Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Robots and Projects

Note: Obviously, this information has not been updated in some time. I will either eliminate this link soon or update it. Sorry! - Whit+

This post (dated on my birthday) will always have the most current list of robots (or projects) in my collection along with a little info about each one. They are posted with the most recently acquired or completed robot or project at the top (i.e., reverse chronilogical order).

CBA Robot - The CBA (ChiBot Alpha) robot kit is a club robot for the Chicago Area Robotics Group (ChiBots). It is sold through BudgetBot.com. It was designed to be a suitable beginner robot. I wanted to get so that I could get the experience of putting the components together myself (especially the PCB). It features a Parallax Basic Stamp 2e OEM, so it is compatable with all my other Parallax goodies.

Herbie the Mousebot - This was another Christmas present - Assembled January 1, 2008. It's the Solarbotics, Herbie the Mousebot. Originally invented by Randy Sargent, Herbie was built from spare parts as an entry for a robot competition. Herbie is such an elegant, clever design using very few parts, it's been featured in as a construction project in "Junkbot, Bugbots, and Bots on Wheels", "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Robots" and "MAKE" Magazine. When I connected the battery after assembly, nothing happened. I began to look the little bot over and disovered that I forgot to solder the tabs to the 9-volt battery hook-up. Oops! Two quick solder connections and everything worked perfectly.

Solarbotics has enhanced Herbie a bit with functional whisker and tail sensors, so it doesn't get stuck in corners while it chases around. Herbie the Mousebot is a 9-volt battery-powered robot that loves to chase flash light beams. If there are several Herbies in the same area, they can be configured to chase each other! (I did not install this feature yet, as it uses additional power and can shorten the battery life a bit. It basically involves installing and infra-red LED on the back of Herbie as a tail-light, which another Herbie can chase). Solarbotics says, "These little robots are so quick, you have to run to keep up to them!" They are not kidding!

Herbie documentation can be found here.
Note - much of the above is taken from the Solarbotics site at the link above.

Robosapien - I picked up a Wowwee Robosapien at Wal-Mart on December 30, 2007. When they first came out, they sold for about $100 - I got it for $35.
Robosapien is the first robot based on the science of applied biomorphic robotics. Robosapien is designed by Mark Tilden. Tilden is a robotics physicist who has worked for NASA, DARPA and JPL through Los Alamos National Laboratory. He developed the basics for biomorphic robotics in 1988; Robosapien is the first commercially available robot based upon this principle. He is best know for his BEAM robotics. The full post can be found here.

Running Microbug - I got this little kit for Christmas to work on soldering and construction techniques. On December 27, 2007 I assembled the Velleman Running Microbug (MK127), purchased from Electronix Express. It worked the first time. The Microbug chases light with its two open chassis motors. Light sensitivity can be adjusted with the two pots on front and the LED "eyes" indicate driving direction. It runs on two 1.5V AAA batteries, can be switched on and off and stops moving in total darkness. The assembly instructions and a schematic are here. This little kit is only $12.75.

BEAM Trimet - I made this little BEAM Trimet myself (a symet, short for symmetrical, would have 4 capacitors). It was featured in Volume 6 of Make Magazine. I got all the parts from Solarbotics. It was a fairly intricate soldering job, but it works great. Attached also is a schematic that shows how the charge, trigger and discharge works for the voltage triggered 1381 based solar engine. My full post about the BEAM Trimet is here.

HEXBUG - While on a trip, my wife picked this up for me at RadioShack. It is a pretty neat little toy robot. According to their website "HEXBUGS feel their way around sensing objects in their path and avoiding them. And they can hear! You control where they scurry through a hand clap, loud noise or table slap." This model is the Alpha. The original post is here.

Mars Line Chaserz - I got this at Walgreens Drug Store on sale for $7.49. With the Mars Line Chaserz, you draw the track and LineChaserz uses optical sensors to detect and follow any track you draw. The kit comes with vehicle chassis, body, a two-sided activity mat, dry erase marker, eraser and small accessories (some flying saucers and Martians in this case!). One side of the mat is plain and the other side is a Martian landscape. How could I resist?

Parallax Scribbler - I picked up the Parallax Scribbler in preparation for a summer class I was going to teach in robotics. The Scribbler is great starter robot from Parallax. It is completely assembled and ready to go. It uses a Basic Stamp for a controller. It comes with 8 demo programs and can be programed in PBasic (Parallax Basic) with the BASIC Stamp Editor or with a very nice Graphical User Interface (GUI) programming software (for details see here).

Tamiya Wall Hugging Mouse - This mouse was also assembled in preparation for a summer class in robotics. This is a very nice, simple kit that operates well. Similar in price to the OWI Weasel Bot below, this is a much nicer little bot. I ultimately decided this was the right bot for the class. I like the simple clear body and the whiskers.

OWI Weasel Bot - The OWI Weasel Bot was purchased at a local hobby shop. I put it together as to see if it might work for a summer class in robotics. The class was for sixth, seventh and eight graders. I wasn't particularly impressed with it. It was fairly difficult to put together (I was worried it might be hard for the age group) and it didn't function very well. I ultimately picked the bot above, Tamiya's Wall Hugging Mouse.

Parallax Boe-Bot - For my birthday in 2007, I received a Parallax Boe-bot and lots of accessories (like the IR Remote for the Boe-Bot Parts Kit and Text, PING))) Ultrasonic Sensor, PING))) Mounting Bracket Kit, QTI Line Follower AppKit for the Boe-Bot, and the PIR Sensor) . In my opinion, this is the best way to learn about all the aspects of robotics. The kit and its parts are extremely well made, the documentation is fantastic (much of it is free to download) and Parallax's customer service is second to none. They have an excellent user forum where lots of knowledgeable people interact and help each other out.

Robot 1 - I started my first real robot around the first of 2007. I wanted to try to build a robot from scratch). I knew it's brain would be a Parallax Basic Stamp 2. For a motor, I used an old Black and Decker 3/8" drill. I kept the motor housing and ground it down. This let me keep what gearing it had to slow it down a little. I also kept the battery holder. It uses two VersaPak NiMH Batteries (3.6 Volt, 2.0 Amp Hours each - that is 7.2 Volts total). The body is plywood. It uses Dubro foam airplane wheels and a Futaba S3003 servo for steering. It is basically a copy of Roger Arrick's Arobot featured in the book, Robot Building for Dummies. My full original post is here.

Solarbotics' SolarSpeeder 2 - The first robotic-like gizmo I ever built was the Solarbotics' SolarSpeeder 2. Solarbotics (along with Parallax) is one of the very best hobby robotics' companies. Their products are high quality and have excellent documentation. The company was started by Dave Hrynkiw and is based in Canada. They specialize in BEAM robotics. The little SolarSpeeder was easy to build and is very fast. See what my son said as I sat building it here.