Let's Make Robots!

PropRover (Propeller Sensor Platform) GPS (UGV readiness)

Unmanned Ground Vehicle UGV Multiple Sensor Platform

I have always wanted a robot with multiple sensors to absorb and shout out about the environment in which it lives.

So what you will be seeing with "PropRover" is a journey exploring not only common but also some weird and strange sensors.

It uses Parallax's 80Mhz 8cog Propeller processor - i am confident that it will be able to handle the things i will be throwing at it.

As much as possible i will post full code with links to all the "obj" files from the extensive object library  Propeller Object Exchange

Above is the basic "Soap-Box" chassis ....... you may notice my "PlankoTilt" system mounted on the front , ready for camera and various probes....

...(woooot did i not mention my latest pan tilt camera system.. (CtC transformed my wooden-cutout prototype with his Laser cutting Plexi-glass service (cheers Chris it works a dream)... this will all unfold with time).

I am using my "Elfish computer" , as it has already keyboard,mouse,audio and Bluetooth connectors built in.

The drive system to the GM motors are basic LD293s (working) - with "QRD1114 encoders" to pick up rotational info.

Update 2012.9.30 :- Omni Wheels attached , 3 videos attached showing possible Drive Combinations

Update 2012.9.16 :- GPS module (egg) hatches - yes its going to have a  UGV mode (Unmanned Ground Vehicle)

It seems the GPS unit is designed to fit into its new protective enclosure.

The GPS data is the simplest data to extract.. using a serial terminal OBJ..

Tricky part is the software extracting the coordinates from the data stream....which i have already written from another project.

Testing out of the window.........provided you have 180 degrees open sky (3 or four satellites will appear most of the time)

Example live data out......note i have blurred out part of my Coords.. in case a UAV decides to flyby.

Update 2012.9.15 :- Spaghetti Soup (LAN cable innards) , prototyping is a nightmare, No cross talking Yeah.

Sensors are Paralleling ....mix and match time.

Now variables are also ported out as Speech, this is infectious to listen too, and also a good debug tool.

.....and birds are appearing to be nesting.......

BTW :- My file_ing system is also visible ie "Flash Cards" - all my circuits are documented and stacked neatly this way.

Update 2012.09.10 :- 8 Channel 12 Bit ADC

Analog inputs are always useful and the simple addition of a MCP3208 provides 8 Channels of 12Bit Analog to Digital conversion..

• 100k samples/second
• 1, 2, 4 or 8 channels
• Low Power: 500 nA typical standby, 400 μA typical active.

The Spin OBJ i am using not only reads basic Analog input but can also Average the value and also it has a frequency counter built in (this may come in useful for Audio sampling).

The ADC chip has a couple of modes , one for direct analog input and another for differential input.

For testing have i wired up a Thermister, 3 Potentiometers and an LDR....(room for extra sensors)

Update 2012.09.05

Lots of data flowing in needs some house keeping.... so i have installed a 2G MicroSD card ....(no extra components required)

One neat thing with the Propellers Spin IDE is the Character map where you can draw circuits into your code....


Update 2012.08.31  7-Segment Debug Egg and Binary input switch Plus Vocal Tract OBJ and Singing Seven Demo OBJ

           With all these sensors its getting more and more of a challenge to debug and switch-in various processes "on-the-fly"

So i have made the a 7-segment and switch arrangement to help and give extra feedback.......

Also coming into the forefront is the Audio system - AKA Stereo amplified speakers.

The propeller need "NO" extra component to provide Speech synthesis and Stereo spacial widening and positioning ..Yes what you hear comes direct out of the propeller.

....now its just a case of routing the sensor data to the speech OBJ and if the demand is high enough i will post the sound clips from the "singing monks" (yes 4 polyphonic monks)

Update 2012.08.28    Sensor Tower installed and First compass video added .....Lasy Susan edition....

Update 2012.08.23     First 4 Sensor capsules complete and connector system finalised

Looks like my "Plug&Play" idea might be plausible now.

Sensirion SHT-11 Temperature/Humidity/Dew-point Sensor       SHT-11 OBJ

BMP085 Pressure/Altitude/Temperature Sensor.      BMP085 OBJ

Here is first data .... needs to be averaged ... and not sure why first 2 values are invalid !!

NB. this is not corrected to local barometric pressure referenced to sea level (more about that soon)

I live @ 765M so you can see the uncorrected error...

3 Axis Gyro (hacked out of a Wii-Motion+ add-on)    Wii-Motion OBJ

  1. U6 Gyro  IDG600 InvenSense Dual axis gyro 'X and Y Axis
  2. U3 E x3500w EPSONTOYOCOM Crystal Gyro-Sensor single axis 'Z Axis

Sample gyro data , here you can see a backward/forward tilt response on the x-axis

(in this case samples were taken every 1/10 second.....it goes muchmuch faster than this)

Normal static probe data hovers around 0,0,0  ..... averaging required to reduce noise.

HM55B Compass module     HM55B OBJ

All sensor data so far has been displayed via the serial port - meaning sensor data is easily manipulated.

The propeller Serial Terminal "obj" allows control over the cursor position....

Below is a simple graphic showing live data with sensor showing the East direction.

Connector system are 0.1" inline header sockets

I figured 6 pins as standard

  1. 3.3V
  2. gnd
  3. Spare 01  (led ..thought cool idea to light them up ,or switch,etc)
  4. Spare  02   ditto
  5. SCL    I2C clock
  6. SDA    I2C data

For those astute LMRs another sensor idea is lurking in the photos above  :-)

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The trio that post podcasts there have covered i2c this week.


There might be some useful information for you. :)

This is the character map etched as standard into propeller chips....accessible at any time during programming or indeed run time (ie for graphic video displays or for documenting your Spin code with circuit diagrams etc)

Might not look like much, however its a major step over for me.......time now to push forward and attach parallel sensors.......

Live data collected and stored to SD card and displayed via notepad, will also paste direct to excel.....or to be recalled direct by propeller for control purposes.

Is that an RFID tag in the last pic, or were you refering to the SDcard module? Your Frankenbot is shaping up to be quite interesting.

The SD card is on the cards and will be one of the data logging attachments...

Ahhh yes the RFID chip is connected to my USB data stick  ....i did not consider RFID yet..... (will have to put this on the list) - most of my  things were tagged with RFID chips after my test phase here......."Multi-Pass".

The "other" hidden sensor is still awaiting some kind of inspiration & custom reader to make sense of data etcetcetc.

:- here is a closer look .....


This would do the trick Geirs XY Table with a RGBY colour sensor...... (at "moo-moo" a mechanism appeals to me more than a camera)

This looks very interesting, what is it exactly? If it is an LCD display then do you have the datasheet? (I am thinkling finger print scanner).


I bought mine from a shop at the science museum Technorama here in CH

It goes by the name of Thermo-Chromic Liquid Crystal Sheet

Here is an expensive example 300 x 450 mm ..... gosh how much......

Or a cheaper from same firm (this is simular to mine - you would have to find one with less text, the liquid crystal layer is protected by a clear plastic layer - any text on the front can be removed with "turps")

Its normally black when resting and goes through the colour spectrum when heat activated :-) ....krypes more ideas are sprouting.....

For finger prints i dont think it has a high enough definition . ie you will not see the fine grooves - just a blob  , however a whole hand "in blob" mode may work.....

Anyone have any ideas how i could read and interpolate the data off the Liquid crystal panel... ?

I have used it to check for "hot spots" coming of circuit boards for "Heat issues"... just one idea...i am sure there are more...

I usually think of that as output but what about some kind of chameleon effect? Does it have the resolution to act as a heat camera on the bottom and transmit the image to a screen on top? It could be useful for tracing pipes or conduit under the floor in that manner (or for finding recently buried bodies if the chassis is hearty enough to go outside.)