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.
Halloween is just around the corner, and people are looking to make fun costumes. I recently took a couple of calls from customers who were looking to make Katy Perry-inspired costume dresses with spinning peppermints, following the instructions found on this RPF forum thread. Parts from Pololu used to make the dress included an enclosed 3-AA battery holder with a switch and a Solarbotics GM3 224:1 Gear Motor. However, we suggest substituting our 200:1 Plastic Gearmotor, which has similar performance but no back shaft that needs to be removed.
If you have a cool costume that uses our products, please feel free to share them in the “Share your projects” section of our Forum.
Get a FREE copy of Elektor magazine’s November issue with your order while supplies last. To get your free issue, enter the coupon code ELEKTOR1113 into your shopping cart. The magazine will add 6 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.
For other issues and more information, see our Free Elektor Magazine Offers page. All issues are now available for shipping worldwide!
Geoff from Tabletop Robotics wrote a tutorial on how to build a Flipbot, a basic differential-drive robot that can keep on going even when flipped upside-down. A Wixel serves as the brains of the robot, and a second Wixel in the remote allows the Flipbot to be wirelessly controlled. In addition to the Wixels, the Flipbot uses a number of Pololu products, including:
- Two micro metal gearmotors
- 22T track set
- DRV8833 dual motor driver carrier
- MMA7361L 3-axis accelerometer
The accelerometer is used to determine when the robot is upside-down. Geoff’s tutorial has a full parts list and a diagram of how everything is connected; the complete source code is also available.
Thomas Schoch, of Essen, Germany, built a neat robot with a Raspberry Pi and a Zumo Chassis Kit. The PiBot-B is controlled by a custom iPhone app that communicates over WiFi to the Raspberry Pi, which is running lighttpd and PHP. A Python program uses the WiringPi library to send signals to an L293D motor driver that drives the two 100:1 Micro Metal Gearmotors in the Zumo chassis. The iPhone app displays video from the attached Logitech C300 webcam, and the robot has an integrated 8×8 LED matrix from Adafruit that indicates its state. In the future, Thomas plans to add sensors for obstacle detection and make the robot autonomous. We were impressed by several things:
- PiBot-B is very tidy, thanks in part to the USB cables that were shortened and modified using liquid rubber.
- The Raspberry Pi has only one PWM output so Thomas used two OR gates to select whether the left motor, right motor, or both motors receive the PWM signal.
- The write-up has some great photos and informative diagrams.
The PiBot-B page is written in German, but it has a link at the top to translate it into English using Google Translate.
We are giving you one more reason to take your holiday decorations this year to the next level: we have lowered the prices on our LED strips!
Our 30-LED, 1 m strip has dropped from $34.95 to $24.95.
Our 60-LED, 2 m strip has dropped from $69.95 to $47.95.
Our 150-LED, 5 m strip has dropped from $149.95 to $119.95.
And if you are thinking custom lighting seems a little complicated, you will be surprised how easy it is to get these strips up and running with an Arduino. I show you how in this video where I am using the examples included in our Arduino library for addressable RGB LED strips to get started.
Lonnie Honeycutt made a nice tutorial on how to make a simple beginner robot that uses many parts that you can find on our website. The tutorial breaks down the construction of the robot into different parts and includes videos that help demonstrate how to build the robot. It also includes links to some of our products used in the robot, like the TB6612FNG Dual Motor Driver Carrier, Pololu Robot Chassis, and the Tamiya 70097 Twin-Motor Gearbox Kit. Check it out if you are looking for a project to get you started.
Here are links to three parts of the tutorial he has posted so far:
Part 1: Arduino robotics – motor control
Get a FREE copy of Elektor magazine’s October issue with your order while supplies last. This offer is only available for orders shipped to USA or Canada. To get your free issue, enter the coupon code ELEKTOR1013 into your shopping cart. The magazine will add 6 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.
For other issues and more information, see our Free Elektor Magazine Offers page.
Last week we announced the Pololu RC Switch with Relay, the first product in our overhaul of the RC Switch family. Today we released the second new RC Switch product, the Pololu RC Switch with Medium Low-Side MOSFET. This board converts hobby radio control pulses to digital on/off signals and has an integrated medium, low-side MOSFET that allows it to drive moderate loads (up to around 15 A), such as lighting or small actuators.
This product replaces item #1211 and includes valuable new features such as a safe-start mode and user-configurable input direction and threshold.
For more information about the Pololu RC Switch with Medium Low-Side MOSFET, see the product page.
- Our RC Switch overhaul is complete
- New product: 4-Channel RC Servo Multiplexer
- New product: Pololu RC Switch with Relay
Forum user Erich created a custom Zumo Robot Chassis PCB to use with our Zumo chassis kit. The board is designed to accept a large number of plug-in modules, such as a DRV8835 dual motor driver carrier, encoders, and voltage regulators. Sensors that can be mounted on the robot include a Zumo reflectance sensor array, some distance sensors, and an ultrasonic sensor, and it also supports several wireless communication modules. Instead of an Arduino, it uses a Freescale FRDM-KL25Z as the microcontroller board.
You can follow his robot’s progression by visiting these forum posts:
March 2013: Zumo Robot with FRDM-KL25Z Board
September 2013: Zumo Robot with Pololu Plug-in Modules
October 2013: Zumo Robot with Pololu Plug-in Modules, assembled.