Let's Make Robots!

OddBot's blog

Prototyping CNC MkII

Late 2012 I started developing a 5 axis, CNC controller. The PCB was made but It was a long term project that ended up sitting on the back burners. I never had time to test it or write code. Although an Arm processor would be slightly cheaper and more powerful I have kept the design Arduino compatible as this is easier to hack for most hobbyist.

Prototyping ComMotion

Introduction

I was inspired to create the ComMotion shield after building my robot Scamper. It took a reasonable amount of work to get the encoder feedback working how I wanted and I knew it would be much harder for a beginner.

Xinjiang, robots and bombs!

Well another year has gone by and it is time to visit Xinjiang again. Xinjiang is far north west in China and borders onto several other countries. We regularly attend their science festival in Karamay and then go for a short tour around this beautiful part of China.

DAGU CNC mill controller - first prototype

I've been developing a CNC controller for DAGU. The project originally started late 2012 but got shelved because of other projects. Now we've dusted it off and plan to finish it in the next 6 months. Unfortunately blog post don't support video so watch the video that explains the basics by clicking on the link.

Speech Recognition - Robot Thinking and Understanding

Programming a robot to do a single specific task such as following a line is hard enough for most people. So how do we program a robot so it can perform many different task? How do we command / control it?

Recently I have been wanting to use the speech and voice recognition of an Android mobile phone. My friend Bing wrote a simple app for me that allows my controller to connect to an Android phone via Bluetooth and then send the phone a list of words that I want the robot to recognize. For example: "OddJob,go,forward,backward,turn,stop"

Pushing the limits with encoders

This is now a tutorial and can be found here: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/39098

I've been working on some code so that a simple Mini Driver using a lowly ATmega8A can drive two motors with encoders and 8 servos. This may not sound hard at first until you remember that the Servo library kills PWM on the ATmega8. To make matters worse, D2 and D3 are the external interrupt pins but we need them for driving the servos.

Service Droid V3.0

I was talking to a friend last night and he pointed out the Service Droid would be better on the Rover 5 Chassis. This is what I have so far.

The Service Droid is a cheap robot body with a reasonable amount of functionality. The idea is that you can fit it with whatever sensors and processor you want.

Service Droid

Working for DAGU means I need to try and design products that are not just cool to look at or play with but are also affordable and easy to use for the beginer. Sadly this balance is not easy to acheive. Usually more fun / cool functions means more complexity and cost.

Sneak preview of T'REX robot tank chassis prototype

 

Inspired by the Rip Saw tank, I have designed a new robot chassis called the T'REX tank chassis. I finally received all the parts for the prototype chassis. The entire chassis including gearboxes and tracks are all metal. The tracks have been anodized a gun metal grey colour.

Guangzhou Science Center robot competition

As an advisor to the Guangzhou Science Center I occasionally have to go there and do some work. This time I was one of their judges for a local robot competition. There were 2 categories, non-programmable robots for younger students and programmable robots for older students. All teams received a sheet of 2mm thick heavy duty cardboard for their chassis and a kit from DAGU that included:

Updated preview of new re-configurable, all metal tank chassis

Update: Just did a motor test using a fully charged 3S LiPo. These motor / gearbox combos are very powerful and will need a Wild Thumper controller to handle the peak current.

No load current: 0.6A
Nominal load current: 3A
Stall current: 11A+ 

This is definitely going to be the tank version of Wild Thumper!

Advanced Robot Arm Project

This is a long term project to develop a robotic arm that is more advanced that traditional hobbyist arms using RC servos without being so expensive that only well funded universities can afford it. 

The first prototype gripper used standard RC servos while we experimented with the configuration as shown in the first video. Once I had a good gripper configuration I built a prototype arm for it as shown in the second video. This arm used a differential drive system with the goal being to keep the weight of the motors as close to the shoulder as possible.

My trip to Xinjiang China

My Company was invited to the city of Karamay in Xinjiang China to demonstrate our robots at a Science Festival. Xinjiang is in the North West corner of China and borders a number of other countries. We had a 5 hour flight from Guangzhou (formerly Cantong) to Urmaqi and then another 1 hour flight to Karamay Where we were met by a lovely lady who's English name was Jenny.

Click on the map below for a hi-resolution image.

A hexapod for my son to ride on - a big experiment

After seeing the weblink by bdk6 "inspiration for Hexapod builders" I was inspired. The video is of the "Mantis" turbo diesel all terrain hexapod.

Ok, I cannot afford to build a 2 tonne turbo diesel hexapod but I can build one big enough for my 8 year old son Shi Sen to ride on. My plan is to have almost the entire robot laser cut from 6mm plywood.

Mini Maker Faire ShenZhen 2013

Maker Faire has once again come to ShenZhen, China thanks to Seeed Studio. Unfortunately I was only there for about 9 hours on the first day. I'm sorry I have not documented this very well, I was at the DAGU table most of the day. I have now added photos from my friends camera's as well.

I think Maker Faires, even Mini Maker Faires are something that cannot be explained with a few photos and videos. You really need to be there to truely appreciate them.

Coolest thing about my job!

When I got my job designing new products for DAGU everyone told me how lucky I was. As with any job, some parts are better than others. As I write this blog I am currently writting an instruction manual for a new version of the Playful Puppy robot kit using the Mini Driver robot controller. This is one of my least favorite parts of the job. I also had to help with the artwork for the box, another part I do not like so much :(

So now you must wonder, what is so cool that I would write this blog?????

Driving a CNC machine directly from an STL file with a DAGU Spider controller

I want to drive a CNC milling machine using only an Arduino processor and an STL file. The STL format was chosen because it is very simple for me to understand and almost all 3D CAD software can export an STL file.

In my forum post here: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/34958 the feedback I go was basically.

Multipurpose Mini-Machine for your Workshop

These days everyone is talking about how great 3D printing is but for the hobbyist this still limits you to plastic parts. Before 3D printers were around I always wanted a lathe and a milling machine, I still do!

When you want to build more than just basic robots it is sometimes necessary to make small metal parts. Maybe you need a special metal rod, mounting bracket, shaft adaptor etc.

Prototype animatronic head

Well my boss is involved in organizing a robot head building contest in China and asked me to make an example to inspire the contestants. I know many will just be made from cardboard and wood but I decided that if I was going to spend time on this project then I wanted to make the most of it and develop a new product.

Robot A.I. idea for non neural network approach.

In this Blog I am simply gethering my thoughs in preperation for a long term project. Hopefully some programming Guru's will post some good ideas. Maybe it will inspire someone else. I am just one nueron in the huge brain of humanity.

Personal History
When I was 12, I taught myself to program in GW basic on an IBM clone that ran at 8MHz with monochrome, text only graphics and a 5¼inch floppy disk drive. At that time I wanted to write an artificial inteligence.

IR navigation beacons

There have been several previous blogs and forums on LMR concerning different methods of robot navigation and room recognition. I have decided to make some IR beacons for experimenting with.

My theory is that if each room has at least 3 beacons spaced around it then the robot can not only triangulate it's position within the room but also determine what angle it is facing. Each beacon sends out a different identification code. This allows the robot to know which room it is in.

Maker's Faire - ShenZhen China

This was the first Makers Faire where I got to go with ChopSticks!

It was the first Makers Faire ever to be held in China so as you might expect it was not the huge spectacle that the American faires are. Eric Pan, who is the CEO of Seed Studios and currently sponsering LMR did a great job in organising this event.

Building a new controller - fun and games

Friday 27th January, 2012
This blog is a an ongoing list of my thoughts, as I attempts to create a library for the Micro Magician. It is boring and should not be read by anyone :p

 

As some of you may already know, I am designing a new Arduino compatible controller for small robots. One problem with small robots is limited space. This makes sheilds, motor controllers and wires difficult to fit. For this reason I tried to incorporate a few useful devices onto a controller while keeping the cost low.

New DAGU products for 2012

Well 2012 is off to a great start with a brand new Arduino compatible controller, A car controlled by your phone and a robot arm with teaching pendant from DAGU.

The Micro Magician is designed for small robots running on low voltage batteries. The controller works on voltages from 3.6V to 9V.The heart of the controller is an ATmega168 running on 3.3V with an 8MHz clock. Check out the great new features!

Chopstick's return from Makers Faire

Chopsticks arrived back at DAGU today in good condition. Andrew did a great job and even sent me a cool "T" shirt! LMR logo is on the back.

Well done Andrew!

 

OddBot marries the beautiful Li Si Ling

It seems in China you must travel to the brides birth city (or a city nearby her birthplace where they keep the documents) to be officially married. 3pm Sunday afternoon we were on our way!

We had to travel 5 hours by bus from ZhongShan to XingNing to get my step sons passport. The bus had beds for the long trip which was great for small Chinese and children. Not so good for a 135Kg Aussie!

DAGU product support - Manuals

G'day everyone,

I have been designing products for DAGU for over 2 years now and have always tried to provide product support here on LMR. One problem I have had is that sometimes the manuals are too big to upload.

If you have any problems with these kits then you should ask questions in the component section. I answer questions there so that others with similar problems can look for answers.

The components on LMR are here:

Universal recharge, navigation and mapping system

WARNING! this blog is just my thoughts on the subject and may be prone to rambling, monologs and contradictions.

I want to develop a universal navigation system for my robots. By universal I mean that the same code should work on almost any robot with only minor modification to allow for I/O pins used and number / type of sensors. This code is being written for the Arduino but I will document the code well enough that it can be easily adapted for other processors.

 

Theory Stage: