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May 2, 2012 AT 3:42 pm

NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit 16-Channel 12-bit PWM/Servo Driver – I2C interface – PCA9685

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NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit 16-Channel 12-bit PWM/Servo Driver – I2C interface – PCA9685. You want to make a cool robot, maybe a hexapod walker, or maybe just a piece of art with a lot of moving parts. Or maybe you want to drive a lot of LEDs with precise PWM output. Then you realize that your microcontroller has a limited number of PWM outputs! What now? You could give up OR you could just get this handy PWM and Servo driver breakout.

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When we saw this chip, we quickly realized what an excellent add-on this would be. Using only two pins, control 16 free-running PWM outputs! You can even chain up 62 breakouts to control up to 992 PWM outputs (which we would really like to see since it would be glorious).

  • It’s an i2c-controlled PWM driver with a built in clock. That means that, unlike the TLC5940 family, you do not need to continuously send it signal tying up your microcontroller, its completely free running!
  • It is 5V compliant, which means you can control it from a 3.3V microcontroller and still safely drive up to 6V outputs (this is good for when you want to control white or blue LEDs with 3.4+ forward voltages)
  • 6 address select pins so you can wire up to 62 of these on a single i2c bus, a total of 992 outputs – that’s a lot of servos or LEDs
  • Adjustable frequency PWM up to about 1.6 KHz
  • 12-bit resolution for each output – for servos, that means about 4us resolution at 60Hz update rate
  • Configurable push-pull or open-drain output
  • Output enable pin to quickly disable all the outputs

We wrapped up this lovely chip into a breakout board with a couple nice extras

  • Terminal block for power input (or you can use the 0.1″ breakouts on the side)
  • Reverse polarity protection on the terminal block input
  • Green power-good LED
  • 3 pin connectors in groups of 4 so you can plug in 16 servos at once (Servo plugs are slightly wider than 0.1″ so you can only stack 4 next to each other on 0.1″ header
  • “Chain-able” design
  • A spot to place a big capacitor on the V+ line (in case you need it)
  • 220 ohm series resistors on all the output lines to protect them, and to make driving LEDs trivial
  • Solder jumpers for the 6 address select pins

This product comes with a fully tested and assembled breakout as well as 4 pieces of 3×4 male straight header (for servo/LED plugs), a 2-pin terminal block (for power) and a piece of 6-pin 0.1″ header (to plug into a breadboard). A little light soldering will be required to assemble and customize the board by attaching the desired headers but it is a 15 minute task that even a beginner can do. If you want to use right-angle 3×4 headers, we also carry a 4 pack in the shop.

Dimensions (no headers or terminal block) 2.5″ x 1″ x 0.1″ (62.5mm x 25.4mm x 3mm)
Weight (no headers or terminal block): 5.5grams
Weight (with 3×4 headers & terminal block): 9grams

In stock and shipping now!


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2 Comments

  1. would look nice on a Pi Plate!

  2. Hah – and I just TODAY had my brother asking me to build a project that would require more PWM pins than a regular Arduino has to offer… What’s the max current per output pin? (I’m guessing that since you’re driving servos, 2 “synchronized” LEDs using one output should be OK?)

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