Let's Make Robots!

Babblebot USB board works, sort of

I purchased one of these voice synthesis chips as kind of a knee-jerk reaction to Maxhirez's bot but I didn't know that they were so finicky and questionably documented. It seems the nature of breadboards cause a lot of problems with this chip as well, some of which I am very familiar with. With the challenges presented it seemed best to design my own PCB and have the pro's through Dorkbot fab the board. I would have considered buying the dev board from the Babblebot guys themselves but it only comes in RS232 flavor!

Territory marking through UV fluorescence

For awhile now I've been considering ways to have robots tag an area for other robots to detect in a way that wasn't readily apparent to the human senses. The application would be for my outdoor solar swarm bots. They would use the marker to signal to other robots that "this is a sunny location in the morning." I wanted something passive, no electronics. No dropping off a bunch of miniature IR beacons around my patio or any such thing. Hmm.

LMRbot WS2 Edition

UPDATE: Jan. 21, 2012

LMRbot WS2 - Progress made, progress halted

Since the last blog (Applying Murphy) I did all my tricks and other people's tricks but none of them solved the servo jitter problem. What did work in the end was removing all I2C communications. After that my bot happily tracked me as I celebrated the return of some kind of functionality. After some careful consideration I was able to pile the 18M2+20X2 setup into one almost-maxed-out 20X2. Without the need to slave the 20X2 (paired with the problems I'm having), the attractiveness of two-wire I2C communication disappeared.

LMRbot WS2 Edition - Applying Murphy's Law

Dismay. Chagrin. I'm bummed out, man. Failure to meet three deadlines. Well, two really, because the one got postponed. Regardless, this bot has run out of time again. I was making good progress, totally on my way to having a submission for the Make character bot contest. Most of the hardcore fabrication of the bot itself had gone by with only a few mad hatter moments. All subsystems had passed the proof-of-concept tests. I was making progress at an unprecidented rate. That was up until late, late, late last night.

Mental vomit from an intoxicated robo-teer


My girlfriend successfully took me out and outdrank me tonight. Forget what that says about my manhood, here I am with something to say :hiccup: :)

FIRST Robotics Competition '11 Regionals, San Diego, CA - part 5: Finals and Duckie Damsels

My final installment for this series. I didn't stay to the end but I caught a couple of the final matches and got a souvenier for the memories.

Vid 1: The intros to one of the matches. I think they were waiting for the third red member to arrive so I stopped the camera. When the bot arrived, crew dragging it onto the field frantically, the crowd went crazy. It had no claw, no mini-bot, nothing. A pure defense bot. It was the talk of the pits.

FIRST Robotics Competition '11 Regionals, San Diego, CA - part 4: Pits of interest 2

Vid 1: Steve from The Daedelus Project had encountered some problems with their four motors synchronizing correctly. He spent a moment telling me about the problem and quick fix that got them through the competition.

Note - I get sideways with the shot early on but quickly remember I'm shooting video. One time only, I promise. And I had no idea my hand position makes such a dramatic difference on sound quality. Apologies for the ignorance.

Vid 2: The bot from Tecnológico de Monterrey campus León waved me over. Almost literally.

FIRST Robotics Competition '11 Regionals, San Diego, CA - part 1

Even though I had some serious hot glue and coding to be done at my own workshop I checked out the final day for the FIRST competition. I didn't have much expectation for the event. Not to poo-poo the under-21 crowd (otherwise I wouldn't have gone) but I had no idea that robotics had a following I was completely unaware of. My surface skimming of the FIRST's website didn't hint at how big a production it was. I was pleasantly surprised.

FIRST Robotics Competition '11 Regionals, San Diego, CA - part 2: In the pits

After watching some action I decided to take a look at the pits. There seemed to be three (main) things that set the team's robots apart from one another: Its gripper (or lack thereof), its mini-bot (or lack thereof), and if it was autonomous or not. The first 15 seconds are programming only; no human interaction. A chance for bonus points awarded to ingenuity. After that there is a human driver controlling the bot. They also have to deal with the robot's design flaws/design superiority when it came to lining up with a tower to deliver the mini climbing robot.