Let's Make Robots!


Plays a game with you through an xylophone

Hi there LMR, here is another one of our projects, as promised. :)
This is Xylomatron. It is a robot that you can play a game similar to "Simon Says" but with a xylophone interface. Basically, it does play a note and expect you to repeat it, if you succeed it adds another note to the previous sequence and expect you to do the same. Therefore the game gets harder at each level, depending on your memory.
When you fail, it gets quite angry thinking "The puny human couldn't memorize X notes" (it does really trace it in fact :D)

To detect the notes, it uses 2 digital pins, each attached to 4 different value of resistances with a pull up circuit. The user closes the circuit using the stick, therefore returning a specific value. This method seems to need lots of trimming over time, the values change, to cover this issue we have coded a trimming function to the robot.
Although, we will soon print a board and change this method with a more solid shift register solution, which actually we couldn't do at the time because of the lack of the component on the night we were finalizing its prototype circuit. We were caffeinated, sleepy, I really don't know what we were thinking by adding the pull up circuits.

Anyway, the robot has 6 servos. 4 mini servo is on the arms and 2 micro servo is used for the neck. We have used an ardweeny (a quite cheap and small arduino clone) to run it.

The entire hull is hand-made and painted, used a pvc-foam called sintra.

Here are some photos from development (click to enlarge):

And some photos from the 7DX demo party:


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Nice work. Outstanding.

Is it possible that you use the digital pins in PWM mode that you can get a different value than [0..1] ?
So you are actually using two analog pins to read in the tone the user played?

...and welcome to LMR.

We are using analog inputs indeed, but the input method isn't the problem.
The true problem is the oxydation metal plates of the xylophone, and many other variable that can cause difference in the resistance values of the pull up circuits. I mean, even the position of the robot slightly change the results (most possibly because of the electromagnetic waves of the household devices and electricity wiring in the walls, and the metal plates act like giant 'antennas').
Therefore, the robot needs to be trimmed once in a while.

A shift register setup will fix this problem for good, and will only take 1 pin :)

Thanks for the welcome, its nice to be here.  

Ah I see.

Regarding the electrical calibration problem: Did you ever thought about having a piezo sensor sticked to the underside of the xylophone's metal plate? Like inside an acoustic electric guitar.

Could that enable the Xylomatron to read-in the data more reliable with less calibration nessessary?

The first thing we have tried to do was to stick a single piezo at the bottom of the xylophone to try to determine the frequencies of the played note. That didn't work out well. But using seperate piezos for each plate sounds interesting. That might just work.

We can do the shift register setup coupled with piezos. That would also eliminate the cable of the stick, will think about this Thanks for the idea! :D 

Yes. For each metal plate one piezo. Detect a hit when hit-strength actual-value is higher than a nominal treshold value.

That is a simple hit-sensor.

Added value: Using the piezo you now have the strength of the hit. If you could bring the analog value into your microprocessor you could also use this information and i.e. let the Xylomatron hit the xylophon harder. But then the shift-in register might fall apart...

But hey - that's just my 2-cents. Keep up the good work, Botdev.

Really cool! with great personality!! :D

awesome!! kinda reminds me of oddbot's cacaphonix

I can see the resemblance, looks like a distant cousin of xylo :D

Awesome. I like the idea. Collected as well...