It’s been almost 16 years ago when I’ve made my first Robot, A simple line-follower one. Since then, I was constantly dealing almost every time with Motors and their issues personally within the teams I was working alongside, Observing how crucial they are, and how it can get frustrating for non-technical and technical people to get their hands on them. I’ve witnessed how we spent hundreds of hours in different projects to deal with motors and I wish we could have had something that could speed us up so that we could focus on what really mattered in our projects, the real goals and results ( obviously running motors was not the final goal :) ).

That’s how we came up with the idea of SOLO in 2016 as a team in POLIFACTORYwhich is a FABLAB in Milan Italy. We are determined to eliminate the need for people to spend a vast amount of their time in prototyping and projects on Motors, helping them to speed up their product design with the minimum effort possible and giving them the chance to experiment and make mistakes and go on! Now after 4 years of constant work and 5 prototypes made, we have decided to share our results with the community with the hope to bring our project on a new level .

In SOLO we are aiming to make things as much as possible Simple and Automatic, that’s why we put a huge amount of time into hiding the complexity of the design inside and leaving the simplicity outside for our users. SOLO in the simplest form can be commanded with a single analog voltages signal as a Potentiometer or a single ARDUINO/RASPBERRY PI using a PWM enabled Pin without anything else, to tune the Speed or even the Torque of your motors. If you want to manage in a more advanced and complete way you can interact with it using USB, UART or CAN protocols. SOLO supports sensor-less and sensor-based controls for both Speed and Torque of the motors, it also provides position control using Encoders. 
By design, SOLO has the aim to make running motors possible for everyone, from a total beginner to an expert, each could get what they want.
The main features of SOLO are listed in Below:

As stated above one of the strongest points of using SOLO is its ability in controlling motors in Sensor-less mode, which makes you able to control the speed or torque of your motors without having Encoders or Hall sensors. Below is an example, you can see how is the quality of speed control in sensorless mode on a 150W Brushless DC motor with a sudden change of direction from clockwise to counter-clockwise and vice versa.

Another feature of SOLO is using advanced Space Vector Pulse Width Modulation known as SVPWM for Brushless motors which results in a much more efficient switching and subsequently smoother behavior in control over 3-phase motors. In below you can see the recorded line-line voltage of the phases of a 200W Brushless DC motor using SVPWM in SOLO:

Another thing about SOLO, we mounted heatsink on the back of it, which will result in a significantly better thermal performance and reliability, on the other hand, to ensure the maximum safety, SOLO has a temperature sensor installed on its PCB and software control which will constantly monitor the situation for possible warnings or even failures. 

As mentioned above SOLO has a lot of means of communication with the user, including direct PWM or Analogue voltages [0-5V] as well as controlling and getting feedback using USB, UART and CAN protocols. Depending on the technical level of each user these features can be used. Each SOLO can have a unique address which will make it possible to network multiple numbers of boards together to function in a system.

you can also see some of the developments and tutorials we've made with SOLO so far down here:

The current state of the Project:

We have to confess, as you can imagine, making a complete and usable hardware project is not an easy path, we went through thousands of technical and design problems and we had to solve them one by one. It took us 4 years to be able to show something that our community deserves, we don’t claim that SOLO is without any issues or possible problems, although we tried our best to test all the possible scenarios in different conditions, and that’s why we need your help to be able to even make our solution better.

You can share the project and give us your consideration about the it. Any suggestion will be appreciated! You can also support us by going to our BETA VERSION page and order some units, testing them and letting us to work with you and learn from your ideas and projects :)

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