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OpenServoCAN - Help develop an alternative control board for Standard size servo
119 raised
24% of €500 goal
4 contributors
69 Weeks running

Hi there!

 

My name is Eleftherios Provatos and I am a physics university student and self-taught electronics engineer from Greece. I started with electronics from a very young age and some of my first contacts was with robotics. I loved building robots but soon reached my hardware and/or wallet limitations. And thus I started developing hardware and since years that´s exactly what I specialize on!

 

This is Stage I of the project! Help develop a working demo! Your 2€ matter A LOT!

 

One of the major problems, especially back on the day was servos. Most people, including me, would use standard size hobby RC servos for all their robots.  These "servos" were expensive and dumb, and although Chinese manufacturers have nowadays solved the price problem, few and still very expensive are the solutions that offer a "true servo", a motion controller with proper feedback! And that´s exactly where this projects stems from.

 

And thus OpenServoCAN is born!

An alternative to the boring control boards inside standard size hobby servos!

First Design Stages

 

It was a very long time I wanted to make a project like this! Most, for the more expensive ones, hobby servos offer no feed back. You send them a signal and hope they will reach the targeted position. This might be good enough for uses in the RC world, but not good enough at all for those building robots or anything of a kind that needs feedback.

Although I am aware that another OpenServo Project exists, I wanted to put my own touch into the matter and I tried to do quite a few things better, at least compared to the first version (I have not reviewed the second).

  1. Added CAN-Bus! Yes, that´s a good thing! It might complicate some things especially for beginners but that´s on what most "unobtainium" servos work in the market. I have not yet decided the communications protocol, but I am leaning towards CANopen, suggestions are open!

  2. Can support either a potentiometer or an encoder (quadrature or not) for positional control

  3. Can operate from 5V - 15V safe zone, but most probably will not have a problem with a 4S LiPo. Current limiting will be done by software so, if you want to break the DC motor inside or not is totally up to you!

  4. Beefed up MOSFETs with individual MOSFET drivers, just to be able to push that switching frequency to the right spot without worrying too much!

The Project is of course open source with details and updates available at: GitHub , EEVBlog my Youtube Channel and Instagram (@TrickyNekro)

 

Meanwhile the first boards from JLCPCB have arrived!

Board_Arrival

 

So why the need for money I hear you ask? Well... Unfortunately, components and boards do not drop out of the sky. I need money to keep with the development of the project. Specifically the money will go to:

  1. Buying the necessary components for the completion of the prototypes and beginning of code development.
  2. Buying victims... I mean volunteers for my experiments, aka standard size servos which will be sacrificed on the altar of knowledge. I do already have a bunch of HS-311 for the first networking experiments, but I really need to find out in how many different kind of servos I can fit my board, both for space and power requirements!
  3. Developing and manufacturing some software development boards, the small size these boards, do not make an easy and fun environment for experimentation.
  4. Developing and manufacturing revisions. If everything is perfect from the first moment, then definitely something is wrong!
  5. Engineers do NOT run on coal! They run on coffee! So any excess will go there. I can make my coffee at home though, so I can be rather cheap to run.

 

If I get the funding needed, I will make the component orders immediately and start working on the "software development" platform. But I can NOT promise that I will release working software before the end of summer 2019. I have to refresh a little bit my knowledge of the CAN-Bus protocol and I also want to make it as bulletproof as it can be. I will be uploading my progress on GitHub though!

 

Some of the ICs are already soldered on some of the boards, but I can not support the development of the boards solely on free samples.

Soldered ICs

I have already composed an order on Mouser, unfortunately not all parts are available right now there, so I am most probably looking at an order from Microchip direct also! When 150€ are collected (after PayPal fees), this Mouser order will be flying IMMEDIATELY through the wires!

The aim is to have 10 working prototypes by the end of the campaign plus at least one "software development" platform. All this should not cost more than 200 - 250€. The rest will go to furthering the ecosystem, all open-source ecosystem! I got some servos waiting for the mod just here!
ServoWalker and OSCAN together!

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