NickStick's Majodi Ploegmakers has launched a crowdfunding campaign for the SwarmDrive, an open source motor driver development board for brushless motors powered by an Espressif ESP32 microcontroller.
"The SwarmDrive board originated from a research project consisting of hardware and software to drive electric motors, more specific BLDC motors, using an ESP32," Ploegmakers explains. "SwarmDrive is a motor driver (development) board intended for learning and experimenting with electric motors. It's an approachable mechatronics platform for users who want to learn and start experimenting with (small) electric motors and BLDC motors in particular."
"The board contains a basic motor driver setup together with a powerful microcontroller (ESP32) and USB connectivity. It enables professionals as well as students to learn about different commutation algorithms and all other aspects of electric (BLDC) motors in a convenient way."
The "Swarm" part of the board's name, meanwhile, hints at more capabilities to come: The ESP32 module which powers the SwarmDrive offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which can be used for both wireless remote control of connected motors and to have multiple boards communicate between each other — opening up the potential for the development of swarming robotic systems.
The SwarmDrive is designed to be open source at its heart: Ploegmakers has already published schematics and source code to GitHub under an unspecified licence, with more information on the firmware available on the NickStick website.
The board is now funding on Crowd Supply, priced at $50 for early bird backers and $75 after; shipping is expected to begin in early February 2021.