Thursday, November 27, 2008

NYC Hobby store

America's Hobby Center 1931 has sadly left Manhattan so it is time to find a new hobby store.
Big Apple Hobbies in Queens looks like a good one.

Crash Test: Draganflyer with Sensor Payload

Monday, November 24, 2008

Optical Flow and Computer Vision

Here is a good example of optical flow

This video uses the OpenCV Library for optical flow.

This seems to be a fairly robust real-time 3D tracking system, that has obvious robotic applications.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

mikroElektronika PIC Microcontrollers Free Online book

mikroElectronic offers a free online book about PIC Microcontrollers. The book is very well illustrated and cleary written with good examples.
While it mostly focuses on using the PIC 16F887 microcontroller with assembly, large portions of the book are also applicable to other PIC microcontrollers. They also sell a print copy with CD for $24.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Mazing Robot

The Pololu 3pi Robot is a line following and maze solving specialist. The 3pi uses an Atmel AVR ATmega168 processor and is Arduino compatible and has expansion boards available for adding additional features. The most interesting thing about this robot is the speed at which this robot is able to follow lines without any odometery information. The package with everything you need is available for $119.95.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mechanism Design Software

Linkages, 4-bar mechanism, and other multi-bar mechanisms are useful for many robotic applications such as robotic grippers, payload bays, arms, legs and a variety of other robotic limbs.

The WATT Mechanism Suite from Heron Technologies provides a software solution for designing mechanisms from arbitrary motion paths.

The user interface was easy to use and I was able to produce a simple four-bar mechanism design in under an hour. WATT outputs a variety of information such as the path error and velocity in excel format and can export geometry information in DXF. While, it was not initially obvious to me when the software encountered a problem due to the mechanism jamming, the software generally produces good results for a wide variety of cases.

The list price for a single-user copy is 1575.00 Euros, however there is a 50% educational discount available for qualified organizations.

If you are on a budget you may want to consider The Geometer's Sketchpad which is available for $39.95. The Geometer's Sketchpad is a software program designed for use with "smart" whiteboards. The animation mode can be cleverly used to cheaply produce motion simulations for multi-bar mechanisms without having to resort to pieces of cardboard and Brass Fasteners.
The linkage library provides some good examples of what the software can do if you are persistent enough to figure out the interface. It is helpful when learning how to use the software to remember that "smart" whiteboards are lucky to have one mouse button, and that a line can be defined by two points. Once you manage to figure out the horrible user interface, The Geometer's Sketchpad turns out to be a pretty good program for the price.

Analog Devices IMU now available with integrated Magnometer

The ADIS16365 Inertial Measurement Unit has been updated to include a magnetometer as we had previously hoped.

The new ADIS16405 now includes a 14-bit 3 axis magnetometer allowing for even more accurate inertial measurements for your aerial robotics project.

Analog Devices promises "0.05 degree rate-sensor orthogonal-alignment-accuracy" for the alignment of the gyroscopes.

The new sensor is pin compatible with previous versions so the only design updates, besides swapping out the sensor, will be software changes.

Estimated pricing for the ADIS16405 sensor is $412 for quantities of 1,000 units.

Hopefully, they have already thought of integrating a barometric pressure sensor for use as an altimeter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Problems and Solutions

Is this problem hardware or software? or both?

The solution to trying to troubleshoot this is a Tektronix 1230 Logic Analyzer or maybe a more modern logic analyser.

PIC SPI Bus Example

Here is some example C code for connecting to a LSI/CSI LS7366 32-bit counter from a PIC 18f4550 using the C18 compiler.


Unfortunately, Blogger does not seem to like bit-fields.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NYC Robotics

While the Big Apple may not yet be know for its robotics, Here is a quick roundup of cool robotics and Engineering related things in the city.

League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots
Music by robots, for robots and humans.

Awsome foam core aircraft

NYC Resistor
Brooklyn Hacker collective near MetroTech

Art + Technology

Robot Village

The place to go for your child's robot themed birthday

Our big list of NYC Resources , let use know if we missed anything.

The spam turing test below will provide the email address.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do Not Modify : 4 of n

Here is the demo of the targeting system in action during a talk on computer vision.

Here is a demo of another robotic targeting system, albeit not quite as harmless.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

iRobot opens brick and mortar store, while Lely cleans up

iRobot has opened its first retail store, possibly hoping to provide an alternative to troubled retailers.
Press release

What people really need is a Hello Kitty sticker on their Roomba...

iRobot has also recently announced a $3.5 million dollar order from the Army for 26 PackBot robots

I saw a video once that almost brought me to tears, where a little robot rolled up to an IED and tried to disarm and it ended up kicking the bit bucket. I thought to myself, "that robot saved a human life". In the future I hope our robot overlords will think kindly of me...

If the iRobot Dirt Dog
is not powerful enough to clean up your mess, you may want to check this out.

Somewhat surprisingly, Lely had sales of 273 million euros while iRobot had sales of about 249 million dollars. I was not expecting the market for farming robots to be doing this well, but I guess the labor costs are much lower and the cows seem to be happier with automatic servicing.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How To: Screw Threading Die

Round - Dies Thread Size: 4-40 Thread Type: NC Outside Diameter: 13/16 Material: HSS Style: Split Adjustable
Stocks Holders - Dies Style: Die Stocks Die Outside Diameter: 13/16

Machinery's Handbook Toolbox Edition (Machinery's Handbook)
This book has all the information necessary to calculate the outside diameter of the part to be threaded, or you can guesstimate by measuring the outside diameter of a similar screw.

Poly-Cal Electronic Caliper-English/Metric/Fraction - 74-101-175 by Fowler - Fowler - 74-101-175
These are good entry level calipers, and probably the most commonly used tool in my toolbox.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Do Not Modify : 3 of n

More progress

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Do Not Modify : 2 of n

Quickcam 9000 Pro Tactical Nerf Targeting System

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do Not Modify : 1 of n

"Do not modify darts or dart blaster"