Pololu Blog (Page 14)
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.
In this post I will show you how to build an expandable robot platform based on a Raspberry Pi and an A-Star 32U4 Robot Controller. With this platform, the powerful Raspberry Pi can take care of high-level tasks like motion planning, video processing, and network communication, while the A-Star, which mounts to the Pi’s GPIO header, takes care of actuator control, sensor inputs, and other low-level tasks that the Pi is incapable of. The total cost of the parts I used is about $120. Continued…
Our A-Star 32U4 Robot Controller SV with Raspberry Pi Bridge is now available, joining the LV version we released six months ago.
Similar to its lower-voltage sibling, the Robot Controller SV is a general-purpose robot controller that includes dual motor drivers and other useful peripherals like pushbuttons and a buzzer. It also has the same level shifters and power circuit that allow it to easily power and communicate with a Raspberry Pi when mounted as an auxiliary controller. Like our other A-Star controllers, the A-Star Robot Controller SV built around an ATmega32U4 microcontroller and ships preloaded with an Arduino-compatible USB bootloader.
This SV version of the A-Star Robot Controller uses an efficient step-down switching regulator, enabling it to operate (and optionally supply power to an attached Raspberry Pi) with input voltages from 5.5 V to 36 V. Compared to the LV version, the Robot Controller SV can also supply substantially more current across its wide operating voltage range:
We’ve been working on some (long-awaited) I²C software to allow the A-Star to be used as a slave controller with a Raspberry Pi master, as well as an example project that shows how to build a robot with this setup. They’re nearly ready, so watch for them on the blog in the coming weeks. But don’t forget that the A-Star board can also be used by itself as a capable robot controller, as my recent sumo robot demonstrates.
To facilitate both of these uses, the A-Star 32U4 Robot Controller SV is available either assembled for use as a Raspberry Pi add-on or in a more barebones configuration that is suitable for customized assembly or standalone use. See those product pages and the user’s guide for more information about the robot controller.
We have released new versions of our MinIMU-9 and AltIMU-10 inertial measurement unit (IMU) modules, which use an I²C interface to provide nine independent rotation, acceleration, and magnetic measurements that can be used to calculate the sensor’s absolute orientation (the AltIMU also includes an altimeter). These v5 editions feature ST’s new LIS3MDL 3-axis magnetometer and LSM6DS33 3-axis accelerometer and gyro, which allow them to offer improved performance over previous versions at lower prices. The new versions are pin-compatible with the previous ones, though software written for older IMU versions will need to be changed to work with the v5 since the sensor ICs have changed.
We think these new boards combine the best ST MEMS sensors into compact boards at great prices. However, our older MinIMU-9 v3, AltIMU-10 v3, and AltIMU-10 v4 are still available for now at reduced clearance prices, so if you don’t absolutely need ST’s newest sensors on your IMU, these previous versions are still very good sensor boards to consider.
Here’s an updated version of our diagram showing where the new v5 modules fit in:
Evolution and release dates of Pololu carriers for ST’s MEMS sensors through January 2016.
Remember my super cool sumo robot? My sumo robot is different from regular sumo robots. It’s like my sumo robot is in the top percentage of mini sumo robots. Continued…
This “World’s Fastest” Rubik’s Cube-solving robot uses six DRV8825 stepper motor driver carriers, one for each face.
All of our 25D mm metal gearmotors, including the newest versions with 12V motors, are now available with quadrature encoders. That’s 37 new products in all! With five different motor winding options and gear ratios available from 4.4:1 through 499:1, our total selection of 25D mm metal gearmotors has grown to nearly 100 options:
As with other ST sensors, these chips can be configured and read through I²C or SPI interfaces, and our compact breakout boards incorporate voltage regulators and level shifters to make them easier to use with 5 V systems. Compared to the inertial and magnetic sensors we’ve used previously (most recently the LSM303D accelerometer and magnetometer and the L3GD20H gyro), these two new ICs offer different combinations of capabilities: the LSM6DS33 integrates an accelerometer and rate gyroscope into a single package, while the LIS3MDL is a standalone magnetometer.
For more information about these boards, see their product pages at the links below.
Are you attending CES or in Las Vegas this Thursday evening? You can join Pololu and LVBots on January 7 any time from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for CES Open House 2016! Like last year, LVBots members will be showcasing their robotics and electronics creations, Pololu will be giving tours of our manufacturing and other operations, and you can present your company or your projects. We will provide pizza. Registration and other details are on the LVBots Meetup page.