exciting products that can be loosely associated with “Pi”. The sale starts tonight at 8:36 PM PDT and runs through the end of the 15th. And in case you are wondering about the strange start time, that makes the sale 3.14159 days long in yet another tribute to this wonderful irrational number (if it bothers you that 3.14159 is not irrational, you can pretend that the sale lasts exactly π days).

Check out the sale page for more information (and check out piday.org for more information on Pi Day)!

Building a Raspberry Pi robot with the Romi chassis

Posted by Claire on 14 April 2017
Building a Raspberry Pi robot with the Romi chassis

This tutorial shows how to build a basic Raspberry Pi robot with the Romi chassis and the Romi 32U4 Control Board, our Arduino-compatible microcontroller board designed specifically for the Romi. With this setup, the powerful Raspberry Pi can take care of high-level tasks like motion planning, video processing, and network communication, while the Romi 32U4 Control Board takes care of low-level tasks that the Pi is incapable of, such as motor control and sensing. Continued…

New Products

ACS37220LEZATR-100B5 Current Sensor Compact Carrier -100A to +100A, 5V
Zumo 2040 Robot (Assembled with 100:1 HP Motors)
Ribbon Cable with Pre-Crimped Terminals 10-Color M-F 36" (90 cm)
ACS72981LLRATR-050U3 Current Sensor Large Carrier 0A to 50A, 3.3V
150:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor MP 6V with 12 CPR Encoder, Side Connector
7.5V Step-Up/Step-Down Voltage Regulator S8V9F7
ACS72981LLRATR-100U3 Current Sensor Large Carrier 0A to 100A, 3.3V
4.2-15V, 3A Fine-Adjust Step-Down Voltage Regulator D30V30MAS
4.2-15V, 3A Fine-Adjust Step-Down Voltage Regulator w/ Adjustable Low-Voltage Cutoff D30V30MASCMA
4.2-15V, 3.3A Fine-Adjust Step-Down Voltage Regulator D30V33MAS
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