4.h. Daisy-Chaining

This section is a guide to integrating the jrk in to a project that has multiple TTL serial devices that use the Pololu Protocol or some compatible protocol. This section contains no new information about the jrk: all of the information in this section can be deduced from the definitions of the three serial modes (Section 4.a) and the Pololu Protocol (Section 4.c).

First of all, assign each device in the project a different device number so that they can be individually addressed by Pololu Protocol serial commands. For the jrk, this can be done in the Input tab of the configuration utility. The following diagram shows how to connect one master and many slave devices together into a chain. Each of the devices may be a jrk or any other device compatible with the Pololu Protocol, such as a qik, servo controller, or a microcontroller.

Daisy chaining serial devices using the Pololu protocol. An optional AND gate is used to join multiple TX lines.

Using a PC and a jrk together as the master device

The jrk can enable a personal computer to be the master device. The jrk must be connected to a PC with a USB cable and configured to be in either USB Dual Port or USB Chained serial mode. Serial input mode must be used to receive responses from slave devices (if you do not need to receive reponses, you may use other input modes). In USB Dual Port mode, the Command Port on the PC is used for sending commands directly to the jrk, and the TTL Port on the PC is used to send commands to all of the slave devices. In the USB Chained mode, only the Command Port is used on the PC, to communicate with the jrk and all of the slave devices. Select the mode that is most convenient for your application or easiest to implement in your programming language.

Using a jrk as a slave device

The jrk can act as a slave device when configured to be in the UART serial mode and Serial input mode. In this mode, commands are received on the RX line, and responses are sent on the TX line. A USB connection to a PC is not required, though an RX-only Comand Port is available on the PC for debugging or other purposes.


Connect the TX line of the master device to the RX lines of all of the slave devices. Commands sent by the master will then be received by all slaves.

Receiving serial responses from one the slave devices on the PC can be achieved by connecting the TX line of that slave device to the RX line of the jrk.

Receiving serial responses from multiple slave devices is more complicated. Each device should only transmit when requested, so if each device is addressed separately, multiple devices will not transmit simultaneously. However, the TX outputs are driven high when not sending data, so they cannot simply be wired together. Instead, you can use an AND gate, as shown in the diagram, to combine the signals. Note that in many cases receiving responses is not necessary, and the TX lines can be left unconnected.

If there are multiple slave jrks, you can connect all of the jrks’ ERR lines to a single input on a microcontroller to monitor the error state.

Whenever connecting devices, remember to wire the grounds together, and ensure that each device is properly powered. Unpowered devices with a TTL serial port can turn on or partially on, drawing power from the serial line, which means that extra care must be taken when turning power off and on to reset the devices.

Sending commands

The Pololu Protocol should be used when multiple Pololu devices are receiving the same serial data. This allows the devices to be individually addressed, and it allows responses to be sent without collisions.

If the devices are configured to detect the baud rate, then when you issue your first Pololu Protocol command, the devices can automatically detect the baud from the initial 0xAA byte.

Some older Pololu devices use 0x80 as an initial command byte. If you want to chain these together with devices expecting 0xAA, you should first transmit the byte 0x80 so that these devices can automatically detect the baud rate, and only then should you send the byte 0xAA so that the jrk can detect the baud rate. Once all devices have detected the baud rate, Pololu devices that expect a leading command byte of 0x80 will ignore command packets that start with 0xAA, and jrks will ignore command packets that start with 0x80.

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