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Servo Center™

General Information

The ServoCenter™ family of embedded servo controllers allows RC servo motor control from any USB, serial RS-232, MIDI-capable device. ServoCenter™ is also available in DIP and TQFP chip packages. The ServoCenter™ 4.1 Sequencer allows complex tasks to be programmed via a script sequencer in addition to other programming options that are standard in the ServoCenter products.

ServoCenter™ allows amazing and unsurpassed control of the seek position and seek speed of up to sixteen connected servos — independently and simultaneously, with simple, logical commands.

Up to 16 (32 for MIDI version) ServoCenters™ may be chained together to control up to 256 RC servos (512 for MIDI version), with completely independent movement, from only one serial, USB, or MIDI port! Independent control allows you to move one servo to a position slowly, while another is moving to a different position at a faster speed, and group moves allow you to synchronize multiple servos easily.

ServoCenter™ controllers are especially useful for applications such as robotics, animatronics, motion control, automation, retail displays, and other areas where independent and coordinated fluid servo motion is desired.

ServoCenter™ can be programmed using a simple raw packet protocol or using the included ActiveX control or Win32 DLL. Sample programs illustrating all programming methods are included in the documentation and examples CD. The ServoCenter™ Command Protocol allows complex servo movement commands to be issued by constructing and transmitting simple command packets. Code examples are included for:

GCC/Linux, QBASIC, TurboC, Python, C#, Visual Basic.NET, Visual Basic 6.0, C#.NET, Visual C++.NET, and Visual C++ 6.0.

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ServoCenter™ servo controllers may be purchased as individual servo controller boards, DIP or TQFP chips, or in complete packages. All prices shown are USD.

Version 4.1 USB 4.1 USB MINI MIDI 3.1 Serial 3.1 Chip
Board Only* $77.00 $75.00 $81.00 DIP $17.90 TQFP $17.90
Full Package** $85.00 $84.00 $92.00 n/a n/a

* Board Only Contents: ServoCenter controller only. All manuals, programming guides, programming examples, drivers, and programming components available for download at no cost. No cable or power supply included.
** Full Package Contents: ServoCenter controller, plus cable (USB, Mini USB, MIDI or Serial) and power supply. All manuals, programming guides, programming examples, drivers, and programming components provided on CD.

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Sequencer / SC-BASIC Language Interpreter

The ServoCenter™ 4.1 controller provides a built-in Sequencer / BASIC Interpreter called SC-BASIC which allows the sequencer to run independently on the board itself. Sequencer programs are stored in non-volatile EEPROM memory that retains the program even when the unit is reset or powered off, eliminating the need for a PC or other external command device.

The SC-BASIC language was designed for the ServoCenter 4.1 servo controller as a simple, easy-to-learn language, with a syntax familiar to users of other flavors of BASIC (such as QBASIC and Visual Basic) with built-in functions specifically suited to ServoCenter.

Downloads and Documentation

A library of ServoCenter™ documentation, including manuals, protocols, schematics, drivers, application notes, source code, DLL programming, ActiveX control, direct serial I/O, firmware updater, control panel utility, sequencer, and other tools.

Feature Comparison

The ServoCenter Family

All ServoCenter™ boards feature 16 servo channels per board, and allow independent and simultaneous control of each servo’s position, speed, and seek-time. Both USB and Serial boards allow chaining of up to 16 boards for a total of 256 servos controlled via one USB or serial port. MIDI boards allow chaining of up to 32 boards for a total of 512 servos controlled via one MIDI out port. ActiveX and Win32 DLLs allow for rapid, powerful program development, creating complex control applications easily. A simple yet robust serial protocol supports both ASCII and binary protocol modes.

On-board pads allow for external power or battery power, and all boards provide over-current and over-temperature protection. An on-board regulator supports both 4.8V/6.0V servo supply voltages. All boards feature a power switch and reset button.

ServoCenter 4.1 USB and 4.1 MINI

ServoCenter™ 4.1 USB and 4.1 MINI models provide a virtual COM port, allowing simple USB communication. By daisy-chaining USB boards, you can also make use of up to 256 servo control channels, 256 digital I/O channels, and 128 analog inputs. USB drivers are compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Up to 64 scene presets can be stored and loaded instantly, or cross-faded for smooth transitions. A built-in configurable smoothing algorithm provides for more natural movement. Scaled and percentage motion commands allow for max, min, and startup position for motion programming and complex calibration. The addition of absolute, timed, relative, and percentage position commands allow great flexibility. Servo group movement commands are available, as well as servo inversion and servo enable/disable commands.

Status LEDs provide feedback and troubleshooting assistance with 1 power LED and 2 flexible status LEDs. Digital I/O channels have configurable internal pull-up resistors, and provide power supply pins for connection to external digital I/O modules. Analog Input channels provide power supply pins for connection to external analog input modules, and can be read in either 8-bit or 10-bit resolutions.

ServoCenter™ MIDI

ServoCenter™ MIDI allows MIDI continuous controller messages to directly control standard RC servos. ServoCenter™ MIDI is designed to be easily configured by anyone familiar with MIDI. By allowing MIDI continuous controller messages to control servos, ServoCenter™ MIDI opens up countless performance and sequencing options for musicians or special effects/ animatronics technicians. ServoCenter™ MIDI allows any device with a MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) OUT port to control standard RC servo motors.

With full 14-bit resolution, ServoCenter™ MIDI allows for 16,384 servo positions. MIDI Continuous Controller messages control each servo position as well as on/off. By using ServoCenter™ with a MIDI sequencer, you can have an instant motion control solution that allows accurate and repeatable recording and playback of servo motions. MIDI IN and MIDI THRU ports allow the daisy-chaining of multiple ServoCenter™ boards as well as other MIDI devices.

ServoCenter™ MIDI is especially useful for servo control applications where MIDI music messages are to be coordinated with fluid servo motion. The broad range of MIDI sequencer software and MIDI controller devices make creating and storing servo motor motion performances easy for non-programmers. This opens up many opportunities for multimedia displays, interactive performance art, kinetic sculptures, and more.

By using the simple MIDI protocol, ServoCenter™ makes motor control easy for non-programmers. MIDI channel settings are switch-selectable, and the data format is the MIDI standard interface running at 31.25 kbps. MIDI manufacturer ID number: 00H 01H 56H.

ServoCenter™ 3.1 CHIP

ServoCenter™ 3.1 CHIP models are available in DIP and TQFP packages, and are fully functional servo controller integrated circuits. The ServoCenter™ Protocol allows very complex servo commands with simple command packets. Comprehensive documentation, sample schematics, and programming examples get you started quickly, receiving command packets from any serial-capable device, including (with support circuitry) a personal computer or microcontroller. The data format is 8 data bits, no parity, and 1 stop bit. The baud rate is selectable (9600, 14400, 19200, or 38400 bps), and 16 unique board identification numbers are possible.

Feature Comparison USB 4.1 USB-MINI MIDI Serial
Board only price $75.00 $73.00 $79.00 $67.00
Board with cable, power supply & CD $85.00 $84.00 $90.00 $78.00
Servo channels individually configurable as extra digital outputs YES YES
16 dedicated digital I/O channels, individually configurable YES YES
8 dedicated analog input channels YES YES
Preset storage capability 64 presets for servo position & digital I/O 64 presets for servo position & digital I/O
Configuration information saved even when powered off YES YES
Watchdog timer for failsafe operation YES YES
Max servo pulse resolution 0.05425 uS 0.05425 uS
Pulse output rate 20 ms 20 ms
Pulse width range 10-2390 uS 10-2390 uS
User upgradeable firmware; download new features YES YES
Bootloader allows users to create and upload their own firmware YES YES
Baud rates supported 9600, 38400, 57600, 115200 bps 9600, 38400, 57600, 115200 bps 9600, 14400, 19200, 38400 bps
Connectors USB type B, male and female DB9 serial USB 5-pin Mini type B, 3-pin serial Male and female DB9 serial
Communication supported USB, RS-232 serial, TTL logic-level serial USB, RS-232 serial, TTL logic-level serial MIDI RS-232
Data Format MIDI standard at 31.25 kbps 8 data bits, no parity, 1 stop bit

Physical Specifications by Model

USB 4.1 USB-MINI Serial 3.1 MIDI 1.2 DIP Chip TQFP Chip
Length 3.775″ (9.6 cm) 2.945″ (7.48 cm) 3.375″ (8.5 cm) 3.375″ (8.5 cm) 0.61″ (1.55 cm) 0.463″ (1.175 cm)
Width 3.55″ (9.0 cm) 1.7″ (4.32 cm) 3.625″ (9.2 cm) 3.625″ (9.2 cm) 2.05″ (5.207 cm) 0.463″ (1.175 cm)
Height 1.0″ (2.5 cm) .56″ (1.42 cm) 1.0″ (2.5 cm) 1.0″ (2.5 cm) 0.31″ (0.787 cm) 0.047″ (0.12 cm)
Weight 2.7 oz 0.95 oz 2.8 oz 2.8 oz 0.1 oz 0.1 oz
Primary Input USB Type B port USB 5-pin Mini Type B 9-pin IBM style RS-232 DCE 5-pin DIN MIDI-IN TTL signal level serial interface
Secondary Input/Thru Serial DB9 female In, DB9 male Thru style RS-232 DCE 3-pin TTL serial Serial 3-pin In, 3-pin Thru n/a n/a n/a
Tertiary Input/Thru TTL serial 3-pin IN, 3-pin Thru TTL serial 3-pin IN, 3-pin Thru 9-pin IBM style RS-232 DTE 5-pin DIN MIDI-THRU n/a
Servo Interface 3-pin standard universal RC servo connector Standard RC servo control signal
Digital I/O Interface 3-pin (Ground, +5v, Signal) n/a n/a n/a
Analog Input Interface 3-pin (Ground, +5v, Signal) n/a n/a n/a
Power Supply Minimum 1A, 7.5VDC – 15VDC 12 mA, 2.7V to 5.5V
Power Jack Male, 2.1mm x 5.5mm, center positive n/a
Servo Power Output Regulated 4.8VDC or 6.0VDC (selectable), up to 5A n/a
Cable Type USB device cable USB MINI device cable 9-pin serial (DB9F to DB9M) 5-pin DIN MIDI n/a

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