USB atmega Baby Orang

Have you guys considered making a Baby Orang with USB onboard? I’m thinking of essentially an Atmega32U4 breakout but with a motor driver.

I imagine it would sell well at around $25. I’m not trying to low-ball on price, but it’s worth pointing out that you can buy a Teensy and a motor driver for about that. I imagine $30 would still be a fair price.
The theory is that buying a separate programmer would pay off after two or more, but if you only buy one then the all-in-one is cheaper. Prime example would be Baby Orang + Programmer (or Arduino Pro + FTDI adapter) vs Arduino Uno or Nano.

There isn’t much of a real advantage over separate programmer for advanced or even intermediate users (besides the 4 extra ADC channels the 32U4 has), however, a lot can be said for a chip/board that a beginner can just plug in, no worries about drained batteries or wiring up the motor driver correctly.

Hi, Darth Maker.

Thank you for the suggestion. We will certainly keep that in mind for future product ideas. However, I’m not sure how interested we are in expanding our line of AVR-based Orangutans given the emergence of more powerful and relatively inexpensive 32-bit processors. I think at this point we would be more excited about getting started on a new line of 32-bit robot controllers with native USB and USB bootloaders (the biggest hurdle to this would probably be creating new libraries and figuring out how to make a good, free, easy-to-use development environment). Would you have any interest in something like that, or are you mostly looking AVR-based controllers?

- Ben

I just had the same question.

Specifically, I wanted to find the easiest (no soldering) and cheapest way to have a linux-powered robot controller.

Lately products like the Raspberry PI are making Linux boards with USB host capability incredibly affordable, however they still lack a lot on the “I/O pins” side and never provide motor drivers.
All the “plug and play” (beginner friendly) solutions I have seen so far involve some kind of “robot shield” that provides the I/O pins, but (like in the Gumstix case) they are relatively expensive and they still lack built in motor drivers.

What I imagine is a usb powered Baby Orangutan plugged into the USB host port of the Raspberry PI.
With this combination it would be feasible to have a fully functional Linux based controller with I/O and motor controllers for, say, about $60, and that IMHO would be absolutely amazing.

Having Linux would mean that one could use cheap off the shelf USB components for WIFI, or Bluetooth, or cameras, or… just about anything!

BTW, with this in mind, and considering that there is no USB-powered Baby Orangutal for now, what would you suggest to use to add I/O pins and motor control (at least two channels) to a USB-host-capable board like the Raspberry PI?
Would one of the Maestro boards be any useful?

Thanks, and kind regards

I thought I remembered answering this post from four months ago…

Massi, you could use a Baby-O programmed as a serial coprocessor. That would get you it’s two motor driver channels and I/Os. Anything with a serial port can be controlled with a USB-Serial chip. Also remember that the Raspberry Pi has UART and SPI/I2C pins, though they are 3.3V.

I have no ties to AVR or 8bit. I actually dislike AVRs for many reasons. As far as microcontroller companies go, I actually like Microchip PICs the best. It helps that I’ve been working with them the longest though. PICs (at least 8bit) lack a open source and (non-handicapped) free compiler though.

I tend to switch between two (maybe more) mindsets when looking at microcontroller boards. One mindset puts ease of use and cost at the forefront. This is why I like Arduino and similar (lower case arduinos). Download one zipped folder, unpack, install one driver and you are done and ready to start programming on the software side. Libraries are basically drop and go. I also sometimes get into power freak mode, where I look for the most powerful hardware, with less focus on cost, and slightly less focus on ease of use. This is when I look at things like the Leaflabs boards, Chipkit, Raspberry Pi, 16bit PICs, etc.

Baby-Os satisfy price, but general ease of use just isn’t as good as arduinos. Arduinos in general are easier to use, but all or nearly all lack an onboard motor driver, making the hardware slightly more complex.

I would see a $20-22 mega328 based arduino with onboard USB and motor drivers as a very good value. I also don’t see it being a bad value for the company making it, since PJRC makes money off of Teensys at $16, with no motor driver.

It would be great to have some more 32bit robot controllers on the market, especially if they don’t cost an arm and a leg (yeah, I’m looking at you VEX).

For libraries and core code, you could start with Leaflabs STM32 cores. Their philosophy is to largely stick with similar programming as Arduino, but be willing to break compatibility for the sake of fully utilizing the hardware.

I’d like to see a one shot download of Eclipse setup for programming arduinos, Orangs and other controller boards. It’s a very nice step up once you get past the stage where a very simple IDE (like Processing/Arduino) is needed. Here is their license.