Pololu Blog (Page 8)

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.

New product: Romi 32U4 Control Board

Posted by Paul on 7 February 2017
Tags: new products

What do you need to turn a Romi chassis into a functioning robot? Here are some Romi projects from the community, as well a couple of our example builds:

A variety of controllers can be used with the Romi, but until now you have had to figure out lots of wiring to connect everything together. You will always need some wiring to connect your own sensors or other devices, but we have been trying to make it easier to get started, beginning with the Romi power distribution board and motor driver board, which help simplify some of the more difficult parts. Our new Romi 32U4 Control Board is the culmination of this product line: a complete controller solution for the Romi that integrates power, motor control, and an Arduino-compatible microcontroller.

Romi power distribution board, motor driver board,
and the new Romi 32U4 Control Board.

Here is how it looks when connected to a Romi Chassis with motors and encoders plugged in, as well as the optional LCD:

Features of the Romi 32U4 Control Board

Pinout diagram of the Romi 32U4 Control Board (ATmega32U4 pinout, peripherals, and board power control).

  • Reverse-protected battery power switch circuit
  • Powerful 5 V, 2 A switching regulator
  • Dual 1.8 A DRV8838 motor drivers
  • ATmega32U4 microcontroller with Arduino-compatible USB bootloader
  • 16 free general-purpose I/O ports including 10 analog inputs
  • LCD connector
  • Buzzer
  • Three user buttons
  • Five indicator LEDs (2 for power, 3 user-controllable)
  • Battery voltage monitoring
  • Quadrature encoder inputs
  • Four general-purpose level shifters
  • 3-axis I²C accelerometer
  • 3-axis I²C gyroscope
  • Raspberry Pi connector with I²C interface and HAT EEPROM

Raspberry Pi interface

Microcontrollers like the ATmega32U4 are great for fast, timing-sensitive operations such as reading sensors or driving servos, but their computing power is very limited compared to devices like the Raspberry Pi. That is why we built a Raspberry Pi interface into this board: to give you the option to expand your robot beyond what is possible with a microcontroller. This could be useful for anything from advanced applications like computer vision or room mapping to simply letting your robot share status updates on Twitter. Here is a Romi assembled with a Raspberry Pi:

When connected, the control board supplies power to the Raspberry Pi and connects to it as an I²C slave device. We include the ID EEPROM required by the HAT specification, though we have not found it particularly useful, so we ship it blank and unlocked for you to experiment with.

Our Arduino library gives example code for I²C connectivity, and you can check out our Raspberry Pi tutorial for the A-Star 32U4 Robot Controller, which we will be updating for the Romi 32U4 Control board.

For more information about the Romi 32U4 Control Board or to order, please see its product page.

New 20D mm metal gearmotors

Posted by Ben on 16 January 2017
Tags: new products

Our vast assortment of metal gearmotors has gotten even bigger! With over 100 micro metal gearmotor options and nearly 100 25D mm metal gearmotor versions to choose from, the next step seemed clear: expand our offering of 20D mm metal gearmotors, which fit nicely between the smaller micro metal gearmotors and larger 25D mm metal gearmotors. We have replaced our initial four 20D mm options with twelve entirely new gear ratios that feature more efficient gearboxes and much longer output shafts.

Original 20D mm metal gearmotor with shorter output shaft.

New 20D mm metal gearmotor with longer output shaft.

The motor portion is unchanged, and we now also offer versions with an extended motor shaft that rotates at the same speed as the input to the gearbox and can be used to add an encoder, such as our new magnetic encoder for 20D mm metal gearmotors, for closed-loop speed or position control.

20D mm metal gearmotor with extended motor shaft.

Magnetic Encoder Kit for 20D mm Metal Gearmotors assembled on a 20D mm metal gearmotor with extended motor shaft.

The table below shows our current offering of 20D mm metal gearmotors:

Rated
Voltage
Stall
Current
@ Rated Voltage
No-Load
Speed
@ Rated Voltage
Approximate
Stall Torque
@ Rated Voltage


Single-Shaft
(Gearbox Only)


Dual-Shaft
(Gearbox & Motor)
6 V 3.2 A 560 RPM 30 oz-in 25:1 6V 25:1 6V dual-shaft
450 RPM 35 oz-in 31:1 6V 31:1 6V dual-shaft
225 RPM 60 oz-in 63:1 6V 63:1 6V dual-shaft
180 RPM 75 oz-in 78:1 6V 78:1 6V dual-shaft
140 RPM 90 oz-in 100:1 6V 100:1 6V dual-shaft
110 RPM 100 oz-in 125:1 6V 125:1 6V dual-shaft
90 RPM 115 oz-in 156:1 6V 156:1 6V dual-shaft
70 RPM 125 oz-in 195:1 6V 195:1 6V dual-shaft
55 RPM 140 oz-in 250:1 6V 250:1 6V dual-shaft
45 RPM 150 oz-in 313:1 6V 313:1 6V dual-shaft
35 RPM 160 oz-in 391:1 6V 391:1 6V dual-shaft
29 RPM 170 oz-in 488:1 6V 488:1 6V dual-shaft


We also have 12V versions on the way, so stay tuned for more information!

Laser cut 6-string banjo frame

Posted by Arthur on 9 January 2017

Here is a brief video a customer just sent us showing how he used our custom laser cutting service to create the frame on his custom 6-string banjo.

Pololu and LVBots CES Open House 2017

Posted by Ryan on 4 January 2017
Tags: lvbots

Are you attending CES or in Las Vegas this Friday evening? You can join Pololu and LVBots on January 6 any time from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for CES Open House 2017! 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.

Closed December 26 and January 2

Posted by Ben on 23 December 2016


We will be closed for Christmas on Monday, December 26 and for New Year’s Day on Monday, January 2, so orders placed after 2 PM Pacific Time on the 23rd or 30th will be shipped on the following Tuesday. Additionally, FedEx Ground does not ship on the 23rd (today).

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

“Knock knock unlock” puzzle box

Posted by Claire on 1 December 2016

With the holiday season upon us, many are on the hunt for interesting projects that we can give as gifts. This year, why not make your project about unveiling your gift? You would still have to get an actual gift to put inside the box, but you’d win major style points. Forum member Bob Day’s knock knock unlock puzzle box has no visible way of opening it, but given the right combination of knocks will unlatch itself with the help of a servo and several other electronic components inside. The puzzle box is controlled by an A-Star Micro, which is powered by our S7V8F5 voltage regulator and a mini LV pushbutton power switch. The power switch is turned on by a mercury tilt switch and turned off by the A-Star if no knocks are received for about 30 seconds. This power switch circuit allows power to be completely turned off, which should extend the battery life tremendously over just leaving the A-Star on. (For advanced microcontroller programmers, another option would be to put the A-Star into a low-power mode.) A list of the parts and connections used and some example code for the box are given on Bob’s blog.

“Knock Knock Unlock” Puzzle Box outside view.

If you found this project interesting, you might also like a similar GPS puzzle box, also created by Bob, that we featured on our blog last year. That box unlocked when brought to a specific location and included a simpler toggle switch for power and an LCD screen.

Breakout Bros review of the Zumo 32U4 Robot

Posted by Jon on 30 November 2016


Here at Pololu, we think our Zumo 32U4 Robot is great! It’s one of our flagship products – a compact little robot packed full of features and tailored for mini-sumo. Whether you are a high school or college student learning to program through the Arduino IDE, or you are a C++ programming god and want to dabble in hardware for mortals, we think it’s a fantastic robot that you’d really enjoy. But, hey, you don’t have to take our word for it! Josh over at Breakout Bros has started a review series on robot kits, and recently posted his review of the Zumo 32U4. Check it out!

Have an opinion about that review? Maybe you have existing reviews of our products that you haven’t already shared with us? Feel free to post a comment about any of that below, or share your opinion on our forum. If you prefer, you can also contact us directly.

Automated typewriter that takes dictation using Maestro

Posted by Brandon on 29 November 2016

Forum user ZipZaps shared a fantastically charming project that uses a 24-channel Maestro servo controller to automate a Smith Corona typewriter using the speech recognition built into Windows. The Maestro controls a mechanism consisting of multiple rows of servos on some small linear rails to strike the keys in a manner resembling the way a person would normally interact with the typewriter. An Arduino paired with a Big Easy driver controls the stepper motor used to slide the carriage return system.

You can find more pictures and information about this project in ZipZaps forum post.

Cyber Monday 2016

Posted by Ben on 28 November 2016


Pololu Robotics and Electronics Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale 2016

We have had a lot of fun with this year’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale so far, and I hope many of you have, too. The sale isn’t over yet, but it will be soon, so make sure you get any last-minute orders placed in the next eight hours!

Also, a big thank-you to the shipping department for getting all the orders out (especially to those who came in on the weekend to make sure everything went smoothly)!

Black Friday 2016

Posted by Ben on 25 November 2016


Pololu Robotics and Electronics Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale 2016

Our Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale is going strong, and we have been working hard to make and ship the products that people are getting great deals on. If you have already placed an order, thank you! If you are still trying to decide if you want to take advantage of our amazing deals, don’t wait too long—the sale ends Monday night.

New Products

Wall Power Adapter: 12VDC, 1A, 5.5×2.1mm Barrel Jack, Center-Positive
Addressable RGB 150-LED Strip, 5V, 5m (SK9822)
Verbal Machines VM-CLAP1 Hand Clap Sensor
Addressable RGB 16x16-LED Flexible Panel, 5V, 10mm Grid (SK9822)
Free Circuit Cellar magazine April 2017
Addressable RGB 60-LED Strip, 5V, 2m (SK9822)
FEETECH High-Torque Servo FS5115M
Addressable RGB 30-LED Strip, 5V, 1m (SK9822)
Wall Power Adapter: 5.25VDC, 2.4A, 20AWG MicroUSB Cable
Sanyo Pancake Stepper Motor with Encoder: Bipolar, 200 Steps/Rev, 42×31.5mm, 5.4V, 1 A/Phase, 4000 CPR
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