Archive for January, 2007

Ugobe to Make Pleo Available for Preorder Starting February 3rd

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
Pleo

Starting Saturday, February 3rd, Ugobe will offer it’s robotic dinosaur, Pleo, for preorder. The price is expected to be around $250, and Pleo is expected to ship sometime in the 2nd Quarter of 2007 (April – June).

Pleo features over 30 sensors, a video camera, SD and USB ports, a 2hr battery runtime, automatic recharging, and over 14 motors. I’m especially looking forward to how people plan on hacking Pleo.

via GoRobotics.net

Pleo Homepage 

The history of the personal computer in TV commercials

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007
altair_8800

This is relevant to us since we specialize in PC based robotics. We have come a loooong way in computers in a very short time. Downloadsquad.com has a great post of 14 videos showing the timeline and evolution of computers through commercials.

link 

Official Announcement – Maker Faire 2007

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Grab your best geek hat, because it’s time for this year’s Maker Faire! For the unlucky ones that never got the opportunity to attend Maker Faire 2006, make sure you come out and see Maker Faire 2007. Scheduled for May 19 & 20th at San Mateo Fairgrounds in San Mateo, California, the Maker Faire is a must-attend event for people of all ages and walks of life who are interested in a single event that “brings together science, art, craft and engineering in a fun, energized, and exciting public forum.”

Maker Faire
Maker Faire 02

We were invited to participate and attended last years inauguration courtesy of Microsoft’s Coding4Fun team. The Coding4Fun team must like us a little, because they invited us out there again this year, to demonstrate some of our products to attendees. This is the most unique festival we’ve been to. Our good friend Amal Graafstra hopes to also attend!

Via’s incredible shrinking mobo line spawns “pico-ITX”

Monday, January 29th, 2007
via_epiapx
via_epiapx

The line between PCs and Microcontrollers continues to blur with the latest board from Via.

Via is readying a media-oriented motherboard in what could be the next popular size for small form-factor PCs: Pico-ITX. The “Epia PX” board measures 3.9 x 2.8 inches and features a 1GHz C7 processor, along with rich audio/video I/O, albeit mostly on pin headers.

Via debuted the Epia PX boards at the Lunch@Piero’s event associated with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The demonstration showed pico-ITX-based systems ably running Windows XP and Vista, according to reports. The new pico-ITX form-factor will reportedly measure 3.9 x 2.8 inches (10 x 7.2 cm)

Read more at linuxdevices.com 

Incredible PC based home robot project!

Monday, January 29th, 2007
Jeff_terrell_bot
Jeff_terrell_bot

Today’s featured robot is by Jeff Terrell. Jeff proved that you don’t have to spend a million dollars to build an inceredible home robot. His robot is further proof that PC based robotics is the future of hobby and educational robotics. Jeff is one of our customers and avid community member. He built an incredible mini PC based home robot using a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Jeff really has a passion for robotics and it shows. Here is a list of some of his robots features below. To read more visit his forum thread here.

The body is constructed from dense PVC plastic. I used Industrial size drainage PVC and the Legs are made from PVC sheeting.

The head moves 180 degrees left and right. Has blue neon flex strip under the heads edge, lights up 360 degrees. The mouth is a thin red LED strip under the eye panel and lights up with speech.

The section below the head (upper body form) also moves left and right 180 degrees. Movement is obtained from Giant Scale HiTech Servos in Servo Power Gearboxes from RoboZone.

There is a Logitech Orbit webcam atop the head which has pan/tilt. Using RoboRealms Vision Software to do visual tracking.

Also attempting to use Strabo Pathfinder from wehali.com for mapping with encoders and hopefully soon with IRs and sonar and visual imaging tools.

Plan to use the EZ1 Sonars and IRs with Phidget Interface modules.

The eyeplate is a stereo speaker module that connects to the mother boards sound card which utilizes AT&Ts Natural Language Text-to-Speech Engine.

The round front vent has a small computer fan inside. The legs and feet contain gearhead motors and wheels. The feet have bumper contacts switches in them.

The Drive system is composed of 2 Devantech MD03 H-Bridges and a Nubotics motor controller with US Digital Quad Encoders. The Motors connect to the wheels via timing gear and belt assembly.

Computer is a Biostar micro ATX Mother Board with an AMD Athlon 4600 64×2 Processor Has 160g Sata HD and 2g of DDR2 Ram. Power Supply is a M2-ATX from Mini-Box.

Jeff_terrell_bot

Wiimote controlled Robotic Arm

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

What happens when you have geeks with an industrial level robotic arm laying around? Well, take feedback from a Nintendo Wiimote and control it of course! The USMechatronics article stated that they used VB for the software, and Direct X to read the values coming from the joystick (example via CodeProject).

Wiibot

In the video below, you’ll see that these guys managed to take the motion feedback from the Wiimote to swing a tennis racket (actually hitting the ball) and wield a sword!! According to the sources, this arm is capable of moving 16kg of load at full speed and accuracy, so standing a nice distance away is probably a good idea.

via USMechatronics, Coding4Fun, and Robotster

Another sneak peak of the modular decks

Friday, January 26th, 2007
Trossen_modular_decks
Bottomwithmotors350

We have posted another sneak peak of our modular deck solution due out this spring here.

Transbot – Transformable remote-control humanoid robot

Friday, January 26th, 2007
Transbot

Yujin, a robotics company in Korea, has a very cool humanoid robot that is also a transformer. If only we could start getting all these cool robots stateside…

Transbot

Transbot Stats:

Useful option packs
Wireless camera and LCD Monitor
PC interface via RS232
User programmable
(motion creation, edit, motion simulation)
Attachable weapons(rifle, machine gun, rocket launcher)

Walking
5cm/sec
17 D.O.F.
Various attack and defense postures for battle gameDriving
40cm/sec

video after the jump

transbot

link

A Chat With the Robot Man In Redmond

Friday, January 26th, 2007
Tandy-Trower

Here’s a few questions and answers from an interview with Tandy Trower, a 25-year veteran at Microsoft who now heads the robotics division at the company. His team just launched Microsoft Robotics Studio as a tool kit for robot programmers. It’s aimed at making robot programming easier and more transportable across all robot types.

Read Article 

On this day (Jan 25) in 1921, the word “robot” was invented

Thursday, January 25th, 2007
Karel_capek

1921: A new play premiers at the National Theater in Prague, the capital of what was then Czechoslovakia. R.U.R, (which stands for Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Karel Capek, marks the first use of the word “robot” to describe an artificial person. Capek invented the term, basing it on the Czech word for “forced labor.” (“Robot” entered the English language in 1923.)

The robots in Capek’s play are not mechanical men made of metal; instead they are molded out of a chemical batter and they look exactly like humans. Each robot costs the equivalent of $150 and “can do the work of two-and-a-half human laborers,” so that humans might be free to have “no other task, no other work, no other cares” than perfecting themselves.

However, the robots come to realize that even though they have “no passion, no history, no soul,” they are stronger and smarter than humans. They kill every human but one.

The play explores themes that would later become staples of robot science fiction, including freedom, love and destruction. Although many of Capek’s other works were more famous during his lifetime, today he is best known for RUR.

via Digg, Wired News