This came as part of a caterpillar tracks set without any instructions. Here is the listing for the item it came with if that helps:
If you can give me the exact name of the NodeMCU unit that would be a great start for me, although a link to some instructions would be even better.
I have no knowledge or experience with Arduino or NodeMCU. I bought the caterpillar tracks to use as part of a robot building project with my son using Raspberry Pi. I've been told by a supposed expert that this product should work with a Raspberry Pi, but that the tracks should only work in combination with the NodeMCU control, and that it would only be possible to use the NodeMCU control if I can find out exactly what kind it is and obtain the relevant instructions!
Many thanks for any help you can give!
What detail do you need? That looks like a bog standard NodeMCU...
Good, good I'm learning :) thank you!
Okay, so it sounds like you're saying I heard wrong - and in fact these devices are pretty much all the same. So I guess I should just look up instructions or a tutorial for ESP8266? That's what seems to come up generally when I type NodeMCU into Google. Like I said, I have zero knowledge or experience with this stuff.
Would you agree that it will be perfectly possible to control it through a Raspberry Pi? Or alternatively do you think it might be simpler to try to connect the tracks directly to their battery and the Raspberry Pi without using the NodeMCU at all?
Okay, so it sounds like you're saying I heard wrong - and in fact these devices are pretty much all the same. So I guess I should just look up instructions or a tutorial for ESP8266? That's what seems to come up generally when I type NodeMCU into Google.
You really need to do a lot
of study with the NodeMCU, starting "from the ground up" with programming it in various exercises. Later on you will be able to make the caterpillar do things.
Would you agree that it will be perfectly possible to control it through a Raspberry Pi?
"Through"? The NodeMCU can presumably "talk" to a Pi via WiFi. That would be one option.
Or alternatively do you think it might be simpler to try to connect the tracks directly to their battery and the Raspberry Pi without using the NodeMCU at all?
Sorry, but that sentence is completely nonsensical.
The critical detail here is the "magic" board on which the NodeMCU is mounted. It
is the interface to the motors without which nothing
can control them - and it is designed specifically
to operate with the NodeMCU. It makes no
sense to connect it to a Pi (though you could
but it would be extremely cumbersome and time-wasting) and you most certainly cannot
connect the motors to a Pi without such a component.
You are suffering from the ubiquitous problem of purchasing from eBay, Aliexpress, Amazon and so on. Products are advertised for people who already
know everything about them. No real
specifications or technical information is provided; you are left to search for that. I certainly see no useful information on that Web page.
(Rather amusing that the batteries are edited out of the carrier on all but one image. :smiley-lol: )
Thank you, this is all beginning to become clearer to me now.
Magic...board... you say? I had assumed that the NodeMCU and this magic board device you're referring to were one and the same thing. Is the magic board something I would also need a tutorial on? If so how should I go about finding one? Or is the magic board simply the means by which the NodeMCU talks to the tracks? Therefore not something I need to worry about except in helping me understand why there isn't any easy way to operate the tracks without the NodeMCU?
I do appreciate how basic these questions must be to you, so thanks again for taking the time to spell it all out.
What you have is a NodeMCU board, version 2.0 with the CH340 usb interface mounted on a NodeMCU Motor shield. Datasheets for the two boards:
The first datasheet details the NodeMCU board and shows how to setup the Arduino IDE to communicate with and program the board.
The second link is for the motor shield and it explains the purpose of that board. It also provides a link to a demo program to control a similar device to your track using a smartphone or other WiFi compatible device. The program is linked here:
As an afterthought, it is possible that you could have any one of three different usb to serial converter chips on your NodeMCU board. The most common is the CH340 followed by the Silabs CP2102 and finally the not so common Prolific PL2303.
Depending upon which operating system you're using, you may need a driver for the specific chip you have. You should be able to tell by looking for the part number on the chip closest to the micro usb connector, it will be one of the three mentioned above. Plug it in to your computer and see if it is recognized. Older windows machines and macs need the proper driver to be loaded. IIRC, Windows 10 has all the drives already installed.
That's incredibly helpful - thanks so much!
IIRC, Windows 10 has all the drives already installed.
And of course, Linux (Mint) just works
Thank you for sussing out the "magic board".
OK, just ordered one (gc_supermarket) to play with.