Let's Make Robots!

Best Arduino (compatible) board?

I want to make the next generation of the "Start Here"-instructions be based on Arduino instead of Picaxe.

Some will say that it was about freakin time, but so far the advantage of the Picaxe has been that I could chose a single board that "did it all": Hook up Motors, Servos, sensors and everything.

This, and the fact that the Picaxe Basic Language needs very little introduction, made it the choise - even though the Arduino series has been a lot more popular recent years.

However, now there are such boards as The uBotino V2 Kit that does it all: You can connect servos and motors and sensors and all.

It is not that I mind the Arduino shields, it is a nice way of thinking IMHO, but for a start robot, I need AT LEAST motor control on the main board.

But it is a open source jungle out there, so I need your knowledge;

What other boards are there, that at least has motor control on the board, and even better if it can also control servos, and or other stuff? And has this board good community support, and can it be purchased assambled?

Thanks friends :)

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That would be gr8

It may not be as easy as with the picaxe, but it's really really simple to attach  an H-bridge to an arduino to power your motors

and you can easily make a 5volt, 5 amp hbridge from 4 darlingtons, dead bug construction ( solder free, just twist the pins togather)

I built one, and I took some pictures, but I don't know where they are right now...

 

ah, you can almost see it on top of the arduino board, the transistors are mounted back to back and then stuck into the arduino headers

I got one from Pololu and ran them through the wringer because it was not working. It ran the motor forward,but not backward and after a few test cycles not all in either direction. We finally figured out that the test code I was doing was reversing so quickly that the motor was still spinning. I thought I was being smart and using a really low power setup to do initial testing, but it was so weak it could not sink the feedback power from the spinning motor and it killed the motor controller.

For a complete beginner project, why not get a two motor RC tank and just use 2 transistors to switch the power off and on? Forward only,one motor at a time to turn or both at once to go forward.

Technically not Arduinos, though there is a library out there that will let you use the Arduino IDE and whatnot.

http://www.pololu.com/catalog/category/8

There is a nice little feature comparison chart on that page:

BTW, I am using Arduinos without motor controllers; they generate PWM that you can feed to ESC units from higher end RC stuff.

I have a MEGA that controls a couple of motors, a couple of ganged servos, has a GPS, an LCD display, a tilt compensated compass, an SD ldata logger, an xBee RF transceiver plus a sonar unit should be dropped of by the brown truck tomorrow. It also has a bunch of simple buttons and sensors. The only shield I have on it is a prototype shield. The "shield per function" way of doing things is limiting. Serial and I2C devices give you plenty of functionality and come in small packages.

You can get a dual motor controller for under $10 from Pololu or SparkFun that uses a 2 digital pins and 1 analog (PWM) pin per motor if you want to run the gearbox stuff, but ESCs are the way to go if you want higher end motors.

Good inputs, thanks :)

However, I still think that for a "simple as it can get"- type of project, a board with the essentials on it would be best.

But as said; Good inputs, appreciated, and perhaps they can be usefull for "advanced" users, stuff like that.

Yer.. but this would not excactly make things super-fast to explain, or am I missing something?

I need to take people who hve NEVER touched any electronics or programming by the hand, and SIMPLY get them started with a robot. That extra library-fiddeling around, will not make it any easier, am I right?

Thanks.

The extra library step would probably not make it much harder at all. Installing the Arduino IDE already means copying things around. The library is just copied in also. Someone who does more open source would know the GNU guidelines better, but I think you could grab the Arduino distribution, add in the library and then make it available here as long as it was clear that you are not claiming ownership or anything. Besides, nearly all Arduinos other than the "standard" line will have a library and/or sample code to be downloaded.

Having baked in motor controls would make it so much easier after the fact. But, I looked into it a bit further and while I find that a really attractive option (especially the Baby O at < $20!), it still has non-Arduino differences with pins and what not. 

Have you done much with Arduino yet? I would hesitate to call it easy; it is easy to get code that doesn't do much onto a board and run it. After that, the curve is steep and the water is deep. It can do everything because it starts out with nothing but loads of pins and an easy way to use them for digital or analog in or out with lots of code to help you do serial IO, I2C, PWM, etc. I love the Arduinos, but I am not sure they are anywhere close to the simplest way to get into this.

I might be getting too advanced again, but a Pro Mini is around $20 and for less than $20 you can get an import ESC with a BEC and motor. Servos you can get in the $5 range. So for around $50 you can get the guts for a higher end motion platform.

Your reply came in while I was typing. Yes, what I am doing is very challenging, probably not a good place to start.