This Baby O is great, but many robots need more than 2 motors. A Baby-O with two TB6612FNG chips would let users control up to 4 motors rather than use a separate TB6612 breakout board. This would make the Baby-O very useful for UAV projects or robots that need twomotors for locomotion and up to 2 for use on the platform. This will open up revenue to an under served community of DIYers.
…and the extra space on the edge of the board (freed up by the pins used for the second controller) can be used for a dedicated pinout to an FTDI cable or Xbee. This will make the Baby-o infinitely more accessible to Arduino users who may be hesitant to jump into AVR programming, and much easier to buildup and test projects in a usable configuration, without all the jumper wires and breadboards.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do not understand the UAV angle; can you explain how you would use the four channels? (My impression is that you generally need a lot more power for flying things and that the bidirectional control is a waste). It sounds like you might have a project right now that uses four TB6612 channels; can you tell us more about it?
First of all, I’m really impressed with all of your guy’s stuff that I have used. I’m making a blimp that uses 3 channels right now. Fully assembled prototype weighs only 118g. I have 2 motors for thrust and one for elevation control. The 2 Baby-O channels provide right and left thrust. The third channel I need comes from one of your TB6612 breakouts but its ugly and a pain to build up. It rotates the fan arms on a small gearbox to vector the thrust. Im also toying with the idea of an ultralight quadcoptor built from readily available RC helicopter spare parts. If I can get large blades that fit in these small tail rotors it just might work…
A robot the drove and moved motor/actuators could not only drive somewhere but then do something about it! These 4 channel Baby-Os could be used in robots with 2 larger motors or steppers.
The 4-channel BABY-O wont leave much for digital I/O if all four motor channels are being used, but I2C and all the analog pins are available and these can be used as digital pins.
RX/TX and ISP stay reserved for programming and communications. It would probably be nice if you could leave the pinouts for motor C and D PWM, In1 and In2 so those IOs could be accessed in a 3 motor configuration and for breadboarding but I have not thought this all the way through.
If you put the FTDI breakout on the edge like the Arduino mini, it will also be way easier to interface with an XBee regulated breakout board. Plus, I could get my friends to use these if they worked directly with an FTDI cable.
Another idea is to keep the BABY-O with it existing 2 channels, but arrange the pinout of it and the TB6612 breakout so someone could solder the TB6612 to headers in the BABY-O. The extra V and GND pinouts would come in handy for sensors getting wired in, giving a more robust option to the surface pads.
Thanks for following up on this. I still suspect that it’s difficult to get something like this to have the right combination of features to cover a large audience. For instance, even for the quadcopter, the TB6612 probably doesn’t have enough juice, and some small MOSFETs for unidirectional control would be cheaper and much more effective. I would like to design some kind of Baby Orangutan with the ATmega1284, and it might be possible to do four channels of motor drive with that. These boards are quite packed and difficult to route, though, and going to two-sided assembly or 4-layer boards adds a lot to the cost, which I suspect would take away from the appeal of the Baby Orangutans.
Fair enough. Its not hard to attach the breakout TB6612 to meet my own means. In fact it is done. The single package for four motors would be slick but I agree, pretty specialized. If you were for instance picking between that and a better serial (FTDI/XBee compatible) pinout, the Serial pinout on the end will add more value to a larger audience than a second motor controller.
Did you design this? It’s a nice piece of engineering. If you design a “Baby-Mega-O” that would be pretty awesome. How small do you think you could get it? Would you break out all the pins or minimize size? The problem for me with all the mega based boards is size. I need something tiny and basically disposable for most of my projects because I solder them in permanently. With a little ingenuity the 328 has plenty of capability. That’s why I love this Baby-O. Its a complete package for so many applications.
I did most of the Baby Orangutan design, and I am happy to hear you like it. I just wrote a little about how I’m involved in the design process in a blog post yesterday:
Variations on the Orangutans, with more computing power or more motor drivers or with other peripherals have been in that “stockpile of potential product ideas” for years.