Pololu Blog (Page 2)

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.

Reaper puppet master Halloween prop using a Mini Maestro 24

Posted by Jon on 14 October 2016

If you are looking for some inspiration for scary Halloween prop ideas, check out the truly creepy reaper puppet master that forum user rasco66 built! The prop is a tall, menacing installation: a grim reaper with glowing red eyes and outstretched hands overlooks a dark stage containing a lone skeleton. Once activated, the reaper commands the puppet to dance and animates its movement to a cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper. The skeleton animation is achieved with seven servos and a linear actuator; a Mini Maestro 24 controls all of the servo sequences and is triggered by a PicoBoo Max, which also coordinates the music, strobe, and linear actuator. You can watch a video of the prop on YouTube or read more about the project, including some code, in this forum post.

By the way, there are still 10 days left to take advantage of our Halloween sale and save on parts for your own grim reaper puppet master or whatever other terrifying thing you want to create (but you really shouldn’t wait that long if you want something done by Halloween as these things almost never work on the first try!).

UM7-LT and UM7 orientation sensors now from Redshift Labs

Posted by Kevin on 13 October 2016
Tags: new products

The UM7-LT and UM7 orientation sensors, originally developed by CH Robotics, are now being manufactured and supported by Redshift Labs. The updated versions of these sensors are now available from Pololu.

UM7-LT orientation sensor.

UM7 orientation sensor with included cable and U.S. quarter for size reference.

The UM7 is an Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) that takes measurements from its three-axis accelerometer, gyro, and magnetometer and calculates orientation estimates with its integrated microcontroller. It is available with an enclosure as the UM7 or without one as the UM7-LT. Aside from a few updated components and the addition of a conformal coating on the UM7-LT, these sensors are functionally identical to the original versions produced by CH Robotics.

For more information about the orientation sensors, see their product pages below.

Polo-BOO! Halloween Sale

Posted by Paul on 7 October 2016


Halloween is quickly approaching, but there is still plenty of time for you makers out there to build something that will impress/terrify your friends and neighbors, and we want to help! We are having a sale on servos, motors, programmable controllers, sensors, LEDs, power supplies, and more – products that might come in handy for building an amazing costume or interactive yard display. See the sale page for more details and the full list of products.

Note: The United States Postal Service is closed on Monday, October 10 in observance of Columbus Day. Pololu will be in operation and will ship orders via FedEx as usual. Orders scheduled for shipping via USPS on Monday will be shipped the following day.

Remote control food

Posted by Claire on 6 October 2016

With Halloween on its way, and trick-or-treating eminent, you might be asking yourself if there are any alternative uses for the mountain of candy bars your kids will soon be bringing home. Well, customer Mike Kohn, whose projects we previously blogged about, has a solution for giving new life to not just candy, but all sorts of unwanted food items: remote controlled food!

For this project, Mike ditched plastic and aluminum and tried out a sampling of more savory chassis materials like candy bars, a carrot, a bell pepper, a grapefruit, and a chicken sausage. The candy bars, carrot, and sausage were used for four-wheeled differential drive cars and the pepper and grapefruit were used for boats. All the vehicles were actuated by a pair of micro metal gearmotors and the cars also used our 32mm wheels. Below is a picture of one car made with a 3 Musketeers bar.

Mike also wrote his own firmware for decoding the IR signals from a Syma S107 controller. You can find out which foods made the best chassis and plenty more information about the vehicles, including a parts list, schematic, and several other videos, on Mike’s website.

RC wildlife photography usingTReX motor controllers and RC switches

Posted by Jon on 3 October 2016

Wildlife photographer Stéphane Simoëns uses a remote-controlled, camouflaged vehicle to bring his camera closer to animals without scaring them away. The vehicle is a custom-built, metal-framed, 4-wheeled chassis that is controlled with a pair of our TReX dual motor controllers. One TReX drives while the other provides tilt control for the onboard camera. The vehicle also features three of our RC switches; one switches on and off the video transmitter and the other two control camera shutter and focus. You can find more information about this project in Stéphane’s forum post.

Birds at the beach.

Camouflaged RC photography at the beach.

New products: XYZrobot Bolide humanoid robot DIY kit and A1-16 smart servo

Posted by Brandon on 16 September 2016
Tags: new products

We are now offering two new products from XYZrobot: the Bolide Y-01 advanced humanoid robot DIY kit and the A1-16 smart servo.

The Bolide Y-01 DIY kit from XYZrobot comes with all of the components needed to build this advanced humanoid robot, including a Bluetooth controller, an Arduino-compatible ATmega1280 microcontroller, sensors, and 18 A1-16 smart servos. The ATmega1280 microcontroller comes preprogrammed to perform a range of complex movements, including dancing, walking and standing up in response to commands from the included Bluetooth remote or a smartphone or tablet running the XYZrobot app. The control board includes a three-axis accelerometer for maintaining postural stability and detecting falls, and the robot also has a distance sensor in its chest that can detect objects in front of it. For those interested in expanding the capabilities of this robot beyond the preprogrammed routines, the Bolide Y-01 control board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE and the XYZrobot Editor software. You can find more details about the Bolide Y-01 advanced humanoid robot DIY kit on its product page.

We are perhaps even more excited about carrying the A1-16 smart servos separately. These specialty servos are well suited for applications such as humanoid robots, hexapod robots, and robotic arms that require strong and complex actuation. Unlike the usual RC hobby servos, these servos are not only capable of 360° continuous rotation, but they also offer position control over an effective 330° range. To achieve this kind of motion, they use a TTL serial interface, which also allows them to be daisy chained and controlled from the same serial bus (this is their only method of control, so they will not work with standard RC receivers and servo controllers). In addition, these smart servos provide additional feedback such as position, speed, and temperature! The four-color LED featured on each servo is used as a visual error indicator by default, which is really handy to quickly determine if servos in a chain are experiencing a problem. Alternatively, this LED can be manually controlled through the serial interface. See the A1-16 smart servo product page for more information about this feature-packed servo.

New product: FEETECH FS90 Micro Servo

Posted by Paul on 15 September 2016
Tags: new products

We are now carrying the FEETECH FS90 micro servo. At a weight of only 9 g and less than inch long, this servo is great for actuating tiny mechanisms. We also carry the continuous-rotation version of this servo, the FEETECH FS90R.

Animatronic tentacle mechanism using Pololu Universal Mounting Hubs

Posted by nathanb on 14 September 2016

While our Universal Mounting Hubs are mainly intended as general-purpose adapters for motor shafts, it seems that they can also be used to help build a cable-actuated animatronic tentacle. Joshua Vasquez posted an article on Hackaday about his two-stage tentacle mechanism with “vertebrae” made from Universal Mounting Hubs and laser-cut Delrin pieces. (We didn’t do the laser cutting for this project, but our custom laser cutting service might be interesting for anyone wanting to make similar parts.) If you want to simultaneously impress and creep out your friends this Halloween, this seems like an interesting project to try!

Read more about Joshua’s project on Hackaday.

Video: Romi chassis assembly

Posted by Ben on 13 September 2016
Tags: new products

We made a short video showing how the parts of our new Romi chassis fit together:

Control a GoPro remotely using a CamDo Bullet and RC switch

Posted by Grant on 13 September 2016

When capturing photographs of wildlife, it is not always feasible to be close enough to trigger your camera with a standard wired remote. In these cases, using an RC transmitter and receiver pair would be ideal, but most cameras and their remotes do not accept hobby RC signals. This blog post, written by CamDo, explains how to use one of our RC switches with a built-in relay and their Bullet wired remote interface to trigger a GoPro camera from an RC transmitter from hundreds of meters away. The setup can be used with any standard RC transmitter and receiver pair, and you only need one pair and one RC switch to control several cameras at once.

New Products

Addressable RGB 60-LED Strip, 5V, 2m (SK6812)
Pololu 7.5V, 15A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D24V150F7
Pololu 5V, 15A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D24V150F5
Pololu 38 kHz IR Proximity Sensor, Fixed Gain, Low Brightness
Addressable RGB 30-LED Strip, 5V, 1m (SK6812)
Free Circuit Cellar magazine November 2016
Pololu 6V, 15A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D24V150F6
Pololu 12V, 15A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D24V150F12
Raspberry Pi Model A+ 512MB
Pololu 9V, 15A Step-Down Voltage Regulator D24V150F9
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