Balboa 32U4 Balancing Robot Kit (No Motors or Wheels)
Build your very own programmable balancing robot with the Balboa 32U4 robot kit! The Balboa control board features an Arduino-compatible ATmega32U4 MCU, motor drivers, quadrature encoders, and a full IMU. This board also has the ability to interface with a Raspberry Pi, making the foundation for a complete Raspberry Pi-controlled balancing robot.
Motors and wheels are not included: choose your wheels and motors to personalize your robot.
The Balboa 32U4 is a small, user-programmable balancing robot based on the Arduino-compatible ATmega32U4 AVR microcontroller from Microchip (formerly Atmel) and featuring two H-bridge motor drivers, quadrature encoders for closed-loop motor control, a full inertial measurement unit (3-axis accelerometer, gyro, and magnetometer) for estimating orientation and balancing, and an optional interface for connecting a Raspberry Pi to make a Raspberry Pi-controlled balancing robot. The control board includes a powerful 5 V switching step-down regulator that can supply up to 2 A continuously, along with a versatile power-switching and distribution circuit. Three on-board pushbuttons offer a convenient interface for user input, while indicator LEDs, a buzzer, and a connector for an optional LCD (not included) allow the robot to provide feedback.
Balboa 32U4 features a USB interface and ships preloaded with an Arduino-compatible bootloader. A software add-on is available that makes it easy to program the robot from the Arduino environment, and we have Arduino libraries and example sketches to help get you started. A USB A to Micro-B cable (not included) is required for programming. For those who want to customize or enhance their robots with additional peripherals, the robot’s power rails and microcontroller’s I/O lines can be accessed via 0.1″-spaced through-holes along the sides, front/top, and back/bottom of the control board.
The Balboa 32U4 control board can serve as the robot’s main controller, or it can act a base for a more powerful Raspberry Pi controller. With the addition of a 2×20 female header and standoffs (neither of which are included), a compatible Raspberry Pi (Model B+ or newer, including Pi 3 Model B+ and Model A+) can plug directly into the board. Integrated level shifters make it easy to set up I²C communication and interface other signals between the two controllers, and the control board automatically supplies 5 V power to an attached Raspberry Pi. In this setup, the Raspberry Pi can handle the high-level robot control while relying on the Balboa’s ATmega32U4 microcontroller for low-level tasks, like running motors, reading encoders, and interfacing with other analog or timing-sensitive devices.
For those who want to operate the Balboa as a traditional differential-drive robot oriented on its side, a Stability Conversion Kit is available separately. This accessory snaps onto the front end of the Balboa chassis to make it longer and holds an included ball caster, providing a low-friction third contact point. This add-on is also useful in balancing applications, where the ball caster can be left off and the extension piece can be used to make the Balboa taller and give it more mounting points. For those who want to supply their own electronics, see the Balboa Chassis with Stability Conversion Kit.
The 5-Channel Reflectance Sensor Array for Balboa can mount directly to the Balboa 32U4 control board and provides an easy way to add line sensing to a balancing Balboa.
Note: This is a kit; assembly (including soldering) is required. Motors and wheels are not included so you can choose your own to personalize your robot; see below for details. Balboa runs on six AA batteries (not included), and a USB A to Micro-B cable (not included) is required for programming.