Robotics Controller For The Pi Boasts An Impressive Feature List

[Michael Horne] recently shared his thoughts on the RedBoard+, a motor controller board for the Raspberry Pi aimed at robotic applications. His short version for busy people is: if you’re at all into robotics, get one because it’s fantastic.

At heart the RedBoard+ is a motor controller, but it’s packed with I/O and features that set it above the usual fare. It can drive two DC motors and up to twelve servos, but what is extra useful is the wide input range of 7-24 V and its ability to power and control the underlying Raspberry Pi. A user-programmable button defaults to either doing a reboot or safe shutdown, depending on how long the button is held. Another neat feature is the ability to blink out the IP address of the Pi using the onboard RGB LED, which is always handy in a pinch.

The RedBoard+ has a GitHub repository which provides a variety of test scripts and an easy to use library, as well as a variety of hookup guides and quickstart guides. There’s even a pre-configured SD image for those who prefer to simply dive in.

A brief demo video showing the board in operation is embedded below. If you’re interested in one, Creator [Neil] of RedRobotics has made it available for sale on Tindie.

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Smartphone-based Robotic Rover Project Goes Open Source

[Aldric Négrier] wrote in to let us know that his DriveMyPhone project has been open sourced. The project is a part telepresence, part remote-controlled vehicle, part robotic rover concept on which he says “I spent more time […] than I should have.” He has shared not just the CAD files, but every detail including tips on assembly. He admits that maybe a robotic chassis for a smartphone might not seem like a particularly new idea today, but it was “an idea with more potential” back in 2010 when he first started.

The chassis is made to cradle a smartphone. Fire up your favorite videoconferencing software and you have a way to see where you’re going as well as hear (and speak to) your surroundings. Bluetooth communications between the phone and the chassis provides wireless control. That being said, this unit is clearly designed to be able to deal with far more challenging terrain than the average office environment, and has been designed to not only be attractive, but to be as accessible and open to repurposing and modification as possible.

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The EMGRobotics Robot Control Board

There are many microcontrollers available to make robots with, but few that are built with the exact features that you would need to construct one. Meet the [EMGRobotics  MSP430G2553] robot controller board.

At $15 without the CPU or $17 with a [MSP430G2553] already plugged into the socket, this control board may make some Arduino enthusiasts take note for their next project.  Besides a very attractive price (you’ll have to go to the home page to make a purchase), this board ships with a built in IR range sensor and accommodations to drive up to four hobby servo motors. If this isn’t enough for you, two 3 volt DC motors can be soldered directly to connections on the board and controlled independently and in either direction. In other words you don’t have to muck about with trying to build your own H-bridge circuit, it’s all taken care of for you!

The article shows it controlling a Hexbug spider. [EMGRobotics] has actually done something similar (and well-documented) before with this platform, so be sure to check out the post about hacking the Hexbug iteslf!