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 Andy Allen's ARobot Modifications
Including a Gripper and a full-blown 386 motherboard

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I like to push every chassis near it's limits. My goal was to add a competent arm and vision system to my A Smurf. This would allow the ARobot to pick up and move colored blocks, etc. And that would allow it to compete in many robotics competitions.

Simply put, a robot that can grab something, pick it up, take it to the other side fo the house, and throw it is much interesting than a robot that simply runs around, bumping into things.

Also, as usefull as navigation based on bumping into things and dead reconing is, it leaves quite a bit to be desired, espeically when the command is to find the red cube. That is is the reason for a vision system.


The arm is a half dozen pieces of aluminum (drawings are soon to be posted) and 3 RC-car servos. A spring adds balance, and increases the load lifting capacity. The servo drivers are allready on board the ARobot's PCB. It can lift well over 8 Oz. (1/2 of a pound) with standard 40 Oz-Inch Servos.! I have used 132 Oz. Inch Servos from www.hitech.com (Model 615). The gripper grabs most objects well, and can even pick up pieces of paper from a floor.

Parts List /                                      Price / Supplier:
(2) 2" x 3" x 1/16" Aluminum Sheet                $ 0.50  Hardware Store
(1) 3' x 1/2" x 1/2" x 1/16" Aluminun Angle Iron  $ 3.00  Hardware Store
(3) RC Car Servos - Standard Size / Torque        $24.00  Many!

The vision system is a 486SLC2-50 with 16 Meg of Ram running off of batteries with the help of DC/DC converters. Real Time Linux, Erlang, and Improv comprise the software, along with low level parallel port drivers. The 486 communicates with the ARobot's Basic Stamp through an RS-232 connection. The 486 is simply a vision coprocessor, subordinate to the Basic Stamp. This basic system of an x86 on top can be used for many other tasks as well.

The software consists of the Basic Stamp requesting current immage data (ex. where's the red block) from the PC, the PC takes it's latest immage that is processed and trys to find out using the Improv Immage Processing Software. The PC then responds (ex. 2 feet in front of you, and 6 inches to the left). The Basic Stamp then acts on that information (ex. turn the wheels a little left, and go forward for 200 encoder clicks).

Parts List /                            Price /   Supplier:
486SLC2-50 Mother Board (8.6" x 7.1")    $ 5      Salvage Electronics
                                                  (Cooper & California)
Mini VGA LCD Card                        $27      www.mvs.com
LCD VGA Screen                           $10      EDS (Abrams & 157)
ISA Multi I/O Card + HDD                 $25      Salvage Electronics
43 W DC/DC Converter                     $15      www.meci.com
(20) 1400 mAH "AA" Batteries             $10      www.meci.com
Parallel Port Camera                     $50      Many!
Red Hat Linux (2 CDs)                    $ 1.99   www.lsl.com
Real Time Linux Patch                    D/L      www.rtlinux.org
Erlang Real Time Development System      D/L      www.erlang.se
Drivers for Parallel Port Camera         D/L      Many! (or code yourself)

If the ARobot can take an x86, camera, and robotic arm then there is very little it can not do. I hope to add other functions, such a a night vision (IR) camera, a paint ball gun (on the arm), and a few other ammenaties. Who knows, maybe it can replace my hunting dog with a tracked drive system?

Andy Allen


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