Power Management Module with USB Interface

Is anyone aware of a simple power management module with a USB interface?

I’m looking for a basic board that you can plug in a 12V battery to, and have it regulate and convert that into 12V (for motors) and 5V (for logic boards), automatically switch over to a wall source if plugged in, and and monitor and disable the battery charge/discharge via a USB-serial interface.

I’ve Googled, but no one sells anything like this, and I don’t understand why. I’m tired of custom designing these myself for every robot I build.


What you have described does not sound simple to me. It sounds like you are looking for quite a few functions for a somewhat specific set of voltages, so that’s unlikely for someone to make in a general way. For instance, just doing the 12V-to-12V regulation with enough current to handle motors is a challenge in itself, and a solution for 5A or 10A will likely be too expensive and overkill for a 1A problem. You are also looking for battery charging, and that solution will also depend a lot on what kind of battery you have and what kind of performance you need. I have seen a lot of integrated chips with the general features you are looking for but with much lower voltages, like for a single or two-cell Li-Ion battery plus USB and power adapter options. I think those components exist for all these little cell phones and MP3 players; I do not think there is an equivalent market pressure to make 12V, high-current equivalents.

Can you point us to more information about your existing designs?

- Jan

I’m not looking for anything super fancy. Just something I can attach to a Li-Po battery, occassionally plug in a wall adapter to recharge, and monitor the voltage with over USB. Accomplishing multiple voltages can be cheaply accomplished with separate modular units. It doesn’t have to be “all in one”.

I’ve found some similar circuits through Googling, but they’re mostly like http://www.tinyosshop.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=225, and charge via USB, limiting them to 5V, and offer no ability to monitor or control charging via USB.

I’m really surprised there’s nothing like this out there. Most, if not every robot kit I’ve seen suffers from an inadequate to non-existant recharge circuit. The few I’ve seen are usually homebrew. Why does every $200 netbook have an excellent ACPI power management board, but $600-$2000 robot kits require you to manually remove and plug in the batteries to a wall socket?

This “Lipo Rider” http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/Lipo_Rider_V1.1 is another example of something that comes close. It’s small and cheap. Unfortunately, it has a max output of 5V.