Name: Edward Rupp
Member since: 2001-09-28 00:23:36
Last Login: 2003-09-09 22:28:22
I have build and am working on a number of robots. I have found robotics to be a great hobby. Its fairly inexpensive, challenging and rewarding. I'm a member of the Front Range Robotics club. We meet on the third saturday of the month at noon. The meeting place is in Fort Collins, Colorado every 2 months and then is quarterly in Boulder. This way folks from northern Colorado can easly join in the robot fun! Edward Rupp Loveland Colorado USA
Recent blog entries by EdwardRupp
Got the Ultra Sonic transducers from Electronic Goldmine today. Now I can finnish the finial sonar module design. I had been waiting to get them so I could measure the distance between the leads. For folks that care to know it's 3/8".
I finished a nice serial LCD & Keyboard interface. The design has been uploaded to the FRR (Front Range Robotics club) Yahoo site. For those interested in making your own have a look. Its a supper simple design derived from my earlier SIMM board design. It mounts in a Radio Shack project case. All the files to make it by normal chemical etch or by CNC milling are included.
The borrowing of two objects by fellow FRR member Dennis Clark has by necessity improved my Object Grabber robot. I finally got around to coming up with a auto calibrate routine. Now you can just put a object in front of it and it will calibrate and remember the object. Much better results that the old empirical method before. The robot worked flawlessly in the level one run at DARC this Saturday. Regrettably Kerwin's bot had lots of troubles again. I suspect it just doesn't like the Highlands Ranch library. =)
I got some interlocking hardwood floor tiles the other day. Plan to paint them white for a modular Critter Crunch arena.
Work is continuing on rebuilding my Critter Crunch robot. All the work to mount the tank tread drive is completed, and works well.
The robot was commented on by my principle opponent last year as looking a bit like the civil war iron clad the USS Monitor. This year the modifications result in this robot looking very much more like the famous ship, thus the bot is renamed the Monitor.
The new "turret" is now octagon in shape, 4 of the 5 sonar's face out the small sides. The 5th sonar is facing front center. From these positions it should prove difficult for another robot to sneak up on it. The sheet metal work on the turret has me very pleased. The metal is .015" thick aluminum that is used in printing presses. In this case from a printing of some Christmas text. A little flat black paint will make this robot appear less jolly!
The orders from Digi-Key and Jamco came today, less than a week! The pacing items are the 25KHZ sonar transducers from Electronic Gold mine. Until I get them I've been designing and building the turret shell with the aid of some mockups of what the sonar modules will look like.
I've been working on a home made Ultra Sonic ranger. Its working very nicely now. The original hardware worked perfectly from the start. I originally had trouble with the time of flight measurement. Proved to be the way I was trying to count the time for the trip back. Pic Basic's Pulse in apparently counts the time between pulse's, not from the time the command is issued to the arrival of the first pulse. So I just look for a logic level state change in a tight counter loop. Works great with excellent repeatability and little noise.
The range is only good to about 15" but most small robot stuff needs only about that anyway. Super simple only a couple surplus transducers, a pic, Op Amp and a couple trimmer pots. Maybe $5.00 worth of parts.
Last year at the Critter Crunch (held in Denver Co, every October) my robot couldn't see it's opponent very well. We both had painted the robots flat black. So the idea is a major rebuild of the robot to use ultra sonic ranging sensors. The cost will be low enough to put a transducer pair in each corner, for nearly 360 degree view. Now my Critter Crunch robot will be able to see those black panted stealth bots!
The robot originally had a tank toy for a drive train. All that's been eliminated with only the original rubber treads, cogs and idler wheels. I very carefully chucked the coged drivers in the lathe and machined a alignment feature to mount RC servo horns. This way I can use RC servos which have much better power and speed characteristics than the original toy motors. I had some .100" thick aluminum brackets that were originally for some old hard drive mounts. With some drilling and use of a nibbler they have proven perfect for mounting the motor, drive cogs and idler wheels.
Now I just have to wait to decide the battery pack voltage. Its looking like I'll be close or exceeding the 2 pound limit if I go with a 12 volt AA pack. A 9.6 volt will probably be ok. It all depends on how much the still unknown weight of the new sonar and rebuilt upper casing will weight. Being I'm greedy to have the extra performance of the higher voltage I try to see if I can find weight to save. Until I get the actual batch of sonic transducers I'll have to make some mockups to determine geometry and possible weights.
I'm hoping to have the robot going for the next FRR (Front Range Robotics) meeting in Fort Collins. The hope is seeing a working Critter Crunch robot might stimulate some robot building in time for the actual event in Denver in October.
Hi folks, its been quite a while sense I last wrote a diary entry. I keep thinking anything I have to say would probably not be of interest to others. Yet at the same time I avidly read the entries of others diaries. So I should change my attitude and assume I have something interesting to contribute and write more often.
This Saturday Aug. 17th was a particularly fun and interesting day. We had a joint meeting between the northern colorado robot club FRR and the Denver area club DARC in Boulder. As a quick background about a year ago the DARC folks challenged the FRR folks to a robot contest. We cam up with the "Find the Object" contest. Its a very difficult challenge of finding various object and removing only the correct ones. For some time I had been despairing that my robot would be the only one finished for the course. However much to my delight yesterday Kerwin of the DARC group got the bugs exorcised from his bot and did a brilliant demonstration. My robot that day was having some minor problems but over all showed it self well also. One of these days I'll have to submit it to the Robot.net site. For those who would like to see Kerwin's machine, he's got a excellent site showing a short video at http://www.ranchbots.com/obj_finder/object_finder.htm
Also at last I had a competitor sumo for my little armada of 3 sumo's to go against. Dennis Clark, fellow FRR member had a new sumo. It defeated 2 out of 3 of my sumo's but my oldest one showed it still had it in it to triumph.
All this has energized me on robots. During the summer the club turn out has been low and folks have been distracted to other concerns. It looks like this fall folks will again be more robot active. I plan soon to make a new flyer about the FRR, northern Colorado club and distribute it to find more folks. Also may put more effort to get a link in some other robot club web sites. Ultimately would like to make a FRR web site instead of just depending on Yahoo's list serve site.
Got lots of new bot ideas, just need to keep from going in to many different directions!
Wow it's been a long time sense I last wrote an entry. Looks like the last time I was still getting ready for the Trinity Fire Fighting contest that was going to be held locally by Acroname. Well to keep a depressing story short. Fritz my fire fighting robot wasn't as well tested as should have been. I had programed him to avoid walls. As a result he did a great job moving about my house finding a candle and putting it out. However I never tested it in the event arena. I was a little concerned that the much tighter confines would be a problem. It sure was, Fritz had a serious case of "Claustrophobia"! He just couldn't find a way to get away from those bad walls! Next time he will be programed to wall follow. This will probably mean adding a few extra sensors.
The next item is the new robot club in Denver, the Denver Area Robotics Club challenged my club Front Range Robotics to a little inter club contest. Foolishly I accepted to come up with a new contest.
I wanted to create something that was more intellectually challenging and constructive than the traditional head to head combat like stuff such as sumo. I thought also it would be nice to come up with something that would allow for a wide variety of sensors. Most of all I wanted the robots to actually manipulate their environment. Most hobby robots don't ever seem to get past the wander around and avoiding bumping into things level. That's of course a great way to start into robotics but after that's mastered I think a bot should do more. Being most people think of robots as things that should do useful work, why not a good simulation of work for a contest. Thus the "Find a Object" contest.
The short of the idea is there are eight cylindrical objects of varying but well defined characteristics. Of the eight, two are "Bad". The idea is to keep a robot from simplistically sweeping the field and not really knowing what its doing. Thus the total of points for all the "good" objects is equal to the total negative "bad". The objects are made out of PVC pipe. The objects are characterized by height, color, weight and "taste", which is a couple of copper bands with a fixed resister. There are several levels of difficulty from simply having the objects set all around the bot in a ring where the bot simply has to push out the correct ones to the most complex where the objects are clusterd and the bot has to take the objects to a deposit location. If interest check out the rules at the FRR http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FrontRangeRobotics/ web site
My bot to date can find and push out the objects correctly most of the time but is still undergoing lots of work and modifications to do better.
The very latest robot built was for the Critter Crunch, a yearly event held at a science fiction convention in Denver every October. Most of the bots are simply remote controlled stuff meant to push the other guy off an arena. However there is a effort by fellow FRR club member Dennis Clark to get autonomous robots to this event. This year there were four competitors, but maybe next year there will be more.
My bot was a tracked design using IR proximity for sensors. It worked pretty well, however the robots had trouble seeing each other. Lots of this was due to flat black paint on the bots. Probably sonar will be much more popular next year!
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