Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 18, 2012.

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Bring your creations to life with this tiny yet powerful Arduino-compatible light, sound, and motion controller!

Missed out on the MIGHTY?  Head on over to MIGHTYMICROCONTROLLER.COM to pick one up!

(Site will go live a few weeks after the campaign ends.  In the meantime, simply send me a message telling me what you'd like to order, along with your email address so I can send you an invoice.)

Greetings, Kickstarters!

Thank you for taking a look at the MIGHTY™ Microcontroller. 

For the last 2 1/2 months I've been working full time on the MIGHTY; and with the circuit design phase now complete, I need your support on the final leg of my journey to turn it into a reality!

By pre-ordering a MIGHTY Microcontroller and its expansion modules, or simply donating a few dollars, you will be helping me to get the boards professionally manufactured and assembled.

As with all Kickstarter campaigns, this is an all-or-nothing deal. Either I raise the full amount I need to finish development and the campaign is successfully funded, or you won't have to pay a dime.

What is the MIGHTY™ Microcontroller?

The MIGHTY Microcontroller is a device which makes it easy to add lights, sounds, and motion to the things you create! 

To use it, all you need to do is attach a battery, a speaker, some LEDs, servos, switches, and knobs, insert a MicroSD card with a few simple scripts and whatever sound effects and music you want, then watch your creation spring to life!

The MIGHTY has been designed from the ground up to be as easy to use as possible. Very little soldering is required, no resistors are needed for the LEDs, and the scripting language is so basic a child could use it. You don't need to be an electrical engineer to use the MIGHTY; it's practically plug and play!

The MIGHTY has also been designed to be as small as possible.  It's TINY... the size of a credit card; so it will fit virtually anywhere!

But don't let its size fool you.  The MIGHTY is also mighty powerful!  With a 3A voltage regulator and 2W amplifier on board, it has enough power to drive hundreds of LEDs and multiple servos, while playing seriously loud sound effects!  Plus, when paired with a MicroSD card, it can store hours of  music!

You might also be pleased to know that the MIGHTY is Arduino compatible!  If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you can skip the scripting and go straight to the source, writing your programs in C using the Arduino IDE and uploading them via the ISP header on the board! 

EXPANSION MODULES

But wait, there's more!  The MIGHTY Microcontroller is also expandable! 

There are currently three types of expansion modules available:

#1 - The 24 LED Expansion Module

The MIGHTY LED Expansion Module does exactly what it sounds like. It adds the ability to drive an additional 24 LEDs to the MIGHTY. 

But that's not all!  The LED expansion module is also chainable.  Plug the output of one into the input of the next, and you can connect up to eight to the MIGHTY, bringing the total number of LEDs you can drive up to 240!

#2 - The 3V Power Module

The MIGHTY 3V Power Module, with its 3V 1A regulator and reverse voltage protection diode on board, connects to one the MIGHTY's 12 I/O pins, and has many potential uses, but it was designed with two primary functions in mind:

Vibration!

The first thing the Power Module was designed for is to allow you to connect 3V vibration motors to the MIGHTY.  And not wimpy ones!  With its 1A peak output current the Power Module can drive vibration motors over 10x as powerful as those used in cellphones!

Lasers!

The second thing the Power Module is designed for is connecting 3v lasers to the MIGHTY.  Each module can drive up to three red or green lasers!  These lasers, like the motors, are software controlled and can be switched on or off at will in the scripts you write.

Finally, because the Power Module connects to the same I/O ports as you would connect servos or switches to, you can connect any number of them to the MIGHTY.  So you can for example have one drive a vibration motor, and another drive three lasers for a targeting sight, and control them separately!

#3 - The 12V Boost Module

The MIGHTY 12V Boost Module, like the Power Module, connects to one of the MIGHTY's 12 I/O ports. Instead of taking a 5V input and regulating it down to 3V however, the Boost Module steps the voltage up to 12V.  This makes it possible for the MIGHTY to drive cheap and widely available high-intensity automotive LEDs!

With up to 3W of output power, the Boost Module can power most bulbs of this type, and like the Power Module, you can turn the module on and off in your scripts; allowing you to blink or strobe them! 

SCRIPTING

Want a servo to move when you turn a knob?  Attach a potentiometer to port 1, a servo to port 2, and add the following to your script:

SERVO[2] = KNOB[1] 

Voila! Your servo will now rotate from -60 to 60 degrees as you turn the knob.  You can also change the range of the servo's motion by using commands to set the trim. Or, use the MAP command to map the KNOB's output from 0..1 to some other range of values. 

You can also do the same with an LED:

LED[5] = KNOB[2]

IF...THEN statements allow you to take action based on certain conditions. For example: 

IF SWITCH[2].Pressed THEN LED[8] = 0.5

Will make LED 8 illuminate at 50% brightness when a button attached to port 2 is pushed.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the main script loops continuously, and all updates are performed at the end of each loop.  So if you want the LED to light only when the switch is held down, you can simply put LED[10] = 0 before the IF statement and if the switch isn't being held, when it gets to the end of the loop the LED will be turned off.  There will also be timers available which you can use to trigger events after a certain period of time, and variables for holding state information, allowing you to perform complex sequences of actions. 

(Please note: The scripting language is not finalized and some of the above syntax may change in the final version.)

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Dimensions: 3.1" x 1.8" x 0.5
  • 12 I/O ports for attaching servos, motors, switches, and knobs
  • 48 LED ports (expandable to 240!)
  • MicroSD port (Up to 2GB of onboard storage!)
  • 5V 3A voltage regulator
  • Wide range of input voltages: 6V min 12V max
  • 12 bit sound chip with 2W class AB amp on board
  • SPI port for future expansion modules. (Contains secret I/O port 13!)
  • Terminal block for easy attachment of batteries (14-30 AWG)
  • ISP port for direct programming with Arduino IDE 

As mentioned above, the MIGHTY has a 3A regulator onboard.  That's 3000mA.  But how much power is that really?  The following is a list of how much current various components require:

  • One LED @ max brightness = 20mA
  • 240 LEDs @ half brightness = 2.4A
  • Red laser = 50mA max
  • Green laser = 150mA max
  • One 4 ohm speaker or two 8 ohm speakers in parallel = 500mA
  • Micro servo = 50-150mA
  • Normal servo = 100-500mA

Please note that because most of the time half of the stuff you have connected won't be actively drawing current, you shouldn't need to worry too much about exceeding the capabilities of the board to supply current.  If you do try to draw too much power though, the voltage regulators have protection circuity built in which will automatically limit the current if they begin to overheat.

Btw, if you want to get the most out of the board, the best way to do that is to use a 6V or 7.2V battery pack.  Excess voltage gets turned into heat, so you'll actually have less power available if you run off a 12V supply. I included the ability to run off 12V for those who want to use an external audio amplifier which requires the higher voltage.  An external amp will reduce the MIGHTY's load by around 500mA because it won't draw as much power as a speaker would, so it's not a bad trade.

FAQ

Q: What makes this board Arduino compatible?

A: The MIGHTY uses an Atmega328 microcontroller just like the Arduino, and has the same ISP programming port many Arduinos do, so it can be programmed with the Arduino IDE and is compatible with all of the code available for the Arduino.

Q: What's an AB amplifier?

A: An AB amp is an audio amp which puts out an analog voltage.  Many inexpensive sound chips simply put out a PWM (pulse-width modulated) signal, which is digital in nature and needs a low-pass filter to convert it to an analog signal.  A speaker acts as a low-pass filter, so if you pass the digital signal directly to a speaker it will be fine, the unfiltered signal can mess with external amps, causing distortion.  The MIGHTY features a true class AB amp to avoid these issues entirely.

Q: When using an external power switch do I need one which can handle 3A?  And do I need a special LED for the Power LED header?

A: Nope!  The switch is connected to the voltage regulator's enable pin, so you can use any switch you like and only a trickle of current will pass through it.  As for the Power LED header, it has a large enough resistor on it that you can attach any standard LED you like. You just can't adjust the brightness of it.

Q: The MIGHTY is too thick to fit in my prop!  Can't you make it thinner?

A: While the MIGHTY is thin enough to fit into extremely tight spaces, you may want to build the occasional prop where space is really cramped and there's no room for both the MIGHTY and the LEDs you want to drive.  In that case, simply request a kit, and you'll get a MIGHTY with no pin strip headers or screw terminals attached.  This will make the MIGHTY only .25" thick and you can solder leads directly into the holes where the pin strip headers would normally be.  The same can also be done for the expansion modules on request.  

Q: What do 2W and 3A mean?  What are 14 and 30 AWG?

A: W is short for watts, and A is short for amps.  Those are measures of how much power and current can flow.  All you really need to know is that's a lot for a board this size, and the more power and current the board can supply, the more LEDs and servos you can drive, and the louder the sound will be.  If you want a general idea for how loud the audio output will be though, your typical desktop computer speakers range from 0.5 to 4W.  If you need more volume than this though, you can always use an external amp!

AWG stands for American Wire Gauge.  It is simply a measure of how thick a wire is. The lower the number, the thicker the wire.  30 AWG is extremely thin wire.  The thick wire used on rechargeable RC car batteries is 14-16 AWG.  All you need to take away from this is that the MIGHTY's screw terminals will work with any size wire you are likely to want to use with it!

THE FINE PRINT

The number of LEDs the MIGHTY can drive at once using expansion modules is limited by several factors.  The primary one of which is how much current the onboard voltage regulator can supply. 

Assuming you're not using an external amp, the sound chip will be drawing around 500mA, and the CPU another 100mA.  With the regulator supplying 3000mA max, that leaves you 2400mA to play with.  At maximum brightness each LED will draw 20mA.  So, if we do the math, that means we can have 120 of them lit at once without going over our budget.  If we need more LEDs, we can either run them at a reduced brightness, which will get us to the full 240, or we can make sure only half of them at lit at once, which will often be the case anyway if you are animating them.

Not being able to run all 240 LEDs at 20mA all the time isn't really as big a deal as it might sound though.  Modern LEDs are extremely bright, and I have used LEDs in my own projects which I had to run at less than 5mA just to be able to look at them comfortably.  It's also a common practice to do what is called "derating" and run an LED at less than it's maximum output to extend the life of it.  And of course by running your LEDs at less than maximum brightness, you'll extend the run time of your battery.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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