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The RoboClaws have a USB interface that acts as a virtual serial (COM) port, allowing it to be controlled directly from a computer, and they feature built-in commands for controlling acceleration, deceleration, distance, speed, current sense, voltage limits and more. Several other interface modes are supported by the RoboClaw as well: it can be controlled via TTL serial for use with an embedded systems, RC hobby servo pulses for use as an RC-controlled electronic speed control (ESC), or analog voltages for use with potentiometers or analog joysticks.
RoboClaw automatically supports 3.3V or 5V logic levels, travel limit switches, home switches, emergency stop switches, power supplies, braking systems andcontactors. Power supplies can be used by enabling the built in voltage clamping control feature. A built-in switching mode BEC supplies 5VDC at up to 1.2 A or 3 A (depending on controller model) for powering user devices.
The RoboClaws can be operated without feedback for open-loop speed control, or they can be used with a variety of feedback types for closed-loop speed or position control. Quadrature encoders with up to 19.6 million pulses per second are supported and can be auto tuned using Ion Studio, which is a free downloadable application. In addition, a wide range of sensor inputs such as potentiometers and absolute encoders are supported. RoboClaw’s closed loop functionality creates absolute control over speed and direction regardless of load changes.
RoboClaw incorporates several protection features including temperature, current, over voltage and under voltage limits. Several user definable settings such as maximum current limit, maximum and minimum battery voltages are provided for more refined control.
Ion Motion Control has written an Arduino library for the RoboClaw that makes it easy to interface these motor controllers with an Arduino. The library comes with several example sketches that demonstrate different methods of controlling the RoboClaw.