Sparkfun (www.sparkfun.com) sent me their new Spectacle (https://www.sparkfun.com/pages/spectacle) kit to play with. Spectacle is made for people who don’t want to get into electronics as a hobby but want to add lights, sound or motion to their projects. Rather than deal with soldering and code you plug the boards together and program with their web app. You can check out the app here: https://spectacle.sparkfun.com/
Today I am looking at their motion kit:
What it Comes With:
- 1x Spectacle Director Board
This is the first board in your circuit. It allows for a battery pack or power adaptor to plug in to power your project and it has a program audio port that allows you to upload your script.
- 1x Spectacle Motion Board
This board allows for up to five micro servos to be attached and included in your project.
- 1x Spectacle Button Board
This board has an on-board button and 8 slots for additional buttons to be added.
- 2x Sub-Micro Size Servo
The servos do the moving! Up to five micro servos can be included for each motion board. These servos also come with a package of attachable micro arm/horns. (Not actual arms! There is a circle, cross, diameter line and radius line which allow you to attach objects you want moved.)
- 2x White Concave Button
Two arcade style buttons attached to microswitches.
- 4x Female Spade Connector Wire — 3ft
These connector wires connect your buttons to the button board.
- 3x Audio Cable TRRS — 3ft
Audio cables are used to easily connect boards together and allow you to upload your script to the director board.
- 1x USB micro-B Cable — 6ft
- 1x USB Wall Charger — 5V, 1A
- 2x USB Lithium Ion Battery Pack — 2.2Ah
These are used to power your device. You can either plug the director board directly into the wall or power it with a battery pack. An additional battery pack can be added to the motion board should your servos require more power.
My Set Up:
Wall plug > Director Board > Motion Board
I followed the Motion Board Hookup
Guide (https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/spectacle-motion-board-hookup-guide) which used the “Virtual Board” (a programming option, not a physical
board) to set the servos to run at periodic intervals rather than at the push
of a button. This cut down on some bulk and would work for projects were
continuous or periodic motion would be more beneficial than button activation!
I stuck the micro servo in place with some tape and also attached a 3D printed cylinder I had lying around to try it out with the weight.
Notes on Weight:
The micro servos have a Torque of 16.6/20.8 oz-in. (4.8/6.0V). I believe this means that it can support 16.6/20.8 oz (1.04/1.3 lbs) of weight at one inch away from the axis. I’ve also read that these numbers are based on ideal conditions so it is better to halve the weight. (So roughly one servo can support 8.3/10.4oz (0.52/0.65lbs) of weight within one inch away from the center). I am not entirely sure on my math there but I had no issue getting it to turn some of our 3D printed parts. I think it would work well with most lightweight cosplay pieces.
The servo has a limited rotation, moving ~90° in either direction. I think a lot of projects would benefit from a full 360° turn. You can alter servos to allow for a broader ranger of motion but since this is a beginner kit I hope they can include a continuous rotation servo as an option.
That said, the servos are good. They come with multiple arms/horns and make it easy to add motion to a variety of projects. Really easy to put together and get started when you follow their hookup guide. Definitely a good beginner kit for adding motion but you might need to fiddle with the numbers to get the timing down.
Like the lights, there is still a lot of bulk that comes from using the cables. So this will work best in props that have room to run the wires and insert the servos.
- If it doesn’t work, check the connection between the servo and the board. On my first run through the servo didn’t move and it was because I pinned it in backwards. Woops!