Archive for November, 2007

pcProx: Plug-and-Play RFID Solution

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Do you need a simple and versatile RFID solution?  If so, you should check out the pcProx USB RFID reader module from RF IDeas.  Requiring no programming and no software, it's the quickest way to implement the security and convenience of RFID technology into your project.  It acts as a "keyboard wedge," inserting an RFID tag's unique serial number into any selected text field automatically when a tag is swiped near the reader.

Instead of typing in a password, you can use the pcProx reader to log into your computer.  Use it to streamline data entry and inventory tracking.  It also works great as a drop-in replacement for many barcode scanners.  Using the intuitive configuration utility, you can also format the output; omitting digits from the tag ID or adding characters such as Tab and Enter.

Check out the pcProx RFID reader module in our store for more information!

We also offer this reader in a kit, which includes an assortment of 125kHz (EM4102) RFID tags.  If you're not sure which tag will be best for your application, why not get the kit and test them all out?


New Book: Making Things Talk

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

In this increasingly technologically saturated world, electronic communication has become a vital part of our lives.  Communication between sentient carbon-based life forms such as ourselves is fairly straightforward, but what about communication between the electronic devices that surround us?

Making Things Talk, a new book from the fine people who bring us Make Magazine, demystifies device level communications with a series of fun projects presented (as always) in a friendly, nonthreatening manner.

If you haven’t checked this book out yet, we highly recommend it.  You’ll learn how to make a video game out of a stuffed monkey, add a web cam to your cat, and by the time you’re done, you’ll be tracking your grandmother by GPS and your underwear drawer will be sending you status updates via email.

It’s a good primer for all sorts of communication methods; from short range communication using IR, Zigbee, and Bluetooth, to communicating over vast distances over the Internet.  It’s also a good way to get familiar with basic electronic prototyping, microcontrollers, and TTL-level serial communication.

Making Things Talk is not an exhaustive encyclopedia, but more of a well-rounded cookbook.  If you’re a beginner, it will help you get your feet wet.  If you’re more experienced, it should still teach you a few new tricks.

Buy your copy of Making Things Talk at the Make store.

The Trossen Robotics Robodevelopment Talk is Online

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Robodevelopment 2007 Talk by Matt Trossen, “Creating a Roadmap for the Merging World of Robotics and Computers”

Robodevelopment Talk

Robotics and computers are merging, there is no doubt about it, but questions remain- Why is it taking so long? Where do the standards belong? What tools are in the marketplace which assist integration? What are the necessary steps to take?

One thing is clear, we need a roadmap to help guide us through this winding road of merging worlds. Join us as we dig deep into this discussion of integrating modern computers into our robotics platforms.

We have uploaded the whole talk to youtube for those that couldn’t make it to the event. The talk is broken up into 10 parts so people can jump to the sections they most care about or watch the whole thing. You can find the speech here on the Trossen Robotics System homepage. The TRS is an industry proposal for a standard Robotics Object Model which will solve many of the issues plaguing the industry today.

Calling all brilliant DIY people

Monday, November 12th, 2007

The November Submit Your Project Contest for cool robots, flamethrowers, automatic cat herders, talking furniture, or what ever else you may have built is still on. If you’ve built something cool and techy we want to see it and so does everyone else in our community of tinkering inventors. One of the cooler projects posted recently came from none other than master robot tinkering man Robert Oschler of

Robert made a remote internet voice controlled Roboquad using Skype, robodance, and a UIRT. This is some creative stuff here folks. People who think that futuristic robots must cost a zillion dollars are proven wrong by Roberts ingenuity.

Robert has created this awesome video showing how he built his project letting you know how to do it too.

Do you have a cool project you want to show off? Post it in our contest forum and win. Contest runs every month. Right now the prizes are $200 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third.

WowWee RS Media

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

We just got WowWee’s RS Media in stock!  As we’re sure you already know, this is the newest incarnation of the revolutionary Robosapien series, and it’s clearly the most advanced robotic media appliance on the consumer market.  I don’t even know where to start.  First off, it’s huge.  Well, it’s 23 inches tall, which may not sound that huge, but it’s pretty imposing.  If you stood him on a stool in the middle of a room full of dancing badgers, nobody would pay attention to the badgers.  That’s right.

Check it:

Hello, sir.  Please don’t hurt me.

We’re glad that WowWee finally strayed from the white-with-black-accents motif.  RS Media proves that they are no longer competing with Apple for shiny monochromatic blandness.  Here’s a full shot of him, still in the box. Unfortunately, he’s going to have to stay there until we have time to give him a proper test-run.

As with all WowWee products, he’s strapped into his box like a monkey ready to be shot into space.  A space monkey.

Seriously though, you’ll need much more than a test-run to really get the full experience.  It has more amazing features than Ron Popiel’s Magic Rotisserie.  For starters, it’s a really cool looking bipedal humanoid robot that’s loaded with sensors and other goodies.  That, in and of itself, should have you running for your credit card.  It can roam free, responding to its environment by talking to inanimate objects and ordering around your other WowWee Robo-family bots.  From the remote, you can trigger demo moves, walk around using three different gaits, move his arms around, pick up and throw stuff, switch between his different personalities, and run through his various media capabilities.

Let’s talk about those media capabilities.  RS Media is a walking and talking MP3 player, audio recorder, still picture camera, video recorder, video player, and video game system.  If he had cell phone and internet capabilities, you’d pretty much never have to buy another piece of consumer electronics ever again.  Pretty much everything he does is modifiable via a slick software interface.  He connects to your computer via USB, and from there you can upload and download music, pictures, videos, personalities (including new voice files), motions, and Java games.  He has 40 MB of on-board memory flash memory, but you can add up to 1 GB to this by installing an SD memory card.

RS Media comes packaged with several Java games (one of them resembles the old Neo Geo game "Bust-a-Move," one of the greatest time-killer games ever), and you can even upload Java-based mobile phone games!

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s WowWee’s promotional video:

For more information, check out the following links:
Robosapien RS Media product page at Trossen Robotics
Official RS Media Home Page
RS Media Roboguide page at (Hacking tips, including pictures of RS Media’s guts!)

Database was down

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

As I’m sure many of you have noticed that our blog and community forums have been down for a couple of days. Our apologies to all of our readers and community members who tried to access either one. Our database which hosts all of the data for both our forums and blog had crashed and we were working hard to get it back up and running 100%. We’re still having some problems with the forum with displaying some images, but at least the both the blog and forums seem to be up and running.

Thank you to all of our dedicated readers and community members for your patience!

The Trossen Robotics Team