SwarmDrive

by NickStick

An open source ESP32 motor driver development board for brushless motors

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SwarmDrive

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SwarmDrive is a motor driver (development) board intended for learning and experimenting with electric motors. It’s an approachable mechatronics platform for users who want to learn and start experimenting with (small) electric motors and BLDC (Brushless DC) motors in particular. The SwarmDrive board contains a basic motor driver setup together with a powerful, Wi-Fi-and-Bluetooth-enabled microcontroller (ESP32) and USB connectivity.

Designed for Experimentation and Learning

SwarmDrive enables professionals as well as students to learn about different commutation algorithms and all other aspects of electric (BLDC) motors in a convenient way - with a single, integrated board and strong educational documentation.

Specially designed console firmware as well as example code can be downloaded to get started quickly and easily. The code is well documented and open source and is based on the well-established ESP-EDF framework and RTOS. SwarmDrive can be used as a starting point for getting insight into the inner workings of algorithms for driving a motor.

SwarmDrive could be used for a range of applications, such as exploring and experimenting with different types of commutation strategies, PID experiments for balance plateau or balance robots, cartesian gantries and spatial navigation, drive by wire and wireless, swarm intelligence experiments, Etc.

Wireless Communication - Swarm Potential

The ‘Swarm’ aspect of the SwarmDrive is hinting upon the vast communication possibilities of the ESP32, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which enable the board or motor to communicate with other boards/motors. his allows for ‘Swarm’ type implementations or just plain remote control of the board/motors.

Features & Specifications

  • Microcontroller: ESP32 dual core, 240 Mhz, 4 Mb flash
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n/d/e/i/k/r (802.11 n up to 150 Mbps)
  • Bluetooth: v 4.2 BR/EDR and BLE specification
  • Driver: L6234 triple half bridge motor driver, 5 A peak current
    • 3x enable pins are broekn out to a bridging connector
  • Communication: USB to UART bridge, micro USB serial + power
  • Input voltage: 7-13 V via screw terminal or pin headers
  • Motor connection: via screw terminal
  • GPIO: 26 from ESP32 module
  • Power output pins: 5 V, 3.3 V, and GND
  • Boot and reset: via pushbutons

Comparisons

SwarmDriveM. Anton Consulting BLDC Motor DriverST STEVAL-IHM043V1Separate shield board
Integrated MCUESP32 None STM32F051 None
Wi-FiYes No No Separate
BluetoothYes No Separate
USBYes No No Separate
Integrated buck converterYes No No Separate
Back EMF sensingYes Yes Yes Some
ESD protectionYes Yes Yes Some
Example firmwareYes No Yes Some
Open SourceYes Yes Yes Some
Price$75 $90 $80 $25 - $50

Support & Documentation

You can find all hardware and software documentation in GitHub. Firmware has it’s own dedicated page, and you can get a thorough overview including introduction and theory on the SwarmDrive website.


Credits

NickStick

Majodi (the owner of NickStick BV) is a technology enthusiast and entrepreneur with a broad background in technology related ventures. This includes software as well as hardware related development of products and services.


Majodi Ploegmakers

See Also

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