Quadruped Robot Thinks it’s a Puppy

puppybotBack at New York MakerFaire 2012, we noticed an amazing little steampunk quadruped robot walking around in the crowd outdoors. The robot was amazingly well executed, and had a unique ability to draw children over with it’s puppy like animations. It turns out this is [Drew’s] Little Walking Robot (AKA Puppy Bot).

Puppy Bot has actually been around for quite a while. He was born from the spare parts [Drew] had left over after competing in Robot Wars and Battlebots. The robots in these competitions were often controlled by Radio Control plane or car transmitters. Most of these systems are sold as packs for an RC car or plane. In addition to the transmitter and receiver, the pack usually included a battery and 3 or 4 servos. Standard RC servos were much too weak for use in battle robots, so they remained in his parts box.

On what [Drew] calls a slow weekend, he started putting the servos together, and ended up with a basic robot that could crawl around the room. After that the robot took on a life of its own. [Drew] improved the battery system, and added a microcontroller to automate the various gaits and animations. He brought the robot along with him to one of his battlebot competitions, and it took home the “Coolest Robot” award – even though it wasn’t actually competing!

[Read more...]

Hackaday Links: August 15, 2012

An Octopart for RC equipment

When [Zach] started building a quadcopter he found it very difficult to source the required parts. Thus was born CompareRC, an aggregation of several online RC retailers. There’s over 150,000 parts in the database, all searchable and sortable by lowest price.

Segway iPad Skype teleconferencing robot

It’ll be a while until robots completely eliminate the need for any human interaction, but until then there’s Double. It’s a two-wheeled balancing robot with an iPad dock, controllable via a remote iPad.

Free electronic design

In case you weren’t aware, Fedora has an electronic design distro that includes just about everything needed to build electronic circuits called Fedora Electronic Lab. FEL has PCB designers, circuit simulators, editors for just about everything, and support for PICs, AVRs, and 8051 micros. Thanks for sending this in, [Simon].

Make your own Megadrive ROMs

Last month, [Lee] sent in a build where he connected an Arduino Mega to an old Sega Genesis/Megadrive cartridge. He’s figured out how to read the contents of the cartridge now, allowing you to preserve your 100% complete Sonic & Knuckles / Sonic 3 save for time immemorial.

A surprising amount of graphics tutorials

Khan Academy, every autodidacts best friend, is now teaching computer science. Right now, there is a heavy focus on drawing graphics, and everything is coded in the browser (using Javascript…), but at least it’s a start. The fundamentals of programming are platform and language agnostic, so this looks to be a great way to learn programming.

Here’s a blog post from the lead dev of the Khan CS project.

Home automation with RC wall plugs and Raspberry Pi

[Jake] took some cheap hardware and figured out a way to use it as a huge home automation network. He’s chose a Raspberry Pi board to connect the radio controlled power outlets to his network. He wrote about his project in two parts, the first is hacking the RC outlet controller and the second is using the Raspberry Pi to manipulate it.

These RC outlets are a pass-through for appliances that connect to mains (lamps, consumer electronics, christmas trees, etc). Often the protocol used by the cheap-as-dirt remote is difficult to work with, but [Jake] really hit it out of the part on this one. In addition to simulating button presses for up to fifteen devices on the remote, he replaced the DIP switch package. This lets him change the encoding, essentially allowing the one device to control up to 32 sets of outlets. Theoretically this lets him command 480 devices from the Raspberry Pi. Since that board is a web server it’s just a matter of coding an interface.

Some of the inspiration for this hack came from the whistle-controlled appliance hack.

7 foot long flying dragon breathes fire

What do you have to do to win best of show at an R/C event in Toledo? Build a 7 foot long fire breathing radio controlled dragon of course! [Rick Hamel] stuffed his electronics, a turbine engine, a kerosene tank, and a stun gun into a home built body shaped like a dragon. You can see a few construction pics that show how he is able to steer. It looks like it flies just like any r/c airplane. This one, however could burn down a village and keep going. Check out the videos after the break to see it flying and testing out its fire breathing mechanism.

[Read more...]

Reverse engineering a Futaba SBUS remote control

In the world of model aircraft, Futaba’s SBUS system is a big deal. Instead of having one servo per channel, the SBUS system allows for 16 proportional controls and two digital channels for each receiver. Basically, if you’re building an awesome plane with retracts on the landing gear and bomb bay doors, this is what you want to use. [Michael] wanted to use a few SBUS servos for a project he’s working on, so of course he had to reverse engineer this proprietary protocol.

Each SBUS servo operates over a single 100kbps serial connection with a few interesting twists: the signal is transmitted as big endian, but the individual bytes are little endian, something [Michael] figured out after stumbling across this month old mbed post. [Michael] used a serial library written by [fat16lib] and was able to change the parity and stop bits along with a simple hex inverter. Everything worked perfectly when the servo was connected to a an Arduino Mini.

Even though the SBUS system requires special Futaba servos, we can easily see how useful [Michael]‘s work would be to outrageously complex robots or cnc machines. Check out the video after the break for a quick demo of [Michael]‘s breadboard controlling one of these SBUS servos.

[Read more...]

Make your RC car drive itself with this simple brain swap

arduino-rc-conversion

If the kids have lost interest in that RC car or truck you bought them over the holidays, [Randy Sarafan] from Instructables has a few ideas that might help make the toys fun again, while teaching your kids a bit about electronics in the process. In his writeup, he shows how to swap out the brains of your run of the mill RC truck, enabling it to do far more than was originally intended. The procedure is pretty simple, and something that you can easily involve your kids in, if you’d like.

He uses an Arduino and a motor shield to keep the conversion simple, but this can be done with just about any capable microcontroller you might have on hand. [Randy] added a Parallax Ping sensor to the front of the truck enabling it to avoid objects as it drives itself, but since he cut out the truck’s original control board we’re assuming that there’s no way to override the truck’s actions at present.

[Randy] calls the conversion a “robot” though it seems like more of a semi-autonomous rover if you ask us. Regardless, revamping an old RC car is certainly far better than letting it collect dust on a shelf, or worse, tossing it out during spring cleaning.

Continue reading to see a short video of [Randy’s] RC truck in action.

[via HackedGadgets]

[Read more...]

Autonomous metal detector lets you sit back, get rich

thunderbird7-autonomous-metal-detector

As a kid, metal detectors seemed like great fun. Every commercial I saw beckoned with tales of buried treasure “right in my own back yard” – a bounty hard for any kid to pass up. In reality, the process was both time consuming and tedious, with little reward to be had. [Gareth] liked the idea of scouring the Earth with a metal detector, but he liked sitting and relaxing even more. He decided he could easily partake in both activities if he built himself an autonomous metal detecting robot.

He stripped down a hand held metal detector, and installed the important bits on to the front of an R/C chassis. An Arduino controls the entire rig via a motor shield, allowing it to drive and steer the vehicle while simultaneously sweeping the metal detector over the ground. He fitted the top of the rover with a camera for remotely watching the action from the comfort of his patio, along with a laser which lets him pinpoint the location of his new found goods.

Continue reading to see a short video of the robot in action, and be sure to check out his site for more build details.

[Read more...]