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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5 Replies to “Aithon Motor Control Board Runs Chibios/RT RTOS”

  1. Why would someone pledge 150$ and more if an STM32F4Discovery is avaiable for $20USD or less

  2. @hippie
    Yes, I’ve almost skipped this board because of the price. However, I don’t know much about motor control boards, and I’ve seen another one TinyG ( that costs $130 for 4 motors, so maybe this board price is not that bad after all, and by posting I may get some interesting feedback :). However, you can’t really compare it to STM32F4Discovery because you’ve got lots of other features with that board (sensors, motor drivers, LCD module, etc..), and it seems to offers a single board solution for robotics application.

  3. @cnxsoft

    I’m just saying this is a bit too expensive, not that you did anything wrong by posting it.

    The stm32F4 discovery has the accelerometer, the other sensors are dirty cheap too

    – The MC33932 ( Dual H-Bridge controller ) is avaiable for less than 8 USD;

    – the LCD port is just a header ( 2 USD (?) per piece );

    – if no idea how much a buzzer costs but I would be surprised if it costs more that 5 USD;

    “The lowest pledge ($89) will get you the Aithon board, an LCD display (16×2), and a USB cable”

    A 16×2 can be had in sparkfun ( not the cheapest place to buy for sure ) for under $15

    overpriced imo

  4. The Discovery is an ADVERTISING board. All those parts on there alone (without manuf. cost etc.) are worth more than the sales price.
    ST gives this away for free basically they don’t make any profit at all with it (maybe even a loss), same thing as the launchpad and other similar boards from other vendors.
    They just sell it so cheap to attract (future) developers in companies to use their products for some high volume applications. That all hobby users jump on that train as well is acceptable for them as they might get professional developers someday and then buy a million pcs.

    Of course this is bad for all vendors that had specialized on producing similar boards – for real world prices.

  5. > The Discovery is an ADVERTISING board.

    And Kickstarter is a viral marketing site, so any price there is good – as long as there’re enough folks who “shut up and take my money”. This project is at least has modest budget target, and does something different from typical kickstarter vaporware. And surely, robot control board is not just a mix of cheap components.

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