Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 17, 2013.

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The Balanduino is a new Arduino compatible Open Source balancing robot kit - easy to assemble, program, play with and expand!

Updates - Stretch goals

$14.000 - If we are able to reach this amount we would upgrade the ATmega644A, which has a flash size of 64KB to it's big brother the ATmega1284 with 128KB Flash and 4 times the RAM (16KB), giving you a lot more free space for customization .  

$20.000 - If we reach the double of our goal we will add support and include a mini handheld Bluetooth controller, like the Zeemote or similar, in all pledges of $299 or more (the full kit).


Balanduino kit

The kit comes with everything you need to get started assembling your own balancing robot, including the custom-designed Arduino-compatible microcontroller board.

This board includes all the necessarry electronics to keep the Balanduino balanced together with a great number of different control possibilities, such as using a PS3, Xbox or Wii controller or even your Android phone or PC.

The Balanduino kit also comes with the hardware frame making the robot rugged and stable. The frame consists of three layers of laser-cut 6mm plywood,  all assembled with four 6mm threaded steel rods.

Balanduino from the front
Balanduino from the front

A middle layer has been added to greatly improove the stability of the Balanduino and ensure that it won't flex and become unstable. 

At the bottom-side of the bottom layer there are two high-torque and high-speed 12V DC motors with individual rotary encoders to add a position-dependent stability to the Balanduino.

To keep the sensors as close to the rotational axis as possible, the main board has been placed at the top-side of the bottom layer. This reduces the vibration noise that would otherwise have been caused by high acceleration in change of direction (tilting). Furthermore, this minimizes the distance between the motors and the main board.

And finally, as the middle layer isn't presently used for anything but the increased stability, this can be used for your own creative additions. For instance you could add a GPS sensor or maybe a line-following sensor to make the Balanduino even more autonomous - the middle layer has enough space for a complete 830-point breadboard so you will have plenty of space for your own circuits. Another option would be to add a small video camera such as the GoPro (R).


Features

Self-balancing

The onboard sensor (6-axis IMU) is used to keep the robot balanced automatically at all times.

The Balanduino will keep itself balanced right out of the box due to the higly optimized, tuned and preprogrammed PID loop used in the balancing-software controller-algorithm.

By combining accelerometer, gyroscope and rotary encoder data, the Balanduino is able to keep itself balanced even when pushed.

Arduino-compatible

The Balanduino is compatible with the Arduino IDE, thanks to the onboard ATmega644A microcontroller.

This means that you can upload new code and add your own features to the Balanduino in the well-known Arduino environment.

The ATmega644A has a flash size of 64KB of which approximately 63KB are at your disposal. When the full Balanduino firmware is programmed into the main board, including support for the most popular game controllers, most of the flash is used, leaving around 5KB of flash left for you to expand.

However, it is relatively easy to modify the original Balanduino firmware to exclude unused controllers, thereby significantly reducing the code size.

USB Host capability - including Bluetooth controllers

We have recently spent quite some time on continuing the development of the USB Host controller library for the Arduino, adding support to many new periphirals.

By inserting the Bluetooth USB dongle that comes with the kit, you can control the Balanduino using our application for both Windows, Mac and Linux. Furthermore you can control the Balanduino with your Android phone by installing our application, which can be found in the Google Play Store. 

With all of the above applications you are wirelessly able to change various settings, including the PID values and maximum speed, and see the IMU data.

Android application screenshots
Android application screenshots

Finally, as already mentioned you can control the Balanduino using the most popular game controllers listed below:

PS3 Controllers (Bluetooth dongle)
  • Normal PS3 Dualshock controller
  • PS3 Navigation controller
  • PS3 Move controller
Xbox 360 controllers (Xbox Wireless receiver)
Wii controllers (Bluetooth dongle)
  • Wiimote including support for the Motion Plus and Nunchuck extension
  • Wii U Pro controller


100% Open Source

All the materials, parts and source codes necessary to build the Balanduino are completely open source and will be made available for free at our Git repository and Balanduino website.

Here is a list of some of the already published materials, applications and source codes:

Android app:

http://git.tkjelectronics.com/BalanduinoAndroidApp/

Processing application:

https://github.com/TKJElectronics/BalanduinoProcessingApp

Kalman filter:

https://github.com/TKJElectronics/KalmanFilter

USB Host Library:

https://github.com/felis/USB_Host_Shield_2.0

The USB Host Library is created in cooperation with Circuits@Home based in Colorado, USA.


Hardware

Balanduino Main Board
Balanduino Main Board

The main board of the Balanduino kit consists of an Atmel 8-bit ATmega644A AVR microcontroller running at 8MHz and with 64KB flash, 4KB RAM and 2KB EEProm. To enable the integration with the Arduino programming environment the board contains an FTDI USB to Serial converter chip, the FT230X. This chip can be used for Arduino programming as well as Serial debugging.

The onboard 6-axis IMU is an MPU-6050, which is connected to the microcontroller using the I2C bus. This digital IMU contains a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope, and when combined with a Kalman filter it gives you some very stable angle readings.

To enable the USB Host support for the Bluetooth controllers etc. the Maxim MAX3421E has been used. This chip is connected to the microcontroller with an SPI interface together with some control signals.

On each side of the main board there is a digital H-bridge motor controller IC, the VNH5180, capable of driving up to 8A continous current. Even though the stall-current of the supplied gearmotors is only 5A the VNH5180 gives you some extra room for security and expansion.

Both the power for the motors and the main board is supplied through the input screw terminal, where the supplied plug-leads that are connected to the battery are to be connected. An onboard polarity-protection circuitry protects the board against damage that would have been caused by connecting the battery in the reverse direction.

The board also contains a buzzer on a PWM pin and an onboard LED. The remaining I/O pins on the microcontroller have been broken  out in two female pin headers + a power female header for easy expandability.

These two female headers include 1x UART, 4x PWM outputs, 1x Interrupt and 6x Analog inputs. The pins used for I2C communication have been broken out as well.

Parts included in the kit
  • Fully assembled PCB - no soldering required
  • Two 12V DC motors
  • Two rubber wheels
  • Two CNC machined Aluminum hubs
  • 4000mAh 11.1V 3-cell LiPo battery
  • LiPo Battery charger
  • Battery plug-leads
  • Three laser-cut plywood layers with pre-cut holes and slots for quick assambly
  • Four threaded steel rods
  • Miscellaneous screws, washers and nuts

Shipping

All of our customers will get their kit shipped from the US by default. 

TKJ Electronics has made an agreement with Circuits@Home, based in Colorado, so all kits and boards for customers in the USA will be shipped by them. However, they will only be responsible for the shipping as we will manufacture, program and test all of the boards before they leave our location in Denmark.

For customers outside of the USA we have two options:

  • Shipping from the USA
  • Shipping from Europe (our location in Denmark)

The USA shipping option will be selected by default, but if you live within the European Union it may be benificial to you to select the shipping option from Europe as you could save money on handling-fees on the Import.

This is due to every item being shipped from a European country to another will have to include an already paid VAT fee (25%), which is not included in the pledges.

So if you decide to get your kit or board shipped from Europe you would have to pay these extra 25% in VAT - but this will then ensure that you do not get any trouble with import duties etc.

For customers outside of the European Union you are free to decide which option you prefer. As default you will pay an extra shipping fee of $30 to get your kit shipped to you, but this is based on the default US shipping location. If you decide to pay the VAT and get your kit shipped from Denmark, you will not have to pay this extra fee.

We will send an email to everyone when the Kickstarter has ended and ask about your preferred shipping option.


Support

While this project is getting funded we will be working on a new website for the project that is going to be located at: www.balanduino.net.

This new website will contain everything from project details, assembly guides, programming guides and, of course, all the open source materials such as the hardware design and all of the software, both for Arduino, Android, PC etc.

Furthermore a support forum and a Wiki will be created to help you get started. With the forum and Wiki we hope that a new Balanduino community will grow and allow Balanduino owners to share their ideas, projects and updates with the rest of the community.

Throughout the whole process you can keep yourself updated either here on Kickstarter, on our Facebook page, Twitter and, of course, our Blog.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We are committed to get this kit mass-produced and on the market, and we believe that this can be done in 6 months if this Kickstarter becomes a success.
Most of the hardware and software development has already been done and tested, even before this Kickstarter.

So the biggest challenge for us is to make this kit ready for a mass-production, especially finding the right suppliers and manufacturers.
We have already found and selected most of our partners for the components and modules, such as motors and batteries. The next step is to decide where to get the boards manufactured and assembled.

Finally all of the boards will be tested in our test-rig, to confirm that all of the onboard periphirals such as the sensors, USB Host functionality, motor controllers and Arduino programming capability are working.
Afterwards the board will be pre-programmed with the most recent version of our open source Balanduino firmware, including the tuned PID values for the robot.

During the whole process we will keep our potential customers informed of the challenges we might face and the actions we take accordingly.

FAQ

  • We plan to get the kits ready for all our backers in the end of the summer of 2013.

    Last updated:
  • The main source code will be available as soon as this Kickstarter has ended.

    Last updated:
  • The software will be released under the GNU General Public License, while the PCB and mechanical drawings will be available under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

    Last updated:
  • You wont. When we send you a mail regarding the shipping options you can decide whether or not you would like to pay the VAT in advance and get your kit shipped from Denmark. If you decide so, you won't have to pay this extra international shipping fee, which will be refunded to you (used to pay some of the VAT).

    Last updated:
  • Yes you can, but you might have to add your own larger motor controllers depending on the size of your motors.

    The motor controllers on the main board are only capable of handling up to 8A of continuous current, so if you are using the on-board controllers you will be limited to that.

    In the final revision the motor controller pins (Enable, PWM, A and B) will be available on some solder pads for your own customization.

    You could then easily connect a larger H-bridge motor controller (many Amps) and use any DC motor you like.

    Last updated:
  • The Balanduino mainboard has 15 IO lines, where 6 of these are Analog Inputs, 4 is PWM outputs, 1 is interrupt, 2 can be used for UART and finally 2 can be used for extra I2C devices.

    Last updated:
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    A big thanks from the team behind the Balanduino

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    A cool sticker with the Android-like Balanduino logo

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    DIY-mechanical version of the complete Balanduino kit. Get the complete Balanduino kit except for the battery, charger and the mechanical structure. In this case you are free to design and build your robot as you like. The included items are the controller board, Bluetooth dongle, two geared motors with encoders, wheels and hubs.

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    Get the complete Balanduino kit including the controller board, Bluetooth dongle, two geared motors with encoders, wheels, hubs, a 4000mAh 3S LiPo battery and charger and the mechanical structure as shown in the video.

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Funding period

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