Tank router defends your pets?

The guys over at Section9 Hackerspace in Springfield, Missouri just finished building this treaded robot. Despite the juxtaposition of the cat, it really doesn’t defend anything. The project is a reconnaissance robot controlled over the network with video feedback.

The team started off with some lofty goals. They wanted to the robot to be able to climb stairs and to feature a detachable flying portion in order to get a better look at hard to reach places. Cost and complexity are cited as the reasons they ditched the idea of the flyer. The rest of the features came out much as planned. The motor controller for the treads is connected to an Arduino. This uses an Ethernet shield to connect to the WRT54G router which is also coming along for the ride. This seems a bit over-powered but it makes it easy to connect the webcam on the front (also via Ethernet).

On the software side they wrote an Android app. It controls the movement of the robot, as well as that of the camera. Of course you need to see where you’re going so they went the extra mile to include video from the webcam. Check out their show-and-tell video after the break.

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Redesigning the RC tank

[Vincent] started building this tank (translation) with a regular hobby model: the Heng Long Tiger 1. However, after considering some goals for the project, he decided to nearly gut the tank and redesign it, basing it on the Arduino and a standard Motor Shield. The possibilities with this setup are nearly endless. In its current form, the ArduTiger detects obstacles in front of it by way of three servo-mounted infrared rangefinders. The tank’s trajectory can be adjusted automatically based on feedback from the servo positions. Two additional short-range rangefinders detect if there is ground for the tank to roll over, keeping it safe from cliffs and black holes.  [Vincent] plans on updating this beast by adding a Raspberry Pi for live video and advanced control… and maybe even adding a Geiger counter!

Raspberry Pi controlled tank goes deeper than you might think

This remote control tank now takes its orders from a Raspberry Pi board. Well, actually it’s taking orders from commands pushed to the RPi board via SSH. The control scheme works out quite well. Using a low-profile WiFi dongle the RPi automatically connects to the wireless network when it is powered on. This makes it a snap to SSH into the device, and a more user-friendly controller will put a nice front-end into play at some time in the future.

But the real meat and potatoes of the hack comes in getting the RPi to talk to the tank’s circuitry. Just getting the Heng Long Tiger I remote control tank apart proved to be a ton of work as the treads need to be removed to do so and there’s a lot of screws holding it together. Instead of just replacing all of the control circuitry [Ian] wanted to patch into the original controller. To do so he spent a bit of time analyzing the signals with an oscilloscope and discovered that commands were coming in a Manchester encoded format. He established what various packets were doing, used a transistor to protect the GPIO pin on his board, and now has full control of the Tank. The final part of the hardware alteration was to power the RPi from the Tank’s battery.

After the break you can catch a demo of the reassembled tank sporting its new wireless controller.

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Snake-like robot can roll around in a ring

A lot of 3D printing and a many servo motors went into this snake-like robot, and it’s only about half of what [Toby Baumgartner] plans to accomplish. In this orientation the snake is rolled into a circle, and apparently some special movements in the segments allow it to roll around like this. He compares it to a tank tread without the tank attached to it. Notice that each link is rounded on the outside. When the snake opens itself up, the toothed inside of the links contacts the ground for added traction.

It looks like eventually the larger link at the bottom will be about three times as wide. This will make room for him to mount a second ring of links. The idea is that the larger link will act as the body and this can unfold itself into a quaruped. Motors that allow the segments to pivot side to side would make it something like a four-legged spider bot.

Tank Wars: a video game controlling a physical bot

[Joe] sent us an email to show off his latest build. Tank Wars is the beginning of a video game/robot hybrid. You control the tank via an iPad, telling it where to go and how to fire. You have real life targets, in this case another robot. When you hit your target, the interface is updated with game stats.  Currently, this is only a step past being a wifi controlled robot. [Joe] is working on making the game part of it a little more interactive.

The tank and the target are both run by Arduinos with RN-XV WiFly modules.  The tank has obstacle avoidance both forward and backward, which, from the video,  seems like it might make navigating a bit challenging at times. The iPad interface is just a web page, so it could really be used on any device. This is pretty cool, we can’t wait to see how he proceeds from here.

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Treaded robot modified for stair climbing

[Mike Li] is showing of his stair climbing robot. It’s a bot that cruises around on a pair of tank treads, but some interesting modifications gave him the traction needed to ascend a flight of stairs without slipping backward.

The image above shows this process in great detail. You can see the unaltered treads leaving the top of the image. In the foreground, strips of rubber-backed rug add some sticking power to the otherwise smooth surface. To really stop the bot from slipping, segments of CAT5 cable have been screwed to the tread at regular intervals, holding the carpeting tightly in the process.

You can see in the video after the break the little robot has no problem with rough terrain. The design was inspired by the iRobot Packbot which has a set of treaded appendages sticking off the front end. These ensure that the vertical face of an obstacle, such as the beginnings of a staircase, can still be reached by the main set of treads.

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Mechatron, industrial looking security bot

This little beast is named Mechatron. Built by a father/daughter team called Beatty Robotics, the goal was to build something “retro-futuristic, tough, and industrial”. We think they definitely pulled off some of their goals here. Weighing in at nearly 50 pounds, Mechatron is still very agile, as you can see in the video below. He can fire his gun, which uses brass or plastic bullets, at a rate of nearly 1,000 rounds per minute while traveling in any direction thanks to the use of the mechanum wheels. 8 range finding sonar sensors, a laser and a turret that rotates 360 degrees will make sure you don’t elude Mechatron’s watchful eye… and shooting. While we were initially debating how they could make the Mechatron look more reto-futuristic, we all agreed that the lights in the video helped a lot. Maybe a curvy body piece could help too, depending on what era they were hoping to achieve.

[via buildlounge]

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