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.
See the full list of over 200 distributors to find one in your area.
Make your next project more colorful with our new red, white, blue, and yellow breakaway male header strips. You can use them to add some personal flair to an otherwise boring PCB, or you can use them to color-code connections, like on this custom-assembled 24-channel Mini Maestro:
Like our venerable black breakaway male header strip, these strips are 40 pins long, but they can easily be cut or broken into smaller strips that work with standard 0.1″-pitch through-holes, female connectors, and breadboards.
We are particularly excited about the 3×40 right angle header because it can be used with the partial kit versions of our Maestro servo controllers to make low-profile modules where the servos plug in from the side rather than the top.
I recently competed in the LVbots line following robot challenge, where I took third place with the fourth fastest robot (due to lucky placement in the bracket). This was my second line following competition. I learned some valuable lessons from my first competition, such as bigger motors are not always good for going faster, so I focused my build on making a lightweight robot this time. Continued…
We have not been keeping up with announcing our new distributors on the blog, and I will be trying to catch up over the next week or two. To start with, I am excited to welcome two new Pololu distributors located in Istanbul, Turkey!
Robot Kutusu (officially Robkut Robot Teknolojileri Elektronik ve Otomasyon) is a distributor of Arduino, Raspbery Pi, and many other electronics and robotics products. They are now carrying a number of Pololu products, including wheels, motors, stepper motors, and the Zumo and 3pi robots.
Advancer Technologies has launched a Kickstarter campaign for their MyoWare muscle sensor. Like its predecessor, the Muscle Sensor v3 (which we started carrying last year), the 4th-generation MyoWare is designed to measure the electrical activity of a muscle and output an analog signal that indicates how hard the muscle is being flexed. It will feature a number of improvements compared to the older sensor, including single-supply operation (no need for a negative voltage supply) and built-in snap connectors for electrodes.
These sensors create interesting possibilities by enabling muscle-controlled interfaces to be added to various projects. They have notably been used in prosthetic arms made for and donated to children by Limbitless Solutions, who received some attention recently as one of their arms was delivered to its recipient by none other than Tony Stark (actor Robert Downey Jr.)! To help their mission, Advancer Technologies plans to donate a MyoWare sensor to Limbitless for every five backers of the Kickstarter project.
To learn more about the MyoWare sensor and support the project, visit its Kickstarter page.
A few weeks ago the local robotics club, LVBots, hosted a line following competition here at Pololu, and like many of the engineers here, I built a robot, which I named Oddish, for the competition. I really only started seriously working on my robot about a week before the competition, so when I made the final decisions about what components to use I aimed for simplicity. In the last year we have come out with several A-Star microcontroller boards that include switching regulators, so I thought it would be fun and simple to make a line follower using an A-Star as the brain and its built-in 5 V regulator to power all the other components. I chose the A-Star 32U4 Mini LV for its operating voltage range and size. Continued…
For the recent LVBots line following competition, my first instinct was to try to come up with some unique alternative design for a robot that would be competitive with the traditional differential drive robots. However, I knew the winning robot from the last LVBots line following competition (Mostly Red Racer) would be returning, and it had an impressive time to beat. I also remembered spending so much time designing and assembling the hardware for my last line following robot, that I ended up not having enough time to tune the PID coefficients and get the performance I was hoping for. After brainstorming a few ideas, I ended up deciding to keep it simple and make sure I had enough time to get a robot I was happy with, which I ultimately named “The Chariot” because of its shape. The Chariot ended up winning second place in the competition, which I was very happy with. Instead of focusing this blog post on how you can make your own version of The Chariot, I will try to explain my thought process throughout the design and build process, In other words, my hope is that after reading through this post, it will be clear why I chose the parts that I did. Continued…
Like other developers and engineers here, I made a robot for the LVBots Line Following Contest. This post describes my robot, Usain Volt 2.0, and details some of what I was thinking when I designed it. If you want to know more about the competition rules and how it was judged, see the LVBots line following rules. Continued…
Several people here made robots to compete in the recent LVBots line following competition. The goal of the competition is to make an autonomous robot that follows a line on the ground as fast as possible. I made a robot called LearnBot for the competition. LearnBot is able to learn the line course on the first lap and then use that information to its advantage on the second and third laps. Continued…
LVBots held a line following competition at Pololu on April 16th. The goal was to make an autonomous robot that does three laps of the course the fastest. Seventeen robots faced off in a head-to-head double elimination tournament. The video above shows the robots in action and the full results of the contest.
Ben’s Mostly Red Racer won the line following competition for the second time in a row with an average speed of 1.2 m/s, but the competition was more fierce this time. Brandon secured second place with The Chariot, which had an average speed of 1.17 m/s and had a best course time that was only 0.7 seconds slower than Ben’s.
There were also some fun exhibition robots. Kevin made a hovercraft named Full of Eels that was able to sometimes follow the line. Kevin and Jeremy made The Next Level, a line follower on top of a line follower.
Here are posts about some of the robots in the contest:
- Jon’s line following robot: Usain Volt 2.0
- David’s line following robot that learns the course
- Brandon’s line following robot: The Chariot
- Jeremy’s line following robot: Zumo Slim
- Nathan’s line following robot: Suckbot
- Grant’s line following robot: Pinto
- Claire’s line following robot: Oddish
- Amanda’s line following robot: Newbie
- Paul’s Wixel-based line following robot: Two Point Four
Are you in the Las Vegas area? Check out the LVBots Meetup page to get involved.