Friday, December 28, 2012

Updated OpenNI libraries released

Thanks to everyone who made this happen, hopefully this fixes stability issues. More information available here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ROS Groovy Beta 3

Beta testers needed here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Robotics Videos



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

5 Years of ROS

Congrats to everyone on their hard work and contributions. More information available here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TurtleBot 2 Orders

As our penultimate bit of self promotion before forking the blog. We are expecting the first batch of TurtleBot 2s to ship soon. We strongly suggest placing an order in the next few days if you would like to be part of the first batch of robots to go out and save $100. Order now!

Monday, November 26, 2012

More stuff on sale

The above photo may not explain why you want to buy this tool, but it is on sale!

Cyber savings

X   X X X X X   X X
X    X  XX  XXX XX
X    X  X X X   X X

X   X X X   X
  X X X X   X
Now that I think about it we don't need any fancy animated GIFs and we can pass along the money we save on pixels to you. Today only, save on something like this.

Cyber monday begins

We are still looking for our terrible animated gifs, but in the mean time here is something to buy. Remember buying things is a great way to spend money.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

International Robotics

Blogging has been non-existant recently as our software/blogging team has been in Seoul, South Korea working on the TurtleBot 2.

This week we will be meeting with robots and testing the TurtleBot 2 in Japan and tomorrow we will be presenting the TurtleBot 2 at the Tokyo HackerSpace.

日本でデモが欲しい? 電子メールのsales@iheartengineeringをしてください。

As we have learned a few things about packing electronics for travel, we were not very concerned about clearing customs until we saw the customs declaration form and realized this was our first time travelling to Japan on business and we had no idea how to declare our robot.

While we are not international trade lawyers, here is how we understand it;

Commercial samples need an invoice for the sample if you are leaving the sample with a customer.

Commercial equipment used for demonstrations and exhibitions that will be re-exported within 1 year will need an ATA Carnet (カルネ). More information on ATA Carnet usage in Japan is available here.

Hopefully this helps another international robotics entrepreneur make it through customs.

Monday, October 22, 2012


The entire team at I Heart Engineering is proud to announce the launch of our new web store. The new store should allow for easier configuration of more complex products, and an overall better user experience.

In addition to a new store we are also excited to announce the initial launch of our wiki. While the wiki is not complete we hope it will become a useful resource where we can provide additional product information, tutorials, manuals and etc.

Finally, we are excited to announce that the TurtleBot 2 is now available to buy. Order now and receive $100 off.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


22 Oct 2012 10:00 EST

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Robotics Talk tonight in Manhattan

The Future is Robotics + Software

Thursday, October 18, 2012 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM 28 West 23rd Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY PS: Also, stay tuned for an announcement on Monday

Friday, October 5, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

TurtleBot teleop with Android

We have been working on improving the initial out of the box experience for the TurtleBot. After the robot is unpacked, the network is configured and the Kinect is started, the robot should be ready for teleoperation from an Android based phone or tablet.

After the network is configured, ROS is automatically launched with a reasonable default configuration. The ros-network-id program can then be used to display the network settings in a QR code that can be scanned by the handheld. Root permissions are currently required to extract the network password for wireless network. Once the QR code is scanned it can connect to the robot and connectivity can be tested using the chirp app. After that it is time for TurtleBots to roll out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kickstart: Baccus Robot Arm

After months of work, we are finally ready to announce our first Kickstarter, the Baccus Open Source Robot Arm. This arm was designed specifically to meet the needs of robots attempting to deliver beverages to humans and is equipped with a 2 DoF wrist designed to allow for smooth pouring operation.

The Baccus robot arm will also make a great choice for classrooms with open source software and a documented ROS API. The cost should allow more students to have time working with a robot arm and the functionality will enable them to perform complex tasks.

For more information about the project and the great rewards we will be offering, check out our kickstarter page here.

Metric TurtleBot

At I Heart Engineering, we believe the future is metric. We believe this mostly because we are unwilling to solve electromechanical control problems using imperial units. So to prepare we will now be offering a Metric TurtleBot as the default to meet the needs of the future today.

So to better equip the TurtleBot to deal with the future, and cut down on the number of fasteners we need to stock, we will now be shipping all new TurtleBots with metric holes and fasteners. We will also be taking this opportunity to change the color of the plates to a stylish black. The URDF should be in Github in the next few days.

While we recommend the metric parts as being better suited for accessories of the future, we are pleased to announce a sale on parts designed in US customary units while supplies last. We have discounted plates and standoffs at 25% off, so buy early and  buy often!

Also, if you can't find what you need, email sales at I Heart Engineering.


Progress on the URDF

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The future of manufacturing

Now that we have placed our order, you can insert money here.

Test footage

Here is some older footage from a project we have been working on.

The arm is designed with a target payload of 12oz for the arm is to be able to lift and manipulate cans for beverage delivery tasks.

More updates soon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

TurtleBot Roomba Upgrade Kit

We have a limited edition run of ten upgrade kits for the Roomba 560. This kit will help turn your Roomba560 into a basic TurtleBot at an extra low sale price of $199.95.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A123 12V7 battery now actually available for purchase

"Thank you for placing your order. Your order number is 5."

The wait is over, we have now verified that the A123 Systems Nanophosphate® lithium ion ALM 12V7 battery is actually available for purchase. This battery is designed as a drop in replacement for standard sealed lead acid batteries and is compatible with most SLA charging systems.

While our favourite hubmotorologists have been testing these batteries for electric vehicle hoonage. We will be testing them for use with ground based mobile robots that require a more rugged form factor than puffy Lithium Polymer battery packs.
The nominal voltage of 13.2V should be sufficient for a low drop out voltage regulator to supply a high quality stable 12V if needed. The maximum current rating is 30A and the battery provides a maximum power output of 345W. An integrated 30A Fuse prevents fires and early termination of human support systems. The battery includes overvoltage, overdischarge and short circuit safety systems for your protection. More as we have a chance to test them.

Friday, August 31, 2012

End of Summer Special

While our shipping department will be taking Monday off, this Labor Day Weekend we are trying out a shipping special. Free ground shipping in the continental United States for any order over $100 and so our international, Alaskan and Hawaiian customers don't feel completely left out we are offering $10 off any order over $100 as an alternative.

The sale runs from Friday August 31st through Monday September 3rd, so buy now!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

ROS News Roundup

Here is the latest roundup of ROS related news.

TurtleBot Teleop with Android using ROS Fuerte.

Tomorrow will be the first meetup for the NYC TurtleBot Operators Group and effectively an I Heart Engineering open house. Depending on interest and feedback, we hope to hold more of these events regularly in the future.

Does your cubicle suffer daily incursions from co-workers intent on "asking you questions"? Perhaps this ROS driver can help.

The OSRF now has a list of consultants, including some you may already know, that can help with your next open source robotics project.

The Robotics and Biology Laboratory at TU Berlin has announced their new ROS repository which seems to be related to the above video.

OctoMap 1.5 is now available!!

They are using ROS to learn how to climb stairs, to "help" the humans.

ROS drivers for the Robotiq grippers are now available as part of ROS Industrial.

V-REP simulator has ROS support available for download.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Here's a nice idea. An inflatable robot arm.

It looks as if there are three sections which are independently inflatable: the lower section, the upper section and the gripper. Obviously there is going to be a limit on how much mass this arm can lift, but if it's good enough to lift a bottle then it can probably handle a lot of other small objects.  It would also be quite cheap to produce, and safe to use around people.

A possible variant would be to make it hydraulic, or hydraulically reinforced. That would be heavier (the robot would need to carry a reservoir of liquid), but since water is relatively incompressible it would also be stronger.

Whether the arm would be able to retract back into the body is another issue, but if there was a cable inside this could be used to reel in a deflated arm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SwRI Launches ROS Industrial Consortium

Southwest Research Institute is launching ROS Industrial Consortium, a cooperative research consortium.

This effort has several important benefits. It will help make recent research in robotics and 3D perception available to industrial users and allow them to perform adaptive manufacturing tasks. Academic researchers stand to benefit as industrial quality and safety needs will focus work on improving the robustness of open source robotics software. This will also open up industrial robotics opportunities for graduate students with ROS experience that are looking to escape academia. Industrial robotics integrators stand to benefit as reduced system integration time will encourage robotic manufacturing applications to become more complex, increasing total billable hours.

It will be interesting to see the impact of industrial robot manufacturers embracing open source software and the new manufacturing applications that become possible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NYC TurtleBot Operators Group meeting

I Heart Engineering will have an open house and host the NYC TurtleBot Operators Group meeting on Friday August 31st at our Brooklyn facility. We will be spending the day testing the new TurtleBot ROS Fuerte software release. Some programming (Python) experience is helpful, but if you don't have a robot there will be several here for testing. If you already have a TurtleBot, bring it by for an upgrade!

TurtleBot ROS Fuerte RC1

The software team over at I Heart Engineering is pleased to announce the availability of our first release candidate of a TurtleBot ROS Fuerte ISO. If you have a TurtleBot and some spare time, we can use your help testing to make this release meet its full potential.

The ISO image was assembled in Brooklyn at the I Heart Engineering research and manufacturing facility and contains the latest stable version of Ubuntu 12.04 and ROS Fuerte. We have worked to make significant usability improvements and decrease the amount of time it takes to get your robot up and running out of the box. Some of these new features are detailed below.

We have developed a network autoconfiguration system that connects to NetworkManager via dbus to identify the primary network interface, IP address and the WiFi SSID if available. This allows ROS to be automatically started whenever  you connect to a WiFi network.

As part of our effort to streamline the startup process, we have built a system for automatically starting any launch files found in /etc/ros/launch.d sequentially.

Having worked on several robot ground stations we can appreciate the idea of using an Android based cellphone or tablet running ROS. So, to make it even easier to use them with the TurtleBot we developed ros-network-id which generates a QR code describing the network configuration and password to allow mobile devices to connect without typing on the screen. For robots without a usable display, ros-network-id can also be used as a command line program over ssh.

The autoconfiguration system has been designed to work for every reasonable case, however in the event it doesn't the settings can be overridden by editing /etc/ros/network.conf.

While still a work-in-progress, we have written a TurtleBot Startup Guide which has some references to help get you started if you are unfamiliar with the operation of a TurtleBot.

The system has been designed to get the most out of using ROS with Ubuntu's Unity interface. Custom icons, GUIs and launchers help provide an improved user interface. ROS applications and launch files now have icons and launch files can be started by double clicking them. Right clicking launcher icons shown above makes secondary options available.

The turtlebot-config program provides an automatic configuration system for TurtleBot hardware. It can identify USB serial cables and create a fixed symlink to /dev/irobot_create so that the robot will work regardless of the order cables are plugged in. The config tool should also automatically identify laptop battery support, particularly for the Lenovo x130e.

To provide visual feedback that the TurtleBot ROS nodes are running the turtlebot-indicator provides a white notification icon when the /turtlebot_node is currently running and is greyed out when ROS is stopped. The indicator can also be used to stop and start ROS manually.

Continuing our emphasis on style and function, the operating system, installer and greeter login screen have been provided with a TurtleBot color scheme and background and TurtleBot themed wallpapers help keep your computer stylish

turtlebot-fuerte-ubuntu-12.04-amd64-RC1.iso can be downloaded via bittorrent available here and instructions for creating a USB installer from the ISO image can be found here.

Any testing would be greatly appreciated and help ensure that the final release is works well for everyone. If possible, please file feedback and bug reports with the issue tracker on github.

Also in addition to all of the ROS and GNU/Linux/Ubuntu contributors, we would like to offer a special thanks to our friends at WG and DPRG for help making this happen.

Random Bits

Here are some great RViz Plugins for OccupancyMap and Markers

Check out this proposal for a general robotics area on stack exchange

This explanation might be somewhat reassuring, but you may want to keep in mind that the Nao is already capable of climbing stairs.

Check back later today, as the I Heart Engineering software team has some big news they are uploading for all of you TurtleBotters out there.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Power up!

We have now increased our in-house manufacturing capabilities with a 50 Watt Epilog Helix 24.

Despite some installation help from Murphy, we managed to get up and running thanks to help from Epilog and Best Equipment Sales, the local distributor for New York.

Our new manufacturing capabilities have arrived just in time for the fall and should help decrease lead times and prevent back orders of TurtleBots and accessories. Our research and manufacturing team is also hoping to use it for developing experimental manufacturing techniques to produce some of our new products that are currently under development.

All of us over here at I Heart Engineering would like to thank our customers for their continued business and special thanks to Ponoko for helping us get here.


GUI Tools for ROS

Here is some of the recently released GUI tools for ROS.

node_manager_fkie provides a graphical interface for discovering and managing ROS nodes. It provides support for multi-master environments where multiple robots run ROS master servers locally.

rosdashboard provides an easy way of visualizing status and sensor messages from you robot instead of trying to read gyro messages as they float by in a terminal.

RXConsole has been ported to Android and is available on Google Play. Also, if you don't have a google account for your Android phone, you should also be able to build it from source.

Speaking of the Google Play, I think it is in developers (except Googles) interest to support opkg on Android so we can sidestep the current problems with software installation on Android and support more complex applications with dependency chains. When a user installs a package like the Android App Chooser, it should automatically install/prompt-to-install a barcode reader. Otherwise Android is going to end up bloated like windows where every application that uses something like python installs its own local copy.</RANT>

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Live Tonight: Curiosity vs Martian Atmosphere

Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at

Tonight is the big night, with this years match-up between NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity against the Martian atmosphere at 1:31 AM EST on NASA TV.

This video and previous attempts to simulate aircraft for Mars may help explain the insane Rube Goldberg landing system. Obviously, this system should also help Curiosity fly past the Martian defence network.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Less Wobble

I've reinforced the plastic camera stand with some right angle aluminium pieces in order to reduce the amount of wobble when the Turtlebot is being teleoperated. 

Also, I've changed the cameras to Logitech Quickcam 9000s.  These give a better quality image and have a wider field of view, which makes manual navigation easier.  The cameras are angled downwards by 30 degrees.

The cameras are 1.15 metres above floor level, which is enough to see table surfaces and window ledges.

A possible alternative way of making a camera stand might be to use plastic tubes, with slots cut at the bottom to integrate with the button stand, and secured through the middle with a long bolt.  Similar slots could be cut at the top to mount a piece of board on which webcams can be mounted, and the camera USB cables could be fed through the tubes.

Buttonui-ros-pkg 1.1

A new version of the button user interface software has been released.  More information can be found here, and the source code is also available on Launchpad.

The main changes in this version are:
  • Some extra logic for emergency stop
  • The ability to customise messages within the launch file
  • It's possible to use WAV or MP3 files for button events
  • You can specify shell commands to run when any button or navigation event occurs

Currently there is no use of rosserial, and communication between the Arduino and the PC is very simple - it just sends a single byte when a button is pressed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Open Source Robotics Foundation Interview

After the Open Source Robotics Foundation lightning talk at ROSCon 2012, we had a chance to interview Brian Gerkey CEO of OSRF about the role of the organization and its plans for the future.

What do you see as OSRF's core mission?
Our mission, which as a nonprofit company we're obligated to follow, is to "support the development, distribution, and adoption of open source software for use in robotics research, education, and product development." As you might expect, we'll primarily be doing open source software development: writing, improving, and contributing to open source code.  But we'll also be doing outreach and promotion, such as organizing future editions of ROSCon and working with companies that are considering using open source robotics software.

Will OSRF be involved in defining standards for service robots and/or UAVs?
As a veteran of multiple iterations of various robotics standards efforts, I'm instinctively wary of getting involved in new ones.  If the right people are involved and the goal is clear, I'm happy to participate.  But I don't see standards as one of the core contributions that OSRF will make to the community.

What will OSRF be doing to encourage use of open source in robotics?
Some possible things might be:
  • Set up web sites for hosting of open software/hardware designs
  • Define curricula packages which can be used in schools or universities
  • A search engine for open robot designs
  • Encourage modularity and recombination of existing designs
  • Sponsor the creation of a robotics Linux distro (Robuntu, or whatever)
  • An achievements system similar to the Ubuntu achievements lens
  • Set up a site where there are always telerobots available to test drive
Those all sound like good ideas :)  At the moment, we're focused on getting the company set up and ready to jump into software development.  We don't have any concrete plans for the kinds of activities you mentioned there, but we're always listening for good ideas.

How will OSRF be structured?  Will board members be elected?  Will there be different types of membership?
Legally, OSRF is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation.  Its
activities are overseen by a board of directors, who are listed at the
website [].  The membership of the board can change over time, as decided by the board.  We will very likely offer individual and corporate memberships; stay tuned.

As a significant amount of code developed for projects like ROS is written by graduate students and hackers. How are their interests represented?
One of our goals in creating OSRF is to provide a neutral steward for the community, which we believe will in turn lead to greater contribution to and adoption of open source robot software.  That's good for everybody involved, but it's especially good for students who will graduate and look for jobs, and for hackers and hobbyists who are cooking up new companies in their garages.  More specifically, events like ROSCon offer a great opportunity for students and hackers who aren't otherwise connected to the broader community to get involved and meet like-minded people.

Is the OSRF interested in supporting other projects?
Initially, we're planning to put a lot of work into the Gazebo simulator and the ROS software that surrounds it.  We believe that there is a lot of benefit to be had by significantly improving the capability and availability of robot simulation, and that we can have greater impact by taking a "deep dive" in one area rather than taking shallow responsibility for everything.  Over time, we'll contribute to a broader variety of projects, mostly drawn from the ROS ecosystem.

Is the OSRF primarily focused on software or is there also interest in supporting open source robotics hardware?
We're certainly supportive of efforts in open source robotics hardware, but OSRF is a software-focused organization.  Because we work on robot software, we'll necessarily work with hardware, but I don't foresee OSRF doing much in the way of hardware development.

Is there a way for individuals or companies to financially support the OSRF? If so, how?
Absolutely!  As a nonprofit company, OSRF is open to discussing all sorts of financial support: donations, grants, contracts, etc.  We're still tying up the loose ends on getting OSRF set up and running.  Once that's all in place this summer, we'll start talking in earnest with both companies and individuals about what sort of financial support they might be able to provide.  In the meantime, please send any inquiries about supporting OSRF to

Will the OSRF look toward something like a "ROS Compatible" certification program at some point in the future?
A ROS certification program is an interesting idea, and is something
that OSRF will look into.  It's probably most valuable in a domain-specific manner.  For example, I can imagine a way of certifying a ROS-controlled industrial robot arm as being compatible with an accepted ROS interface standard (perhaps crafted by the forthcoming ROS Industrial Consortium: Similarly, I can imagine a TurtleBot being certified as implementing REP 119 (  But I would stress that *compatibility* would be the focus; certifying functionality is an entirely different topic.

Do you have any insights on why open source is important for robotics in particular?
I don't think that open source is important for robotics in particular; I think that it's important for every emerging sector of the computer industry.  Innovation and entrepreneurship works best when the people with good ideas for how to use some new technology are provided with an open source toolbox that's easy and free to use. Robotics is one of many domains where the availability of good open source software will have a large positive impact on how the market develops.

Is the OSRF taking over release management of ROS or is this a long term goal?
For now, Willow Garage will continue to handle ROS release management, led by ROS Platform Manager Tully Foote.  OSRF will coordinate closely with Willow on ROS releases, and, over time, I expect that the responsibility for release management will transition to OSRF.   The timing of the transition will depend, primarily, on staffing and funding.

Thanks to Brian for talking emailing with us!

Also as an added bonus, Brian has just announced that OSRF is hiring!

Update: Fixed link to Board of Directors

Camera mounting

Here is an initial idea for mounting a camera onto the turtlebot.  The button user interface has a cross piece to which it's quite easy to mount things, and I've used a couple of pieces of right angle plastic, with a Minoru stereo webcam positioned on a piece of hardboard at the top.

The camera is just fixed in place, and I could add some extra packing behind it if it needs to be angled downwards.  My thinking here is that although the obvious thing to do is to have it on a servo tilt mechanism I'll start with the simplest possible system and then see what the issues are.  Tilting probably would have advantages in terms of being able to look down at the floor or to view bottles being carried (there could be some additional computer vision to count the bottles and determine whether they have lids).

The height of the camera is intended to be suitable for viewing desk surfaces or window ledges.  It's not ideally suited for interacting with people - unless they're sitting down, but that too could also be changed.  It would be fairly easy to add a couple of extra right angle plastic pieces with some pre-drilled holes so that the height of the camera could be easily adjustable up or down.

Why not just mount the Kinect sensor higher?  That would also be a possibility, but the Kinect is a large and quite heavy sensor, and mounting it in a higher position could introduce stability issues which would also have consequences for the accuracy of mapping and localisation.  The webcam is small and lightweight, so it doesn't need a very industrial stand to support it and barely alters the robot's centre of gravity.

Stereo vision with webcams has the well known problem of lack of camera synchronization, but for tasks such as inspecting the surface of a desktop this isn't necessarily a major impediment.  In the sorts of scenario I'm thinking of you could schedule the robot to visit certain places, then the webcam would turn on, take some images and turn off again (preserving electrical and processing power) with the assumption that not much in the field of view is likely to change during the few milliseconds when frames are being grabbed and the robot isn't in motion.  Even if the onboard computer was quite slow, sitting and processing some stereo images for a few seconds would be no big deal.

RoboSub 2012

Come to observation depth for The AUVSI Foundation and The Office of Naval Research's 15th International RoboSub Competition is open to the public and runs from July 17th through 22 at SSC Pacific TRANSDEC in sunny San Diego, California.

More videos can be found here. More Coverage here.

Also, our sources have indicated that the hosts are quite excited and would love for you to visit. "Stay tuned... more stories coming in LA Times and other media outlets over the weekend! Better yet, come out and see it all for yourself... bring the family! FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER... WE HAVE JUMBOTRON IN PLACE SO YOU CAN ACTUALLY WATCH WHAT HAPPENS... UNDERWATER! "

This sounds awesome, wish we were there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Get your own simulated Robonaut

Now you can have your very own Robonaut to work with, just like the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

If you are like me, you may only be able to simulate being an astronaut, so it seems appropriate to work with a simulated Robotnaut. The simulation works in Gazebo and can be programmed using ROS.

Now someone needs to turn this into a video game where NASA calls you up for the space program if you get a high enough score. On the other hand, perhaps it is video game and the score is determined by number of lines of code you write.

Either way, thanks to NASA, GM and the Robonaut team for making this available.

Monday, July 9, 2012

TurtleBot Power Interface Shield

The TurtleBot Power Interface Shield for the Arduino Mega board is a communication bridge between the Arduino or PC and the TurtleBot.
The shield has a 12V and a 5V voltage regulators that can be turned on or off  independently of each other. The Arduino board can enable and disable the voltage regulators as well.

The power to the Arduino board can be turned on or off with a switch on the upper right corner of the shield.  

There are two 5V terminals and three 12V terminals for the Kinect, actuators, and other sensors . An external battery or power supply can be attached using a Dean's connector or a screw terminal. One may choose to power the voltage regulators using the Roomba's internal battery or the external power supply. However, the MiniDin cable can supply up to 340mA while the max current supplied by the voltage regulators is 1.5A per regulator.

A MiniDin cable is included and can connect the shield to an iRobot Create, or a 500 series Roomba. A USB (type B) cable connects the shield to the PC.

You can purchase the shield by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

In the United States and many other countries, it is traditional for robots to wear flags instead of hats. So here is a little something to get your TurtleBot ready for America's Birthday!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Downlink: Funding

It looks like the Japanese government looks to be considering development of an actual Gundam for their self defence forces.

Our friends over at Hizook have an interesting blog post up showing that robotics companies in Silicon Valley are more focused on going public than startups on the east coast. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has worked in the valley.

Here is a new robotics focused VC fund based in New York City. Obviously we believe this is a great choice. I wonder if the city is going to call 3rd Ave in Brooklyn something silly like "Robotics Avenue" or "East Silicon Alley". I'll be disappointed if they miss out on the obvious "Electric Avenue"

Also, we are starting a directory of robotics related companies based in New York City, if your company would like to be added send an email with the subject ROBOTICNYC

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Testing: WiFi Performance 1 of n

Working as a roboticist one quickly develops a love/hate relationship with WiFi. One of the biggest problems, based on feedback and our internal projects, is the lack of sufficient bandwidth to transmit everything all of the time. In an attempt to deal with the problem directly, our software team ordered several external WiFi adapters and put them to the test. The tests focused determining available bandwidth without regard for range, future testing may consider the effects of range on the total system performance.

Iperf was used to test the bandwidth of various wireless devices. Selected results were verified by using SCP to transfer a 1GB file.

The upper-bound of bandwidth was found by connecting an ASUS EEE PC 1225C and an ASUS EEE PC 1215N to a router via Ethernet.

To test the devices, the ASUS EEE PC 1225C is connected to a NETGEAR WNDR3800 router running OpenWRT via Ethernet and the ASUS EEE PC 1215N is placed five feet from the router. Both laptops are running Ubuntu 10.04 kernel 2.6.38.

To test the TX bandwidth, the laptop connected by Ethernet is considered the server and the other acts as the client. To test the RX bandwidth, the roles of the laptops are switched.

server@server-laptop:~$ iperf -s
client@client-laptop:~$ iperf -c IP_SERVER -t 100 -i 2

The bandwidth is calculated using 50 samples, each sample taken at two second intervals.

Setting up TP-LINK TL-WN722N:

Depending on the version of the driver, you can check to see if your machine has the necessary drivers and firmware:

$ modinfo ath9k_htc

$ ls -al /lib/firmware/ | grep htc
- or -
$ ls -al /lib/firmware/ | grep ar

If it is not found, download missing firmware and place files in /lib/firmware/.

To get the driver, download compat-wireless tarball
$ tar -xvzf compat-wireless-x-x-x.tar.bz2
$ cd compat-wireless-x-x-x
$ ./scripts/driver-select ath9k_htc
$ make
$ sudo make install
$ sudo modprobe ath9k_htc

Plug in device. If the device light doesn't go on, reboot system.

Setting up ASUS USB-N13:

$ modinfo rt2870sta | grep 1784
$ modinfo rt2800usb | grep 1784

If both drivers claims the device, blacklist rt2800usb.

$ sudo echo "blacklist rt2800usb" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

To get the driver, see here or here.

Setting up ASUS USB-N53 (H/W Ver: A1):

The most recent driver (rt3572sta version causes a kernel panic when trying to connect to a network.

$ modinfo rt3572sta

To get the driver, see here or here.

$ tar -xvzf x_x_RT3572_Linux_STA_x.x.x.x.bz2
$ cd x_x_RT3572_Linux_STA_x.x.x.x
$ gedit ./os/linux/


$ make
$ sudo make install
$ sudo modprobe rt3572sta

If you receive an error saying the device or resource is busy, run the following

$ sudo echo "blacklist rt2870sta" >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
$ sudo modprobe -r rt2870sta
$ sudo modprobe rt3572sta

Setting up TP-LINK TL-WDN3200 (Ver: 1.0):

This device has not yet been tested as the driver needs to be patched.

Setting up ASUS EA-N66 (H/W Ver: A1):

Plug the adapter into the laptop via Ethernet. Open a web browser to configure.



server black ASUS
(Ethernet connected)

server red ASUS

client red ASUS

client black ASUS
(Ethernet connected)

Bandwidth (Mbps)

Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Trial 4 Trial 5 Average Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Trial 4 Trial 5 Average
Ethernet 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1 94.1
Built-in 19.3 19.3 19.8 22.4 18 19.76 32.3 36.1 33.1 29 31 32.3
TP-LINK TL-WN722N 25.5 30.3 28.6 29 28 28.28 23.9 31.2 29.8 30 27.1 28.4
ASUS EA-N66 18.4 10.5 25.8 20 13.4 17.62 59.8 53.4 38.7 44.3 50.8 49.4
ASUS USB-N13 12 12.5 13.4 14.9 8.35 12.23 18.2 18.7 17.7 17 17.1 17.74

The asymmetric results seem ideal for a laptop user looking to download files, however for a robot looking to upload large amounts of data to a ground station, the performance seems less than ideal.

We will continue testing as the drivers for the 5Ghz dual band WiFi devices become available.

If anyone has additional results or feedback on the testing procedures, please post them in the comments.

Friday, June 22, 2012

TurtleBot Button Shield

The Arduino shield for the TurtleBot Button Mount is done and we currently expect to have the software done in about a week or so.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In Stock: Summer Tool Additions

Here at I Heart Engineering it is time once again for some shameless self promotion and to present our new collections of tools in stock for the summer.

The ZCM-04 Conductive Mat is designed to be used in your electronics building workspace to make sure that you don't have to worry about electric static discharge while putting together circuit boards or whatever else you may be doing.

Plenty of surface space to make sure that your working space in comfortable.

 Here is the ZC-62 is an grounding wire that is attached to your mat with an adhesive backing.

Ensuring that your whole work space is grounded.

 The SV-01 Circuit Board Holder, makes assembling circuit boards a
breeze. With this holder just place your board in the adjustable holders and tilt it to whatever angle is comfortable for you. The board holder is ESD safe and come with a grounding cable.

The sturdy design makes you feel confident with this circuit board holder.

These are the PH-55 Tetewan Scissors which our shipping department claims are the best scissors they ever used.

Great for cutting cardboard, rope, wire or whatever other things that might come up during the day.

The DK-10 Precision Driver Set, is an ideal screwdriver set if working with miniature screws.

With the screw tweezers you will never have to struggle picking up a miniature screw and trying to put it in that perfect spot to build your robot arms, or whatever task you may have.

The final item for today will be the PD-08 Side Cutting Pliers, These heavy duty pliers are exactly what you expect from a pair of heavy duty pliers.

These linesman's pliers are great for electric work and cutting most wire encountered while on the job.

These and other great tools are available in the I Heart Engineering store.