Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Minimal motion

In AVR, Hardware on Jun 3, 2009 at 00:01

Now that I’ve been bitten by the robot bug, it’s hard to stop. Wanted to experiment with a minimal setup for self-balancing:

Minimal motion

These are 1.5 .. 3V motors with 1:96 gears from Conrad. What’s special about these is that they only need some 20..30 mA current, which is sort of within the direct-drive capability of an ATmega168. That means 2 I/O pins per motor can be used to create an H-bridge without any further electronics.

Here’s a small sketch to drive these from a JeeNode:

Picture 1.png

A couple of details show that this really is pushing the limit: without the capacitors, timing becomes erratic. Also, the delays between reversals seems to be needed to bring the motors to a stop. I suspect that there’s still some very bad stuff happening due to inductive kickback, so diodes to ground and VCC are probably required to avoid damaging the MPU chip.

But it does run. It’s all driven off a tiny 100 mAh LiPo battery in that picture above, and it kept going longer on a charge than I was willing to wait for. Probably over an hour – total power draw is in the 50 .. 60 mA range.

Anyway, this is even more spielerei than the JeeBot. Just wanted to find out whether these components might be used for a little baby balancer one day. This would also require wheels and at least an accelerometer.