Let's Make Robots!

Just some random thoughts

It's 5am and I'm still working on a project, not a robot or even bot related project *sigh*.  We all do what we have to do in order to clothe, feed and shelter ourselves and those we love if we they live with us.  This got me thinking of my bot Leo, and a few objectives I have for him such a new body for himas being able to 'feed' himself, and making a bot 'home' for him.

He definitely needs a new body, you could call it his clothes as much as turtle has a shell and a dog has fur. One of the things that contributed to the massive failure he had was too much in a small, small space. I'd like it to be around 8" by 10" by 5", that way his motors are contained, his drive board and his brains aren't hanging out and all his sensors except those on his head don't have wires hanging out to hung up on things.  Still going to use wood, 3/8" poplar to make his body out of, it's strong, light and non-conductive. I'd thought about getting rid of the bumpers and going off of the accelerometer readings and whether or not his tracks where both moving, but getting rid of sensors that are useful is always a bad idea. His bumpers should be the last sensors to be triggered when he's done or so I thought. I thought of a routine where having front bumper sensors would be good, a push routine for pushing things around or out of his way.  Besides mounting boards, sensors, battery holders and actuators we should all consider painting our robots or putting a skin on them if they can't be painted. It gives them personality, shows their maker's sense of style, and makes them not just another Mr. Basic, Mr. General, or another Tamiya tracked set.   Plus, it adds a bit of mystery to the bot, like how does it do that and what kind of batteries is it using.

As North America creeps up on Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn to food, family and the feeding frenzy we call Thanksgiving Dinner. Do our bots need to be fed? They sure do! They need to be fed fresh batteries lots and lots of times. This is where the 'feed' thought comes in.  Recharging or 'feeding' Leo right now is easy task, take out 4 AA batteries(motor), a 9v(arduino) and replace with freshly charged ones.  In the near future it will be more daunting, because his new motors can go up to 12v, but I'd like to keep them to 6v.  I will need to add more batteries to keep him going longer any way I go. So yes it's getting to time to think about 'teaching' him to feed himself when he's no longer just a desktop oddity, but a functional robot that has tasks that he performs. He will need a 'home' to recharge 'feed' in at that time.

A really didn't think about a robot 'home' till last Sunday, I went over to my parents to help them load up for their annual trip to spend a week with family in San Antonio. They have two dogs that are trained to respond to verbal commands and one of those commands is,"Night night" and that tells them to get in their respective kennels and lay down.  No, I'm not going to kennel Leo, but this brought to mind a charging station, a way to take him safely to events and what to do with him when company comes over to keep him from under foot or becoming a very expensive football.  

Just some random thoughts while I finish up here, feel free to comment publicly or privately as you desire.


Mech Out 

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What is robotics?  What does it take to be a roboticist? What does it take to work in robotics?  Robotics is a multidisciplinary field of electronics, physics, art, programming, etc  to name a few, that all come together to create something that is greater than the sum of it's parts and can interact, change and acknowledge it's environment. A roboticist is somebody who has a bit of scientist in them, a few parts engineer, a dash of artist for good measure, huge chunk of inventor and with a small sliver of insanity.  A basis in physics(knowing the range and pivot point could save your head, literally), some chemistry is good(always great to know how you blew yourself up...in the afterlife), electronics(which things you can lick and shouldn't lick...ie none), art(hey, even if it doesn't function you can say it's a sculpture), the power of invention(box? What box?), some luck(ok lots of it and some karma too, when things go really bad) and a sense of humour(good to be able to laugh and joke about mishaps, failures and other not so funny things such as the credit card bill in your mate/lover's hands).

Robotics is really out there, it's past the fringe state. It's not totally science, can't be boxed up with engineering, and art doesn't go get you a cold one(at least whilst not complaining greatly about it and wanting your zilch balance credit card in return).

My hat is off to you folks, for at least making this an interesting adventure.


Mech Out