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 Roger's Suped-up ARobot - 501c
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        A suped-up ARobot complete with:
  • Polaroid sonar range finder
  • Dinsmore 45 degree digital compass
  • CDS light level sensor
  • Emergency stop switch
  • Secondary coprocessor
  • Movable head
  • Head light
  • Rear whisker
  • Dual RC Batteries
  • Speech record/playback board
  • Strobe light
  • Experimentation breadboard

Running a company is time consuming, so it's rare that I actually get to customize a robot just for fun, but here is my latest project - 501c. A suped-up ARobot with all the bells and whistles. The goals of this project were:

  • Experiment with artifical life software
  • To test our application notes
  • To test coprocessor software
  • To have some fun!!!

I started with a stock ARobot and a Basic Stamp II. Then I added a Radio Shack prototype board (perf board) on top of ARobot's controller board using 1" spacers. A Radio Shack breadboard got mounted in front of the controller to test new circuits.

Then I implemented many of the application notes found on the ARobot Projects Page. Some of these like the sonar were controlled using a second Basic Stamp II as a coprocessor which is described in our coprocessor application note.

Movable Head, Light Sensor, Headlight
A standard RC servo motor is mounted to the proto board that is stacked on top of the main controller board. It's mounted with very long screws. A right angle bracket and perf board is used to create a moveable head that's controlled by the RC servo motor. The servo motor is controlled by the coprocessor which also handles sonar.

A CDS cell is used to detect light levels. This can be used to automatically turn on the headlight during dark conditions. See the Light Sensor Application Note.

A headlight is a 14volt light bulb which is controlled by the "powerful output" from the main controller board. See the HeadLight Application Note.


        Sonar Range Finder
Sonar alows the robot to detect the distance to nearby objects using sound pulses. The sonar range finder uses the Polaroid 6500 driver module and a square series 7000 transducer. This unit pulls almost 100ma when unused so I control it's power using a small reed relay from Radio Shack. The coprocessor controls the sonar and sends results to the master when requested to. The coprocessor has the ability to simply return distance in inches of the nearest object, or to map out left, center, and right.

See the sonar application note for details.

I'm using the Dinsmore 45 degree digital compass because it's easy and cheap. It is controlled by the coprocessor who sends data back to the master for navigation. Notice that the compass is mounted up and away from any motors to reduce interference from magnetic fields. See the Dinsmore Compass Application Note for details.

If you want a more precise compass (2 degree), see the Vector 2x Compass Application Note.


        Dual RC Batteries, Rear Bumper, Rear Whisker
I dumped the 8-AA cell battery pack and went with twin 7.2 volt RC battery packs which are commonly used on RC race cars. Chargers are available that will charge these batteries in about 15 min each. I get a full day of use out of these batteries. The cables come around from the rear of the robot. A rear bumper was made out of aluminum to protect the battery wires and to supply a mounting surface for a rear whisker.

Emergency Stop Switch and Control Panel
A complete control panel is located near the top of the robot to allow easy access to switches. In the center there is a large Emergency Stop Switch (E-Stop). This is easily hit when the robot is running over your cat. Also there are two push buttons which are wired into the existing two push buttons found on ARobot's controller board. A power switch is mounted on the left, and the Dinsmore compass is out front.

See the Emergency Stop Application Note.


Well, I call it speech, but really it's just a single-message, record and playback unit that I purchased from Radio Shack. The recorded sound is triggered for play by the coprocessor under control of the master processor. The unit comes completely assembled and I just mounted it on top of the bread board with a tyrap.

Don't underestimate the impact of having your robot growl, honk, scream, or fart as it's rolling around the house.

See the Speech Application Note.

Software, like hardware, is never finished, but I've included the current version here so you can see what I'm moving towards. There are 2 programs: one for the master Basic Stamp II that resides on ARobot's controller board, and one that goes on the coprocessor which is also a Basic Stamp II. Of course both are written in PBasic.

The master program uses an event loop which responds to various events such as whiskers, e-stop, light level, etc. The goal is to develop this into an artifical life program (AL). You'll probably find the subroutines that control the drive motor and steering motor useful for your own programs.
Download the master AL program here AL.BS2

The coprocessor code waits for commands from the master and responds accordingly. Commands allow control of the sonar, head motion, strobe light, compass, and voice.
Download the coprocessor program here ALCO.BS2


Many people have asked why I named this robot 501c. I'm past president and current member of the DPRG - Dallas Personal Robotics Group http://www.dprg.org. Due to the success of the DPRG and it's growth, some have decided that the group should obtain non-profit (501c) status. I believe that DPRG shouldn't and a lively debate ensued. Hence the name, 501c. Proudly pronounced on the rear name plate.

The End

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