Sunday, May 31, 2009

Arduino based light seeking robot

Christopher Hazlett has a cool project where he has built an Arduino based light seeking robot.

I really like the prototype style.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Practical Robot Tasks

Work on beverage retrieval continues...

Also of interest is GraspIt!, which is a grasp simulator from Columbia University.

Manipulator Target Object with QR Code Designator

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Broken E-Stop

E-Stops can break, so make sure it disables the robot if it breaks or becomes disconnected, otherwise your robot may become unstoppable and attempt to travel back in time to destroy all the humans.

I wonder if the E-Stop is broken...

I bet that wire should not have come loose.

Robot repaired and fully operational.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kalman Filtering

Here are two really good articles on Kalman filtering by Dan Simon.

Kalman Filtering

Using nonlinear Kalman filtering to estimate signals

I am ordering his book Optimal State Estimation: Kalman, H Infinity, and Nonlinear Approaches.

More information is available from his website.

Laboratory Whiteboard

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lockheed Martin Morphing UCAV

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Color Tracking Robot2

Here is a great project implementing an ARM microcontroller for a color tracking robot.

He also has some great macro photography, which reminds me that I need to get the camera adapter for my microscope.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Laboratory Equipment

Why is it always about the High Voltage and never about the High Current?

Lab Safety Supply carries a vast selection of safety supplies including most importantly lab coats.

In terms of productive laboratory space, Tri-Boro Shelving has nice sturdy workbenches that should hold up to some serious abuse, but most importantly they are made in Brooklyn, NY and Virgina so the shipping is not too bad, which is important when you are buying 200lbs worth of workbench.

Formaspace sells lab benches that are a little more complicated and probably better suited to chemistry.

If you find yourself with valuable desk space taken up by rack mountable servers, CMP Enclosures sells a desk with a built-in EIA standard 19-30" rack, and their cabinets are not bad either.

For the DIY approach I would suggest either using steel saw horses and plywood with cross braces or this project from Make.

Electronics Parts, Packaging and Standards

Maybe this link is useful for someone building space robots, or working on a NASA SBIR Grant.

But, if that is not enough information, this handbook should cover everything about resistors.

Everything you will probably never ever care about. Even if you are an electrical engineer, working at NASA, on resistor standards.

On a slightly more interesting note, most search engines can not find any of the public milspec PDFs since they are... behind a search engine.

So if you need to find the pdf for MIL-PRF-55182/3, which has the performance specifications for style RN*60 fixed film resistors, then you will need an ASSIST from the Document Automation and Production Service of the Defense Logistics Agency.

Also, I believe the current design of space shuttle's main engine runs on a mix of 87.23% liquid oxygen, and 14.90% bureaucracy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Space Balloons and Parachutes

Testing for the automatic steerable recovery parachute for the University of North Dakota High Altitude Balloon Project.

Here is a photo of one of the members of the Dutch R/C Parateam Bergeijk in action.

Their website has more information and photos of remote control parachutes.

What we really need now is a friendbot that can be dropped from a UAV and land on a building's roof.

Monday, May 4, 2009

UAV Paraglider

Atair Aerospace has an interesting Paraglider UAV and an autonomous steerable parachute that can land within 100m of the desired landing point.

They are apparently implementing adaptive control to compensate for various cargo loads and asymetric loading. Intelligently located in Brooklyn, New York!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

ECAD vs. MCAD Round 1 FIGHT!!

Integrating eCAD and mCAD systems for interoperability is generally a painful process at best. However, getting these systems to talk to each other is pretty much required for any serious project. Otherwise it will take numerous costly revisions as electrical and mechanical teams will end up putting screws through microcontrollers and capacitors in the way of mounting bosses, much less trying to make the battery removable without complete disassembly.

In this round we will look at using EAGLE with Solidworks to produce a reasonably accurate transfer of data. But before we get started it is helpful if you are familiar with creating library parts in EAGLE.

Long ago in 1996 there was an interoperability standard created to allow for data to be transferred from electronic to mechanical CAD systems and verse-visa. The Intermediate Data Format version 3.0 would turn out to be the final version in the series mostly due to the fact that vendors realized if they made further improvements, you could export from OrCAD to Solidworks and back into Ultiboard. So to ensure vendor lock-in IDF v4.0 will never be implemented, and the mCAD vendors will just say they will implement it after the eCAD vendors do and so on.

So to get started, first layout the schematic and route the board.

Check the datasheet for the dimensions of the parts you want represented in the mechanical CAD system, for this example we will use the R0805 resistors.

Open the RCL.lbr in EAGLE and select the R0805 package for editing.

Create layer 57 tCAD and layer 58 bCAD

Setup your grid so that the primary grid is half the Length of the chip resistor and the alternate grid is half the width of the part

To create a new color that you can assign to the tCAD Layer select [Options > Set...] from the menu, then follow the diagram above.

Once you have created to new color then you can assign it to the tCAD layer.

Now draw a line from one side of the package outline.

Now move the line up while holding the ALT key.

Create the bottom edge, then draw the side while holding down ALT.

The completed outline should look like this.

Then select each edge with the information tool and adjust the line width to 0.6 microns to represent a part that is 0.6 mm high

Finished R0805 package with updated outlines.

Return to your board file and update all libraries.

Use the command input area to create layer 50 and switch to it. On this layer you will draw an outline of the circuit board which will be exported.

Draw the outline then change the width to 1.6 microns for 1/16" thick PCBs.

Finished outline.

Run the generate_3d_data.ulp

Edit options and hit ok.

Open the .IDB file in Solidworks and it will prompt you for the .IDL file. The holes were removed during the creation of this tutorial. As usual getting things working with Solidworks is easy. Unfortunately the files are not compatible with Pro/E since generate_3d_data.ulp is not fully standards compliant with IDF v3.0. The next tutorial will cover getting this working in Pro/E which as usual is more work but also more powerful.

EAGLE ULP to generate IDF v3.0 output (compatible with solidworks not Pro/E)
English translation of ULP's manual
This company provides resources and solutions for eCAD and mCAD translation
Information about creating 3D PCBs in Pro/E from something like OrCAD

IPC-7351A Land Pattern Viewer and Tools