Show issues for
December 2016

Servo Magazine


Features

Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Jarvis — The Steampunk Robot

My interest and fascination with the Steampunk culture has inspired me to create a new traveling companion.


Building the KReduCNC Tuning and Break-in

As we continue our CNC build, it’s time to go over the procedures to tune and break-in our machine.


Building the KReduCNC X and Y Drives

Installing both the X and Y drive assemblies in our CNC machine building series.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Puppeteering Animatronic Characters

With the advancement and accessibility of technology to the garage builder, we continue to narrow the gap that separates us from the professional prop shops in being able to create a character that truly simulates a living, breathing creature.


Combat Zone

Special coverage on some of the bigger combat robot competitions.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Wiper Motors: Prop Builder’s Workhorses

Wiper motors can provide the solution to many problems prop and/or robot builders face.


Berry Bot

Our series on using the popular Raspberry Pi platform in robot builds is back, and with a new bot to introduce.


Meet the Incredibots

A remarkable group of teenagers from Columbus, OH — dubbed the Incredibots — have earned themselves the coveted FLL Global Innovation Award with an amazing solution for recycling Styrofoam™.


How to Make Multiple Robots Using Servo Building Blocks

For more variety, you can make a lot of different robots using the same parts.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer

The Growth of an Idea into Reality.


Building the KReduCNC Z Drive

Install the Z drive assembly and reinstall the Z carriage in our CNC machine building series.


Getting Started with ROS — Arduino Interfacing for Robotics Projects

Ever wonder how to interface an Arduino to ROS (Robot Operating System)? This tutorial shows you how.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 4

Choosing sensors to use on a Raspberry Pi based robot platform.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 6

Making our Raspberry Pi based robot more sensitive with virtual bumpers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and game controllers.


Needed! Smarter Robots in Space

MaxRoboTech Comics


Building the KReduCNC - Part 5

Last but not least, we’ll now build the Z carriage since the Y and X carriages are done for our CNC machine.


Imitation Al

The goal of most robot hobbyists is to create a robot capable of doing something that demonstrates some degree of intelligence. Sometimes though, a robot just needs to look intelligent.


LEGO My Prosthetic

See how one scientist is helping children design and build their very own prosthetic arms out of LEGO blocks.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 2

Taking a look at some popular Raspberry Pi robot chassis.


The MECCANOIDS

REVIEW: Reminiscent of the old Erector sets, these robot kits offer two unique sizes and some of the best servos in the business.


What’s a Hacker Lab?

Learn about Sacramento’s pioneering maker space where there’s plenty of room to innovate.


Use VEX Parts to Modify an R2D2

Take a simple replica toy of a favorite Star Wars character and make it able to move around in its familiar onscreen ways.


BASIC Bots & PICAXE   Processors — Part 5

Building the Cruiser Robot. We’ll wrap up our series by using the knowledge we’ve gained to construct Cruiser: a rolling breadboard which can turn in place using differential steering.


The ROV Manatee - Part 2

Build Your Own Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle — Part 2: The Electronics Package


Pete and Tony — The Talking Heads

Wouldn’t it be cool to have real robots that listen to and talk to us just like they do in the movies?


Mini Wi-Fi Video Cameras

Take a look at some different camera options to stream live video from your drone or mobile robot to your smartphone on the cheap.


The ROV Manatee - Part 3

Build Your Own Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle — Part 3: The Software and Final Observations


Building the KReduCNC - Part 4

Now that the Y carriage is done, it makes sense to build the X carriage next for our CNC machine.


Building the KReduCNC Electronics

Installing the electronics in our CNC machine building series.


Self-Diagnostics

Discover some concepts to help you develop an internal self-testing program for your mechatron.


Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini: A Robot Too Little, That Could Be Too Late

The SpotMini — Boston Dynamics’ newest bot for personal use — might not be enough to help the company's financial situation.


Getting a Handle on Automatic Doors — Part 2

The essence of machine control in robotics is motors, mechanical systems, and sensors. This mini-series on automated doors will explore the fundamentals of robotic control systems.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — The Eyes Have It

Focusing attention on the eyes of animatronics characters can really bring them to life.


The Power to Move

RoboClaw programmable motor controllers can give you can edge with your robotic control game.


ESP8266 Based Robot and Robot Controller

Utilizing the ESP8266 microcontroller/Wi-Fi module in robotic applications because of its capabilities and inexpensive price.


Getting a Handle on Automatic Doors — Part 1

The essence of machine control in robotics is motors, mechanical systems, and sensors. This mini-series on automated doors will explore the fundamentals of robotic control systems.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 8

If a robot can tell where it is, it can be a lot more useful.


Let Me Give You a Hand

Just as opposable thumbs set us apart from other animals, having the fingers on the hands of your character move in a lifelike manner will set your props apart from the rest of the pack.


Sensing Orientation

Understand how sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes work when building balancing robots.


Instant Robots

3D Printed Robots - Using the Lulzbot Mini


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Create Order from Chaos with Prop Controllers

Choosing Prop Controllers


NASA Rolls Out Sixth Annual Robotic Mining Competition

Teams from around the country compete for scholarships, awards, and experience dealing with mining in space.


REVIEW:  Made on Imagination, Built on Dremel

Dremel’s first foray into 3D printers could also become a common fixture on every maker’s workbench and inside every STEM classroom.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Tips of the Trade

Helpful tips of the trade for getting started in hobbyist animatronics.


A Neural Network Controlled Robot Without Backpropagation

Explore ways of letting a robot learn by applying techniques used by animals.


Motion Control Demystified

Getting the right kind of motion out of a motor can be tricky with power, engineering forces, and control all competing against your robot’s desire to go.


RoboGames and Block Parties

The Robot Block Party, RoboGames, RoboMagellan, and RAIN!


Plasma Cutter Basics — An Introduction into Plasma Cutting

Things you need to know if you’re looking into purchasing a plasma cutter.


Hobby Robotics — It’s Really About Sensors and Programming

Hobbyists new to robotics don’t always understand the need for sensors, and why programming skills are essential for obtaining and utilizing sensor data.


Serving Raspberry Pi

Interested in using the Raspberry Pi in your robot builds? This series introduction discusses some of the kits that are currently available as a starting point.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 5

Decide on the power source(s) necessary for your Raspberry Pi based robot.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 3

Deciding which motor driver to use for a Raspberry Pi based robot platform.


Getting a Handle on Automatic Doors — Part 3

The essence of machine control in robotics is motors, mechanical systems, and sensors. This mini-series on automated doors will explore the fundamentals of robotic control systems.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — A Prop Builder’s Toy Store!

Here is a snapshot of what was available at this year’s Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show. I hope it motivates you to attend next time if the opportunity becomes available.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Conjuring Up a Revitalized Witch Scene

Learn the magic formulas for redesigning a previous animatronics display that will be sure to delight even the most discriminating of trick-or-treaters.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Prop Builder’s Gift Wish List

Once again, it’s that time of year when the air turns cool and our thoughts turn to the holidays and what the heck we’re gonna buy for our DIYers.



Projects

Building the KReduCNC - Part 2

Build a portable CNC machine. Part 2


Building the KReduCNC - Part 3

Next up in a series on building your own CNC machine, you’ll see how to attach the Y carriage to the frame.


Building the KReduCNC

Build a portable CNC machine.


The ROV Manatee - Part 1

Build your own remotely operated underwater vehicle — Part 1: Construction



Columns

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — FlyFi: Weather Data Telemetry
Multi-rotors can let us collect our own atmospheric data, and learn about the lower atmosphere and Wi-Fi in one project!

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
Getting from A to B
Getting from A to B in drones/robotics

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build Your Own Drone Getting Started — Part 4: Training for Flight
We're ready to train our quadcopter flight controller to the hardware and go on its maiden flight.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (01.2016)
Is it better to have a microcontroller control the speed of your motors directly through an H-bridge or use a dedicated speed controller? Mr. Roboto is back with the answer.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (03.2016)
Create an LED driver circuit and a sketch that are able to interpret analog values from an ITEAD joystick shield.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (07.2016)
A question on putting together an RC controlled snow blower using an Arduino, a project on robot vision using a PIXY vision system camera, and a teaser.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build Your Own Drone: Getting Started — Part 1
A new series on getting started in the drone hobby – whether you build your own or buy one.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build Your Own Drone — GPS Guided Flights
It’s time to take the next step on our drone building journey: GPS and telemetry.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build Your Own Drone: Getting Started — Part 3 - Electronics and Flight Controller
We’ll add the muscles and the brains to our skeleton drone airframe, and get tantalizingly close to a test flight.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build Your Own Drone: Getting Started — Part 2
Building an Airframe

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build Your Own Drone — Part 6: Review of Parallax’s ELEV8 v3
As an alternative to a scratch build, I’m going to assemble and fly the ELEV-8 v3 quadcopter kit from Parallax.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Training for Flight
We’ll go through the steps to train our flight controller to our hardware and (finally) take our quadcopter on its official maiden voyage! — Note to readers - This article in the November 2016 print issue was included by mistake and is a reprint of the August column. The correct article (Weather Data Telemetry) is available online at [url=http://www.servomagazine.com/index.php/magazine/article/November2016_MultiRotorHobbyist-Training-for-Flight1]http://www.servomagazine.com/index.php/magazine/article/November2016_MultiRotorHobbyist-Training-for-Flight1[/url]

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Understanding and Balancing Propellers
Find out everything you need to know about propellers (but were afraid to ask) for your multi-rotors and how to balance them to have the best flight experience.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Tanks for the Memories
Robots with Tracks

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
High Plains Translational Drifter
Bringing an old robot out of retirement to compete in this year‘s RoboGames can definitely melt your brain.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
The Road to RoboGames
After sitting dormant for 13 years, can the trusty 60 lb Troublemaker again reign (somewhat) supreme at a combat event? Or will it have to remain in retirement? Follow Troublemaker’s journey.


by Steve Koci
Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — The Ins and Outs of Making Things Move
Explore how linear actuators and linear servos can help you become a more successful animatronics builder.

Twin Tweaks
by Evan Woolley, Bryce Woolley
Do Androids Dream of Being Connected to the Internet?
Connecting your robot to the Internet of Things.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
The Robotic Chunker Redemption
Designing something for a high pressure application has a unique set of challenges.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
All I Want for Christmas is a High Pressure Nitrogen Cannon
Before you say, “Oh, no! Not another chunker!” take a look at the special challenges of an extreme project that were conquered during the 12 days of Bot-mas.

Appetizer
by Joanne Pransky
Human-Robot Boundaries in Ex Machina
As the first robotic psychiatrist, Dr. Pransky shares her thoughts on the recent blockbuster, Ex Machina.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Robot Control via Speaking to the Cloud
Using the Cloud for voice control in robots.

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
FAA Licensing: A Sign that Drones Have Arrived
If you’re one of the million or so recipients of a drone this past holiday season, you’ve no doubt complied with the mandatory FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) registration. (Haven’t you?)

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
Noodle Chef Robots: Precursor to Pathogen-Free Fast Food?
Could robot chefs be a precursor to pathogen-free fast food? Robots — unlike humans — can be routinely sterilized, bathed in bacteriostatic UV radiation, autoclaved, or doused with bactericidal chemicals.

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
Flying Cameras
The Lily Camera is the equivalent of a selfie-stick crossed with a drone and high resolution video camera.

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
Automatic Braking Systems: A Gentle Introduction to Autonomous Vehicles
Automatic braking systems are just the beginning in autonomous driving

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
The Cost of Custom
One of the benefits of open source microcontrollers and other hardware is that with a modest investment in a software package such as EagleCAD, it’s a simple matter to create custom boards to fit the size and weight requirements of your robot.

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
The Serious Side of Robotics
Two unrelated events that occurred this summer involving robotic/autonomous systems point out the serious side of robotics.

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
Pokémon GO — The Killer App for Augmented Reality?
The Pokémon GO mobile game may be a bright light that burns quickly, but it has brought augmented reality (AR) into the mainstream consciousness.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
A Robot’s Appearance
Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder when it comes to personal taste. However, true robot aficionados will see the inner beauty in any good robot project.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Robots — What Good are They?
Take a look at how the robot industry has changed in the past 45 to 60 years to develop truly useful robots that are good for something.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
When Technology Fails
When technology fails, it can have devastating results.

Mind / Iron
by Bryan Bergeron
Specifications: Believe Them or Not
I’m working on a sound localization project based on three microphones — each connected to an Arduino — and a fourth Arduino connected to a Mac running Processing.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
The Popularity of Personal Robotics
What is it that makes folks love or hate robots?

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Personal Robots of Yesteryear and Today
How far have robots come since the 80's? I mean how far, really?

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Locating and Selecting Parts for Our Robots
It is the many parts, components, and systems under the hood (so to speak) that make any robot what it truly is.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
How Capable are Robot Hands for Everyday Tasks?
Human hands are really amazing creations if you think about it, and creating robotic versions is more complicated than you might think.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Are Autonomous Cars and Robots Dangerous?
Due to recent in-the-news events involving autonomous cars and robots, people may be wondering how safe these technologies really are.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
The Ideal Home Robot
So, what exactly is a home robot? Take a look at some of the key aspects of a viable automaton for a home environment.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Robots of the Future
Automotons (especially drones) will make significant differences in our future lives as they are utilized in more and more different facets of society.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Healthcare Robotics
Healthcare robotics has grown tremendously in recent years, and what is of particular interest is the progress being made with robotic assistants that will allow our seniors to live independently for longer.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (01.2016)
• Bot Feet Aid Copter Versatility • Hedgehogs in Space • Attack of the Killer COTSBots • Forever Frying • Zombies to Bots

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (03.2016)
Topics covered this time include: Goblins to Gremlins UASs; robotic 3D printing on air; a robotic weed whomper; robotic garbage collectors; and a phone-robot all in one.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (05.2016)
Autonomous underground shipping; cargo parafoil that steers itself; being transported by a drone; a roach-inspired squashbot; and an upgrade to poll-dancing bots, Lexy and Tess.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (07.2016)
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) USVs; a bot that flies, perches, and climbs; buying Boston Dynamics; an extra arm for drummers; and a back massage bot.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (09.2016)
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (12.2016)
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (02.2016)
Working with the Pololu TReX Jr motor controller.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Dennis Clark
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (04.2016)
Correcting buggy Arduino code for an Atari-style joystick, and the lack of a print function in UECIDE.




Combat Zone

Wheel Guards:  Maximum Exposure

Wheel protection is an often debated subject in the robot combat world. Let's take a close-up look.


Robot Throwdown: SoCal Makercon 2015

Action report and results.


Morrigan: 30 lb Flail Spinner

See what all went into the design of this two-weapon 30 pounder.


Thirty Pound Under Cutter “Glasgow Kiss:” The Design

in The Combat Zone

This three-part series will cover the initial design, build, and post event analysis for future design changes of Team Rolling Thunder’s latest creation — Glasgow Kiss.


HORD 2015: Con on the Cob

Action report and results.


The Five Dimensions of Judd’s Law

in The Combat Zone

Details on the Five Dimensions of Judd’s Law written for robot combat event organizers.


Witch Doctor’s Secret Recipe Revealed!

in The Combat Zone

The secret concoction that brewed up such a vicious and successful BattleBots machine is revealed in this Q&A.


The Combat Zone Guide to Beetleweight Weapons

A rundown of all your favorite beetleweight destroyers.


The Epochs of Robot Combat

For over 20 years, the spectacle of robotic combat has entertained audiences of all kinds.


Heavyweight Propulsion —  A Trio of Power

Of all that are out there, three motors have often found themselves the cream of the crop for combat robot drivetrains. But how do they stack up against each other on the large-scale bot circuit?


EVENT REPORT: Franklin 2015

Coverage of the Franklin Institute 2015 event.


BUILD REPORT: Thirty Pound Under Cutter “Glasgow Kiss:” The Build

Part 2 of a three part series covering the initial design, build, and post event analysis for future design changes.


CATAPULT: From Toys ‘R Us to Team Whyachi

Discover how CATAPULT — the largest robot in the Bone Dead Robotics fleet – went from a rehabbed toy to a full on combat Mantisweight competitor.


Florida BattleBots Storm Kennedy Space Center

in The Combat Zone

Gearheads intersect with rocket nerds to discuss common issues in both camps.


Creating the HORD Arena

in The Combat Zone

Details on what it took to construct a new arena for a robot event held at ColossalCon.


The Evolution of Algos

in The Combat Zone

Now that the very successful one pound Algos robot has retired from combat, get the nitty-gritty details on the design.


Higher Voltages: The iCharger 1010B+

in The Combat Zone

For several years now, the voltage limit on most budget hobby RC electronics has been 6S LiPo (22.2V), and that’s been fine in combat -- certainly up to the 12 lb Hobbyweights.


In Memoriam: Lee Reherman

Lee Reherman — better known to many as American Gladiator, ‘Hawk’ — died February 29th in California. He was 49.


Common Drive System Configurations

Over the years, a wide range of drive system configurations have been attempted; some with a great deal more success than others.


Dragon Con Robot Battles and Robot Micro Battles 2015

in The Combat Zone

The action for 2015 started with a special exhibition match between Trey Roski and Greg Munson, the founders of BattleBots.


RoboWars Australia:  Grinding Off the Rust

2015 was one of the best years for robot combat in Australia. RoboWars reached new people all across Australia and revitalized builders young and old.


Low Speed Performance in Sensorless Brushless Motors: The VESC

With the development and release of a new ESC called the VESC, the problem of fine control at lower speeds appears to be solved.


What I Learned at BattleBots

Explore the more fuzzy aspects of the BattleBots’ experience.


Denise: A Quick and Easy Fairyweight

in The Combat Zone

Building a 150 gram robot for competition.


Wiring Up a D2

in The Combat Zone

Learn how to wire together a D2 combat robot kit.


Robot Wars Returns! — From a Decade in Storage to the Modern Arena

Can I realistically get a working robot into the studio for the first day of filming? Maybe... Let's investigate the options.


Kilobots XXXII

Results from the 2016 SCRC Kilobots XXXII combat robot tournament.


Thirty Pound Under Cutter “Glasgow Kiss” Post-Event Analysis and Improvements

in The Combat Zone

The lifecycle of a combat robot is a never ending process of refinement and innovation.


Memoirs of a Traveling Bothead

in The Combat Zone

There’s something very special about the giant venue/large robot competitions like BattleBots™ and RoboGames.


Steel Age: Rise of the D2

Robogames: Beetleweight division shake-up.


It’s All About the Benjamins Or No Bucks No Bots

The hardest part of getting into combat robots is knowing where to start. This article doesn’t go into what to buy, but more about where to spend your money.


Seattle Bot Bash 2016

in The Combat Zone

Results from Western Allied Robotics (WAR) Seattle Bot Battles 14.


Low Money 220

in The Combat Zone

Don’t be afraid to start big in combat robotics! I built this heavyweight using mostly simple tools in my small shop.


Small Bot Masters — Charles Guan

in The Combat Zone

Charles Guan — One of “The Chosen” — the happy and exalted few selected to bring a robot to the new BattleBots that was televised last year.


The Top Ten Reasons to Compete at RoboGames

David Calkins — the driving force behind RoboGames — gives his 10 best reasons to compete ... or at least show up for the fun!


Coils of War

Hardening a motor for the combat arena.


Motorama 2016 — Teeth and Consequences

in The Combat Zone

Results from the 2016 SCRC Motorama 2016 combat robot tournament.


Robot Battles 60 at Dragon Con

in The Combat Zone

This robot fighting competition continues to grow in size each year, and this time was no exception.


THE FUTURE IS BRUSHLESS Using Open Source Drone Firmware for Robot Drivetrains

in The Combat Zone

A critical decision in combat robot design is the choice of drivetrain in your battling bot. Here’s why to consider going brushless.


FingerTech Viper Kit

in The Combat Zone

The Viper kit from FingerTech Robotics is probably the most beginner friendly way of getting into the combat robot hobby.


Departments

PicoPower
by Bryan Bergeron in Mind / Iron
If you own a smartphone or an Apple Watch, you’ve likely experienced the pain of constantly connecting your gear to a charger and configuring (i.e., crippling) your device to extend battery life.

Facebook and Microsoft Messenger Bots: It’s Déjà vu All Over Again
by Bryan Bergeron in Mind / Iron
2016 is the year of the chat bot — a forecast supported in part by the launch of messenger bots for Facebook and Microsoft platforms, among others.

3D Printing: Too Good?
by Bryan Bergeron
3D printed prototypes are outliving their usefulness and overflowing our landfills.