Show issues for
December 2017

Servo Magazine


Features

Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — The Animatronic Body, Inside and Out

The process of building an animatronic character starts and ends with a strong body.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Can You Hear Me Now?

Planning the audio systems that surround your aminatronic displays helps create an immersive experience for your viewers.


Distortions Unlimited: Where Monsters Positively Exist

Come explore a place where dreams (or nightmares) are built! Distortions Unlimited is a prop-shop that is an animatronics builder’s paradise!


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Motors Make the World Go Round

Take an in-depth look at using some alternative motors in animatronics/robotic builds.


Make Robotics Learning Fun!

in Animatronics For The Do-It-Yourselfer

Between smartphones and the need for instant gratification, how do we make the mundane machinery of robotics something new and exciting for kids?


Building the KReduCNC Clamp Table

We’re getting closer to a finished CNC machine! This time, we are going to install the clamp table.


An ARDUINO CONTROLLED ROBOT ARM, Part 2

After completing an online course on robotics, I decided to create a robot arm that I could use as a platform to test all the theory that had been covered and experiment with new ideas.


Dirty Jobs For Robots In The Tank

There are many robots doing dirty jobs that are making workplaces cleaner and safer.


Make a Splash with an Underwater Quadcopter ROV — Part 1

What’s more fun than flying a quad rotor through the air? How about flying one underwater?


Hacking an RC Car with the Mentor’s Friend

Use the Amigo for this simple computer-controlled hardware project (hacking a toy RC car) that you and a budding roboticist can build and explore together.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Servos: The Basics and Beyond

Becoming comfortable using servos and taking advantage of all the added features available will expand your capabilities as a builder.


RoboGames in Retrospect

Don’t miss this year’s action at RoboGames — the world’s largest robot competition!


Judgment Day for AI: Inside the Loebner Prize

Hugh Gene Loebner, PhD, a philanthropist, inventor, and entrepreneur, made Alan Turing’s ideas a reality when he sponsored the first Loebner Prize — billed as the ‘first Turing Test’ — in 1991. Hear from one of the judges what it’s really like to be a part of the contest.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Shine a Light on Your Creations

What good is a fabulous prop if you can’t see it? Serious attention should be devoted to properly lighting your displays.


Boost Your Creativity with LEGO

LEGO raises its robotics offerings with their new BOOST construction system.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Power to the Robots

Although getting power to your props is not one of the most exciting parts of the building process, it is one of the more crucial aspects.


The Dobot Magician

If you've ever wanted a quality robot arm or a 3D printer, you should really consider the Dobot Magician. Its accuracy and easy-to-change end effectors give it multiple personalities that can easily satisfy a variety of needs.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Putting On a Face

What good is a fully functioning mechanical character without a face?


Serving Raspberry Pi — Part 9

Berry's head keeps falling off. Time for a better mount!


TETRIX® PRIME Hits the Bulls-EYE at USF

An engineering mentoring program at the University of South Florida is bringing STEM and real world learning to area youths.


Bridge Education and Business: Six Ways to Help Guarantee a Successful STEM Event

If your school or community organization is looking to put together an inspiring STEM event, here are some tips to help in the process.


The Wonderful World of Robot Mastermind, Tony Ellis

Tony Ellis’ latest home-based autonomous robot — the ALTAIR EZ-2 — puts all others to shame.


The ARMadeus Project

The ARMadeus Project went through 10 revisions to arrive at its current STEM-ready incarnation!


Symbiont Sensors

Here’s an easy way to add sensors to your robot with no battery, no wires, and no switches, plus you get Bluetooth.


System on a Chip Simplifies Servo Control

A programmable system on a chip (SoC) lets you quickly create pulse-width modulator (PWM) circuits as needed, and control them with only a few commands.


Parallax Blocklyprop Starter Kit

Parallax has added Blockly to its list of tools for programming their popular Propeller microcontroller.


Goliath 3: Critter Chaser

Keep your garden varmint-free with this modified Wi-Fi controlled model replica of a historic tank robot.


A Robot Navigation Module with a Magnetic Compass and ARTY™ FPGA Board

Take your robotic projects in the right direction with the GY-271 Three-Axis Magnetic Field Sensor.


Interfacing an FPGA PMOD Sensor with the Digilent Arty™ Board

In robotics, where concurrent processes need to take place (servo movement, sensor interfaces, communication, navigation, etc.), an FPGA (field-programmable gate array) implementation can have advantages over a microprocessor approach.


Interfacing an FPGA PMOD Sensor with the Digilent Arty™ Board Part 2

Interfacing an FPGA PMOD Sensor with the Diligent ARTY board


Building the KReduCNC Spindle Hookup

It’s been a while since we started this CNC machine build project, so let’s go over spindle hookup and get ready to make something.


An ARDUINO Controlled Robot Arm

After completing an online course on robotics, I decided to create a robot arm that I could use as a platform to test all the theory that had been covered and experiment with new ideas.


Hardware Hacking a Power Wheelchair Control Module

On the surface, using a power wheelchair as a robotic base seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it is not, so here’s what I did.


EMG Control and Monitoring of a Servo Gripper — Closing the Loop

Use your body to control your bot.


Get Social with FaceBox: the Friendly HeadBot

If you weren’t lucky enough to score one of SparkFun Electronics’ limited edition Cyber Monday Redbox Robots, then you’re in luck! We’ve come up with our own version that is a tracking, flashing, and speaking robot.


Building the KReduCNC Conclusion

In this final installment, we will finish the KReduCNC build by going through its operation and creating a part. First off, there are some upgrades to go over.


Manipulating Cards with the Magician

Teach the Magician robot arm how to stack a deck of cards.


Bob, the Talking Skull Controlled by Jawduino!

Creating a talking skull using the Jawduino


Simulating a Swarm

Experimenting with swarm behavior in robots without breaking the bank.


RoboGames: The Original Robot Amateur Hour

RoboGames (the Olympics for robots) is the biggest “open” robot event in the world.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Legacy Effects

A rare behind-the-scenes tour of Academy Award nominated special effects company, Legacy Effects


One Good Eye: An Open Source 3D Scanner

Love the idea of a Star Trek replicator? If so, a 3D scanner may be in your future.


Stabilizing an Inverted Pendulum

Back in 1965, it took about $65,000 in equipment to balance an experimental inverted pendulum. Now you can do it with a handful of hobby parts and a bit of code.


The Gortinator

See how to build a two-legged walking robot made from PITSCO/TETRIX MAX parts.


NOMAD: The Evolution of an Autonomous Robot

Here's the next update on the ongoing Nomad Autonomous Robot project. I've learned a lot along the way, and as usual, got myself in way over my head.


Serving Raspberry Pi — Working Around Motor-to-Motor Variations in Cheap Gear Motors

Working around motor-to-motor variations in cheap gear motors.


Drawing with Lights Using a Flashing LED to Draw with Your Scribbler 3

Using the Parallax S3 to draw complex and beautiful images with light.


Rise of the Neuromorphic Machines

Are neuroscientists about to unlock the secrets of the human brain to create robots that think like we do?


Roll Your Own Turtlebot

What if you could easily build the equivalent of a Turtlebot for under $300? I’m going to show you how easy it is.


Animatronics for the Do-It-Yourselfer — Setting Up Shop

Having a special work area for your animatronics hobby is extremely important in your efforts to maximize your productivity.


Interfacing an FPGA PMOD Sensor with the Digilent Arty™ Board Part 3

The continuing exploration of the Diligent ARTY FPGA board and its hardware debugger.


RobotBASIC Robots for Beginners — Part 1

RobotBASIC is a fun and powerful programming language that can really reduce your robot development time.


PITSCO Controller is Teacher’s Choice

For users of the TETRIX® PRIME building system, the new TETRIX PULSE® Robotics Controller is something to get excited about!



Columns

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (02.2017)
Topics discussed this time include servo options, dealing with a sonar range finder’s erratic responses, an explanation for jittery servos, and to LEGO or not to LEGO.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
New Sensor on the Block!
There’s a new sensor on the block: a laser obstacle type that you really have to try. Lasers are just plain cool, and this one only costs about $10-$15.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Photogrammetry with OpenDroneMap — Part 2
Make your own maps using a quadcopter, a camera, and OpenDroneMap open source software

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (06.2017)
Tap into the sum of all human knowledge and get your questions answered here! From software algorithms to material selection, Mr. Roboto strives to meet you where you are — and what more would you expect from a complex service droid?

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Drone Delivery — Part 1
Modeled on the slick promotional videos that show multi-rotors dropping packages from the sky to patrons, we experiment with DIY drone deliveries.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Scanse Sweep 3D Scanner Review
Taking the Scanse Sweep 3D Scanner for a test drive

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (01.2017)
Mr. Roboto returns to offer solutions to those issues plaguing our robot builds.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Taking the Earth’s Temperature with Aerial Infrared Mapping
Knowing the temperature of the earth’s surface can tell us a lot of things. So, we’ll build an infrared/color sensor package and install it on a multi-rotor to collect our own ground temperature surveys.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
Build a Drone Crash Beacon
Build a DIY crash beacon to help you locate your downed drone.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Lynxmotion Quadrino Nano Flight Controller
The Lynxmotion Quadrino Nano Flight Controller hits many of the check boxes for most hobbyists in a tiny package. Let's take it for a test drive ... er ... fly!

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Photogrammetry with OpenDroneMap — Part 1
Make your own maps using a quadcopter, a camera, and some open source software

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Fat Shark Teleporter V5 Review
As multi-rotor pilots, we can now have a first person view (FPV) experience with inexpensive/all-in-on equipment that literally puts us in the pilot’s seat and immerses us in the experience of flying.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Punkin Chunker V: Season of the Linear Servo
What Halloween would be complete without a punkin chunker robot?

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — ESC Basics
Electronic speed controllers (ESCs) can make or break the performance of your quad.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Hacking the Cheerson CX-10
See how to take an old computer joystick and integrate it into the remote control of the Cheerson CX-10 quadcopter. It’s like having a flight simulator, but with something real flying around the room!

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Brushless Motor Basics
Get an introduction to the fundamental workings of a brushless DC motor and learn how to select the right motor for your next project.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Junkyard Warrior
Building cool stuff out of junk you have laying around has a proud and colorful history.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Full Metal Cannon
Working with high pressure air cannons.

Twin Tweaks
by Bryce Woolley, Evan Woolley
Crazy Drive Train
What do you build to support a 120 lb high-pressure steel air cannon?

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Human/Robot Interaction with the Elderly
Creating viable home assistant robots for the elderly.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Unique Robots Over the Years
Take a trip down (random access) memory lane and gawk at these strange and interesting robots of the past, then check out these newer bots that build on past designs.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
How Robots Affect Our Lives
Rethinking how robots will impact our day-to-day lives.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Mobile Robot Sensors
Take a look at offerings in the robotic sensors arena — what a difference a decade makes!

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
The People Behind the Evolution of Robotics
A discussion on why the evolution of robotics occurred the way it did, and who drove the latest growth activity in robotics with newly-formed companies.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Building a Robot? Just Go for It!
Don’t overthink things so much when building your first robot. Keep it simple and fun, and just do it!

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
How do You Define a Robot?
Robots today take on so many different forms. It is even harder to determine just what is a robot and what is not.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
What’s New in Robotics
Discover the robots of CES 2017.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
Police, Security, Military, and Emergency Response Robots
Robots can go (somewhat) more safely where humans can’t when helping out with different kinds of disasters.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
What is the Future of Humans Working Among Robots?
What is the future role of robotics? Will robots displace all human workers?

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
So, You Want to Design a Marketable Robot
Bringing a robot design to market can be a tedious process if you don’t have a good strategy from the start.

Then and Now
by Tom Carroll
The Mechanics of Robot Building
When it comes down to it, it’s really the mechanical aspect of a robot that separates it from just being a computer with some sensors.

The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist
by John Leeman
The Multi-Rotor Hobbyist — Adding Telemetry to the ELEV-8
As multi-rotor pilots, we often have to operate by look and feel. So how about adding a telemetry kit to get real time aircraft data such as the altitude, air speed, and attitude sent back to our tablet in the field.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (02.2017)
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (03.2017)
Using a BASIC Stamp 2 in omni-wheeled robots, building a robot arm to move chess pieces, and ideas for keeping yourself entertained on long flights are all discussed this month.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (04.2017)
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (05.2017)
Read about troubleshooting random re-boots with a Raspberry Pi; if motion sensors can be used as infrared receivers for remote uses; reviving the battery in an AIBO; and getting into telepresence robots.

Robytes
by Jeff Eckert, Jenn Eckert
Stimulating Robot Tidbits (06.2017)
Stimulating tidbits on the latest happenings in robotics for consumers, universities, professionals, and everything else in between.

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (07.2017)
Tap into the sum of all human knowledge and get your questions answered here! From software algorithms to material selection, Mr. Roboto strives to meet you where you are — and what more would you expect from a complex service droid?

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (08.2017)
Mr Roboto shows how to add Bluetooth control to the widely available (but poorly documented) D2-6 Smart Car

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (09.2017)
Hacking an inexpensive D2-1 Smart Car into a “photovore” light chaser, plus using PWM to control motors and wanting to build an R2D2

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (10.2017)
There are lots of ways to make your robot more interesting and useful. One of the most popular ways is to give it the ability to speak!

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (11.2017)
Are there robots in every room of your house? Would you like there to be?

Ask Mr. Roboto
by Eric Ostendorff
Your Robot Problems Solved Here (12.2017)
Dead reckoning, odometry, and robot navigation.




Combat Zone

Choosing a Battery Charger

in The Combat Zone

See how to determine the correct charger for your particular size/type of battery.


RoboGames 2017: The Rise of Whiplash

in The Combat Zone

With the level of competition in the heavyweight combat class getting tougher, it was time to think outside the box on robot design.


My First Antweight — A Dark and Dirty Disco

in The Combat Zone

Follow the build of the Antweight bot, A Dark and Dirty Disco that started just one month before it was supposed to compete.


Robot Wars, Girls, and Glitter

in The Combat Zone

When a nine year old girl designs your combat bot for Robot Wars.


The Conversion of a Robot Skeptic: My First RoboGames

in The Combat Zone

There’s a lot more to the hobby of building and fighting combat robots than you might realize.


Atrocious: The $200 Hobbyweight — Part 2

in The Combat Zone

Taking on a challenge presented by Kyle Singer to build a 12 lb Hobbyweight robot.


An Interview with Ed McCarron

in The Combat Zone

Get to know Ed McCarron from the NERC a little bit better.


C. B. Radio: Garage Door Parts in a Garage Bot

in The Combat Zone

Repurposing garage door gears to build a combat bot.


Motorama 2017

in The Combat Zone

Get the results of NERC’s 2017 combat event.


Warwick Robotics STL Travels to Colorado

in The Combat Zone

I knew with the lack of events in the Midwest, someday I would have to travel for a robotics tournament.


Pennsylvania College of Technology SWORD Fights

in The Combat Zone

The Pennsylvania College of Technology hosts its first ever SWORD event.


From Nothing to Robot in Two and a Half Weeks

in The Combat Zone

Here’s how I “threw” a robot together in under three weeks to make a competition


The Glass Cannon: The Tale of a Newbie’s First Venture into Combat

in The Combat Zone

Most bot builders remember their first foray into the sport of robot combat; many with varying degrees of success, but all with some degree of nostalgia and just a little bit of embarrassment.


Applying for BattleBots

in The Combat Zone

Tips for getting your team/robot picked for the popular TV show.


InsaniTi: When Overkill is Just Enough — Part 3

in The Combat Zone

The design and build process of my Beetleweight, InsaniTi.


A 3 lb Full-Body Spinner

in The Combat Zone

After looking at several designs and weapons, I chose to design a full-body “shell” spinner.


Robot Battles 61 at the Geek Media Expo

in The Combat Zone

Last year’s event marked the fifth official Robot Battles event held in Music City, featuring the return of Kelly Lockhart as MC, and a much larger arena than in previous years.


New Year’s Resolution — Part 3

in The Combat Zone

Description of the design and build of the new steel wedge for Isotelus Rex and how it fared at the Motorama 2017 event.


Bot on a Budget — Finding the Balance Between Quality and Cost

in The Combat Zone

Prepping for our next iteration of our Beetleweight, Phantom.


House of Robotic Destruction Gets Colossal

in The Combat Zone

Results from the classic robot battle, “House of Robotic Destruction” (HORD) that the Ohio Robotics Club put on at this year’s ColossalCon.


New Year’s Resolution — Part 1

in The Combat Zone

Putting my 12 lb (Hobbyweight) combat bot, Isotelus Rex on a weight loss program to get better results at competitions.


New Year’s Resolution — Part 2

in The Combat Zone

After putting my 12 lb (Hobbyweight) combat bot, Isotelus Rex on a weight loss program to get better results at competitions, it was time to build the new lighter chassis and drivetrain.


InsaniTi: When Overkill is Just Enough — Part 1

in The Combat Zone

The design and build process of my Beetleweight, InsaniTi.


Atrocious: The $200 Hobbyweight — Part 1

in The Combat Zone

Taking on a challenge presented by Kyle Singer to build a 12 lb Hobbyweight robot.


Kinetic Combat Art: Building for Beauty

in The Combat Zone

Making a mini Beta (the 250 pound hammer robot built by Jon Reid, which appeared in season 2 of BattleBots) of my own.


Why Visit Canada ...

in The Combat Zone

Competing with Kilobots at their Canadian National Championship.


InsaniTi: When Overkill is Just Enough — Part 2

in The Combat Zone

The design and build process of my Beetleweight, InsaniTi.


Robot Battles 63 at MomoCon

in The Combat Zone

The results are in for this year’s MoMoCon Robot Battles tournament.


The Art of the Bot

in The Combat Zone

To robot fans and builders who still have some shred of non-metallic awareness, there is another form of art in our sport.


Builder Tip: Going to Events

in The Combat Zone

Avoid showing up to your next competition with a handful of items you didn’t bring.


NERC’s Battle on the Parkway: 10 Years of Fighting in Philly

in The Combat Zone

Find out the winners and losers at this 10th anniversary NERC competition.


Departments

Before You Buy a Cobot
by Nigel Smith
Could your next coworker be a cobot?

The Robotics Cottage Industry is Alive and Well
by Bryan Bergeron
I love visiting the Kickstarter site for inspiration and a glimpse of the worldwide robotics cottage industry. At last count, there were over 1,400 Kickstarter robotics projects listed — mainly from the US, EU, Australia, and Canada.

Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles: The Next Big Thing in Robotics?
by Bryan Bergeron
UROVs — the little brothers to the massive commercial underwater vehicles used to inspect hulls, ship wrecks, and pipe lines — are where quadcopters were five years ago.

What’s Your Robot Type?
by Bryan Bergeron
Just like with selecting your preferred dog breed, we each have our own robot preferences.

Finger Spinners — The Killer App for 3D Printers?
by Bryan Bergeron
With a 3D printer, you can make a finger spinner yourself a lot faster than ordering one online.

Smart Fabrics
by Bryan Bergeron
There has been great progress in creating smart fabrics worthy of super heroes, as well as ordinary folks.

Wanted: Robotics Experimentalists — No Experience Necessary (or Desired)
by Bryan Bergeron
Despite all the talk, there hasn’t been much in the way of deliverables for robots taking over one job or another.

A Matter of Trust
by Bryan Bergeron
Would you trust a robotic surgeon to operate on you or a loved one? Or, an autonomous driverless car? Would you trust a domestic robot around your newborn or your grandparents?

Extending Your Life as an Embedded Intelligence
by Bryan Bergeron
Is living forever really an option?

Optimization
by Bryan Bergeron
Call it AI or linear programming, or inverse kinematics — much of the computational work in robotics is essentially some form of optimization.

Automate Best Practices
by Bryan Bergeron
Ironing out the wrinkles in your approach to problem solving.

Downsizing: Robots and the Tools to Make Them
by Bryan Bergeron
Is it time to say goodbye to tools you haven’t touched in years?

Now, Open Wide ...
by Bryan Bergeron
Could your STEM robotics course lead you to a career in digital dentistry?