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Orangutan X2 with VNH3

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Orangutan X2 with VNH3


The Orangutan X2 is the third release in Pololu’s line of Orangutan robot controllers. Like the original Orangutan and subsequent Baby Orangutan, the Orangutan X2 is designed to be a compact, high-performance control center for robotics and automation projects. The Orangutan X2’s two-board design allows the unit to maintain the compactness characteristic of the Orangutan line while offering substantially more electrical and computational power: the X2 can deliver up to a horsepower across two motor channels, and the twin-microcontroller architecture allows maximum access to the primary microcontroller, an Atmel ATmega644 AVR running at 20MHz with 64KB of program memory and 4KB of SRAM. It has an outline smaller than a credit card, which makes it small enough to fit in a mini-sumo or small maze solver, yet it is powerful enough to run a 1/10th scale monster truck. A battery, motors, and sensors can be connected directly to the module for quick creation of advanced robots.

Note: The motor driver (top) board pictured above is also available separately as a dual high-power motor driver.

The Orangutan X2 has two microcontrollers: an Atmel ATmega644 AVR for the main application, and an auxiliary ATmega168 that interfaces to most of the dedicated hardware on the X2 and serves as a programmer for the main processor. The two-microcontroller design simplifies multitasking by relieving the main processor of common tasks such as motor control and melody generation, and the approach also leaves the mega644 completely unencumbered, allowing the mega644 hardware, such as timers and interrupts, and most of the mega644 IO lines to be used for your higher-level design. It also means you do not need an external programmer to use the Orangutan X2.

Key Features and Specifications

  • overall unit dimensions: 3.00" x 1.86"
  • input voltage: 6-16 V
  • 2 high-power, bidirectional motor ports deliver 30 A maximum (9 A continuous for VNH3 and 14 A continuous for VNH2 without heat sink)
  • programmable 20 MHz Atmel ATmega644 AVR microcontroller (64 kB flash, 4 kB SRAM, 2 kB EEPROM)
  • 18 general-purpose I/O lines, 8 of which can be used as analog input channels (and the 11 LCD I/O lines can serve as additional user I/O lines)
  • Integrated programmer and USB connectivity
  • Battery voltage monitoring and self-shutdown option
  • removable 20-character x 4-line LCD with contrast control if your Orangutan X2 package includes an LCD
  • Push-on, push-off power control enables multiple power switches
  • buzzer controlled by auxiliary mega168 microcontroller
  • 3 user pushbutton switches
  • 5 user LEDs
  • user potentiometer

For more information about the VNH motor drivers, please see the “VNH3SP30 and VNH2SP30 Comparison” section of the dual high-power motor driver page, or read through the VNH datasheets listed under the Resources tab. The package components are shown below:

  1. Orangutan X2 main board
  2. Motor driver (VNH2SP30 or VNH3SP30) daughter board
  3. USB A to Mini-B cable
  4. 4-line x 20-character LCD with LED backlight (with LCD option)
  5. Extra IDC connector for LCD (with LCD option)
  6. 15" LCD cable (with LCD option)

Getting Started

Begin by following the USB-to-serial adapter driver installation instructions. Make sure you install the drivers before you connect your programmer to the computer. The USB adapter will install as two devices (USB device and COM port); you can ignore Microsoft’s repeated warnings that the driver has not been tested by Microsoft. Once the driver is installed, your programming software can communicate with the programmer as if it were on a serial port.

Next, you should download software that will let you program your Orangutan X2, such as the open-source WinAVR package, which is a free GNU GCC C/C++ compiler for AVRs. You should also consider downloading Atmel’s free AVR Studio, a powerful IDE that supports the AVR ISP protocol used by the X2’s integrated programmer and works with WinAVR.

Please see the resources tab for the Orangutan X2 quick-start sheet, further documentation, related links, and sample code.

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