Dynamixel: Networkable Robotics Servo Motor Family
Bruce Schreiner posted on November 11, 2013 |
Many engineers and researchers have been finding uses for the Dynamixel family of high-performance networked actuators (could be called smart servo motors) from Robotis.

They range from the inexpensive AX series to the high-performance MX series.  They are servo motors that also allow for full rotation via electronic setup.  As can be seen, these units contain a reduction gear, controller, driver, and network interface all within the enclosure giving them smart motor status.   They include mounting housings and brackets for securing the motor and also for connection to each other for multi-axis movements.

Dynamixels communicate by sending packets through a daisy-chained TTL or RS-485 network depending on the model.

The actuators communicate position, load, voltage, and temperature feedback information as well as providing adjustable torque and speed control.

The inexpensive AX series replaces hobbyist servos while also adding full rotation capabilities.  The high-end MX series includes the following set of characteristics:

Their niche market at this point is the field of robotics, and Robotis includes RoboPlus software for setup and programming, provides a Dynamixel SDK, allows for embedded C code, and also supports a Zigbee wireless SDK.

Both Trossen Robotics and the RobotShop sell Dynamixel motors, horns, and various mounting brackets as well as providing documentation and examples for use.  Here is a video showing a position feedback example using two similar robotic arm setups, both using Dynamixel actuators.

These actuators are showing up all over the place: controlled by a Raspberry Pi, working with an Arduino, hooked to the BeagleBone Black, and even supported by National Instruments LabVIEW software.

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