Does Arduino Mega require a motor shield?

Hi, I currently have a RoboticsConnection Traxster kit powered by their Serializer 3.0 controller. I love the controller...but due to the lack of support due to a small community, i am thinking of getting the Arduino Mega (which i do not know much about yet).

My question is, i have set of motors and sensors currently that i use with the Serializer 3.0 controller. I'd like to continue using those and from what little i have read thus far, i think i should be able to since mos are common sensors and motors. I do have some questions however

  1. I have two 9.6v nimh battery packs. Can these be used with the Arduino Mega?

  2. The serializer comes with dedicated POWER and ENCODER terminals on board for handling two motors as well as an additional terminal to supply external power for servos. My question is..for the Arduino Mega boards, do i need to purchase an add on for powering the motors or can the main board power the motors? What about the Motor's encoder wire - does the arduino board support that natively?

thanks much.

What I would do is look into writing an interface control program on the Serializer to take commands via the serial interface, and control the rest of the platform. Then, interface the Arduino Mega to the Serializer. Set up the control program so that everything about the Serializer is exposed via serial commands, burn the code onto it, and leave it, never to touch it again except for debugging. Offer to those who want to migrate from the Serializer.

If you wanted to "rip" the Serializer out, though, it looks like you would need to add your own h-bridge controllers to replace what was on the Serializer; fortunately, these are well available and documented - there are several companies that make a variety of modules (Pololu, for instance) for h-bridge motor control that can be interfaced to the Arduino, and none of them are expensive.

As far as the batteries are concerned, it depends on how they are hooked up; if they are in parallel (for double current capability at 9.6 volts), then you can hook it up to the external input to go through the regulator; if they are separate (one powers the Serializer, one to the motor voltage inputs on the Serializer), then you can do the same with the Arduino Mega and whatever h-bridge driver you use. Only if they are wired in series to provide 19.2 volts will you need to do something different (lots of options are available; the easiest would be to separate the packs, unless the motors require such higher voltage; then you might want to add a split in the pack to give a 9.6 volt leg for the Arduino's external voltage input).

As far as the encoder wire is concerned, it will depend on the h-bridge; you might find one with an encoder input, but likely you would just run that to a digital input on the Arduino, and monitor that in code (it isn't what you would call a "native" support; but you might be able to find an encoder library out there somewhere - or, if it doesn't exist, you could be the first to code one!).

Hope this helps...

:)

Thanks Crush, i’m not interested in interfacing a Serializer with the Arduino. If i go with the Arduino, i’d like it to be the main controller.

So from what you are saying, i seems i would need a Motor Shield. I think i found on here: Motor Shield - Arduino motor/stepper/servo control

Looks like it might do what i want.

The power supply/battery still remains an area of confusion for me. Regarding the battery and the serializer…a 9.6v-12v batter can power the serializer including it’s motors. No external battery is needed. If you wanted to add an external battery to power the servos you could or if you wanted to add separate h-bridge module onto the serializer to power the motors separately from the Serializer, you could. But ‘out of the box’ they are not needed.

What i was wondering however is what is the recommended battery for powering an Arduino Mega that will have connected to it two DC motors (7.2 v with 4.0amp max draw) and several other sensors ?
Will my 9.6v 4200ma Nimh battery do fine or do i need to purchase different batteries?

These are the parts i am using with the the serializer and that i would like to use with an Arduino. Trying to determine what additional components (shields?) i might need:

http://www.roboticsconnection.com/p-51-dc-gearhead-robot-motor.aspx
http://www.roboticsconnection.com/p-98-xbee-carrier-module.aspx
http://www.roboticsconnection.com/p-87-sharp-gp2y0a700k-ir-sensor.aspx
http://www.roboticsconnection.com/p-103-xl-maxsonar-ez1-mb1210.aspx
http://www.roboticsconnection.com/p-22-sharp-gp2d12-ir-sensor.aspx

I believe most of the sensors will work. i know i’ll also need an xbee shield (any recommendations on where to buy?).
However, the motor is an area of confusion for me. I see many post referencing motors of different spec. I also see many post referring to using a 6v power supply with the Arduinos.