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.

Memorial Day weekend sale

Posted by Ben on 26 May 2017

We are having a big Memorial Day sale now through Tuesday, with discounts on over 1000 products when you use the coupon code MEMORIALDAY17. Stock up on robot parts now so you can build cool things all summer long! Note that we will be closed on Monday, so orders will not ship until Tuesday, May 30.

For more information, including all of the sale items, see the sale page.

Open-source myoelectric hand prosthesis

Posted by Ryan on 18 May 2017

Alvaro Villoslada, Pololu customer, made this impressive open-source 3D-printable hand prothesis. Each finger uses a 1000:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor HP 6V with Extended Motor Shaft to wind a fishing line—acting as a tendon—onto a spool. A magnetic encoder attached to each motor enables closed-loop control, and the motors are driven by DRV8838 DC motor driver carriers. An RC hobby servo controls the thumb position. Alvaro uses a Teensy 3.1 microcontroller to monitor the encoders and control the actuators, and he built a user interface in Python for controlling the hand from a computer.

For CAD files, detailed instructions and more pictures and videos, see the Hackaday project page.

Guide utilisateur du Robot Zumo Pololu

Posted by Ryan on 16 May 2017
Tags: arduino

MCHobby, a Pololu distributor, translated the Pololu Zumo Shield for Arduino User’s Guide to French as the Guide utilisateur du Robot Zumo Pololu (2MB pdf)! They describe it in French as “Un guide complet pour assembler, utiliser et exploiter rapidement votre Robot Zumo (version 0.1)”. If you’d like to see more translations like this, please let them you know that you enjoyed it and support them by buying from their shop.

New SK9822 LED strips and panels

Posted by David on 16 May 2017
Tags: new products

We’re excited to offer a series of addressable LED strips and addressable LED panels based on the new SK9822 integrated circuit. Like the APA102C, the SK9822 combines an RGB LED and driver into a single 5050-size package, allowing each pixel to be individually controlled using a simple two-wire SPI protocol.

The SK9822 is almost (see the notes below) a drop-in replacement for the APA102C and is better than it in a few ways, most importantly its built-in constant current control. If you’ve ever tried to power a long chain of LED strips and only connected power at one end, you might have noticed that the far end of the LED strip has a lower voltage across its power rails because of resistance in the long power connections. For LED strips based on the APA102C and WS2812B, the lower voltage makes the light dimmer and redder. With the SK9822, voltage drops like that are less likely to have a visible effect as long as the voltage stays above 3.5 V.

The SK9822’s protocol is very similar to that of the APA102C, but it updates the color that is being shown at a different time. If you replace APA102C LEDs with SK9822 LEDs in a low frame-rate application, you might have to update the code you are using to control the LEDs. The latest version of our APA102 Arduino library works with the SK9822 so you can either use it directly or use it as a reference when writing your own code. The colors generated by the SK9822 look different from the colors generated by the APA102C, so we would not recommend mixing the APA102C and the SK9822 in a single project.

We offer six different kinds of SK9822 LED strip with different LED densities and lengths:

We offer SK9822 LED panels in three different sizes:

These new SK9822-based products will replace our older APA102C-based products.

We continue to offer SK6812-based LED strips which also have constant current control but are controlled with a one-wire protocol.

Close up of an SK9822, with the red, green, and blue LEDs on at a low brightness.

An addressable RGB LED strip (APA102C or SK9822) displaying a rainbow animation.

Sanyo pancake stepper motors with encoders

Posted by Ryan on 12 May 2017
Tags: new products

We are now offering two new NEMA 17-size pancake bipolar stepper motors from Sanyo, each featuring an integrated high-resolution quadrature encoder and home channel for absolute positioning.

Stepper motor Steps per revolution Current rating (per coil) Voltage rating Resistance (per coil) Holding torque
#2279 42×31.5mm 200 1 A 5.4 V 5.4 Ω 1.9 kg-cm (26 oz-in)
#2278 42×24.5mm 200 1 A 3.5 V 3.5 Ω 800 g-cm (12 oz-in)

Side view of the SS2422-50XE100 42×31.5mm Sanyo pancake stepper motor.

Side view of the SS2421-50XE100 42×24.5mm Sanyo pancake stepper motor.

The integrated quadrature encoder operates from 5 V and has a resolution of 1000 P/R, which allows for 4000 counts per revolution (CPR) of the output shaft when counting both edges (i.e. rising and falling) of both channels (i.e. A and B). In addition to the A and B channel outputs, the encoder has a home channel, Z, that pulses once per revolution and can be used for absolute positioning. The encoder also has outputs for the inverse of A, B, and Z. A 15 cm (6″) encoder cable is included.

New 12V 1A wall power adapter

Posted by Ryan on 12 May 2017
Tags: new products

We’ve replaced our original 12 V 1 A wall power adapter with a lighter, smaller version. This UL-listed 12 W, “wall wart”-style switching power adapter supplies up to 1 A at a regulated 12 VDC. The AC adapter works with input voltages of 100 to 240 VAC and has a 1.5 m (5 ft) DC power cord that is terminated by a center-positive, 5.5 × 2.1 mm barrel connector.

Free Circuit Cellar magazine April 2017

Posted by Ben on 10 May 2017
Tags: new products

Get a FREE copy of Circuit Cellar magazine’s April 2017 issue issue with your order, while supplies last. To get your free issue, enter the coupon code CIRCUIT0417 to your shopping cart, or click the link. The magazine will add 6 ounces to your order weight when calculating your shipping options.

For back issues and more information, see our free Circuit Cellar magazine offers.

Addressable through-hole RGB LEDs are back

Posted by Ben on 10 May 2017

We’re happy to announce that our previously discontinued addressable through-hole RGB LEDs are once again part of our catalog and in stock! While these might look like ordinary RGB LEDs, each one contains its own integrated WS2811 LED driver that lets you chain them together and individually control them all with a single digital output from a microcontroller. The interface is very similar to that of our SK6812-based LED strips, so there is a variety of sample code available for the Arduino, AVR, and mbed microcontroller platforms.

The LEDs are available in two sizes: 5 mm and 8 mm.

Two different sizes of addressable RGB LED. From left to right, their diameters are: 5 mm (#2535) and 8 mm (#2536).

MechWarfare robot

Posted by Ryan on 5 May 2017

Forum member jwatte posted about a robot he made for the RoboGames MechWarfare 2017 competition. The goal is to build a walking robot that tries to hit an opponent’s pressure sensors with airsoft pellets or melee weapons. The robots walk around in a scaled-down cityscape field. Autonomous operation and teleoperation are allowed, but teleoperators must view the field from cameras mounted on the robot.

The mech uses a few Pololu voltage regulators: a 3.3 V, 1 A step-down regulator D24V10F3 powers a Xbee-Pro 900 XSC S3B wireless transciever and the laser pointer, a 6 V, 500 mA step-down voltage regulator D24V5F6 powers an OpenCM 9.04A robot logic board, and a adjustable step-down regulator D24V6ALV powers a 5.8 GHz wireless camera. A 250:1 Micro Metal Gearmotor LP 6V drives the plastic BB agitator that feeds the airsoft gun. The wiring harnesses used a lot of our pre-crimped wires.

For more details including a system block diagram see the forum post.

FEETECH Mini Servo FT1117M

Posted by Ryan on 4 May 2017
Tags: new products

We added the FEETECH Mini Servo FT1117M to our expanding RC servo selection.This miniature-sized servo has a stall torque of 50 oz-in (3.5 kg-cm) and a speed of 0.11 sec/60° at 6 V. The pinion gear is plastic, but the rest of the gear train consists of all metal gears, allowing this servo to deliver the kind of speed and torque typically associated with larger servos.

Comparison to the Power HD 1711MG mini servo

This servo is a lower-cost alternative to the 1711MG from Power HD, which has nearly identical dimensions and performance. The two servos should be generally interchangeable for most applications. The picture below shows both the FT1117M and the 1711MG side by side:

Expect more new FEETECH servos in the coming weeks!

New Products

Verbal Machines VM-CLAP1 Hand Clap Sensor
Aluminum Standoff for Raspberry Pi: 11mm Length, 4mm M2.5 Thread, M-F (4-Pack)
Addressable RGB 8x32-LED Flexible Panel, 5V, 10mm Grid (SK9822)
Addressable RGB 60-LED Strip, 5V, 2m (SK9822)
Addressable High-Density RGB 72-LED Strip, 5V, 0.5m (SK9822)
Sanyo Pancake Stepper Motor with Encoder: Bipolar, 200 Steps/Rev, 42×24.5mm, 3.5V, 1 A/Phase, 4000 CPR
Wall Power Adapter: 12VDC, 1A, 5.5×2.1mm Barrel Jack, Center-Positive
FEETECH Ultra-High-Torque, High-Voltage Digital Giant Servo FT5335M
Free Circuit Cellar magazine April 2017
SparkFun Inventor's Kit (for Arduino Uno) - V3.3
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