Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

So it has been a long time since I last posted. I have been busy traveling and working on projects for school. I am happy to share that one projedt is about done. My senior design project has evolved a bit. DaNI is now sporting a wireless access point and a distance sensor on the arm and a gripper open/close sensor.

image

Check out the image. I will have a video on Wednesday night! Oh and you can see it in person at NIWeek!

Life has been crazy these past few weeks. From Brickworld, to FIRST, to school, there has been little free time. However this weekend brought me to the great state of Maine. Just a few hours east of FIRST HQ in New Hampshire, southern Maine is just beginning to get into robotics. Leading the charge is the Southern Maine Gearbots. Combining FIRST (FLL and FRC), VEX and some custom challenges, this group is working hard to prepare the engineers of tomorrow. Naturally any robotics event is not complete without a visit from some famous robots. Making an appearance was the LEGO MINDSTORMS Space Shuttle and Boston Engineering’s Robotuna. For many this was their first experience with real engineers and robotics.  I was honored to be invited to the event and it really seems to be a great program! Enjoy a few pictures capturing this really great event! Next year will be event better. Hats off to all involved!

image

My busy spring continues with the Boilermaker Regional. Purdue may be celebrating their win over St. Mary’s, but the party has been going for 2 days at the Purdue Armory. I have been busy judging. These kids are amazing. In 6 weeks these 40 teams have created some of the most innovative solutions to this year’s challenge: Rebound Rumble. From the music and dancing, it is hard to tell if this event is a party or a competition. I am constantly impressed how these teams demonstrate Gracious Professionalism. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

This project has kind of been a secret, but it seems to be nearing completion and I really want to share it. For Christmas my parents got me an iRobot Create. I am a huge fan of the Arduino and wanted to get a shield for it. I soon discovered that there were no good shields for the Create so I set about making my own. After several revisions (and some magic blue smoke) I finally have a working board. I have not populated all the features of the latest revision (Rev. C) yet, but I do have status LEDs and basic serial communication working. What does my shield do? This board provides power LEDs for all major power supplies coming from the Create, it also allows the Arduino to monitor the battery level. There are header’s for the Create’s built in I/O as well.

While the board is working correctly, it is not quite perfect. The big issue is that there is a ton of heat coming from the Arduino. This is from the voltage regulator. I am well within tolerance, but linear voltage regulators are known to put off a ton of heat. I plan to add some voltage regulation to the shield so it does not put so much strain on the built in Arduino regulator.

So now for the bad news (or good news depending on how you look at it). Tomorrow I leave to go to Australia. I am going to Rose-Hulman’s Oakley Southern Sky Observatory in New South Whales, Australia. That means I will not be working on this shield for a about a week (or other NXT projects). I will be blogging some of the images from my trip. Another hobby of mine is Astronomy. Last year I wrote some software to control our observatory. Think of it as a really big (super expensive) robot. In addition to doing some work at the Rose-Hulman Observatory, I will also be visiting Siding Springs Observatory, located just a few miles away.

I have made a few posts about my senior design project, but this one is by far the best. We have completed the main deliverable for the project. Check out the video below to see what we did. The robot has amazing accuracy.

I have gotten a ton of emails lately about how to follow a line with an NXT. I decided to build a bot to show off some of the easiest ways. Using twin light sensors and a LineLeader from Mindsensors, this robot shows 3 possible ways to complete that task. First, it can use a single light sensor and a simple threshold to follow the line. This method proves to be slow, but effective. Next it uses two light sensors to move forward and correct if one sees the black line. Finally comes the Mindsensors LineLeader which uses 8 light sensors and a control theory called PID to follow the line. As we add more light sensors and more complex control, the robot moves faster and more smoothly. Check out the bot and video below!

Happy New Year! 2012 is here and I have some new code to celebrate the holiday!

The Dexter Industries dWifi sensor has opened up a whole new world for LEGO MINDSTORMS. For those of you who have looked at the sensor, you will notice it requires that a “newline” character (decimal 13). The dWifi also likes each byte to be sent individually. To cope with these requirements, I have posted a block that does all the work for you. As you can see from the screen capture on the right, there is a simple loop to send each byte (including the newline byte added to your string). The file is posted and is live now on the Files page of my blog. You can use the regular Set Speed and Read VIs that come with the RS485 2.0 download.

Stay tuned for more dWifi LabVIEW and NXT-G updates!

My senior design project has made some great progress. Besides all the software we have written, we have now officially mechanically integrated our robotic arm with our NI DaNI base. There are still some minor issues to work out, but the majority of the work is done. In the new year, we will be working on creating a demo to show off the robot’s flexibility. We will be posting a video with the new, integrated system working after classes resume in January. Since we have a fair bit of time (about 2 months) remaining, we plan to go hog wild on this project. If its worth doing, it worth over-doing, right?

OpenElectrons.com has made an NXT replacement of sorts. Leveraging the power of the Arduino platform, this shield allows the popular prototyping tool to interface with 8 RC servo motors and NXT motors and sensors. The shield has some integrated buttons and operates over I2C. The library for the shield contains both hardware and software I2C implementations, allowing for full support of Mindsensors products at faster speeds.

The video below shows a simple program I wrote. Using the Mindsensors LineLeader and SumoEyes. The robot is constructed out of LEGO parts and uses LEGO MINDSTORMS motors and sensors. There are axle holes to mount the shield and the NXShield is small enough to use with other Arduino shields (think xBee shield or midi shield). Watch the video for more details, but this robot doesn’t even come close to using the full power of the Arduino platform. I have a few more projects in mind with the platform. In addition, I recently ported the library to the Maple. I am still doing some final testing, but if you would like to give it a try, post a comment below!

 

image

I am in Mobile Robotics here at Rose-Hulman this term and my team is working with the original NI DaNI robot. Our latest lab asked us to add some IR sensors and some photo-resistors. Check out the upgrades! It is kind of fun to spend 4 (or more) hours a day playing with robots!