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How to Power Your Arduino Mobile Robot

How to Power Your Arduino Mobile Robot

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We’ve all gone through it. We’ve built an awesome robot with all sorts of features, but now the time has come to detach it from our computers and run some tests. 

You think you’re all set, ready to go, but then you realize, wait… what about power?

If you’ve forgotten to add a battery pack into your robot design, and now you need to power your Arduino robot, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll show you my method of connecting a power pack to the Create Mobile Robot (Arduino-compatible) using a 7.4V Li-Ion rechargeable pack.

Things you’ll need to Power your Arduino Robot

  • 7.4V Battery Pack: The Create Robot runs off of two 3.7V (4000mAh) flashlight batteries
  • Red & Black 28 or 30 AWG Gauge Wire
  • Wire Cutters/Strippers
  • Solder & Soldering Iron
  • DC Barrel Plug (Male) with Screw Terminals
  • Small Phillips Head (+) Screwdriver
How to Power Your Arduino Mobile Robot
DC Barrel Plug splits the power connection between the Arduino and the Motor Controller from the Power Pack.

Step 1 – Cut two pieces of Wire

Cut a piece of red and black wire. You’ll need enough wire so that you can route the connection between your motor controller and the Arduino’s Barrel Plug.

Step 2 – Connect Wire Leads with Solder

https://youtu.be/WFb2bRRH_ko

Twist the ends of the wire you cut in Step 1 to the wire leads from the Battery Pack. Connect Red to Red (+ to +) and Black to Black (- to -). 

Then Solder the twisted ends together using your Soldering Iron. The other end of the wire you cut from Step 1 will be connected to the input power rail on the motor controller. Use the datasheet for your motor controller to determine which pins these connections are. For the L298N we will use the power pin that accepts 12V in since the voltage is greater than 5V.

Step 3 – Attach Wire Leads to the Barrel Plug

https://youtu.be/zbGwH6fJec0

Push the soldered ends into the DC Barrel Plug. Make sure that you connect the red (positive) wires into the positive (+) terminal of the plug and the black (negative) wires into the negative (-) terminal of the plug. Tighten with a screwdriver to ensure the connection is snug.

POLARITY MATTERS – READ THIS!

Double & triple check that your cables are connected to the correct terminal before moving on to the next step. If you plug your wires in backwards, you could short, damage, or smoke out your robot.

We never want to release black magic smoke. Keep the Genie in. Double check your work.

Step 4 – Test Connection

https://youtu.be/trv3zVq_ia8

Once you’re certain the battery pack & motor wires are connected to the DC barrel plug correctly and the solder joints are secured in the screw terminals, you can connect it to the Arduino female barrel plug.

Power on your battery pack by flipping on the switch. If everything is connected properly, the power indicators on the Arduino and Motor Controller should be on.

And that’s it. Hope this tutorial helps you in your mobile robot endeavors. If you have an Arduino project that requires a Motor Controller and battery power, you can use these steps to provide power on-the-go.

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2 comments

  1. Robin Wright

    Hi, I just purchase a tank chassis it has a load capacity of 22lbs, motor are 12v load current 0.68A max. I need a diagram for this. I never done anything like this before. I’m building this for my business as a inspection tool.

    1. Liz Miller

      Robin, Thanks for dropping by. I have a couple resources for you:

      Here’s a helpful article on motor controller wiring for both Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

      Furthermore, you can find out how to program motor controllers in this article.

      Lastly, this article explains how to avoid objects using the tank chassis.

      If you need more individualized help with this project feel free to contact me for a consultation.

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