Easily build a robot car with the Car Base Board for the STM32F411 “Black Pill” board

The Car Base Board from Applying Microcontroller Solutions is a modular platform for building robot car projects powered by the WeAct Studio Black Pill development board. The Black Pill board is an upgrade to the “Blue Pill 2” board and features the STM32F411CEU6 microcontroller running at 100MHz with 512 KB of flash memory, 128 KB SRAM, and a USB Type-C port for power and programming.

Car Base Board

The Care Base Board printed circuit board is a base controller that takes hardware expansions such as wireless modules, servos, and sensors to monitor and control a robot car. The onboard headers provide a straightforward way to wire these connections and help prevent a tangled mess (rat’s nest) of wires.

The PCB’s design makes it easy to use widely-available, “generic” devices and boards in development and to power all of them with batteries. It also allows the developer to select their favorite wireless communication device. The Car Base Board adds another option to robotics development platforms we have previously covered such as M5Stack BugC2, EVN Alpha, and the Qualcomm RB5 platform.

Applying Microcontroller Solutions Car Base Board specifications:

  • Supported MCU board – Weact Black Pill board based on STM32F411 Arm Cortex-M4F MCU @ 100 MHz with 512KB on-chip flash, 128KB on-chip SRAM, and 8 MB or 16 MB Flash (important since the flash is not present on all versions of the Black Bill)
  • Motor Control
    • 6-pin connector for dual motor control
    • PCA9685 Servo Driver connector (6V servos)
    • 2x 3-pin Servo connector (5V servos)
  • Monitors/Sensor for obstacle avoidance
    • Ultrasonic (SR-HC04/05)
    • 2x infrared slotted optical speed sensor
    • 3x infrared obstacle sensor/tracker
  • Communication
    • Infrared Receiver (IR1838)
    • 6-pin UART port for connecting a Bluetooth module
    • NRF24 for 2.4GHz communication
  • Display – I2C port for OLED display
  • Power
    • 4.5 – 5.0V USB power from desktop computer via USB-C connector on Black Pill (3.3V power to Car Base Board)
    • Battery power from an external source via onboard Phoenix connector (5V to several headers via 5V regulator)

The Black Pill development can be programmed in STM32 C, Arduino, or MicroPython. Working MicroPython examples for different devices are available in the Base Board’s Github repository.

Car Base Board Mounted PCB chassis
Car Base board mounted on Ackermann robot car chassis ($69 on Amazon)

The Car Base Board is available for $14 on Tindie. Do note that the board is just the base controller, and you will need to acquire the STM32 BlackPill, vehicle chassis, modules, ribbon cables, battery, and other components yourself. The seller mentions that they may offer “an add-on product containing the devices, wiring, and chassis” if sufficient interest is indicated. More information is available in the GitHub repository.

Car base board power wiring diagram
Wiring diagram
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