HelveKit Robot: A chipKIT Robot Design

HelveKit Robot

There are plenty of “how to design a robot” tutorials out there; this is not one of them. Why is this one different? Because the author, GastonLagaffe, doesn’t want to tell you what to do, as he doesn’t want to limit your creativity. 🙂 His personal goals for this robot were for it to be small, autonomous, cheap, easy to solder, easy to program, with plenty of holes, and swarm capable, and although the journey to get from concept to implementation took him 12 months, he learned a lot along the way.

So if you want to make a robot, why not dream big as you read about how Gaston took what started as a small wish and made it a reality, Gaston-style. To see his journey, check out this HelveKit Robot Design Journey on Instructables. You may smile as you see his approach and decide you would have done it differently, but that’s exactly what Gaston would want you to do!

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Using a chipKIT WF32 and a Raspberry Pi to set up fan control for XBOX

Fan Control Using WF32 and Raspberry Pi
Fan Control Using WF32 and Raspberry Pi

Has your XBOX ever overheated due to excessive use? If so, have you ever wondered what you can do to stop it?

In a fan-control project–developed by Austin Stanton after his XBOX 360 died–this is exactly the issue he is trying to correct. Once he finished grieving for his lost gaming system, Austin was able to focus on how to fix the problem so that his next system doesn’t die. After doing some research, he suspected his entertainment system was the culprit, not allowing enough heat to escape.

Austin decided that the best way to regulate the temperature was to regulate the airflow, which he achieves by using two fans and a servo; the servo was positioned so it would open a door (to increase airflow). A chipKIT WF32 monitors temperature and operates the fans, while a Raspberry Pi was controls the WF32 over Wi-Fi by means of two switches.

Pretty good sleuthing on Austin’s part, I’d say! You can check out the details on the Digilent blog, where his project is broken down into two posts. The first one describes how to set up fan control using LabVIEW, and the second one describes how to add a Raspberry Pi to the whole thing.

Good luck with all your DIY life hacks!

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Trophy for chipKIT WF32 Controlled iPad Mount for the Sight Impaired!

chipKIT Controlled iPad Mount for the Sight Impaired
chipKIT WF32 Controlled iPad Mount

In a Digilent-sponsored senior design competition, Kaitlyn Franz’s team won a second place trophy for their project. The team created a Wi-Fi controlled iPad mount for assisting the sight impaired to find lost items. To accomplish this, the team utilized a chipKIT WF32, which has a Wi-Fi capable PIC32 microcontroller on board.

To check out more details, head over to Digilent’s Blog.

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Man Cave Sign – Stepper Motor Control with chipKIT

Man Cave Stepper Motor Control with chipKIT

As a follow-on to a previous post about the “Man Cave Sign“, today’s post shares Darryl’s tutorial for how he put together the stepper motor portion of the Man Cave Sign. Note that stepper motor PCBs vary, but he assures you that they function in the same way. Check it out for all the details!

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chipKIT Text-Message-Enabled Sign and Music Light Box (Man Cave Sign)



Using our DIY chipKIT-board tutorial, Darryl Gardner, a student of the University of South Florida, created something he calls the “Man Cave Sign” for his MakeCourse. This techie sign not only displays messages (via 5 LED dot matrices), reacts to playing music, and lights up in different colors (via 2 LED light strips), but is also controllable via Text Message or Android Apps (which he wrote) that allow the user to do many things like change the display message, control the stepper motor, the color of the light strips, and even make your phone talk out loud!

His PIC32BLUE(+) Android App and PIC32BTN Android App allow you to connect to your microcontroller using a Serial Bluetooth Module and do various things like send messages/commands to/from your Android phone and control things like servo motors, LED matrices, RGB lights, LCD screens or anything you’d like. He incorporates other technologies as well, like a microphone to adjust the light strip colors according to sound fluctuations in the room, a stepper motor to rotate a USF Bulls logo, and he powers it all with a 10,000mA battery for a battery life of over 10 hours.

In this Instructable, he provides more details along with a YouTube playlist of some Arduino tutorials he referenced for the project. Keep an eye out for more details on the various portions of this project! 😀

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chipKIT Pro and Stepper Motors

A typical stepper motor
A typical stepper motor


Stepper motors seem to be the thing these days! As a follow-on to a couple of posts regarding the use of chipKIT Pro with I/O control and Delays, we want to share Learn.Digilentinc’s chipKIT Pro with Stepper Motors project, which builds upon the knowledge learned in the two previous projects and teaches you how to apply a software-based state machine approach to control the speed, rotation direction, and operation mode of stepper motors. It requires knowledge of C or C++ programming, MPLAB X IDE, finite state machines, and the two previously mentioned projects. Go get your learn on!

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Multiple Servos on chipKIT uC32

Can you do it? Yes you can! James at Digilent has put together a post to show how you can run five or more servos on chipKIT uC32 quite easily, as long as you follow some guidelines. The chipKIT Servo library makes the coding easy, so all you may have to worry about is the power consumption. Read on to find out more! 🙂
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Use an RC Servo input to control a stepper motor output

Have you ever wondered if you could control a stepper motor’s speed and direction using an RC servo controller (for example from the stick of a RC airplane transmitter)? Wonder no longer – using a Fubarino Mini and a Big Easy Driver stepper motor controller, Brian Schmalz was able to write a simple sketch to enable precise control of a stepper motor from an RC servo input signal.

This sketch uses a 32-bit hardware timer and output-compare module on the PIC32 so that very accurate step speeds are generated. Step speeds from 1 step per second to over 12,000,000 steps per second can be configured using #define values in the sketch. There is also a configurable dead zone in the stick’s center position.

One advantage of this type of control system over a simple DC motor controller is that the speed of the stepper is not dependent on the load (to a point), so you can very accurately control the speed of whatever you are moving even if the load torque changes over time.

Check out the simple video of this sketch in action:

For complete instructions on how to duplicate this setup, see the complete description here on Brian’s site: RC Servo to Stepper Sketch

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Octoblu IoT with chipKit Uno32 + Motor Shield

Octoblu IoT Cloud Platform - chipKIT Uno32 + Motor Shield Omni-Wheeled Robot
Octoblu IoT Cloud Platform – chipKIT Uno32 + Motor Shield Omni-Wheeled Robot!

chipKIT boards have a new option for building IoT applications: the Octoblu platform! In this hackster.io tutorial, Andrew shows you how to get up and running with Octoblu using a chipKIT Uno32 and a chipKIT Motor Shield… oh, and of course, a few other things including omni wheels, to make a cool robot! Give it a gander and “respect” this project 😉

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