Nov 7, 2012

Open Source Servo Driver for Rockets

Luke Weston from our partner Lunar Numbat has kicked off an interesting open source hardware project called OpenServoDrive. This is a high-power servo driver for a pair of DC brush motors and will be used in the throttling mechanism for the valves on our lunar lander's main engine.

 This open source hardware projects consists of just a single Printed Circuit Board (PCB) which is relatively compact, lightweight, inexpensive, and fully open source without any dependence on a closed commercial product. The PCB plugs directly into both DC motors, the 60V power supply, the two rotary encoders on the backs of the motors, the CAN, and a 12-24V power supply (supplied on the CAN loom) and provides the motor control. The new open hardware has equivalent functionality to the Rutex R2020 board when mated to a custom interface board previously designed and tested by Luke. The PCB layout is not finished yet but you can see the board's schematic in the project's github repository.

 The first use planned for the hardware is on the AUSROC2.5 sounding rocket, and it could also be used for any other applications where precise servo control of two large high power brushed motors is desirable, for example large CNC plotting, engraving etc. machines. Partnering with open source developers on projects such as this one is a key strategy of White Label Space to help reduce the costs of our GLXP mission, and to help make space more accessible for the everyday experimentalist and entrepreneur.

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