All-in-one Robotics Board + micro:bit - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: All-in-one Robotics Board + micro:bit

Author: bmarq

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?:

Detailed Review:

I will focus my review in terms of hardware since, in my opinion there is a plethora of STEM applications we might think of, and, for sure, this board may accomplish them all.

 

Using this board with other BBC micro:bit boards it makes it very ease to use.

 

This package has arrived as expected. A first look gave me the insight of the board's characteristics as kitronik specified:

 

  • Operating Voltage (Supply via Terminal Blocks or Servo Power Connector): +3.0V 10.8V (Recommended: 6.0V 10.8V).
  • Regulated Voltage Supply (for BBC micro:bit & level shift reference): +3.3V.
  • Max Supply Current Load: 10A (Absolute max., 12A).
  • Servo Output Connections: 8 (Provide supply voltage to servos).
  • Motor Output Connections: 4 [2 stepper motors] (1.5A max current draw per motor).
  • External Connections (Link Header): All BBC micro:bit Pins (IO Pins 5mA max sink/source current).

 

 

 

The board can support a total load of 10A, which is sufficient to supply al the ports to control DC motors/Stepper motors and servos (4 motors and 8 servos).

 

To perform my review I made a small testbed as shown in the following figures, using 2x RC Car like DC motors, 1x 380º servo, 1x 180º servo, and a DC fan.

 

 

I measured the total current draw of the board using different motors (see figure below).

From my measurements I concluded that this  is sufficient to drive all the motors that the board supports.

 

I think the board meets all the requirements for which it was designed. However, I think improvements could be made to the board.

 

In my opinion, we could reduce the possible number of servos (instead of 8 to 4) and introduce the possibility of using some sensors, such as two ultrasonic distance sensors and a line follower.

 

I noticed that when all motors and servos were running, the ics power driver warmed up a bit and the introduction of heat sinks would only improve the performance of the card.

 

Finally, the possibility of using the I2C protocol allows the board to be expanded to use more I2C micros-systems. However, the address plate could be simpler if micro-switches were used, as shown in the following figure.

 

In software terms, the card can be easily programmed using Microsoft's MakeCode.

However, the board should be accompanied by more detailed information regarding its use and programming. In my opinion, the available examples are too generic.

 

As a final words, I am very pleased with this board and I think that, with the small changes I suggest, it could become a reference board in using BBC micro: bit in STEM teaching.

Anonymous
  • Hello Bruno,

     

    I fiund very nice the idea of making a sort of "static car" for testing the performances and features. You wrote:

     

    However, the board should be accompanied by more detailed information regarding its use and programming. In my opinion, the available examples are too generic.

     

    I am sorry do disagree with this point of view. Directly from the Kitronik.co.uk site the board datasheet contains all the useful information you can beed for custom hardware usage, I2C setting and also the – very useful for makers IMHO – exact sizes of the board form–factor; with the datasheet not only you can setup the board and create your own advanced project (not only a kid example STEM project) but also you can design and maybe 3D print the board support, case or anything else thanks to the complete quoted design.

    By the point of view of the software instead, I mean programming, what I have appreciated of this board is just the two levels approach making it adaptable to almost any kind of learning curve. At an easy level, you can just add the library to the extra resources of the MakeCode using all the features of the board (then the MakeCode graphic sources can be easily reversed in the Javascript format for an intermediate use and better understaind of the programming usage of the board APIs)

    At a more advanced level instead, just following the GitHub link from the Kitronik.co.uk product page you have accesso to the module sources, in Python, very well documented. From this side you can develop more than simple stuff but also a very complex project as the BBC micro:bit board support a lot of features.

     

    Enrico