Why not a combined motor and sensor/servo board


Just starting to configure an autonomous rover with a video stream via a Raspberry Pi. I have yet to find a combined controller board that supports more than a single ultrasonic sensor. So far the "best" I have found is a 2 x motor, 1 x ultrasonic and 1 x servo. As a beginner I am wondering why for example there isn't a PiBorg board that combines the functionality of the ThunderBorg with the UltraBorg.

piborg's picture

The simple answer is that boards which do many functions at once quickly become very complicated.

For example if we were adding some sensors and servos to the existing ThunderBorg design we would need a bigger control chip as there are no spare pins for the extra devices. This would mean using a larger more complex chip which would need more space on the board. On top of that we would need additional space for the new connectors and a larger software library to control all of the new features.

In short an UltraBorg / ThunderBorg hybrid would be both larger and more expensive. In general we have found that larger boards like these tend to be less popular as most people do not need all the functionality.

What we have done instead is to make most of our boards work in a way that allows multiple boards to be connected to a single Raspberry Pi at the same time. In this case the ThunderBorg and UltraBorg can be daisy-chained together so that they can be used on the same robot :)

Having said that it would be good to hear what sort of specification you would be looking for as we are considering the idea of developing some multi-function type boards later on as a more complete robot controller.

Hi, thanks for your explanation - I do understand when in extremis :-)
It would be good to have an overt URL to the daisy-chaining method on both the product pages (ThunderBorg & UltraBorg). This would help people immediately understand the wiring & power implications.
Looking at the future I would personally consider a board that caters for the typical autonomous wheeled rover use case to provide for 2 x motors, 3 x ultrasonic sensors, 2 x servo to handle pan & tilt operations and 2 x wheel encoders. The "legged" type of rovers would need more servo control but at this time it seems the servo cost for that type of durability requirement is too high for most people. The only thing I would add is - in my opinion - any type of roving platform is of little use apart from fun unless it can provide a reasonable selection of environmental sensor data :-)

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