Aithon Motor Control Board Runs Chibios/RT RTOS

The Aithon board is a board powered by an STM32 Cortex M4 MCU destined at controlling motors and robotics applications. The board runs Chibios/RT, an open source RTOS, and a set of libraries are also provided to make programming the 2-channel motor driver, and other peripherals/sensors easier.

Here are the specifications of the board:

  • MCU – STMicroelectronics STM32F407 ARM Cortex-M4 @ 168 MHz, FPU, 512KB flash and 192KB RAM, up to 17 timers, an RTC, and 12-bit ADC
  • I/O (All digital I/Os are 5V tolerant):
    • 15 GPIO
    • 8 ADC inputs and 8 PWM servo outputs
    • Up to 3 USART (one shared with 1 I2C port + XBee)
    • Up to 4 I2C (split between two independent buses)
    • 1 SPI header
    • 1 SWD header
    • 1 12-bit DAC output (shared with SPI SCLK)
  • USB – mini-USB (device) and standard USB (host) ports
  • Expansion Headers:
    • XBee socket
    • Bluetooth header for optional Roving Networks RN42 module.
    • MicroSD card socket
    • Expansion port for future expansion boards / shields
  • 3-axis accelerometer / 3-axis gyroscope with temperature sensor (LSM330DLC)
  • 2 channel H-bridge motor driver – 5A per motor (MC33932)
  • LCD port with contrast adjustment (16×2 character LCD included)
  • Misc- Buzzer with software volume control + 2 push-buttons and 2 software controlled LEDs
  • Power Circuitry:
    • 7-24V input with reverse polarity protection and power switch
    • Alternatively, can be powered over USB
    • Optional external servo power (6-24V)
    • 10A 5V switching regulator
    • 5A 3.3V regulator
    • Selectable digital pin power (3.3V or 5V)

You can program the board in C or C++, and it can be programmed via the micro USB port, even over XBee or Bluetooth. There’s no specific IDE for the board. You just write code in your preferred editor, build the program in the command line, and load the binary from there as well. Battery voltage, motor current, motor fault detection, USB host over-current fault and servo power voltage can all be monitored by software. Once the project is ready to ship, it will become fully open hardware with all schematics and library source code available for download.

Aithon Robotics has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to get mass production started. Watch the video below for an overview of the board and its features, and see 2 short demos with a robot collecting and stacking (hockey?) pucks, and some sort of 2 player game.

The lowest pledge ($89) will get you the Aithon board, an LCD display (16×2), and a USB cable, but you can also pledge up to $180 to add a mini USB power adapter (5V/2A), a motor board for 2 extra motors, and the Bluetooth module. The company also has an official website, but there’s not much information there for now.

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