Actrino Says “Hello World”

If it looks like nothing’s been happening here on the KSF blog, it’s because we’ve been insanely busy inventing a brand-new twist on open source hardware.  On Thursday, Feb. 7, I presented Actrino proof-of-concept prototypes to the tech community for the first time at the SF Hardware Startup Meetup. The event was held at IDEO‘s Pier 28 space under the Bay Bridge, and drew a typical overflow crowd of over a hundred curious hardwarians.

If you find this product concept interesting, I’d love to hear from you. We’re looking for potential end-users and alpha testers, as well as business and technical partners, so drop me a line (ken a t ksflabs dot com), sign up for our mailing list, and watch this space!


The Actrino X1 Base Board — 3D rendering from KiCAD design files

The Actrino X1 Base Board — 3D rendering from KiCAD design files


The Arduino™ form factor has thankfully brought microcontrollers to the masses. But it also comes with limitations. Frankly, we’ve gotten a bit tired of fiddling around with all those awkward little square wheels — so we decided to invent a round one.

Actrino brings a modular systems approach to the open-source world, integrating electrical, mechanical, thermal, and even aesthetic aspects of a design. This frees you to focus on your application rather than shield compatibility, mechanical mounting schemes, heatsink placement, and other common headaches.

10W RGBW LED mounted on center pedestal, coupled to heatsink base below.


Compatible with Wiring/Arduino™ & other AVR software environments
Four bullet-proof high-current low-side drivers

  • Controls over 100 watts of DC power (24VDC @ 5A per channel, 8A board max)
  • Drives DC and stepper motors, high-power LEDs, heating elements, thermoelectric coolers, solenoids, relay coils, fans, and many other loads
  • 16-bit PWM, 12-bit analog current control, and thermal protection for each channel

Flexible serial interface slot — MIDI, DMX-512, RS485, RS232, USB, IrDA, etc.
Sixteen status LEDs
Several spare analog & digital I/O pins
I2C and SPI peripheral bus
Modular enclosure system and expansion scheme based on elemental forms

  • Mounting holes in a grid and around the perimeter of the board
  • Inherent heatsink base with many options including center mounting pedestal
  • Can often be fabricated from common raw material (rod stock, acrylic/Lexan tubing, etc.)
  • Custom bases, brackets, and other accessories can be modified from templates using online CNC services

10W LED prototype illuminating a magnifier lens. Higher power LEDs can be used with a thicker heatsink base and/or forced air cooling.



  • Hot/cold/stir plates, incubators, peristaltic pumps, valve manifolds
  • Fiberoptic/microscope light sources, fluorescence imaging, slide coolers, optogenetics
  • Operant conditioning, neurobehavioral rigs


  • LED flash/camera control/intervalometer mashups
  • Linear or matrix flash arrays
  • RGBW LED beauty dishes and soft boxes

Art & Design

  • Table lamps, color organs, status indicators, mood lighting
  • Theatrical lighting, stage mechanisms
  • Large LED/actuator arrays for interactive installations
  • Display/architectural/club lighting

Robotics & Automation

  • Rovers
  • Smart motors and actuators
  • Process control


10W RGBW LED prototype configured as a fiberoptic light source. The translucent Delrin rod on top is used as an integrating sphere and adjustable attenuator.


Actrino spin table prototype on the bench

~ Click image for brief video of stepper motor action modulated by a light sensor ~

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