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December 2009

Servo Magazine

Segway Inspired Balancing Robot Technology

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Features

University of Texas UAVs, AUVs, and UGVs working in swarms

Scientists at the University of Texas, San Antonio use swarms of effective, inexpensive land, air, and sea robots that communicate with each other to complete important tasks as a group effort. Roboticists refer to these robots as Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs). Tasks include surveillance, search and rescue, and mine sweeping...


Ask Mr. Roboto | November 2009

in Ask Mr. Roboto

Our resident expert on all things robotic is merely an email away. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Moving On With Your Robot

So, you’ve got yourself some battery powered drills and have started to convert them into gearmotors to drive a robot.


Build The Ultimate Robot: Part 5

If you are building the Megabot or a similar robot, you should have the base assembled at this point. In this article, we are going to add the electronics that will make our robot move. I’ll show you the techniques I used so that you can apply them to your own design...


Implementing A Low Speed, Low Cost Communications Protocol

LIN is a relatively young network topology used in automobile mechatronics. See how you can apply it to your robotic needs.


Prototyping Autonomous Robots

Building an autonomous robot is a goal of many robot enthusiasts. If you look up autonomous in the dictionary, you will see terms like “self directed” and “self sufficient.” If you apply the first term to a robot, it simply means that the robot is capable of accomplishing a task without human intervention. The second term suggests a deeper commitment. A self sufficient robot might be one that is capable of repairing itself, or at the very least, capable of recharging its own battery so that...


Robotic Arm Fundamentals

Programming a robotic arm is very different from programming a mobile robot. This article will examine some fundamental requirements and principles associated with this unique task. Furthermore, it will provide a 3D robot arm simulation that can be programmed just like a real world arm so that you can experiment with the concepts discussed here without the time and expense of a physical arm...


Doing Big Things With Little Micros

This month, we’re going to move away from the mechanics of robotic arts and focus on basic electronic principles that can be amplified to form the soul of a subservient mechatronic being.


An Introduction to Pneumatic Sytems | Part 2

Now that the basic pneumatic system is operating manually, let's add some electronics to control it. If we add an electromechanical relay and two limit switches, we can make the piston travel back and forth continuously; check out the electrical schematic in Figure 1. The limit switches being used are momentary SPDT miniature switches (Photo 1) and the electromechanical relay is a DPDT 24 VDC coil relay with a socket (see Photo 2). By adding electrical limit switches at the fully retracted ...


Implementing a Low Speed, Low Cost Commmunications Protocol: Part 2

Our goal this month is to assemble a set of software routines to take advantage of the LIN protocol we learned last time.


Pneumatics

By the time you finish reading this article, you'll not only have a couple relay/solenoid/LED driver circuits in your pocket, you'll be able to read and interpret standard pneumatic symbols, as well.


LEGO in Schools

While there are certainly many products that offer kids an opportunity to learn the principles of robotics, we can all agree that LEGO deserves a crown and a medal for all its given to roboticists of all ages throughout the years. LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is an educational kit comprised of a stable robotics platform, making it easy to prototype, build, program, and modify robots with powerful hardware tools like ultrasonic sensors, and software tools like the NXT programming environment...


Navigation and Tree Measurement

Finland — the land of a thousand lakes and forests — is located in northern Europe. Water covers 10% of the total area of 338,000 square kilometers, and forests cover up to three fourths of the area. The country is the most forested one in Europe. The population totals approx. 5.3 million and in every square kilometer there lives approx. 15.5 inhabitants in average (1). In the US, for example, there are approx. 30.6 inhabitants per square kilometer (2)...


Computer Control and Data Acquisition: Part 1

An Introduction to National Instruments LabVIEW Software.


Robotics Software Engineering

Get an introduction to the benefits of software engineering for robots, particularly the best practices in the development stages and specifically in complex robotic systems.


Cerebot

Meet Digilent's 32-bit PIC32MX-based learning tool that will serve as a controller for things like your robot's servos. Plus, there's a ton of peripheral modules for things like joysticks, LCDs, LEDs, and switches, to name a few.


A Virtual Laboratory

Simulate mechanical systems to streamline the designing process.


A3950 DC Motor Controller Tips and Tricks

DC motors are plentiful. My favorite source for heavyweight robotics projects is electric scooters. A motor capable of transporting a 250 pound human can move a lot of robot. However, DC motors require significant current handling at startup, and during increased load conditions and direction reversal...


Software Platforms for Service Robots

What is special about service robotics as compared to industrial robotics? Imagine it gets dark in the living room and you turn on the light. For most industrial robots, such a change in the illumination pattern would be a catastrophic event. Those robots are designed to work in closely controlled industrial settings. Their computer vision systems are not able to cope with such changes in the illumination without reconfiguration or reprogramming. On the other hand, interacting with the...


Computer Control And Data Acquisition: Part 5

Building a Thermal Cycling System.


Rockin’ Robot Style

Former showbiz PIzza animatronic band members reunite in a "Rock-afire Explosion."


Creepy Hybrid: Part 1

This unique “walking” robot combines wheels and legs to create a cost-effective platform.


Computer Control And Data Acquisition

Part 4: Working with analog signals.


Simulated Mars Mission with the GEARS-IDS Platform

GEARS "heavy-duty erector sets on steroids" made for the pefect platform as part of an Engineering Challenge Day at the STEM Innovation Center.


RoboGames 2009

This year, “Agus mulyana” and “Akbar Alexander” from Indonesia took the gold with a Tarantula-legged robot called “NEXT-116.”


Robotics Software Engineering - Part 2

Current trends in software development for robots are discussed.


An Introduction to Pneumatic Sytems | Part 1

If you’re looking for a way to add muscle to your robots, then as Bob Dylan would say, the answer may be may be blowin' in the wind in the form of compressed air and pneumatic controls. I have wanted to incorporate pneumatics into some of my personal projects and (as an instructor) into my industrial control systems course for some time now, but wasn't sure where to begin. Pneumatic trainers are available for classroom instruction, but the ones I have checked into cost anywhere from $3,500 ...



Projects

Unwinding the AX-12+ Communication Protocol

I love to write robotic driver firmware and scratch build PIC microcontroller-based robotic hardware to run it. In this edition of SERVO, we’re not only going to sharpen our driver authoring skills, we’ll also get some flight time on the handle of a soldering iron...


Build The Ultimate Robot: Part 4 | Firebot

In this article, we are going to finish up the Firebot shown in Figure 1. Before I get into some of the construction techniques, I want to go over some of the components we will be using in this portion of the project.


Coding the Buffered Communications Subsystem

Lately, making things robotic move under the control of a PIC microcontroller has been my business. As we continue the Dynamixel AX-12+ coding task we embarked upon last month, we will also explore what it takes to coax a Microchip PIC18F2620 to drive the Dynamixel RX-28 and RX-64 robot actuators, which operate on a multi-drop RS-485 link.


The Navigator: Part 2

Last time, we introduced the concept of a user friendly, self navigation system for larger vehicles such as rover platforms and boats. Now, let’s build the system! Here are the construction details for the three boards involved, plus a detailed overview of the software that makes it all tick.


Pulse Width Modulation Goes Digital

With this circuit, you can control the speed of a motor with a computer, connect a sensor array to track a light source, or just control speed without a variable transformer.


Robot Projects

Robotics and electronics go hand in hand. If you're also a Nuts & Volts reader, you know that we assembled a working Silicon Laboratories-based USB microcontroller interface in the Nuts & Volts Design Cycle column. This month, we're going to pull that Nuts & Volts USB project into RoboLand and put its resources to work in a mechatronic kind of way...


CCS Mechatronics

This time we'll take a look at the softer side of robot construction and write some basic machine control component code using Custom Computer Services' C compiler.


Computer Control and Data Acquisition: Part 2

Part 2: An Introduction to National Instruments USB-6008 Data Acquisition Hardware. Part 1 introduced National Instruments LabVIEW software and had the reader build a very simple VI (virtual instrument). This article will introduce National Instrument’s most affordable computer interfacing hardware — the USB-6008(9) data acquisition units — and show how to use the digital features of the units...


CCS Robotics

Custom Computer Services is now offering a robotics development kit ... see what’s all inside!


Show Your Robot How To Walk This Way

This realistic simulator lets you experiment with walking algorithms without destroying your bot in the process.


It’s About Time(ing)!

Learn some different techniques using single and multiple virtual timers to fulfill a variety of robotic applications.


Robot Vision for Everyone

If you have ever tried to add vision to one of your robotic projects, you probably appreciate why you seldom see articles exploring the subject at the hobbyist level. The ability to experiment with vision — especially in the past — has generally only been accessible to university researchers or the rare hobbyists with advanced tools and capabilities...


The CheapBot-14 Robot Controller

Add this controller to your robot base of choice for an efficent and cheap learning enviornment.


BLDC Hardware | Part 2

Manually rotating the shaft of my Anaheim Automation BLY171S-24V-4000 BLDC motor with my fingers isn't making it. So, I've scrounged up and assembled some electronic components that I intend to use to force the BLDC motor shaft to rotate in lieu of my motor-shaft-driving fingers. If you take a look at the specifications for the BLY17 series of brushless DC motors, you'll see that every motor in the family has differing characteristics. With that, it will be useless for me to whip up a ...


Creepy Hyrbid - Part 2

This time, we'll program the microcontroller and the servo controller board to complete this unique platform.


BLDC Hardware | Part 3

It's time to get cerebral with our BLDC motor project. However, before we transition our fingers from spinning the BLDC motor shaft to tapping out some BLDC motor code, I have a confession to make. Before I relate my experiences, though, let's have a moment of silence for the fallen Microchip TC4428 and Fairchild NDS9952A parts that are littered all over my workbench under a cloud of "magic smoke.”


C-Bot

If you would like an introduction into the world of artificial vision systems, this is a good starting point. We will build a mobile object tracking and following robot by first constructing a very simple robot base and then using the artificial vision camera developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to be our eyes...


Hagetaka: Part 3

In this article, we will cover the advanced Gumstix-based onboard controller, power management system, supporting telepresence electronics, and the weapons system.


A Robot And Its CheapBot-08 Controller - Part 1

I'd like to do some experiments with swarms of small robots acting together to accomplish a task. This requires a small microcontroller. See how i utilized a PICAXE-08M and built the cutest robot i've ever created.


EggBot

Egg-Bot is an egg marking and decorating robot, just in time for Easter. It uses two standard Hitec HS-322 servos. The brain for Egg-Bot is the SMC-04 USB servo controller. However, if you have a programmable servo controller that can control two Hitec hobby servos simultaneously, you can use it instead. Graphic designs and/or text is programmed into Egg-Bot using the GUI interface of the SMC-04 USB controller...


How To Make Bi-Directional Flex Sensors

Flex sensors have a lot of applications in robotics. Here's a simple approach to making your own.


Implementing a Digital PID Controller on the PenAeroBot

Our philosophy at the Control Systems Laboratory at the University of Illinois is to teach students through interacting and experimenting with their own designs. In our lab, we continuously develop experiments to implement the theoretical concepts learned in class. One of the projects we are currently developing is the Pendulum Aeronautic Robot (PenAeroBot). This system is an inverted pendulum and the idea is to control its angle of inclination, propelled by two motors...


Accessories For The CheapBot-14

I really enjoy using the CheapBot-14 robot controller that I described in my SERVO article in the June ‘09 issue. It’s a nice entry-level robot controller and I think it makes a great robotics kit (the Lawrence, KS 4H also seems to agree). However, if the CheapBot-14 is going to behave like a robot, then it needs to sense the world around it. So, this time I’ll describe some of those sensors.


Taking A Walk On The Wild, Wild West Side Of Technology

See how five regular guys created a totally awesome, eight legged all-terrain walker with a seat and safety guards.


The Navigator

If you've ever wanted to send your rover or R/C boat out to complete a mission all on its own, check out this GPS based navigation system.


Build a Building Block: A Dual Serial Motor Controller

A serial interface will be used to facilitate commincation between the master and the motor controller, making this a great building block for a variety of applications.


Computer Control and Data Acquisition: Part 3

From the previous two articles, you learned how to output and input digital signals using National Instruments LabVIEW software and their USB-6008(9) hardware. However, the signals have only been in the TTL range of voltages (0V and +5V) and with fairly low current levels, 8.5 mA maximum per digital terminal. In the real world outside of the PC and the USB-6008(9) units, voltage and current levels are typically much higher and also include AC signals. This article will demonstrate some of ...


Build The Ultimate Robot: Part 6 | An Arm for Megabot

This month, we will add an external webcam to a fully articulated robot arm. We then will add buttons on our desktop controller program to allow us to control this arm.


Hagetaka: Bipedal Combat Robot

Follow the journey of designing and building your own MechWarrior inspired robot.


Hagetaka: Bipedal Combat Robot

This installment covers the build itself, the mechanics behind the leg design, and the theory behind the walking gait.


A Robot and Its CheapBot-08 Controller - Part 2

Now that you have the cutest small robot ever created, it's time to find out about its line follower, proximity detector, and some future designs.


A Practical Quadrature Encoder

Building projects involving electronics and robotics is much easier today than in the past because many of the commonly needed subsystems are available as ready-to-use modules (we will call them HMs [helper modules]). For example, there are HMs for controlling nearly any type of motor (DC, stepper, servo) and HMs to collect environmental data (humidity, temperature, distance to objects). You can find switching power supplies, battery chargers, Bluetooth modems, and dozens more just by looking...


Emancipating Your SERVO TankBot

Kit Available in the SERVO Online Store! In last December's issue of SERVO Magazine, we implemented a simple project that enabled us to control the TankBot's movements with any universal TV remote control capable of transmitting the Sony Infrared Control (SIRC) protocol. This month, we're going to take the opposite tack and enable the TankBot to explore the environment on his own, without any intervention on our part. In order for the TankBot to avoid ramming into any obstacles, we're going...



Columns

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits
If you’ve always coveted a robot’s ability to lift heavy weights and work tirelessly, Lockheed Martin ([url=http://www.lockheedmartin.com]http://www.lockheedmartin.com[/url]) has a treat for you. At the recent Association of the United States’ Army Winter Symposium, the company introduced the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) exoskeleton, designed to provide enhanced strength and survivability to soldiers involved in ground operations...

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robot Theme Park on Track
A few weeks ago, the South Korean government authorized construction of the “world’s first robot theme park,” emphasizing the country’s view of the robotics industry as a prime area for economic growth. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy has set aside a 767,286 m2 (about 8.3 million ft2) development area in the Incheon Free Economic Zone for the park, which is budgeted at 784.5 billion won ($562.3 million)...

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Automated Blade Inspection
Back when oil was selling for $4 per gallon and US banks still appeared to have money, T. Boone Pickens' announced a $10 billion wind farm project that would have added 2,700 wind turbines to the grid and 4,000 MW of generation capacity. The old skinflint has since changed his mind, but as of the end of 2007, the USA already had nearly 17,000 MW of installed wind capacity, ranking it no. 2 in the world. Nr. eine was Germany, with better than 22,000 MW, so it is perhaps not surprising that the...

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits
These tasty treats are big (up to seven inches [18 cm] long), fast (able to travel 1 cm/sec through wet sand), and highly desired for food (clammers are generally limited to 15 per day and must keep the first ones caught, regardless of size or condition). But as of lately, Pacific razor clams are of particular interest to Anette "Peko" Hosoi, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT ([url=http://www.mit.edu]http://www.mit.edu[/url]), for different reasons....

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Heavy-Duty Hauler
In many nooks and crannies of the bot industry, miniaturization is the name of the game. Not so at Caterpillar, Inc. ([url=http://www.cat.com]http://www.cat.com[/url]), which is working with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute ([url=http://www.ri.cmu.edu]http://www.ri.cmu.edu[/url]) to develop autonomous versions of haul trucks used in mining operations. Among them is the 793D haul truck, which can handle payloads of 240+ tons. Aimed at increased productivity and zero-injury safety levels, the behemoths will be fitted with an array of gadgets to keep...

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robytes | June 2009
Wings Over Mars, Bot With An Appetite, UAV Employs Fuel Cells, String Climbing Bot, and More!

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robytes | July 2009
When Penguins Fly, Aquabots Ensure Clean Water, Robot Bartender, and More!

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robytes | August 2009
Pneumatic Robotic Hand, The Crane of the Future, Ferreting Out Contraband, and More!

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robytes | September 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robytes | October 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert
Robytes | November 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

Robytes
Robytes | December 2009
Stimulating Robot Tidbits.

GeerHead
by David Geer
The Ultimate WALL-E Robot Toy
On the big screen, WALL-E (the last, functional Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth class robot) is a curious, blue-collar working trash compactor robot tasked with cleaning up mountains of consumer garbage from the Earth’s surface. WALL-E is completely alone in this mess because human beings have moved off the world on a permanent vacation, due to pollution and the inability of the planet to support life...

GeerHead
by David Geer
What is a DAGSI Wheg?  An adaptive wheel-leg robot!
Doctors Roger Quinn (engineering), Roy Ritzmann (biology), and colleagues at the Case Western Reserve University (Case) collaborate in the neuro-mechanical research of cockroaches. In 2001, their studies lead to the birth of the Whegs (wheeled legs) robots, a product of the Case Center for Biologically Inspired Robotics. Research (or, the Biorobotics Lab)...

GeerHead
by David Geer
Do Robots Scream for Ice Cream?
With two KUKA KR3 6 axis arms, an ice cream machine, a PLC, touch panel, toppings dispensers, and a camera and vision software, the team erected a fully robotic ice cream machine that vended scoops and toppings to about 500 customers in three days. (Now, that is how to make a popular robot!). The goal of the robotic construction was a unique demonstration of a computer vision controlled robot that constitutes a framework for developing strategies for bin-picking, which is a popular objective...

GeerHead
by David Geer
Open Robot Platform is Student’s Delight!
Open Robot is, not surprisingly, completely open source. Teachers and students may modify and distribute all the robot’s documentation, software, printed circuit board designs, and mechanical design files as long as credit to the inventor is maintained. Howell is eager to see an open source community grow up around the Open Robot, adding hardware, software, sensors, and “mechanical end-effectors" ...

GeerHead
by David Geer
First Robot For Cleaning Solar Cells
When the solar energy producer cannot bring the panels to the car wash, it is time to bring the car wash to the panels!

GeerHead
by David Geer
Rose-Hulman Robot Shoot Out
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a four year college which offers academic majors relevant to robotics including computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering.

GeerHead
by David Geer
Co-operative ASV Robots Autonomously Investigate Harmful Algal Blooms
The Robotic Embedded Systems Lab at USC, lead by Professor Gaurav Sukhatme, regularly deploys two ASVs into the Redondo Beach Marina to monitor the sea and take samples.

GeerHead
by David Geer
The Draganflyer X6 UAV Copter
The Draganflyer X6 UAV is the lightest, most maneuverable unmanned miniature helicopter for its price, specially produced for the rigors of commercial applications inside and outside the military.

GeerHead
by David Geer
Adept Quattro Handles Solar Cells With Care
The Adept Quattro s650H is an industrial robot with four parallel arms mounted on a rotational body. The arms are extensions of four motors, one motor per appendage. These arms are a good fit for processing crystalline silicon wafers for solar cells as they produce more solar cells per hour than human employees do.

GeerHead
by David Geer
SuperBots
SuperBot modules are made up of two, connected, 64 mm cubed “cubes” of aluminum alloy material. The modules have three degrees of freedom, share power with each other, and communicate via infrared LEDs.

GeerHead
by David Geer
Chiara - The Evolving Education-Research Robot
Chiara is a six-legged, arachnid/crab-like robot with a pincer arm that was born from the mind of Carnegie Mellon University Professor Dave Touretzky, along with PhD student Ethan Tira-Thompson and mechanical engineer/ product designer Gaku Sato.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | April 2009
This column marks one year for me answering your questions and hoping that I am helping you along with your aspirations towards building useful or entertaining robots. The fact that you are still reading the column makes me believe that I’m doing something right. Please keep those questions coming; they inspire me to keep researching and writing about what I have learned to help you with your projects. Life is all about constantly learning. One of my favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein...

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto |  June 2009
Your problems solved here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | July 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | August 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | September 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | December 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto May 2009
Q&A on personal robotics

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | March 2009
Q. I'm interested in the Dinsmore electronic compass circuit and I want to build one for myself. Can you provide more information about how I can get the parts for it?

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | February 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | January 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Ask Mr. Roboto | October 2009
Your Problems Solved Here.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Living Off The Land
This month, we have the pleasure of presenting the Surveyor Drive Base kit from Inertia Labs. Readers may recall our adventure with an already assembled Surveyor robot from a few months ago, which sported a unique method of teleoperation over a wireless network. The drive base, on the other hand, is a tabula rasa as clean and pristine as Descartes could have imagined. A kit with such potential is both exciting and intimidating, with the only limit to the possibilities being your imagination...

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Bug Sport
This month, we have the pleasure of presenting another robot kit from esteemed Korean company Robotis, who brought us the incredible Dynamixel and Bioloid. The kit is the Ollo Bug — a kit targeted at that elusive demographic of young budding roboticists. Inspiring youngsters to become interested in science and technology is an admirable goal, but it is a competitive niche already dominated by the LEGO Mindstorms and NXT kits. Does the bug have what it takes to carve out a segment in this...

Twin Tweaks
by Evan Woolley, Bryce Woolley
Are You Ready To iARoC?
This year, we were once again brought back to the Del Mar Fairgrounds by the incomparable allure of a robotics competition, though this time we were only spectators. Yes, 2009 witnessed the second annual iARoC event — the International Autonomous Robotics Competition.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
The New Roboni-i Robotic Gamer
A company called Robonica has now created this new genre of gaming with the introduction of the Roboni-i — a highly intelligent, programmable gaming robot.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Beyond Metal, Plastic, and Wood
Pick a robot — any robot — and likely it’s made of one of three materials: metal, plastic, or wood. And little wonder — these three groups of materials are used in the vast bulk of products today. From houses to cars to the chair you’re sitting in, very likely it’s made with metal, plastic, or wood, or a combination of these...

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Universal Serial Bust
Just about every robotics kit that we’ve reviewed for SERVO uses a serial connection for programming, so we’ve been forced to invest in a serial-to-USB adapter.

SERVO TankBot
by Ron Hackett
LCD Software For Your TankBot
This month, we are going to explore two software applications for our new serial LCD: real-time distance-to-obstacle measurement and battery voltage monitoring. However, before we do that we need to be sure that our LCD is functioning correctly.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Looking Ahead, Looking To You
This issue marks the seven year anniversary of Robotics Resources. After some 85 installments, we’ve covered everything from yapping ‘bots to lighting up your creations with glow wire, to being the ultimate cheapskate, finding the best deals wherever they happen to be.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Who’s Vex?
A few months ago we dismantled our beloved Vex robot, the Hungry Hungry Hippo (see the July 2005 issue for the exploits of this talented robot) to provide parts for the Surveyor Drive Base. Actually, Vex parts have made it onto a number of our robotics projects, including our ROV for the 2008 MATE Competition, our multimedia Scribbler artist, and several others. Now our once proud Vex robot has been reduced to an immobile pile of parts, and it certainly deserves better than that. ..

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Blogging Your Way to Robotics Stardom
In this installment of Robotics Resources, we’ll discuss what you need to start your own robotics blog and how to keep your blog fresh and useful to anyone visiting it.

SERVO TankBot
by Ron Hackett
Adding Sonar Capabilities to Your TankBot
In the previous TankBot column, we simplified our IR obstacle detection system to make it smaller so that the IR circuitry could coexist on the breadboard with the next project (or two) that we would construct. This month, we’re going to make good use of the extra space we created.

SERVO TankBot
by Ron Hackett
SERVO Tankbot | September 2009
Adding an LCD to Your TankBot.

Beginner Electronics
by William Smith
PICkit 1 Programmer
The PICkit 1 is a leaded design so you can see all the components that make up the programmer, so things can easily be fixed if something fails on the board.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Organizing Your Robotics Workbench
In last month’s Robotics Resources, we looked at the major electronics tools and supplies used in building robots, such as volt ohmmeters and soldering irons. Like all workbenches, how tidy you keep your robot building home goes a long way to how much you’ll enjoy the process. There are a number of solutions for organizing the bits and pieces of your robotics hobby, including all sorts of toolboxes, chests, cabinets, drawers, boxes, bins, bags, and more. We’ll cover many of these in this...

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Building A Robot? Don’t Forget LEGO!
Take the Wayback Machine to about 2001 and you'll see thousands of eBay sales, hundreds of websites, and dozens of books on LEGO robotics. While the giddy heyday of the LEGO robot has come and gone, it's still a viable — and fun! — platform for learning all about desktop automatronics. What's more, publishers keep coming out with new and improved books on the subject, and the websites devoted to robotics and LEGO continue to be an active, if not mature, community of like-minded enthusiasts...

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
The San Diego Job
We’ve all been there — you’ve outsmarted the alarm system, outmaneuvered the guards, and outmatched the inevitable laser security devices to finally arrive at the safe. You’ve smartly brought a robot along to do your dirty work, and just as your mechanical minion is twisting in the combination the police arrive because your robot was too slow! We’re talking about optimization, of course. You have an initial design, but things can always be improved through analysis and iteration...

Beginner Electronics
by William Smith
Programming Microcontrollers
Learning to program microcontrollers is what every electronics beginner needs to put on their to-do list. Unless you’ve been living in a cave without Internet access, you have probably heard of the BASIC Stamp 2.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
A Brain For All Seasons
With a “brain,” your robot becomes more than just a simple automated machine. To be a true robot, the brain processes outside influences whether they be light sensors, accelerometers, or lowly bumper switches. Then, from these senses, the robot determines a proper course of action.

Beginner Electronics
by William Smith
Microcontroller Fundamentals
As this is my last column, I wanted to finish with a topic I think needs to be covered. Many of the programming books I’ve read over the years tend to skip over a major concern for the beginner, which is how a microcontroller works and how to interface other electronics to it. This final article will cover the fundamentals of working with a microcontroller. I’ll use on one of my favorites: the Atom Nano.

SERVO TankBot
by Ron Hackett
SERVO Tank Bot | May 2009
This month, I had originally planned to move on to a new TankBot project but I quickly realized that in order to do so, I would first have to dismantle our previous project because it took up virtually all the space on the TankBot’s breadboard. I couldn’t bring myself to do that. Instead, I opted to simplify the IR circuitry so that it would be smaller and therefore able to coexist on the breadboard with the next project (or two) that I have in mind...

Beginner Electronics
by William Smith
Basic Atom & Robotics
I introduced the new Atom Nano chips from BasicMicro.com in my last column, and now there are more new development tools to help the beginner. There is also a great robotics platform based on the Atom that is a great platform for the beginner so I’ll give it a mention later since it’s built around the 28 pin Atom interpreter chip. Let’s start with the Atom Nano chips...

Beginner Electronics
by William Smith
Introducing the AtomNano
Many years ago, Basic Micro, Inc. introduced the Basic Atom modules to compete with other popular modules. Basic Micro still offers the Basic Atom modules and the interpreter chips they’re based on. Now, Basic Micro is introducing the AtomNano which is similar to the PICAXE and it has many additional features. I've only seen a beta version of the chips; they are very similar to the Atom interpreter chips but at a much lower cost. Let’s take a look at the new AtomNano.

Beginner Electronics
by William Smith
Build Your Own Atom Nano Board
In this month’s article, we’ll use the Atom Nano 28-pin chip and build our own Ultimate OEM Atom Nano development board.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Collecting Robot Memorabilia
Robotics tends to be a consuming passion. When we’re not building them, we often watch movies about robots, or read books or collect posters, or scout for art, toys, and other artifacts.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Simple Brains - Going Back To The Basics
Microcontrollers like the BASIC STAMP, BasicX, Arduino, AVR, PIC, and all the others make short work of just about any robotics task.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Here Come the (Paper?) Robots!
At least once a month, I get email from a mom or grandparent asking for my advice about the best robot kit for their seven year old. Oh, and they don’t have much money to spend, so can the kit be under $20, and preferably under $10?

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Setting Up Your Own Robotics Workbench
With the right tools, you can make just about anything. That certainly goes for the fine art of robot building. With proper tools, your robots are more dependable and accurate, and they'll probably look better, too.

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Kits for Learning About Electronics
In this month's column, we'll discuss learning more about the electronics side of things. To keep things as basic as possible this time around, we'll concentrate on using "learning lab" kits and the tutorials that come with them to learn more about electronics. These kits come with all the parts you need to follow the step-by-step guide that’s included with the product. These learning labs are a great way to begin your electronics education...

Robotics Resources
by Gordon McComb
Fast and Cheap Prototyping
In this month’s column, we’ll concentrate on just mechanical hardware prototyping, as this tends to be an expensive and time-consuming task for many custom projects.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Korean Robots
Korea has ambitious plans to implement robotics in education, medicine, and in the military. Growth in robotics research and sales in Korea is predicted to increase from $1 billion (US) in 2007 to $10 billion (US) in 2010, though the international recession may cut that back a bit...

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
European Robots
Rather than delve into 18th century ‘clock-work’ automatons that were famous across Europe (and ones that I’ve written about before), I’d like to center on the past few decades of more modern robotics. We have to admit that our neighbor across the Pacific — Japan — inarguably has implemented more robots into their industries than any other nation. We seem to forget that the European Union across the Atlantic has long been in the forefront of robot progress. Nations in Europe have designed ...

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Robots: From Nano to Tiny to Small
I take a lot of magazines — most to keep abreast of a broad range of technical subjects — but I rely on Forbes for business and financial articles, at least until the November 12th issue. An article in the issue, “Interview With A Cyborg” by Courtney Myers caught my eye. I had heard bits and pieces about Kevin Warwick's experimentation with cybernetics and the implantation of a 100 electrode array that he had in his arm back in 2002. (Figure 1 shows Warwick with his 'bionic' hand controlled...

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Automated Guided Vehicles
Automated Guided Vehicles or AGVs never seem to make the headlines in news stories these days, as they go quietly about their business on factory and warehouse floors around the world.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
The Evolution Of Experimental Robots
What was it that actually drove the designs of early robot experimenters? Why do we build what we do? What societal influences from the movies and literature led us to certain designs?

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Robot Animal Strive to Match Humanoids in Realism
It didn’t take inventive designers and experimenters long to determine that creating realistic robot human beings was close to impossible.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Robot Exoskeletons
Sometimes called walking machines, wearable robots, or robot suits, these devices serve to augment physical capabilities to either assist or protect a person from certain conditions.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Segway Inspires Balancing Robot Research
I normally jump right in, discussing the history and development of a particular type of robot and how that robot or the robot’s use has changed over the years. I’m going to digress away from my usual format and start with a technology and an individual who has changed robotics and the learning of robot science in a way that I personally feel no other individual has done before.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles
The name ‘Remotely Operated Vehicles’ can really apply to any vehicle that is controlled from a distance, which can include law enforcement robots, military robots, aerial vehicles, combat robots, and even remotely-controlled boats and planes.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Large Robots
Large robots, on the other hand, are usually easier to construct as basic tools can normally be used to cut metal, fasten fasteners, and position the parts. However, due to the larger size, large machines of any type need large motors and more beefy power supplies. These larger items cost more money and that may limit going larger. Some of my best robots were in the hundred to two hundred pound class, human-sized anthropomorphic machines. I've always enjoyed building large bots that can move...

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Government and Military Robots
I have long been interested in military weapons. The meanest, sneakiest, most powerful, and most complex weapons seemed to always attract my attention. Adding robotics to these types of weapon systems makes it just that much more appealing to me. Military robots — ground, sea, and air versions — have made the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan safer and more efficient for our troops. The Military Channel and History Channel’s Future Weapons make it clear that new military technology...

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Law Enforcement Robots
The two companies discussed here and their line of remotely controlled robots represent just a handful of the many companies producing state-of-the-art ‘assistants’ to serve law enforcement agencies and the military.




Combat Zone

A123 Battery Packs

in The Combat Zone

Batteries are one of — if not the most — important parts of a combat robot. They are what run the robots and bring them to life.


Mr. Self Destruct

in The Combat Zone

Mr. Self Destruct is a complete overhaul of my first large combat robot: a 60 lb angled bar spinner that fought at RoboGames in 2006.


Top Tips for Taps

in The Combat Zone

In this two part series, you will learn all the theory and practical tips you need to cut perfect threads and make stronger parts for frames, weapons, and general winningness!


The Intro Ant

in The Combat Zone

Thanks to Travis Schmidt, Dan Wiseman, Donald Sung, and Dennis Beck who provided information for this article.


T6 - Evolution of a Full Body Spinner

in The Combat Zone

The most distinctive and defining feature of a ring spinner is also the biggest challenge to get to work effectively: how to support the ring so that it would spin freely, and transmit power to get it spinning?


Building a Better Battery System

in The Combat Zone

My 12 pound combat robot Scurrie was designed to use two battery packs that werre physically and electrically separate from each other.


Moving On With Your Robot

So, you’ve got yourself some battery powered drills and have started to convert them into gearmotors to drive a robot.


Top Tips For Taps: Part 2

in The Combat Zone

In Part 1 (SERVO May ‘09) of this guide, we examined the theory of cutting threads and the different types of taps. This month, it’s time to get practical and learn some tricks and techniques for tapping!


Today’s Beetle – Tomorrow’s Champion?

in The Combat Zone

Choosing the “value” options lowers the cost quite a bit, with the Value Beetle costing about half the Ultimate.


Creative Armor: Sandwiching with Shock Mounts

in The Combat Zone

When building a combat robot, one of the first problems you encounter is how to protect it.


Roaming Robots Winter Tour

in The Combat Zone

The Roaming Robots winter tour made a late but exuberant start in Portsmouth. As usual, there were three weekend events over October and November, and three cities with each well advertised event attracting a paying crowd for two or three shows.


Your Robot Assignment Is Due

in The Combat Zone

You never really think of robot building and school work as similar, but you may be surprised. Consider this: Homework is given and the due date is established; a competition task is given and the competition date is listed. You the builder are like the student; wanting to do well but a victim to the evils of circumstance.


RioBotz Combot Tutorial

in The Combat Zone

SERVO Magazine, as a service to the building community, is summarizing the tutorial in a series of articles beginning with part of Chapter 2, “Design Fundamentals.”


DragonCon to MegaCon

in The Combat Zone

RobotBattle, long a staple at Atlanta's Dragon*Con, recently held an event at Orlando's MegaCon.


Gulf Coast Robot Sports

in The Combat Zone

Hobby Marketplace, in Bradenton, on the Gulf Coast of Florida was the venue for a small but entusiastic crowd of bot fighters.


2009 Chattanooga Robot Battles

in The Combat Zone

The 2009 Chattanooga Robot Battles were held on Saturday, January 24th at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Holiday Inn.


Mounting Weapons: Blades and Pullys

in The Combat Zone

Alot of builders dream of creating a bot with an active weapon but are put off by the apparent complexity. How do you attach a blade to the axle?


Cheap Power

in The Combat Zone

Power packs can be expensive, but if you build your robot from cordless drills you have two battery packs complete with chargers left over. Use them to power your bot.


An Introduction to Wedges

in SERVO TankBot

Since the inception of robotic combat, the wedge has been viewed as one of the most successful and easy to build designs, though it has also become among the most hated.


Halloween Robot Terrior

in The Combat Zone

long! As soon as the doors are unlocked at 10:00 AM, the evil known as the Halloween Robot Terror and Bot Costume contest will be unleashed on the world … BWUHAHAHAH !!!!


Combat Texas Cup At Maker Faire Austin

in The Combat Zone

Saturday October 18, 2008, 10:30 am and a 10 year old boy leans over the railing near the pits. “When does the fighting start?” he yells down to me. “Noon,” I shout back, “but you’ll probably want to get here a little earlier because the good seats should go fast.”


RioBotz Combat Tutorial: Materials

in The Combat Zone

Original Text by Professor Marco Antonio Meggiolaro; Summarized by Kevin M. Berry


Shaka

in The Combat Zone

In late 2007, I began the design and construction of my first combat robot over three pounds: a 30 pound featherweight.


Increasing The Speed And Power Of A Combat Robot

in The Combat Zone

I wrote an article for the November ‘06 issue of SERVO describing how to convert a cheap cordless drill into a drive motor for a smaller robot.


Banebots P60 1:16 Gearbox Review

in The Combat Zone

My P60 gearboxes have arrived and so far, they look very promising. The overall machining quality is vastly improved when compared to the Chinese produced versions.


A Color To Dye For

in The Combat Zone

UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) polyethylene is an increasingly popular plastic for use in robotics in general, and combat robotics in particular.


Ohio Robot Club Holds 9th HORD Event

in The Combat Zone

Thirty insect weight robots clashed at the 9th House of Robotic Destruction (HORD) hosted by the Ohio Robotics Club (ORC) — a member of the Robot Fighting League (RFL) — and Cuyahoga Valley Career Center (CVCC) in Cleveland, OH in May.


Ultimate Ant

in The Combat Zone

Due to circumstances beyond my control (plus a bit of laziness), I’ve been out of building insects for about four years.


Custom Colson Wheel Hubs

in The Combat Zone

It is very important to make sure your motors are mounted as firmly as your wheels are.


Ideas Festival, Australia

in The Combat Zone

The Ideas Festival is a government sponsered "future thinking" event held in Brisbane, Australia every three years.


Attaching Wheels to Your Robot’s Drill Motors

in The Combat Zone

Here, I will show you a simple way to make press fit hubs to mount Colson wheels to your drills.


Roaming Robots UK Winter Tour Final - 2008

in The Combat Zone

The competition that began in Portsmouth and moved north to Nottingham finished back on the south coast in Maidstone in front of capacity audiences, with 1,200 people attending two shows.


Devils Plunger

in The Combat Zone

Devil’s Plunger has competed at Steel Conflict 2, Steel Conflict 4, Triangle Series Nationals, RobOlympics 2004, Southwest Division Championships, NPC Charity Open, 2004 RFL Nationals, WBX Premier, RoboGames 2005, Battle Beach 3, Robotic Revolution, 2005 RFL Nationals, RoboGames 2006, Game Developers Conference, and the 2005 February Fun Fest.


Black Death

in The Combat Zone

Black Death has competed in: Motorama 2007, Motorama 2008, Motorama 2009.


RioBotz Combot Tutorial - Part 2

in The Combat Zone

The iNDi 16x4 Pro Charge has both 110V AC and 12V DC inlets so that you can use it both indoors with the lincord provided or outdoors with the separate 12V leads.


Upheaval

in The Combat Zone

Upheaval has competed in: Franklin, Institute Robot Weekend, Motorama 2008, Franklin Institute Robot Conflict, Motorama 2007, and House of NERC 2006.


RioBotz Combot Tutorial summarized - Materials: Part 2

in The Combat Zone

Last month, SERVO summarized the first part of Chapter 3 — “Materials” — focusing on commonly used metals in combat bot building. This month, we switch focus to non-metals.


Modular Design In Combat Robotics

in The Combat Zone

In combat robotics, modular design can be a safe approach to dealing with both damage and changing circumstances in the arena.


Robotic Competition, Southern Style

in The Combat Zone

There have been many articles and books written over the years trying to untangle the murky pre-history of robotic combat in the United States.


Tourinho

in The Combat Zone

Tourinho has competed at RoboGames 2007, Winter Challenge 3 ENECA - Recife, 7 ENECA - Recife, and Winter Challenge 4 ENECA - Recife.


Bay Area Robot Flights

in The Combat Zone

MetroCon is an Anime Convention that is held annually in Tampa, FL. This was the seventh annual year that MetroCon has been held, and it is the largest Anime Festival in the state of Florida.


Szalor 2.0

The first thing I did when building my Antweight robot Szalor, was establish a design. After I had a design, it was time


Flipper Calculators Turn “Cut and Try” (nearly) into Science

in The Combat Zone

Irecently ran across a couple of very well written websites that show how to design pneumatic flippers.


Screwdrivers: Straight Up

in The Combat Zone

This month, we are reviewing two cordless screwdrivers from Bosch.


Wheels For Drills

in The Combat Zone

Iwrote an article for the November ‘06 issue of SERVO that outlined how to convert the motors and gearboxes from cheap cordless drills for use as the drivetrain in smaller combat robots.


RoboCore Winter Challenge 2009

in The Combat Zone

The fifth edition of the RoboCore Winter Challenge 2009 ([url=http://www.robocore.net]http://www.robocore.net[/url]) took place on July 25-26, in the city of Amparo (Sao Paulo state, Brazil), with about 80 robots and 230 builders.


BattleBots Returns!

in The Combat Zone

During April 21-26, about 64 bots brought their owners to Vellejo, CA for the much anticipated return of BattleBots to the public stage.


Cheap Speed

in The Combat Zone

You can control your robot with a simple relay H-bridge that gives you just three settings: off, full forward, and full reverse. These controls — sometimes called “bang bang” for the way they drive your machine — are cheap and easy to make.


The Big B

in The Combat Zone

The Big B has competed in: BattleBots 4.0, BattleBots 5.0, Steel Conflict 2, RoboGames 2005, February Fun Fest, RoboGames 2006, ComBots Cup II, RoboGames 2007, ComBots Cup III, RoboGames 2008, ComBots Texas Cup, and RoboGames 2009.


Coloring Titanium

in The Combat Zone

A curiosity about titanium is that its surface can be colored without paints or pigments; just using Coke (or Pepsi) in a technique called electrolysis or anodizing.


Gulf Coast Robotics Sports 2

in SERVO TankBot

July 11th was the second Gulf Coast Robot Sports event at the Robot MarketPlace in Bradenton, FL. Fifteen robots showed up for a chance at one of the prizes, totaling over $150.


Screws For You!

For this month’s Parts Is Parts section, we dip once again into the bottomless well that is known as the RioBotz Combot Tutorial.


Thoughts of a New EO

in The Combat Zone

So, you’ve been building robots for a while and now you want to put on an event. Sounds easy enough, in theory.


Hole Drilling How-To

in The Combat Zone

In this short fact sheet, we’ll cover the most important terms and techniques for trouble-free hole drilling. Hang this up by your drill press for a quick go-to guide.


Original Sin

in The Combat Zone

Original Sin has competed in the following events: RoboGames 2006, 2007, & 2008, ComBots Cup I & II, and Combots Texas Cup.


Ziggy

in The Combat Zone

Ziggy has competed at RoboGames 2008, RoboGames 2007, RoboGames 2006, Battle Beach 4, Game Developers Conference 2006, February Fun Fest 2006, ComBots Cup I, RoboGames 2005, and MMER.


Franklin Institute 2009

The 2009 Franklin Institute Robot Conflict was held by NERC on October 4th in Philadelphia, PA. This was the third annual competition at the institute, with numerous robots competing in the one, three, 12, 30 lb, and Sportsman classes.


Professor Chaos

in The Combat Zone

Professor Chaos has competed in: RoboGames 2008 and RoboGames 2009.


Gutter Monkey

in The Combat Zone

Gutter Monkey has competed in: Seattle Bot Battles 4, Robothon Robot Combat 2006, Seattle Bot Battle 5, NW Hobby Show 2, RoboGames 2007, Robothon Robot Combat 2007, Robothon Robot Combat 2008, Dos Ratas Muertos, NW Model Hobby Expo 2009, and Seattle Bot Battle 7.


Fighting Robots Invade Classic RC Raceways

The Ohio Robotics Club (ORC) — a member of the Robot Fighting League (RFL) — held its tenth event, “House of Robotic Destruction Fall 2009” (HORD) at Classic RC Raceways in Akron, OH on September 19th 2009.


Pyromancer

Pyromancer has competed in Fall W.H.R.E 2006, Mechwars 10, Rotunda Rumble, Motorama 2007, ComBots Texas Cup, and RoboGames 2009.


Departments

Robots in Business School
by Bryan Bergeron in Mind / Iron
Robots have long been a staple in science and engineering curricula because they can serve as an experimental platform for technologies ranging from machine vision, programming, and wireless communications, to mechanical drive train design. Moreover, because developing robots typically involves expertise in multiple areas, they are the perfect focus for team building exercises. It might surprise you that this is especially true for non-engineering types with relatively little hands-on ...

Unintended Consequences
by Bryan Bergeron in Mind / Iron
In the world of robotics, advances in one application area often have unintentional, beneficial consequences in other areas, regardless of whether the initial application is a commercial success. Case in point — the Japanese robotic strawberry picker, touted as one of the prominent engineering failures of 2008 ([url=http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/jan09/7130]http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/jan09/7130[/url]). The autonomous robot is considered an economic failure by some because it's too expensive, too slow, and is restricted to a specially configured...

Symbiotic Robots
by Bryan Bergeron in Mind / Iron
Symbiosis — an association of mutual benefit — is a popular strategy for survival in the biological world. Think humans and normal intestinal bacteria, the common behavior of smaller fisher cleaning larger fish, or even the seemingly fearless Egyptian plover bird that feeds on the leeches attached to the gums of a crocodile. Now, imagine how symbiosis could be useful in a large, 'host' robot — say a planetary rover. Wouldn't it be useful to have relatively small, internal robots that monitor..

Bots In Brief | September 2009
Ghost Rider? Attack Of The Hornworm. Don't Drink The Water. Moth Head Bot.

Bots In Brief | October 2009
A Battery Of Balance, EyeBot Can See Y ou, 'Plane' And Simple UAV, Give Us A Hand, And More.

Bots In Brief | November 2009
What's "Hop"ening?!, Fill It Up!, Samari Copper Bot, It Only Takes A Spark..., And More.