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Mechaduino 0.1 sent to manufacturer

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at Tropical Labs.  We’ve been painstakingly refining our next Mechaduino board design.  This version features hardwired connections to the motor driver and encoder (no more jumpers!), fewer through-hole components (only connectors), 5V compatible level shifters on D0 and D1, and a more thoughtful board layout.  The new boards will be slightly smaller, and will not overhang the edge of a NEMA 17 motor.  We also arranged our power connections so that a 3 terminal 5V regulator (the classic 7805 or a modern switching equivalent), could be installed for single supply operation.

Earlier this week, we wrapped up the final schematic/board layout and sent the designs to our manufacturer, MacroFab.  The latest designs files are available on github.


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Electronic Gearing

Implemented with analog setpoints and two motors:
M1 position — to — M2 setpoint
M2 position — to — M1 setpoint

It works! Could use some filtering to remove noise, but not bad for
first attempt!  Could also be implemented over serial or I2C.

Applications include synchronous motion applications, but also extend to haptic force-feedback:   torque applied to one shaft is felt on the other.   A pair could be used to link motion of a joystick to a robotic arm, allowing the operator to “feel” when obstacles are hit.  Could be used for bi-directional tele-operation of equipment.  Imagine transmitting force and motions through the tactile equivalent of skype!