DynamixShield Kickstarter Announced

Dr. David Cofer over at NeuroRobotic Technologies has announced a Kickstarter for DynamixShield, an Arduino Due shield that combines support smart servos and plug-in sensors. Looky here:

Background

As you may recall from earlier articles here on JetsonHacks, Dr. Cofer is an active member of the Jetson community who has designed boards for interfacing with the Jetson TK1. You may also remember the in-depth article for adding SPI kernel support on the Jetson TK1.

Here at JetsonHacks we’ve also used the Jetson TK1 Connector board that he designed. Needless to say, we’re big fans.

The DynamixShield is a shield for an Arduino Due. So why publicize it here? Money quote from the Kickstarter page:

I am focusing on getting this all running on the NVIDIA Jetson TK1 or TX1. The Jetson is a small, embedded computer with a powerful CUDA core that is perfect for vision processing and neural networks. However, interfacing the Jetson with other robotic components is still a bit of a challenge. Producing the DynamixShield is my first step towards making it easy for anyone to build robots with the Jetson. I plan to combine the DynamixShield together with some interface circuitry to produce a new product called the Jetduino.

DynamixShield

DynamixShield on Kickstarter
DynamixShield on Kickstarter

As we have talked about previously, robots can consist of motors and hardware sensors which need to be interfaced with at a low level by real-time processes. Arduinos (the Due is a 32-bit Arduino design) and other such micro controllers fit this bill perfectly, and are easy to interface with over serial ports. However in order to interface with the Arduino specialized connectors and electrical components need to be added.

There are a wide range of connectors as well as device types out in the world. In the world of servos, Dynamixel is considered to be a world leader in the professional field. The Dynamixel servos are what is called a “smart servo” which provides a wide range of niceties, but need a specialized connector and protocol for connecting with a micro controller. The DynamixShield adds connectors for 4 Dynamixel servos, though Dynamixel servos can be chained for even more smart servo goodness. In addition, regular servos can be connected to the shield.

Another connector that has been standardized over the last few years is called a Grove connector, which is a universal 4 pin connector. There is a whole ecosystem of sensors that connect through Grove. The DynamixShield has both digital and analog channels that are available through Grove connectors.

There are other nice features of the board, read about it in-depth on the Kickstarter page.

The basic idea for the DynamixShield is to provide all of the interface points that are needed for a robotics application which makes the hardware interfacing all of the necessary servos and sensors straightforward for the robot builder.

Certainly worth checking out!

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