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“Heatit” high-current Arduino clone

October 17, 2012

Arduino is a great platform, especially for electronics newbies.  It has a great cross-platform IDE, libraries for almost everything, and a very active and friendly community.  But like almost any other microcontroller, it can’t push a lot of current — if you start running motors off the output pins directly, you’re going to quickly damage any typical Arduino board.

Enter Heatit, a new open-source Arduino compatible board currently doing a Kickstarter.  It’s specifically designed to push out large currents — up to half an amp per pin, or 2A total.  Moreover, it can precisely control the amount of current each pin supplies.  They’re intending this for projects where you want to use this current to heat something (think nitinol wire, or maybe even a solder oven), so that level of current control makes sense.  But the sheer ability of this thing to source that much current might also make it a good entry-level robot controller, since you’d be able to drive motors directly.

Of course, that’s not the only board able to drive motors… some boards, like the Orangutan, have an actual motor driver built right in.  So maybe Heatit really is a better fit for heating things.  I experimented with nitinol years ago and didn’t have much luck with it, but maybe precise control (such as a Heatit board can provide) was just what I was lacking.

What do you think?  How would you use Heatit to hasten the robot apocalypse?  Leave you thoughts in the comments below.

(Tip o’ the blog to Make.)

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