Motor-Bee Motor Controller
Control up to 4 DC Motors and a Servo from a single USB port
(includes Motor-Way Control software)
Straight from the Box
The ability to control 4 DC motors directly from a PC opens up endless possibilities for home automation and robotics projects. The Motor-Bee offers this by providing a very easy to use adaptor board which plugs into any free USB port on the PC via a standard USB lead (not included). DC Motors , or devices that use DC motors such as train sets, can then be connected directly to the screw terminals on the Motor-Bee. (i.e. no soldering required). When using two motors they can be independantly controlled in both directions with seperate variable speeds for each direction. The Motor-Bee uses the popular L293 motor drive IC which can deliver 600mA continuous and 1.2A peak at up to 36v to 4 independant motor outputs. Additionally, Motor-Bee has 6 digital inputs, 4 digital outputs and a control output for a servo, all of which are connected via two 10 way headers. The servo control output is designed to control the majority of standard servos and is ideal for the type commonly found in model cars and planes etc. This can be a very usefull tool in creating your own automations and robotic animations.
The software provided with Motor-Bee is called Motor-Way. This is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It provides a set of controls for both manual and automatic operation of the connected devices. Typically you would connect your motors and use the manual controls to get things basically working and then switch to automatic mode where a programmed sequence of "steps" can be created which can be stored and retrieved to a file on the hard drive. Each step of this sequence (up to 10,000 steps) would specify a duration and speed and direction for each of the attached motors. In this way a programmed sequence of motions can be created very easily without the need for conventional computer programming. The durations can be specified anywhere from 0.1 seconds up to 99 hours at 0.1 second resolution. Continuous control loops can also be created very easily by specifying the number of the next step to be executed. Each step also allows the position of the servo (if connected) to be specified.
Intermediate / Advanced
Writing Your Own Programs for Motor-Bee
For the intermediate user a DLL is provided to allow the programmer to construct their own software applications to take advantage of the Motor-Bee hardware without having to know the details of USB communication protocols etc..
Using Motor-Bee with your own programs written in visual basic is very simple. The DLL simplifies the task into three library functions.
SetMotors (on1, speed1, on2, speed2, on3, speed3, on4, speed4, servo)
InitMotoBee() is called somewhere near the start of your program and takes care of all of the USB comms initialisation and prepares the Motor-Bee for receiving messages.
SetMotors (on1, speed1, on2, speed2, on3, speed3, on4, speed4, servo) can then be called at any time during your program to configure the motors.
on1 - on4 are simply boolean values that specify whether the motor is on or off.
speed1 - speed4 are integers in the range 0-255 which specify the motor speed 0 - 100%
servo is an integer that specifies the servo position in approx 1 degree increments. i.e. 128 is midway, 0 is -90degrees and 255 is +90 degrees
Digital_IO(inputs, outputs) can also be called at any time during your program to set the 4 digital outputs and read the state of the 6 digital inputs.
outputs is a 16 bit integer value. bit0 corresponds to output 1, bit 1 to output2, etc.... In each case a logic value of 1 turns the output on and a value of 0 turns it off. For example the statement below would turn on the first three outputs...
Digital_IO(inputs,7) since 7 in binary is 00000111
inputs is an integer passed by reference. When the function call returns, the first 6 bits of this integer correspond to the on/off state of the 6 digital inputs. For example with inputs 1 and 4 on and the others off, inputs would contain the value 9... since 9 in binary is 00001001.
What could be simpler……………..
The source code to a simple, but fully working, Visual Basic program is contained on the installation CD to help you get up to speed quickly with your own programs.
A full manual for the Motor-Bee and data sheets for the input/output device characteristics are included on the installation CD.
Additional information on the Motor-Bee is available from this link
LINK: How to make a computer controlled model train set using a Motor-Bee
( Note: This is not a kit of parts. It is a fully assembled and tested module)
(motors and servo are not included)
Note2: Unfortunately, due to changes in the Royal Mail "signed for" service, we are no longer able to deliver to PO Box addresses outside of the UK.
Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 required.
Not for direct connection to mains voltages