Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 9, 2013.

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A smart, compact power supply designed to power anything, anywhere

As featured in

Stretch Goal 1: $30k - COMPLETED!

Everyone who receives an award that includes a Hydra will be able to choose between a black, red, or blue anodized enclosure.

Additional anodization colors for Stretch Goal 1
Additional anodization colors for Stretch Goal 1

Stretch Goal 2: $60k - COMPLETED

Each Hydra will ship with a free installation kit including a phillips-head screwdriver for the screw terminals, specialized mounting brackets and hardware, a mini-USB cable, and three sets of alligator clips for the outputs.  

Hydra with AC/DC adapter and cables
Hydra with AC/DC adapter and cables

Stretch Goal 3 - $100k

Anyone who pledged enough to receive the Bluetooth Expansion Board will be able to choose to receive the forthcoming WiFi Expansion Board instead. The WiFi expansion will allow the Hydra to be controlled from a computer through a WiFi wireless network. If enough time remains after we reach our third stretch goal, we'll add a new reward to include both expansion boards (old pledges can be upgraded).

Overview

The Hydra is a triple-output power converter designed to make it easy to get the power you need for your next project: simply grab the closest battery or AC/DC adapter, plug it in to the Hydra, and you'll immediately have access to three independent, software-configurable DC output voltages to power your system.  

With its palm-sized aluminum case, the Hydra provides all the flexibility of a bench-top supply without using up your desk space.  And unlike a bench-top supply, you can use it anywhere: its small size and flexibility make it a perfect power solution, whether for a mobile robot or an industrial system.  

The Hydra fits in the palm of your hand
The Hydra fits in the palm of your hand

You can control the Hydra using your computer, an Arduino or other microcontroller, or even your smart phone (if it supports Bluetooth 4.0).  Using any input voltage between 5V and 14V, each of the three outputs can be set to anything between 3.0V and 12.0V via USB, Bluetooth 4.0, or serial.

The Hydra is packed with features, including reverse polarity protection, ESD and surge protection on all inputs and outputs, over-current protection, automatic thermal shutdown, and user-adjustable output current limits.  When combined with the included PC software, the Hydra can function as a battery charger for lithium, NiMH, NiCD, and lead-acid batteries. And with 2.5A continuous current capability per output, the Hydra is equipped to meet virtually all  project needs, including powering servos, cameras, wireless transmitters, and control electronics. This is the last power supply or battery charger you will ever need to own.

The Hydra Compared to a Bench-Top Power Supply
The Hydra Compared to a Bench-Top Power Supply

Features of the Hydra 

  • One input, three independent outputs
  • Control via USB, serial, or Bluetooth (iPhone or Android devices)
  • Adjustable output current limit
  • Current control mode allows the Hydra to act as a current source (drives high power LEDs, etc.)
  • Charges batteries using the included PC software and a USB connection
  • CNC-machined, anodized aluminum enclosure
  • Output short circuit protection
  • Thermal shutdown
  • ESD and surge protection on all inputs and outputs
  • Reverse polarity protection on voltage input
Controlling the Hydra from Your Computer
Controlling the Hydra from Your Computer

Specifications

  • Accepts input voltages from 5.0V to 14.0V 
  • Output voltages individually configurable from 3.0V to 12.0V 
  • Output voltage resolution: 0.01 volts
  • Max continuous current per output: 2.5A at 5V (~12 watts available per output at any voltage level)
  • Output voltage ripple: < 10mV peak-peak at 100mA, < 50mV peak-peak at 2.5A
  • Buck-boost topology allows the input to be above, below, or equal to the outputs
  • Bluetooth expansion board supports Blueooth 4.0 ONLY
A peek inside the Hydra's enclosure
A peek inside the Hydra's enclosure

Status of Design

What you see in the pictures and the video is a completely functioning Hydra prototype.  With a functioning design, we are now gearing up for manufacturing.  We've already lined up manufacturing partners, but to make the Hydra affordable, we have to bring the costs down by manufacturing a lot of them at once.  And that's where you can help make this project a reality!  Our funding goal represents the minimum amount we need to produce the first batch of Hydras.  

If we are able to meet our funding goals, we will begin manufacturing and shipping Hydra supplies starting in April.  

We are still putting the finishing touches on the phone software, and the Bluetooth expansion board is being finalized, but the Hydra itself is ready to go!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The biggest risk at this point is being able to meet demand - if the demand is extremely high, it may at first take a little longer to fill orders than we would like. We have plans to expand production if needed to accommodate higher order volumes.

At CH Robotics, we are already in the business of manufacturing devices like the Hydra, and we have years of experience in design and manufacturing that will help us produce the Hydra in high volumes.

FAQ

  • The Hydra uses a buck-boost topology so that the input can be above, below, or equal to the outputs.

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  • No, all the outputs are non-isolated. This means that the input and output grounds are all tied together.

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  • The AC-DC adapter is a 12V, 3A adapter (so, 36 watts).

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  • Yes, it can. The AC-DC adapter is compatible with the aforementioned voltage range, and it can handle 50 or 60 Hz input. The one caveat is that it is designed for a US plug, so other plug formats will require an adapter.

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  • Good question! During development, we found that design decisions always involved making tradeoffs between size, flexibility, power, and cost. Increasing the output power increased cost, and so did keeping things compact and keeping the input voltage flexible.

    For power supplies of this class (output power, number of outputs, etc.) the Hydra is actually competitively priced.

    We have some exciting plans for future designs that will cost a little less, but (of course) the tradeoff is in flexibility and output power.

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  • We plan to ship via USPS Express or Priority Mail International. We regularly ship international packages that weigh under a single pound, and the cost is still between USD 30.00 and 40.00 for most international destinations. The Hydra is even heavier, so we expect the shipping costs to be higher than that. DHL, UPS, and FedEx are even more expensive for international shipping. We haven't found any other lower cost options that are reasonably fast and reliable, and that have at least some tracking capability. But we are open to suggestions!

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    17 backers

    Every contribution helps! Help get the Hydra off the ground, and stay informed about our progress by receiving development and manufacturing updates. Also have your name featured as a founding contributor on the CH Robotics website.

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  • Pledge $169 or more
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    101 backers All gone!

    Early-bird pre-order: Receive one new Hydra power supply with an AC adapter and be recognized as a founding contributor on the CH Robotics website. It is expected that the Hydra retail price will be $200.00.

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    100 backers Limited (20 left of 120)

    Early-bird round two: Receive one new Hydra power supply with an AC adapter and be recognized as a founding contributor on the CH Robotics website. It is expected that the Hydra retail price will be $200.00.

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  • Pledge $212 or more
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    50 backers All gone!

    Early-bird pre-order: Receive one new Hydra power supply, an AC adapter, AND the Bluetooth expansion board, allowing you to configure your Hydra on your iOS or Android device. Your name will also be featured as a founding contributor on the CH Robotics website. The Hydra with Bluetooth expansion should retail for $250.

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  • Pledge $220 or more
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    75 backers All gone!

    Round two early-bird preorder: Receive one new Hydra power supply, an AC adapter, AND the Bluetooth 4.0 expansion board, allowing you to configure your Hydra on your iOS or Android device. Your name will also be featured as a founding contributor on the CH Robotics website. The Hydra with Bluetooth 4.0 expansion should retail for $250. NOTE: The Bluetooth expansion board ONLY supports Bluetooth 4.0, so please make sure that your phone is compatible!

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  • Pledge $239 or more
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    92 backers Limited (28 left of 120)

    Receive one new Hydra power supply, an AC adapter, AND the Bluetooth 4.0 expansion board, allowing you to configure your Hydra on your iOS or Android device. Your name will also be featured as a founding contributor on the CH Robotics website. The Hydra with Bluetooth 4.0 expansion should retail for $250. NOTE: The Bluetooth expansion board ONLY supports Bluetooth 4.0, so please make sure that your phone is compatible!

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    Receive a Hydra power supply with your own personally customized design engraved on the top. Afterward, you will always be able to order more Hydras with your personalized design. The only limitation is that the CH Robotics logo and website link must remain in the top right-hand corner. This reward also comes with the standard AC power adapter.

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Funding period

- (30 days)