Clock/Blinking Light Circuit

I have a small actuator that operates butterfly wings.

I am a programmer, and they work wonderfully powered by a Pi. This is over kill, and too big for the mobile application it is needed on.

I have found a blinking light circuit that accomplishes what I need, but now I need the blinking around 0.5-0.25Hz. I do not know this math.

Can Pololu help me with this task?


Are you using any of our products? Can you share the blinking light circuit you are referring to?

- Patrick

Not yet. If this is something Pololu can help with, I will put the products on will-call and drive down there immediately.
But this application only needs 1 side, and it is a motor.

Unfortunately, our products would probably not be useful for making an astable multivibrator, somewhere like DigiKey or even Amazon would probably be a better place to look. My suggestion would be to learn as much about how the circuit works as you can, and then get some kits with a range of capacitors and resistors so that you could try putting parts with different values in the circuits to see what works. By the way, except for the LEDs, you will still need to make the entire circuit for the astable multivibrator to work.

Another approach you might consider is just using a smaller microcontroller to direct your motor. For example, you might consider one of our A-Star programmable controllers. There are versions that measure as small as 1″ × 0.6″, and they can be programmed using the Arduino IDE which there are a ton of online resources for. If you do not already have one, we also have several small motor driver carriers.

- Patrick

Can the micro controller be battery powered, and can the output be ~1.5V? If that’s the case, I’m much better at programming.

Our A-Stars can be powered from an appropriate battery. Most of our A-Stars, including all of the A-Star 32U4 controllers (which I recommend most since they have USB interfaces), operate at 5V. However, there are PWM outputs that you can control the duty cycle for. It is usually okay to power motors from a higher voltage than they are rated for if your appropriately reduce the duty cycle of the signal, so for example, you could safely power a 1.5V rated motor from 5V if you limit the duty cycle to 30%.

Please keep in mind, I/O pins (including PWM outputs) on small microcontrollers like our A-Stars are not appropriate for high current applications, like powering motors. If your motor was working when directly powered from a Raspberry Pi I/O pin, then it seems like your motor might be low-power enough that it would be okay to do that with an A-Star too, but the more common approach would be to use a separate motor driver. If you can post more details about your motor, then I might be able to more confidently assess whether powering it from a microcontroller would be okay.

- Patrick

I’m all for using a microcontroller, but if you wanted to do it with transistors, capacitors, and resistors, this tutorial explains the timing arithmetic.

I’m sold, do you sell the batteries as well? Though it looks like will-call is unavailable, I would like to pick up ASAP.

Awesome tutorial and I can now do the math, but the difficulty of finding the parts in a brick and mortar has now sent me the way of the microcontroller that I can get now.

Here are links to our selections of batteries and battery holders.

Unfortunately, we do not have a physical storefront, and we are not set up to offer customer pickup at this time.

- Patrick

Well, order placed. If you want to earn the shipping, I am just east on Tropicana and will pick it up if someone calls me.