Let's Make Robots!

FINISHED: LazyBee Security Bot - Laptop Based solution for Dummies

Inter/Intranet controlled robot able to send video/voice/email and play with my kid from the office

Hi all,

 I'm from The Netherlands and have a nice little girl that wants me to build a robot. Well, easier said then done so far. Since I'm an IT consultant I wanted to use a windows based solution to control the bot over the internet. Why? Because windows can do lot's of things that will be pretty hard to programm otherwise. Well for me that is..... With the laptop solution it will be pretty easy to talk, see and even play with my daughter. She will be at home, I will be on my lunchbreak :)

Looked for some advice and some projects that go arround but so far all are pretty complicated and require pretty much skill to realise.

So here's the plan, I will add the progress as I go along.

Build a driving chassis - Done

Set up a laptop that can control servos and dc motors - Done

Set up wireless comms with the home network and the internet - Done

Make the bot accessible by using RDP (I love microsoft) - Done + Teamviewer (free internet tool)

Hooking up all the goodies (like a webcam and so on) - Done, the bot uses Skype amongst others

Dive into sensors and a way to make the bot smart........ Done, got it roaming and smoking

UPDATE, 21th june 2010:

Since I smoked the board with the sensors and basically reached my goal, a roving platform carrying arround a laptop with webcam etc. I'll close this project  for now. I'll get another control board and start up a new project shortly. Well I already started one but didn't get arround the pictures yet. Anyhow, for a first robot this was a good project that gave lots of learning experiences already. Things can only get better now ;) Sorry for making it kind of a mess, all has to do with a lesson I learned long ago when modelling planes and ships, get the equipement first so you know things will fit. Somehow I forgot (so there's lots of different platforms in this post, all just not good enough). The new bot will be smaller, lighter and yes, MEANER. :)

UPDATE, 6th may 2010:

Well, since Madrid was that inspiring, with Frits breaking futuristic cars, Antonios contemplating about his next project, Tinhead raging against his valkyrie and Rik picking barfights I had to come up with something new. Size is were it all starts. Let me elaborate on that; build a robot, post it on the internet and before you know you are stuck somewhere on the globe with a bunch of people that made the same mistake. Some are lucky and some are less fortunate. Lucky the ones that can walk home with a small bot, unlucky the ones that have to travell far with a small bot, really unlucky the ones that have to travell far with a heavy bot. Totally (*&#!*@! the ones that have to travel to Romania with a CNC machine. ;)

So go small.

Since the bot carries the laptop I couldn't go much smaller then the laptop itself. The weels looked too big so I had to replace them (well to be honest I started over the whole thing). I also added 2 extra ping sensors.

It's still under construction....... I have so many wheels at the moment :)

Still need to sand the edges. The upper part is just a try out, that will change a lot as soon as some new parts arrive.

My son loves it, to much. Pretty happy I used1.8cm furniture wood and aloi. It can take a beating. My daughter is still in doubt, a robot or a Hercules action figure?!

And just when things where to good to be true an evil spirit took control of the bot. I was lucky enough to carry arround an empty bottle of red wine so I was just in time to get myself a spirit in a botlle. It's been on the table for the last 30 minutes but I think I will open it. The freaking thing won't shut up! :)))

So remember kids! Robots have souls and are alive!


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Got the wheels off an old kiteboard, not sure if I will use these yet. They have a hub bearing so I would have to chain gear the motors to the wheel. Consumes more power, is heavier and will make it more dfficult to realise some sort of suspension and will be a pain to assemble in general. I'll probably get some wheels that I can fix directly.


Some space for a gripper?


Spend so far 5 euro on a plate of 8mm MDF (wood) (a bit heavy but little girls and fragile bots don't mix). The kiteboard stood in the shed for some time, if I use the wheels, paid 10 euros for the whole kiteboard 2nd hand.

Enough room for an ATX motherboard or a laptop


Well, it's not much yet but it's a start.

Did you ever consider using those mini computers build special for robots? They are extremely small yet have everything  that a full sise motherboard has but on the same space as a cd drive, and they have usb and pins too hook up a keyboard, screen, hdd ... ?

Might be a good option as they consume very little power and I think just as useful. 

Actually that's about the plan. You can get the really nice little ebooks for pretty cheap these days. Great thing is that I can just take it out and check my email on it when its not operating the bot.

How aboat this http://www.fit-pc.com/web/

It is a full PC running Windows 7.0 or Linux and only draws 8W at full load.

Or the BeagleBoard, its a good system. But it doesn't really run Windows... so I guess I'm defeated twice in a row.



That's a nice little machine. Guess I would have to use some kind of converter to run it of a battery. I'm still very much tempted to buy a little ebook (prices at dell dropped again this week http://www1.euro.dell.com/nl/nl/thuis/Laptops/laptop-inspiron-10/pd.aspx?refid=laptop-inspiron-10&s=dhs&cs=nldhs1). I might let the 10" screen stick out of the bot so you can have 2 way video. It consumes 24w/h still not that bad I guess.

I ordered the ping sensor just last night, just started this little thing and already getting hooked.

As far as I know there is no powersupply inside the fit PC2. It needs a 12V adapter (supplyed).
So it can easily be run of a 12V battery or even a 9V.


I found some nice little gadgets that I will use to interface with the robot. Just ordered them from a shop in the UK http://www.pc-control.co.uk Great service, quick response and shipped the same day. First one I got is the DigiBee+ it has 16 digital in and outputs and 4 analogue inputs. That should cover me easily for now.


The thing I liked the best was the software that comes with it. It gives you actual control over all functions with a very easy to use piece of programm that is Windows 7 compatible. Life is nice.


So far no funky programming or wiring needed.

I also got the Motorbee, it allows me to controll 4 servo motors of about 600mah with a 1.2A peak current. Again it comes with easy to use software. Not even sure if I will use it yet. I might go for the RC brushless speedcontrollers and motors (cheap *ss like from hobbycity.com). They actually understand standard servo pulses so I can hook them up to the Digibee and a separate powersuply (lipo's).


Looks cool, again no programming needed yet........ You probably figured out by now why it's called the lazybee :)


With this I should be able to control all I need for now, it's still more of an remote controlled vehicle then a robot but I have start somewhere. The DigiBee can be programmed also and you can hook up sensors. Aber das ist die zweite geschichte ;)

The 2 boards set me back about a 100 euro's. Spent so far, 115 euro's.