Snekboard Controls LEGO Power Functions with CircuitPython or Snek Programming Languages (Crowdfunding)

LEGO has provided robotics kit for years, and LEGO blocks and accessories in general are great to build all sort of projects, so it’s not surprising third-parties have come up with LEGO-compatible boards and accessories for makers which include DFRobot BOSON kits, STEMTera smart breadboard, Brixo LEGO blocks with built-in electronics, and more.

Snekboard is another option with the Microchip SAMD21 board designed to work with LEGO Power Functions motors and switches are programmable with MicroPyhon based CircuitPython or Snek programming languages.

Snekboard hardware specifications:

  • Microcontroller – Microchip SAMD21G18A Arm Cortex-M0 MCU with 256 KB flash and 32 KB RAM.
  • Storage – 2MB SPI flash
  • USB – 1x Micro USB port for power and programming
  • Motor Control – 4x TI DRV8800 DC motor drivers tp provide up to 2.8A for LEGO motors and servos
  • I/O- 8x GPIOs (3.3V)
  • Misc – 2x RGB LEDs, 1x blue LED
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via USB port
    • Single-cell LiPo battery support with USB charging and 9V boost regulator

Snekboard is open source hardware with (PDF) design files already available and released under the TARP license.

As we can see from the comparison table above, there are other motor control boards for LEGO motors, including LEGO’s own Move Hub, but Snekboard is the only one from this list to support up to 4 motors, and the developer – Keith Packard – attempted to provide a good mix of features.

It’s the first time, I hear about Snek programming language, and like CircuitPython, it is a fork of MicroPython, but Snek is supposed to be even simpler to use and has a lower footprint.

The project has just launched on Crowd Supply with a $4,000 funding target. The board is offered with a 3.7 V, 900 mAh LiPo battery for $79, and other rewards include a $10 LEGO baseplate, and a $20 cable set. Shipping is free to the US and adds $6 to $7 to the rest of the world. Backers should expect their reward(s) to ship in May 2020.

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4 Comments
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roel
roel
5 months ago

I wonder how much amp’s he gets out of his 9V boost regulator. And if he gets 4x 2.8A (I assume the 2.8A is for each motor) out of it, I wonder which booster he uses.

roel
roel
5 months ago

So it are 4 separate DRV8800 motor drivers each can handle 2.8A and the booster delivers 4.5A. Not enough for the full potential but more than I expected. Nice.

roel
roel
5 months ago

OK, just reviewed the charts and the 4,5A is input current. Output is more around 1000mA. I don’t see an alternative input source where you can connect for example a 2S LiPo to get more power out of the drivers.

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