I’ve just sent a new set of boards for fab. The HexMotor rev2.3 boards have several new features: LEDs for +5v and +6.25v, a reset button, 16-bit shift register instead of 8-bit, servo outputs connected to pins 13, 7, 2, 9, 10 (rather than to the pins used for PWM). The new board should be able to do either 6 PWM motors or 4 PWM motors, 5 servos, and 2 non-modulated reversible motors.
I’m also making some breakout boards for the MPXHZ6250A pressure sensors from Freescale Semiconductor, which will require doing some SMD soldering. At least the design uses gull-wing pins, which can (supposedly) be hand soldered. One of the breakout boards also has a place for mounting an ADXL335 accelerometer, which may be more difficult to solder. I don’t think I want to spend the money for a hot-air rework station, and I’m a bit dubious about my ability to solder using a toaster oven.
The pressure sensors are tiny! My original suggestion to the robotics club was to drill a hole in the dry box and superglue the pressure sensor to the inside of the box (after the pressure sensor had been attached to the breakout board, of course). Now I’m not so sure that there will be enough glue area to hold firmly enough. Perhaps a dab of some sealant on the outside of the box might help, if we can keep from plugging the hole in the sensor.
The breakout board that I think that the robotics club will end up using puts a pressure sensor on one side and headers for a piggyback ADXL335 breakout board on the back. that way there only need to be one set of wires for connecting the analog inputs and power to the sensors.
One limitation of the Arduino for use with this combination of sensors is that the accelerometer is a 3v part and the pressure sensor is a 5v part. We’ll have to set up the analog-to-digital converter on the Arduino to have a 5v range, which reduces the precision of the acceleration readings.
I’ve also bought some other sensors (not for the underwater vehicle, but for physics class and dry robotics): a couple of ultrasonic rangefinders. More on those in a separate post, after I’ve had a chance to play with them.