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.
|Sharp GP2Y0A51SK0F Analog Distance Sensor 2-15cm with wires soldered directly to the sensor PCB.|
We are now carrying the short-range Sharp GP2Y0A51SK0F Analog Distance Sensor. Like the GP2Y0D815Z0F we released a few months ago, this sensor has a maximum intended sensing range of 15 cm, but unlike that other sensor, this module tells you where the detected object is in its 2 cm to 15 cm range. Its close minimum sensing distance of 2 cm and high 60 Hz update rate make this a great choice for close-proximity range-finding, or the analog voltage output can be passed through a comparator to make an adjustable-threshold alternative to our digital Sharp distance sensors.
This sensor uses a 1.5 mm pitch JST ZH connector, which is different from the connectors on all the other Sharp sensors we carry. Unfortunately, this means it will not work with the JST PH cables we recommend for use with some of those other sensors. We are working on getting compatible cables, but in the interim, it is not too difficult (but not exactly easy) to solder wires directly to the output pins like in the picture on the right.
This sensor is also quite a bit smaller than most of the other analog Sharp sensors, so it will not work with our new brackets.
|A variety of Sharp distance sensors. From left to right: GP2Y0A02, GP2Y0A21 or GP2Y0A41, GP2Y0A51, and GP2Y0D8xx.|
For more information, see the GP2Y0A51SK0F product page.
Inspired by this robotic arm tutorial, Andrew Hoover recently posted on our forum about a robotic arm he made for the Nashville Mini Maker Faire. The arm is constructed from laser-cut acrylic and actuated by hobby RC servos. The servos are controlled by a 12-Channel Mini Maestro, which reads the signals from joysticks and converts them to target positions using a Maestro script. You can see the arm in action in this video:
For more information on the project, you can check out Andy’s blog post for his robotic arm project, which includes a parts list, instructions, and code.
Bruno Schneider posted the above video on our forum that showcases an automated ball path machine he made for last year’s advent season with his brother and father. The contraption uses a 24-channel Mini Maestro and is displayed in the window of his mother’s sewing shop. The machine is fun and impressive by itself, but the video (with accompanying sound effects) makes the project even more entertaining.
If you make or have made any festive projects using the Maestro or any of our other products, we would love to see them! You can post them in the comments below or in the Share Your Projects section of our forum, which is also a great place to browse for inspiration or ideas for a new project.
We’ve just released a new family of D24V10Fx step-down voltage regulators. These buck regulators are very similar to the D24V5Fx regulator family we introduced in March, but they use the Intersil ISL85410 regulator IC – a higher-current relative of the ISL85415 on the D24V5x – that allows them to output twice as much current (up to 1 A). The D24V10Fx family is available in five different versions with fixed output voltages of 3.3V, 5V, 6V, 9V, and 12V.
Like their 500 mA counterparts, the D24V10Fx regulators operate with input voltages as high as 36 V at typical efficiencies of 80% to 95%. They feature the same power-save mode to improve efficiency at light loads, along with low dropout voltages and integrated protection against over-temperature and over-current conditions. All this makes them a good choice for powering applications where input voltage and operating current might vary over a wide range.
The slightly larger size of these new regulator boards (0.5″ × 0.7″ × 0.14″; 18 mm × 13 mm × 3.5 mm) makes room for a fifth pin that provides a “power good” indication (PG), but they are still not much bigger than standard through-hole linear regulators. The picture below shows a D24V10Fx, a D24V5Fx, and a 7805 voltage regulator in a TO-220 package:
Khan Academy user mbbackus created a demo that allows users to visualize the effects of sending different pulse widths to the SM-S4303R and Parallax continuous rotation servos. (You can use the up and down arrow keys to change the pulse width, and more instructions can be found as comments in the code.)
For those who are interested, you can learn more about standard RC servo pulses in this series of blog posts about hobby servos.
You can see the demo on its Khan Academy page.
You can now find all of our sale details, including a full list of the sale items, on our Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale page. The first doorbuster deals go live in less than 12 hours!
Our annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale is less than a week away! We have put up some of the special offers on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale page. Stay tuned for more details!
We have a new batch of T-shirts available, just in time for winter! These shirts are very similar to the ones we released in 2012, featuring a printed circuit board (PCB) design in the shape of the Pololu logo on the front and the Pololu slogan “Engage Your Brain” on the back.
The shirts are available in a variety of youth and adult sizes, and this time we have two new colors available in addition to our standard royal blue: cardinal red and charcoal gray.
You can find our full selection in our T-shirts category.