Archive for October, 2007

RoboPhilo, Cheap? (Videos)

I have been wondering since I first heard about RoboPhilo, “where did they cut the money?” I think Mike Overstreet, answered this best in his recent write-up on Robots Dreams

“The light weight frame makes more sense because of the low torque of the servos. This made me think. What if you could buy the robot now and then upgrade the servos and the brackets at a later date? That is when I realized that this was a Robonova-1 dressed in a cheap disguise.”

My thoughts of RoboPhilo, from what I saw at iHobby Expo 2007, are:

  • Cool (in general).
  • Torque is low in the servos, may restrict heavy add-ons.
  • A bit shaky, not solid firm movements.
  • Plastic (not good or bad).
  • User friendly, utilizes a graphical interface for newbies, yet soon you will be able to program in “C” with an add-on SDK.
  • Servos will be up-gradeable, no price set.

It is clear that you can not fight against a RoboNova-1, with RoboPhilo, but you could start a RoboPhilo group so that with hacks, all robots will be more or less in the same class.

If you have the money to buy a RoboNova-1, RBT-1, Bioloid, etc. you should get one of those, but if you don’t have a $1,000 to spend, RoboPhilo seems to be worth the $500 USD ($400 USD for the kit), and with RoboPhilo you can “upgrade as you go!”

If you get the kit for RoboPhilo, you will get to see the workings of the humanoid robot, and save yourself $100 USD over the pre-built.

Add-ons, like gyros, extra servos, and acelometors are possible, because RoboPhilo has 8 extra I/O ports and 4 un-used servo channel ports on the hacker favorite Atmel powered controller.

I’m sure we will be seeing cool software, and hardware hacks in the near future on RoboPhilo!

–Scotty

October 28, 2007 at 8:14 pm 5 comments

History Repeating Itself? (Videos)

History repeating itself?

I took this video at iHobby 2007 (October 21 2007):

On YouTube there is a video from CIRC 2007:

You will see that Rob’s Lego Mindstorms RCX robot “Not Just Brute Force” (in the middle of the older video), gets beat-up in the same way; both times his robot tips back, and both times it was with a fast robot.

While Not Just Brute Force did not win at iHobby 2007, there is much to be learned from his design!

–Scotty

October 25, 2007 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Vexplorer and Vex Robotics (Video)

At the Revell Models booth at iHobby, I found the Vexplorer, which came out a few months ago.

Last year, Vex said that they where joining Revell to enhance the Vex Robotics line.

This year, the robot was there! 

It was cool to move around, and the camera was a nice touch. During test drives, however, visitors found that if they moved the robot in certain ways (such as moving the arm all the way down), the Vexplorer made a loud clicking noise (I think it was gears snapping). A limit switch detecting that the arm was down could have prevented this.

The Vexplorer (referred to as “Blue” by Vex) has no sensors, no programming, and the electronics can not be used with the older Vex Robotics (”Red”) electronics. I feel that they could have gotten more loyal followers if they would have made the two electronics compatible, as opposed to just the hardware being compatible.

Further “Vexplorer”-style robots are planned for 2008 (see pictures).

Water Bottle (sprays water):

 

Disk Shooter (shoots soft disks):

A costly mistake that Revell is making on their flyers, banners, and magazine ads is sending everyone to Vex.com, an unrelated consulting firm, instead of vexrobotics.com.

–Scotty

October 25, 2007 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

iHobby 2007, Meeting Internet Friends!

I went to iHobby Expo last Sunday, October 21, 2007, and met, and made friends!

When I arrived at iHobby Expo at about 9:00 A.M. CST, I went straight back to the pits to make sure my robot worked. About 30 minutes later Mike (also known as “Gort”) showed up with his robot Boomer (see below)!

After my Lego Sumo robot, “Mean Puppy”, was ready I headed over to the Chibots booth and found Steve Hassenplug from Team Hassenplug, Royce Pipkins leader of Chibots (thanks Royce for the great time)!

By the end of the day I had many more friends that I’m sure I’ll be talking to again! Two are Bryan Bonahoom, and Rick Brooks (creator of “ExSpurt”, to only name one robot).

Bryan (right) and me after we got our medals for Lego Sumo:

–Scotty

October 25, 2007 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

Mean Puppy

Over the course of 4 weeks I built a Lego Mindstorms NXT robot named “Mean Puppy” for Lego Sumo at Fall Chibotica!

After watching videos on YouTube, I came up with my idea on how to build my Sumo Bot.

My ojects were to make it strong by have most of the parts interlock, and have high torque gearing. Easy battery aces fell into place by its self!

It took 3 weeks to build.

After 6 days of programming NXT-G on my computer crashed. All of the sumo programming files got corruped! With 3 days left, I was forced to get rid of my hopes to use a Ultrasonic sensor to find the other robot… My new gool was to rewrite my code for just finding the edge and acting apropreitly.

Within 2 days the program was finished and ready to be tested!

I soon tested how much dead weight Mean Puppy can push, and came out with the answer of over 10 US pounds!

Mean Puppy was ready for combat (check out my next post to see how it did at Fall Chibotica 2007)!

–Scotty

October 24, 2007 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

MINDS-i, Tough, Strong, Universal!

After I won third place with Mean Puppy in Lego Sumo, I headed over to the neighboring booth, MINDS-i. At first I was skeptical, okay it was not robotics, but like most other booths I stopped by to see what was going on. Mike Marzetta, inventor of MINDS-i, came up to me, and started explaining his ideas for his creation. Something kept me there at the booth; maybe it was his nice personality, maybe the pure coolness of this new invention!

He started by showing me the Buggy:

Then he showed me a rock crawler. At this point it grabbed me: the rock crawler had a Pro-Line body and 2.2 official rock crawling Pro-Line wheels and tires! 

I’ve been waiting for a product where you can use other brands parts, and are not controlled by the company!

If you look at the above picture you can see white “loops” for stock 7.2 volt batteries for power, just above the axels! Not only does this let the robot/RC car have a low CG for climbing, you can use the old 7.2 packs that are on the workbench; NO need to buy “MINDS-i” battery packs (if you don’t have any batteries, just buys yours from MINDS-i)!

Look at this picture:

Stock servos, too!

It all did not set in until I handled the 6 wheel base:

(Notice the Futaba plug and the shocks)

It was not heavy, but light, very strong, and had killer looks!

A combat ‘robot’ is even possible to make with the MINDS-i parts!

Take a close look at the interlocking parts:

While at first it may seem to look like specially-made camoflash part(s) outside of this tank. After a closer look these same parts can be used on other creations also. 

The wiring of the 6 wheeler:

(a stock motor)

On the flyer it says:

“By adding hobby-industry compatible wheels, motors, servos, radios, shocks and more, MINDS-i enables you to ignite your imagination and maximize your fun. For the highest-quality upgrade components, look no further than MINDS-i.”

Of course like most other products, there are those “I just don’t know…” with this one also. Like how would this hold up against a ‘real’ R/C car? Can you put in a brush-less system? How much weight could a Minds-i creation hold? Does every part work with every other part [I mean this up to a point]?

The MINDS-i products are just begging for a microcontroller and a CMU camera!

I was, and am, amazed! YOU control your robots, NOT the company you buy it from!

Coming Spring 2008!

MINDS-i

–Scotty

October 24, 2007 at 12:07 pm 1 comment


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