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.

Tru.D 3D

Posted by Jon on 4 May 2016
Tru.D 3D

On Monday, Colin McGinn launched a Kickstarter in order to create a 3D short film using Tru.D 3D, which is a volumetric display system that he designed and patented. The system quickly feeds 3D volumetric objects into a specific viewing area, and each 3D piece forms a frame of an animation to tell a story that can be viewed from any angle.

Included among the Kickstarter rewards is a mini Tru.D 3D machine, which uses our micro metal gearmotors and magnetic encoders to perform a short, two-second animation. The machine is small enough to hold in your hands, and backers have the option of choosing from one of three different animations.

You can find more information on Colin’s project, including the full digital version of the short film, on his Kickstarter.

Sixteen new micro metal gearmotor versions!

Posted by Ben on 22 April 2016
Tags: new products
Sixteen new micro metal gearmotor versions!

We just added 16 new micro metal gearmotors to our already huge selection, including three totally new MP (medium power) gear ratios: 5:1 MP, 210:1 MP, and 250:1 MP. With these new additions, we now have dual-shaft versions available in any combination of our 11 gear ratios and four motor types, giving you 44 different options that work with encoders like our magnetic encoder pair kit.

Magnetic Encoder Kit for Micro Metal Gearmotors assembled on a micro metal gearmotor with extended motor shaft.

In all, this increases our total selection of micro metal gearmotors to 85 unique options:

Motor Type Stall
Current
@ 6 V
No-Load
Speed
@ 6 V
Approximate
Stall Torque
@ 6 V


Single-Shaft
(Gearbox Only)


Dual-Shaft
(Gearbox & Motor)
high-power,
carbon brushes
(HPCB)
1600 mA 6000 RPM 2 oz-in 5:1 HPCB 5:1 HPCB dual-shaft
3000 RPM 4 oz-in 10:1 HPCB 10:1 HPCB dual-shaft
1000 RPM 9 oz-in 30:1 HPCB 30:1 HPCB dual-shaft
625 RPM 15 oz-in 50:1 HPCB 50:1 HPCB dual-shaft
400 RPM 22 oz-in 75:1 HPCB 75:1 HPCB dual-shaft
320 RPM 30 oz-in 100:1 HPCB 100:1 HPCB dual-shaft
200 RPM 40 oz-in 150:1 HPCB 150:1 HPCB dual-shaft
140 RPM 50 oz-in 210:1 HPCB 210:1 HPCB dual-shaft
120 RPM 60 oz-in 250:1 HPCB 250:1 HPCB dual-shaft
100 RPM 70 oz-in 298:1 HPCB 298:1 HPCB dual-shaft
32 RPM 125 oz-in 1000:1 HPCB 1000:1 HPCB dual-shaft
high-power
(HP)


(same specs as
HPCB above)
1600 mA 6000 RPM 2 oz-in 5:1 HP 5:1 HP dual-shaft
3000 RPM 4 oz-in 10:1 HP 10:1 HP dual-shaft
1000 RPM 9 oz-in 30:1 HP 30:1 HP dual-shaft
625 RPM 15 oz-in 50:1 HP 50:1 HP dual-shaft
400 RPM 22 oz-in 75:1 HP 75:1 HP dual-shaft
320 RPM 30 oz-in 100:1 HP 100:1 HP dual-shaft
200 RPM 40 oz-in 150:1 HP 150:1 HP dual-shaft
140 RPM 50 oz-in 210:1 HP 210:1 HP dual-shaft
120 RPM 60 oz-in 250:1 HP 250:1 HP dual-shaft
100 RPM 70 oz-in 298:1 HP 298:1 HP dual-shaft
32 RPM 125 oz-in 1000:1 HP 1000:1 HP dual-shaft
medium-power
(MP)
700 mA 4400 RPM 1.5 oz-in 5:1 MP dual-shaft
2200 RPM 3 oz-in 10:1 MP 10:1 MP dual-shaft
730 RPM 8 oz-in 30:1 MP 30:1 MP dual-shaft
420 RPM 12 oz-in 50:1 MP 50:1 MP dual-shaft
290 RPM 17 oz-in 75:1 MP 75:1 MP dual-shaft
220 RPM 21 oz-in 100:1 MP 100:1 MP dual-shaft
150 RPM 28 oz-in 150:1 MP 150:1 MP dual-shaft
100 RPM 36 oz-in 210:1 MP dual-shaft
90 RPM 41 oz-in 250:1 MP dual-shaft
75 RPM 46 oz-in 298:1 MP 298:1 MP dual-shaft
22 RPM 80 oz-in 1000:1 MP 1000:1 MP dual-shaft
low-power 360 mA 2500 RPM 1 oz-in 5:1 5:1 dual-shaft
1300 RPM 2 oz-in 10:1 10:1 dual-shaft
440 RPM 4 oz-in 30:1 30:1 dual-shaft
250 RPM 7 oz-in 50:1 50:1 dual-shaft
170 RPM 9 oz-in 75:1 75:1 dual-shaft
120 RPM 12 oz-in 100:1 100:1 dual-shaft
85 RPM 17 oz-in 150:1 150:1 dual-shaft
60 RPM 27 oz-in 210:1 210:1 dual-shaft
50 RPM 32 oz-in 250:1 250:1 dual-shaft
45 RPM 40 oz-in 298:1 298:1 dual-shaft
14 RPM 70 oz-in 1000:1 1000:1 dual-shaft

New version of the Wixel Shield for Arduino

Posted by Kevin on 14 April 2016
Tags: new products
New version of the Wixel Shield for Arduino

We’ve updated our Wixel Shield for Arduino with a few minor improvements. The Wixel Shield provides an easy way to connect a Wixel wireless module to your Arduino or A-Star 32U4 Prime, enabling wireless communication and even wireless programming (on some Arduinos). However, the original version of the shield was released many years ago, so it was not designed with the modern pinout of the Arduino Uno R3 in mind.

The Wixel Shield v1.1 adds pass-throughs for the four new pins—SCL, SDA, IOREF, and an unused pin—introduced by the R3 and present on all newer Arduinos, making it easier to stack other shields with it (especially ones that make use of the new I²C pin location). It also features improved level shifter circuits that make use of the IOREF voltage provided by the Arduino, allowing the shield to work automatically with both 5 V and 3.3 V Arduino boards.

The Wixel Shield for Arduino v1.1 is available by itself and as part of a combination deal that includes a pair of Wixels and a USB cable. See the user’s guide for the shield for additional information.

New product: MP3 Trigger V24

Posted by Ryan on 11 April 2016
Tags: new products
New product: MP3 Trigger V24

The updated MP3 Trigger V24 from SparkFun is now for sale. This new version features improved firmware that can read a configuration file from the SD card, making it much easier to use without a microcontroller. We posted previously about a project using an A-Star 32U4 and an MP3 Trigger to make a Scary shaking tombstone. The MP3 trigger also pairs nicely with the Maestro Servo Controllers because you can use a Maestro servo controller’s scripting capability to trigger sounds to play in sync with motion. You can see examples of how people are using them on our forum here and here.

The Pololu Forum now uses Discourse

Posted by Ryan on 8 April 2016


The Pololu Forum now uses Discourse

We started the Pololu Forum in 2004 as a place for product support and discussion, where Pololu customers can interact directly with each other and Pololu engineers. The forum is our preferred medium for handling technical support since the answers can potentially benefit multiple people and can include the experience of other helpful members of the community.

Recently we changed the forum software from phpBB to Discourse, a more modern and mobile-friendly forum package. We migrated user accounts and posts, so you should still be able to use your same forum username and password to log in. (Your forum account is separate from your Pololu.com account, though.) If you don’t have an account, now is a great time to sign up and join in the robotics and electronics discussion! You can read a lot more about Discourse on its “About” page.

We would be happy to hear how your experience is with Discourse, and if you have any suggestions or feedback on the change, you can post a comment here or in the “About the Pololu Forum” category on the forum.

Here are some technical details about the migration: before migrating, the forum had around 11 thousand user accounts and over 45 thousand posts, so I was very happy to find that following the instructions from the Importing from phpBB3 topic worked well. One thing the importer does not support is handling redirects from the old phpBB URLs. We really wanted to keep all those forum links working, so I modified the import script to generate an Nginx configuration mapping the old URLs to the new ones. I also made an improvement to the Discourse string remapping utility to fix some of the BBCodes that were not rendering well. It has been convenient to contribute to Discourse because they use Ruby on Rails, just like we do for the main Pololu website.

MSOE underwater robotics ROV

Posted by Grant on 8 April 2016
MSOE underwater robotics ROV

The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) underwater robotics team has been building remotely operated vehicles (ROV) to compete in underwater ROV competitions for several years. In the past, they have created custom motherboards that our 18v15 Simple Motor Controllers could plug directly into:

Custom Simple Motor Controller motherboard for MSOE underwater ROV.

The team is now using our newer G2 High-Power Motor Driver 18v17, which allowed them to save space in the newest iteration of their motherboard.

Custom G2 High-Power Motor Driver motherboard for MSOE underwater ROV.

For more information and updates, check out the group’s Facebook page.

New product: DRV8880 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier

Posted by Claire on 1 April 2016
Tags: new products
New product: DRV8880 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier

I’d like to introduce our latest addition to the Pololu stepper motor driver carrier family, the DRV8880 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier. This carrier for the Texas Instruments DRV8880 driver has the same form factor and basic layout as our A4988 carrier, which makes it a drop-in replacement in many systems. It also has a lot of the same features, like potentiometer adjustable current control and microstepping down to 1/16-step. In addition, the DRV8880 has many new features like inputs for dynamically scaling the current limit to 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of the limit set by the potentiometer, nine decay mode combinations, and autotune (insert Daft Punk joke here), which automatically selects the decay mode each PWM cycle for optimal current regulation performance.

The DRV8880 carrier has a maximum current of 1.6 A, and in our tests it could handle about 1 A per phase continuously. It has a 6.5 V to 45 V input voltage range, which is the widest of any of our stepper motor drivers, and it supports both 3.3 V and 5 V logic. For more information about our DRV8880 stepper motor driver carrier, please see its product page.

New products: APA102C-based addressable RGB LED panels

Posted by David on 31 March 2016
Tags: new products
New products: APA102C-based addressable RGB LED panels

We’re excited to offer a series of APA102C-based addressable RGB LED panels, which make it easy to add colorful images, text, or lighting effects to your project. These panels use the same integrated APA102C LED driver as our APA102C-based addressable RGB LED strips, which means that you can control the LEDs using a standard SPI interface that works over a wide range of communication rates.

We offer APA102C LED panels in three different sizes:

For more information about our APA102C-based LED panels, including links to example code, see their product pages.

Addressable RGB 8×32-LED Flexible Panel, 5V, 10mm Grid (APA102C) showing an animated rainbow.

An addressable RGB 16×16-LED panel with a plastic diffuser (not included) showing the Pololu logo.

Maestro automated observatory

Posted by nathanb on 18 March 2016
Maestro automated observatory

Our customer Robert sent us this spectacular image of NGC 1073 from his backyard observatory after we helped him get a SPDT Relay Carrier working with his Mini-Maestro 18-Channel servo controller. We thought it was pretty cool, so we asked him a bit more about how he captured it and how he is using the Maestro in his observatory. Continued…

Pololu at the Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire 2016

Posted by Claire on 11 March 2016


The local Las Vegas hackerspace, SYN Shop, hosted the third Las Vegas Mini Maker Faire at the Henderson Convention Center recently. The event showcased a wide variety of projects and skills: drones, sand casting metal using aluminum cans, woodworking, taiko drumming, and of course robots. At our booth, Pololu showed off some older demos, like our Simple Motor Controller demo and our jrk treasure chest; some newer demos, like the motion tracking skull from Halloween; and some fun robots, like the Zumo 32U4 and Paul’s Raspberry Pi Robot. Above is a short video with highlights from the event.

New Products

Addressable RGB 8x32-LED Flexible Panel, 5V, 10mm Grid (APA102C)
Wixel Shield for Arduino, v1.1 + Wixel Pair + USB cable
250:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor MP with Extended Motor Shaft
5:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor MP with Extended Motor Shaft
5:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor HPCB
DRV8880 Stepper Motor Driver Carrier
Addressable RGB 8x8-LED Flexible Panel, 5V, 10mm Grid (APA102C)
MP3 Trigger V24
75:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor with Extended Motor Shaft
Addressable RGB 16x16-LED Flexible Panel, 5V, 10mm Grid (APA102C)
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