Friday, November 25, 2011

Sparkfun AVC 2012

Data Bus is back and he's pissed.
Last April, Data Bus experienced crushing, embarrassing, humbling defeat. For six months, he's been nursing his wounds and stoking the fire in his belly while his thirst for victory has grown insatiable. 

It's time.

I'm getting an early start on the 2012 Sparkfun Autonomous Vehicle Competition, greatly aided by the fact that I'm not starting from scratch. I'll chronicle the revisions over the next six months.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

A message to you from the newly completed RoboTurkey:

RoboTurkey's actual name is Oscar (all Thanksgiving turkeys are named Oscar in our family). At random intervals, he either moves his head around, flaps his wings, or speaks while moving his wings for emphasis. He simultaneously moves his beak while playing back audio clips of my daughter talking.

 Here are some specs and info:

  • Wings and tail crafted by my 2 year old daughter
  • Plays back 8 phrases spoken by my daughter and recorded to a 2GB microSD card
  • Parallax Propeller on one of my miniProp boards
  • Software written in SPIN and PASM
  • LM386 audio amplifier with gain of ~20dB
  • Head, beak and wing movement controlled in parallel
  • 3 hobby servos I had laying around
  • 6 AAA batteries
  • NCP1117 LDO 5V regulator
  • Cookie tin from Goodwill
  • Feather boa, lots of craft sticks and hot glue from Hobby Lobby
  • Plays back audio from microSD
I'll post up build details in the near future.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday Deals

Pololu is again doing a black Friday sale with lots of great deals and thought you might want to know.

I am going to try to be one of the first 50 people to get a 3pi robot, and I have a shopping list of other goodies I'd like to get like a $30 9-axis IMU.

Last year I scored a baby Orangutan, a couple of IR sensors, some nice voltage regulators, and a few other things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cheap Logic Analyzer SMD Clip Hack

Cheap ebay clip, center, Selae Logic Analyzer clip, right

Want cheap SMD clips for your logic analyzer? One of my readers, Nemo, submitted a nifty hack to convert budget clips (above, middle) for use with typical female logic analyzer leads (above left).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Electronic Candle with a 555 Timer

Pokey my Trinity-style firefighting robot likes to blow out candles. It's his job. Whenever I demo Pokey at robotic events, I don't dare light a real candle lest I burn the place down.

Holding a flashlight for Pokey to track lacks drama, so here's a DIY electronic candle that you can actually blow out. You can build this yourself on a breadboard or on a simple home-etched pcb.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Road Testing an ARM LPC2101: Part 1

I was graciously invited to participate in the Newark Product Road Testing Program and I'll be road testing two ARM microprocessors. First up is the NXP LPC2101, recently added to Newark's offerings.

While I relay my experiences, my hope is to make it easier for you, gentle reader, to jump into the wonderful world of ARM along with me. ARM processors have their place in robotics and electronics, can be inexpensive like this LPC2101, and can be very powerful. (You can find more NXP ARM processors from Newark here)

I hope to show that you don't need expensive breakout boards or cumbersome evaluation boards, and you can use free toolchains. So... let's get started...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thompson Robotics Expo 2011

This past Saturday, my daughter and I had fun at the Thompson Robotics Expo up in Loveland and we set up a table for SHARC to demo Data Bus and Pokey.

Pokey, my Trinity-style firefighting robot, ran some demos where the little robot used rudimentary machine vision to search for a 'candle' (flashlight), drive forward to the white floor marker, and turn on the fan to 'blow out' the candle.