Converting From a Sabertooth to a RoboClaw Motor Controller

Introduction: Converting From a Sabertooth to a RoboClaw Motor Controller

The Dimension Engineering line of Sabertooth motor controllers and the BasicMicro line of RoboClaw controllers are popular choices for entry level robotics projects. However they use two very different systems for configuring the controller. The Sabertooth use a DIP switch and the RoboClaw uses a software system called Motion Studio. This article shows how to move from the settings on an existing Sabertooth setup to a similar setup on a RoboClaw controller.

Step 1: RC Control With Differential Drive

One of the most popular configurations for the RoboClaw and Sabertooth is using an RC reciver output to control a differential drive robot. Tank style robots and rovers are a common application for this configuration. The image above shows the Sabertooth DIP switch settings for this mode.

To configure a RoboClaw to match the Sabertooth settings follow the instuctions below.

Connect the RoboClaw to a computer with a USB cable. Note that the RoboClaw is not powered by the USB connection and need a decicated power source. Open Motion Studio and click "Connect Selected Device". Now click on "General Settings" on the left-hand side of the application.

In the pane labelled "Setup" set the Control Mode to "RC". Next, in the pane labelled "RC/Analog Options" check the box labeled "Mixing". Finish by saving the settings to the board. In the menu at the top of the application select "Device" then "Save Settings".

The RoboClaw is now configured for RC mode with differential drive. See the image for a snaphot of what the settings look like in Motion Studio.

Step 2: Analog Control With Differential Drive

Another popular configurations is using an analog input device such as a joystick or potentiometers to control a differential drive robot. The image shows the Sabertooth DIP switch settings for this mode.

To configure a RoboClaw to match the Sabertooth settings follow the instructions below.

Connect the RoboClaw to a computer with a USB cable. Note that the RoboClaw is not powered by the USB connection and need a decicated power source. Open Motion Studio and click "Connect Selected Device". Now click on "General Settings" on the left-hand side of the application.

In the pane labelled "Setup" set the Control Mode to "Analog". Next, in the pane labelled "RC/Analog Options" check the box labeled "Mixing". Finish by saving the settings to the board. In the menu at the top of the application select "Device" then "Save Settings".

The RoboClaw is now configured for RC mode with differential drive. See the image for a snaphot of what the settings look like in Motion Studio.

Step 3: Packet Serial

For more complicated control of a motor controller, packet serial mode can be used in conjuction with a micrcontroller to send commands to a motor controller. Both the RoboClaw and the Sabertooth feature a packet serial mode, although there are some implimentation differences between the two. The image shows the DIP switch settings for a Sabertooth is packet serial mode.

To configure a RoboClaw to match the Sabertooth settings follow the instructions below.

Connect the RoboClaw to a computer with a USB cable. Note that the RoboClaw is not powered by the USB connection and need a decicated power source. Open Motion Studio and click "Connect Selected Device". Now click on "General Settings" on the left-hand side of the application.

In the pane labelled "Setup" set the Control Mode to "Packet Serial". Next, in the pane labelled "Serial", set the Packet Serial Address to 128 and the Baudrate to the same baudrate used with the Sabertooth. Finish by saving the settings to the board. In the menu at the top of the application select "Device" then "Save Settings".

The RoboClaw is now configured for RC mode with differential drive. See the image for a snaphot of what the settings look like in Motion Studio.

There are differences between the packet serial command set of the RoboClaw and Sabertooth. However, the RoboClaw features compatibilty commands that mirror those of the Sabertooth so most code should be portable from the Sabertooth to the RoboClaw.

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