Thursday, December 20, 2007

Servo Mount Template

A lot of people have been needing a CAD drilling template for servos

So the template I made on Google Sketchup is for standard servos and these mounts.

Click here to get the CAD for sketchup, but be sure to read the instructions and description!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Line Follower for Competition

As of now I am in this robotics competition in Robocup Junior rescue. I am working on a tutorial/ article which can be found on the Society of Robots forum.

Here's the link.
Line Following , Obstacle Avoiding , and Victim Finding , Oh My!

When the tutorial is complete i'll post a copy onto this blog .


Friday, November 9, 2007

Line Following Robot

Here is version 2 of the line following robot.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Robot Butler Video

Here is a video of Chives

More videos to come!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Line Following Robot

The newest robot that I am working on is a line following robot / rescue robot for my school. It must follow a line , avoid obstacles, and find the line after it has discontinued.
This will all be PIC based. I will post a tutorial as well as a ton of documents related to the robot. Things are going well for now.

The butler robot is now my side project. I try to work a little on it every week. I will taka e a video of him in action on Friday. Basically in the video he will talk to me, drive by voice command, drive by online command, and then pour me a drink. Then he will spin and "dance" to Star Wars music.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Using Wheelchair Motors

Here is the post which I originally posted it in Society of Robots Forum. My ID there is airman00

A lot of people have been asking questions about wheelchair motors lately so I will just list some of the ideas behind using a wheelchair motors.

Note: I am assuming that you are buying the wheelchair motors along with the gearbox attached.
Why choose a wheelchair motor?
Wheelchair motors are very powerful and can handle 300+ lbs. They are relatively cheap for their size(~$75 ebay) and are very easily found online or in repair stores. Try to buy a motor with the wheels still attached.

Controlling Wheelchair Motors
When using wheelchair motors I would recommend having differential drive( two motorized wheels and one caster in front). This makes controlling the drive system easy and it allows for on the spot turning. To control the motors you can either use relays or a motor driver. Im also sure that an electric wheelchair includes a controller with joystick, so just hack that. But for most of us who are buying the motors separate from the wheelchair , make sure that your relays or motor drivers can handle at least 5 amps more than the motors draw( better safe than sorry). I personally used automotive relays bought from All Electronics Corp to control my wheelchair motors.

Mounting the Wheelchair
This varies by motor but most have mounting holes on the gearbox so all you would do is drill through the base material( i recommend wood) and stick a bolt in through the wood into the motor.

Miscellaneous Advice

Even if your motors are rated for 24V they will run on 12Volts except theyll be slower.

Install a Kill Switch : And also remember wheelchair motors are powerful machines. They are meant to carry 300 pound people @ 5 mph. Thats really strong so be careful! My biggest mistake with using wheelchair motors was too not install a kill switch. The robot just kept moving forward on a test run and I was not able to hold it down( luckily I pulled out the wires in time) Now I have one R/C kill switch and another tactile kill switch. The button should be really big so you can hit it while the robot is moving. Also it should be a direct kill switch, meaning not a switch that goes through the micro controller, but a switch that separates the motors from the batteries directly.

If the robot does not stop it will either damage itself, your belongings, your house, or you!

There is a copy of this on my blog.( That will be the more update version if I forgot something

Any questions?
Feel free to email me -

Having a drink with Mr. Roboto

I made a drink pouring system. A bottle holder on a motor pours a drink into a funnel which flows into a cup.
Pictures will be up soon...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chives Version 3

My new and improved butler bot.
Its 3' 9" and on a 21" square9 including wheels)
Also I added a mini-fridge and an extra 12V 20Ah battery.
Another improvement was that I mounted everything vertically.


videos to come later on...


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Base is done! Click the link to see some pics


My base is done and it works amazingly. On the spot turning and awesome maneuvering. Anyway to see some pics goto Chives V 2.0 Photo Set.
Summary of it: Two dynamic wheelchair motors( 24VDC 11.5Ah) running off a 12VDC 20Ah battery. One caster in front for stability. Phidgets control automotive relays which switch the motors to go in two different directions. My computer program is the same it was before.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Got the motors! Made a template

I got the motors and wheels from eBay and I am now goingto mount it. I created a template for the Dynamo Electric Wheelchair Motors. This template is for mounting the wheelchair onto wood or metal. If anybody wants the template, I can send it to their emails and then they could just print it out to scale with Google SketchUp.
I am still waiting for my batteries , my relays , and my template which is being made into 1/4" thick metal.
I'll post pictures of the completed base when I finish. I think I should be done by next week, but I am not sure about how the charger, batteries, and motor will interact with each other due to fact that I bought the pieces separately ,on the basis that they run on 24V and 20Ah.

Batteries and motors work! The motors even run on 12V instead of 24VDC. I will use the 12V because it is slower and more suited for a home enviornment
Hope this works!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

PBR Motor Controller

{PBR = Phidget>Battery>Relay }

I made an enclosure for the Phidgets and the relays. I got the metal box from an old power supply I had lying around. I also added some switches to switch the main battery and the relay circuit on or off. This box allows me to save space on the robot. If you look in the pictures before; the
battery,relays, and phidgets were just spread out everywhere, with wires making a big mess. This box is much nicer and smaller. I can't wait to try out the box with my wheelchair motors( they should arrive in the near future...) The wires for the motors are hidden in this picture, but they come out from the back of the box.

Circuit is as follows: Each motor is connected to two DPDT relays, giving a total of four DPDT relays. The relays are powered by four AA batteries and are switched on by the Phidgets Interface. Each relay is DPDT, meaning there are two poles to be switched. SO whenever a relay is triggered it is switching BOTH positive and negative current to the motor. The reason for this is due to the fact that if a motor were to be wired with two switches meant to turn the motor in two directions( each switch controls a motor movement) instead of four switches to control motor direction, a short circuit will result ,killing the battery and potentially producing an electrical fire.

The battery, Phidgets Interface, and relays are all stored in an aluminum box. The enclosure is from a power supply and is all metal. In order for the relays and Phidgets Interface not to short circuit upon touching the metal, a thin plastic film was glued onto the surface. Two switches were placed in the front of the enclosure. The bottom black switch is responsible for switching the main battery that runs the motors. The red switch above it is responsible for switching the battery that powers the relays.

Here is the schematic of the relay to motor interface.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Motors Ordered

I just ordered two wheelchair motors with 12" wheels from eBay for a total of $135 ,including shipping. Not bad deal, because these motors are very powerful( can carry over 200 pounds). Due to the strength of these motors I might add a small step for me to stand on and then I would add a joystick to control the robot manually . The motors will probably come in next week and the base will be built by the second week of August. Maybe even sooner if the motors arrive early.
I'm also going to buy a deep-cycle wheelchair battery from eBay, or perhaps I can find a substitute for that battery. Up on top is a quick 3D model I drew of the base( in Google SketchUp)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Base

I'm currently working on another, improved base for Chives. The base will consist of two motors, two casters, and an 18" by 18" aluminum square about 1/2 inch thick. I'm still researching motors, so if anybody knows of any strong,cheap ones please email me. My choices rite now are 2 NPC gearmotor kits ($160 from Robot Marketplace, total of $320 for both wheels), or 2 Drive Modules( $120 from Trossen Robotics, total of $240 for both wheels), or 2 AME motors(total of $100 from Robot Marketplace) and 2 wheels(total of $20 from Robot Marketplace) as well as mounting hardware(total of $20). Here are the totals:
NPC Gearmotor = $320 *Most powerful with bigger wheels for more clearance
Drive Modules= $240 *Less Powerful with only about half an inch for clearance
AME Motors and Wheels = $140 *Cheapest, medium power but have to assemble and all parts aren't designated for each other

The base I can get for around 20 bucks from any sheet metal place. I have casters at home. If I had sponsors I would be able to get the best parts and have the perfect robot. So I'll have to make it perfect using brains instead of money and I'll measure seven times and cut once.

[I ended up picking wheelchair motors from eBay]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Even More Pics

More pics

Chives Version 1.4 Completed

I finished the basic butler robot today. All it is now is a voice controlled motorized base with a wireless web camera. The voice recognition works very well and the internet control of it is amazing. The drive system is not perfect, it doesn't travel perfectly straight. It worked better than I expected but after all, its just two old powerwheel motors with bike wheels hot glued to them. Not bad. Phidgets worked well also, they stopped working for an hour(I put in too high current,oops). Then they went back to normal and everything was perfect. Ill post more detailed information later but for now, just look at the pics. Also, I might make room on my server for guests to just view the robot video feed ,however they won;t be able to control the robot.Thats my job.
A picture says a thousand words....

Uh Oh

The Phidgets Interface Kit broke. I woke up one morning and the interface switch just remained closed and didn't switch. However ,the LEDs still lighted up. I'm going to call up Trossen Robotics and probably get it repaired.
Why me, why is it always me?

[Edit on 8/15/07: The Phidgets weren't broken, they just received too much current. Its ight now! Sorry Trossen Robotics...]

Go to my blog for more details on my project which uses phidgets, my robot butler.

Internet Control

I can now control my laptop and the Phidgets over the internet by using SimpleDesktop.
Its free software which allows me to see the screen of the remote machine and control it. Its really cool because I have a webcamera and I can see a room remotely and make the computer talk to people that enter from another computer. The Phidgets activate the relays and drive the robot.

The SimpleDesktop Server can be accessed through any web browser that has java enabled.
Cool and simple!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Interface Details

This is the details of how the interface works.
The computer runs a visual basic program with command buttons which can be activated by voice or by clicks (read my previous posts about the voice control). Each command button contains an instruction which tells the Phidgets 0/16/16 Interface Kit which outputs to initiate.
The Phidgets Serial Interface is a really cool device. It connects to your USB port and has 16 digital inputs and 16 digital outputs with LED indicators by each pin. A simple command is sent to the USB port in the visual basic program to turn on an output or to detect an input. A sample command is "IFKit.OutputState(0) = True" to turn on pin 0. There is more code that must be done to set up the Phidgets though. It took me a half hour to figure out how to use Phidgets and another 3 hours to find out why my program wasn't working( I hadn't added the Phidgets Library as a reference in Visual Basic 6.
After that it was just making the program more visual and more effective. I put in a timer( not the standard one, I used the ccrpTimer ,you can find it online for Visual Basic) to control the outputs so that the robot will only go forward for 5 seconds and then stop, instead of it continuously going forward. Then I added a video feed from my Logitech Quickcam and some other minute fixes to the program.
You can find sample programs for Phidgets online by TrossenRobotics as well as prices for different Phidgets. I got all digital interface with 32 pins for 100 bucks. It was well worth it.
Please Email me if you have any questions or comments.

Interface Program ScreenShot

Interface Completed

My interface to the robot from my computer is completed. (Using phidgets)
My program has buttons for driving and a video feed from a webcam. Outputs are directly controlled from that program and inputs are detected there for the robot to respond accordingly.
Check the comments for this post to see pictures and Visual Basic code.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Voice Control

Processor- Dell Laptop
Voice recognition software- Dragon Naturally Speaking 9
Control Software- Visual Basic Program
Microphone- Logitech Webcam
Interface- Phidgets 0/16/16 Interface Kit

[Screenshot of Program at Bottom of Page]

Dragon software reads my visual basic program for command buttons. My command buttons' captions are words like Go Forward or STOP. Whenever the Dragon software hears any of those captions being spoken it clicks on it automatically. These buttons are all programmed with commands to control the robot which is connected to the phidgets. The computer runs a visual basic program with command buttons which can be activated by voice or by clicks (read my previous posts about the voice control). Each command button contains an instruction which tells the Phidgets 0/16/16 Interface Kit which outputs to initiate.

The Phidgets Serial Interface is connected to the USB port and has 16 digital inputs and 16 digital outputs with LED indicators by each pin. A simple command is sent to the USB port in the visual basic program to turn on an output or to detect an input. A sample command is "IFKit.OutputState(0) = True" to turn on pin 0. Video feed from my Logitech Quickcam and some other minute fixes to the program were added later on.
The all digital interface with 32 pins was purchased for 100 bucks.

AT&T Text to Speech was used to generate confirmation messages. If I were to say Go Forward then the GO Forward button would be clicked by the Dragon program and a sound would be played. (A voice saying "Going Forward"). Each command given( besides Cruise Control ) lasts for a certain number of seconds before all motors receive a STOP command automatically from the computer.

To start the voice command program the user most first open Dragon Naturally Speaking in the background. Then the user says "Listen." The voice recognition software then clicks the "Listen" button found on the page. This links to the Start Command page where a AI voice says "I am listening". On that page there is only one button, whose caption reads "Chives." Until now we have only told Chives to start the voice command program, so now we have to tell him to actually listen for commands. So the user says "Chives", and the big "Chives" button onscreen is clicked. This leads us to the voice command list. The user now says a voice command and that command button is clicked. The clicking of that button sends an instruction to the phidgets which in turn react electrically in some way. After each command, excluding movement commands, the page is automatically link back to the Chives page. Also, an AI voice is played corresponding to each command to show confirmation.

Here is a sample dialogue:

User : "Listen"

Robot: "I am listening"

User : "Chives"

Robot: "Yes Master"

User: "Go Forward"

Robot : "Going Forward"

(Both motors are turning clockwise for 3 seconds)

Robot: (After 3 seconds) “I have stopped”

***Commands must be made in that order. However, the second time around, the user is only sent back to the Chives page so that the user would say "Chives, go backward" and so as not to confuse the robot if anybody happens to say go backward in normal conversation.

Friday, June 29, 2007

My new website

Go to my new website
It will have photos and info.

By the way the pic on the right is my first robot ever built. I will post the redesigned first robot over the weekend. Its all black and has the motorized front wheels.

Alfred the Robot Butler

I have decided to name the robot Alfred, after Batman's butler.
Anyway, I will be posting pics later this week or next week. They will show the base w/ wheels, my joystick switch I made for manual control, the relay system and schematic, robot arm, the main circuit if i put it on in the next few days. Also you'll be able to see the robot body( a plastic human)
It may show up as one post or separate posts for each thing. Look for it !
Keep sending me those ideas!

[Edit: Its not going to be ALfred, because the "fff" sound is hard to pick up on a mike. So its going to be Chives]

Robot Butler Details

OK ,so my robot butler is right now just a wooden base with two casters in front and two independently motorized bicycle wheels. The motors are controlled by four relays in combinations. Wheel 1 direction and wheel 2 direction. For turning one wheel goes forward and the other wheel goes backwards.
As for sensors, I put IR sensors on the robot for detectors but it was not precise enough. I will purchase Matbotix EZ1 Sonar modules and use those for obstacle avoidance.
Oh yeah, I use a PIC16F627 as the brains of the system. I will put on my wireless video camera and a reciever so I can see video and control the robot over the internet.
The purpose of this robot will be as a butler robot to bring me drinks by voice command, R/C rover, and security robot.
Please comment or email me if you have any extra ideas or tips.

UPDATE : (6/24/08) I'm now extenisvely documenting my new butler robot!!!! The new one can pour drinks , talk, tell time, sweep, and sooo much more. I also give detailed instructions on how you can build your own butler robot!!! All the details can be found on my main page : and also on the links on the right side of this page. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

R/C Rover

One of my robotics projects which I have completed is a R/C security robot. I finished this project about a year ago, it took me about a month. I had just started robotics so it is a fairly simple robot.
I ripped off the front of a Power Wheels car and put in the front wheels of another toy car which turned with the help of a motor.
Then I salvaged a small R/C car for the remote control part. I took off the motors and attached relays and diodes in their place. The circuit of relays and diodes worked in such a way with the R/C circuit ,that only one relay per function could be triggered. For example the combinations were (forward, right) or (backward,left) but not (forward,backward.) If anyone would like a schematic of the relays and diodes circuit ,feel free to e-mail me for it.
The relays were then wired to the motors ,which made the drive system digital, the motors were either on or off, no adjustable speed. The R/C circuit and drive system were powered by one battery.
A wireless camera, walkie talkie, and a wireless robotic arm was added to it. I was able to drive the robot downstairs from my room upstairs. I hooked up the walkie talkies to my computer and played C3P0 sounds through it and talked to people downstairs.
That was my first real robot and I learned a lot from it.
Email me for info or photos

Butler Robot

I am working on a Butler Robot and wanted to know if anybody has any ideas or tips for me.