Ryanteck’s RTK-000-001 motor controller – robotics on a budget

We first met Ryan Walmsley when he was fifteen, back in May 2012. He’d been emailing and tweeting with us for months at that point (mostly variations on WHEN CAN I BUY ONE?), and he then proceeded to knock our socks off very shortly after we started shipping by producing, out of the blue, the Rastrack map, which Pi users can register their Pis on, showing the geographical spread of the project. We still use Rastrack regularly: it’s a great visual aid at talks and workshops.

At that point, Ryan had only really worked on web programming, but since buying his (first) Pi he’s gone on to learn Python, has done a huge amount of work on electronics and physical computing, and has been running Raspberry Jams in Stevenage, all while studying at sixth-form college. Ryan’s a really important part of the Raspberry Pi community. We rely on the passion, enthusiasm and skill of people like Ryan to get the word about Raspberry Pi out, and we think he’s great.

Ryan showing me his motor controller at work, at this weekend’s Manchester Raspberry Jam

Once he’d done a bit of dabbling with a soldering iron, we discovered that Ryan had a bit of a gift for electronics, and he’s visited Pi Towers a couple of times since we moved into our new offices to give us a hand adapting 1980s educational robots to work with Raspberry Pi. (Lots of schools still have discontinued equipment hanging around in cupboards.) He’s coming back in January for some formal work experience, and we are preparing to set him to work on some office-automation hacking when he gets here. We encouraged him to put his expertise to work in the meantime by contributing to the add-on board ecosystem, and so Ryan has developed┬ásomething he himself felt was missing: a cheap, simple, solder-it-yourself motor controller board.

RTK-000-001 is a very straightforward, inexpensive motor controller for the Raspberry Pi, designed for hobbyist and schools robotics. It can drive two DC motors at 0.5A each, which screw into terminals on the board. The board itself clips neatly to the top of the Pi, and you can then mount the whole assembly on a robot of your choice. Ryan’s made demo code available, so you can get started right away: in under 25 lines of Python you can get your robot spinning in alternate directions at five-second intervals, and it’s easy to progress from there to start programming it yourself.

Ryan has a Tindie running to get the fifty orders he needs to get the price to the low level he thinks the RTK-000-001 should sell at. Please think about ordering one yourself: we get very excited when we see young people like Ryan building businesses around the Raspberry Pi, and we’re looking forward to using the board in our own offices. (Ryan, I have plans for getting you motorising all *kinds* of stuff in January. Our life-sized Minecraft sword would be 100% better if it started spinning on the wall when sent a command.)


Lee avatar

Raspberry Jams in Stevenage?! WHY DID I NOT KNOW OF THIS! >.< Go Ryan though! Kudos mate, really awesome!

Ryan Walmsley avatar

Are you signed up either to Rastrack or Raspberry Jam emails?

The Raspberry Pi Guy avatar

Ryan is an awesome guy – I would have really liked to attend his Jam but I couldn’t make it!

Very cool add on board as well – and a fantastic price! I will be investing ;-)

The Raspberry Pi Guy

Jamie Mann avatar

Congrats Ryan!

FrodoNL avatar

Looks like mine was the 55th unit ordered… Nice job, Ryan!

Todd avatar

Just ordered one. Great job.

SiriusHardware avatar

(…Jumping up and down…)

I know! I know!

How about an ‘official’ Foundation standard microphone / line level audio input board for the Pi? – the Pi really could do with one.

SiriusHardware avatar

Looks good, but trying to cover too many bases. On a device already so complex I would have thrown in a MIDI interface as well.

A basic Pi audio-in just needs to have microphone and line-in jacks and be powered from the Pi 5V, nothing more. What is important is for it to be recognised by Linux/Raspbian as a common audio input device.

AndrewS avatar

If you want something basic, I believe you can just plug in a cheap USB audio card / dongle.

Jared avatar

This is fascinating and Ryan is a talented young man. I am pleased to discover Raspberry Pi and will spread the news. What a great way to breathe new life into outdated models from the 1980’s and teach children about robotics at the same time.

IrishFramboise (AlanMc) avatar

Bravo CEO Ryan. Glad to see you’re already at 132% of your initial target. Looking forward to getting one of those first ones “off the press” (think I was 43 or so). In the meantime gonna keep doing my best to get the Southern French part of the Rastrack map as populated as possible. Had you benchmarked the site for the +2 000 000 rpis we’re at today? ;o)

stick avatar

Liz, just give him a job.

liz avatar

He’s got school and uni to get through before he starts thinking about jobs!

Morten Lind avatar

Really nice Ryan! think I was in the 20s ordering one. I am dreaming of your next Tindie with a 5A @ 24V version :-)

Stewart Watkiss avatar

This sounds great – saves me the trouble of creating my own PCB :-)

I’m currently writing up a guide to learn Raspberry Pi and Electronics using a robot vehicle similar to the one shown. I have given demos at the Raspberry Jams at Coventry (PyconUK) and Malvern, but I’m still working on the writeup.

At the moment it’s on breadboard. I was going to make my own PCB, but only because nobody had already created one – I’d much rather use off the shelf components and point them at these. As this has now been so successful through it’s launch it would be good to see this being available through normal retailers as it looks like a great way to expand the Raspberry Pis into controlling motors.

Ryan Walmsley avatar

Normal retailers being companies like Cyntech / CPC / Maplin?

Mikado avatar

I’ve been reading a lot about this motor controller board but can’t find out where to buy one.
Can someone point me to a retailer, please.

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