200 pound, WiFi deploying robot ran over my foot

[Adam Bercu] and [Dan Landers] from Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA brought a very, very cool toy to Maker Faire this year. It’s a two hundred pound WiFi repeater deploying robot able to amble across unforgiving terrain and my foot.

The robot is controlled through a web interface with the help of a front-mounted web cam with pan and tilt controls. All the signals are sent through a WiFi connection to a node.js web server; not the best way to communicate with a robot over long distances, but [Adam] and [Dan] have a few tricks up their sleeve.

On the back of the robot are two Pelican cases loaded up with a battery and a Linksys WRT54G wireless router. When the robot reaches the limits of its range, it activates a solenoid, dropping a WiFi repeater. This repeater has enough battery juice to stay powered for about a day and a half, meaning the robot can make multiple trips to deploy a wireless network through some very hostile terrain. Perfect for disaster and search and rescue operations.

There are two videos after the break: the first is [Dan] going over the capabilities of his tank bot and the second is a short demo of the bot tearing up the grass at Maker Faire.

Continue reading “200 pound, WiFi deploying robot ran over my foot”

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.

Continue reading “Tank router defends your pets?”

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.

Continue reading “Raspberry Pi controlled tank goes deeper than you might think”

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.

Continue reading “Tank Wars: a video game controlling a physical bot”

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.

Continue reading “Treaded robot modified for stair climbing”