Monitoring water levels with a Parallax Ping sensor

arduino_parallax_ping_water_level_sensor

When you need a mechanism to detect the water level within a container or tank, you have several different options. Most people opt for a simple float or probe that sits in the water, while others use optics to sense when the water is reaching an undesired level.

This device built by [Danilo Abbasciano] uses a Parallax Ping sensor instead. If the sensor is placed at the top of a well, cistern, or other water container, it can accurately calculate the height and volume of the fluid inside. This is done by using the Ping’s readings in conjunction with a few values already known to the user, namely the dimensions of the container.

In his implementation, the readings are relayed to a simple LCD panel for easy viewing, and a small piezo speaker is used to sound an alarm when the water level reaches a predefined threshold. This sort of measuring device can be quite useful in situations where a contact-based sensor would be subject to chemicals and corrosion, or where contamination is a concern.

Cypherbot uses older uC and retro-controller

[PJ Allen] has been working on a little robot which he calls Cypherbot. The control circuitry is quite familiar; a Board of Education which features the Basic Stamp 2 microcontroller. This is an older and slower microprocessor, but it works quite well for this application since there’s no need for speed or heavy number crunching. The wheels of the bot are made out of plastic lids (we’re thinking peanut butter jars) with rubber bands for traction that are each driven by a servo motor. The third wheel is tiny and swivels as needed.

The front of the bot has a PING ultrasonic sensor mounted on a servo motor which lets the bot scan back and forth for a wider obstacle avoidance angle. In addition to the autonomous mode there’s an Xbee remote control. [PJ] picked up an Atari keyboard and is using that as the user input. Check out the little guy driving around the house in the video after the break.

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Obstacle avoiding hexapod from reused parts

 

[Rob] built this hexapod one day when he had some free time after work. Just like the last hexapod we saw, he based the build on the Pololu design which uses three servo motors for surprisingly reliable movement.

The hardware is very straight forward. A Dorkboard serves as the brain. It’s a PCB that is wider on each side by the width of one female pin-header than a standard AVR 28-pin microcontroller. This gives easy access to all of the pins on the Arduino chip while making it small and light. You can see that a four-pack of batteries hangs below the servo motors to provide power.

Protruding above the 6-legger is a PING ultrasonic rangefinder. This adds autonomy to the little robot, which you can see running some obstacle avoidance routines in the video after the break. We’ve asked [Rob] if is able to share his code and will update this post if we hear back from him.

Update: Here’s a link to the sketch, and we’ve updated the picture with one that [Rob] sent to us.

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Propeller-based robot with basic object avoidance

propeller_development_robot

The Parallax Propeller is a pretty powerful MCU as [Dino] recently discovered in his latest Hack a Week installment. He wanted to build a simple robotics platform that he could use for testing out various sensors, and he figured he might as well learn about a different type of micro controller in the process.

He pieced together his robot using a pair of old Roomba motors he had sitting around, mounting them on a standard RadioShack project box. A Propeller MSR1 control board runs the show, and a Propeller PING sensor is used to get an idea of what the robot’s surroundings look like. He is an admitted newbie when it comes to using Propeller micro controllers, but [Dino] was able to give his robot some rudimentary object avoidance abilities fairly easily. A few small bugs aside, he had the robot up and running in short order, a testament to how easy it is to work with the Propeller platform.

Stick around to see a brief video covering the robot’s construction we have embedded below.

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The WALL-E Robot

[Dino's] latest Hack a Week project, the WALL-E Robot shows quite simply what you can create from a few dollars worth of toys from garage sales and cheap stores. When he found the WALL-E toy at a garage sale, Dino decided that he had to give it a brain. Using the geared motors from some Rumble Robots, the H-bridges from some $5 remote control cars (after his own H-bridges cooked themselves), an ultrasonic sensor and an Arduino, WALL-E was brought to life.

The WALL-E Robot might not be the brightest bot, or the most stable, but the project definitely demonstrates some effective scrounging for parts that would have done WALL-E proud. It also shows how even the most simple projects can cause the most headaches when they don’t go right. Check out the video after the break for the build details, a demonstration and to see a man talk to a toy robot.

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