Archive for May, 2008

Lasers! PEW PEW! (TTL Laser Control with Phidgets 8/8/8)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
Photo courtesy of SparkFun Electronics.

We recently got a batch of these neat little TTL-controlled laser modules in stock.  Needless to say, we did what what we always do when we get a new toy.  We played with it and took some pictures!  It was super easy to wire up, and it can be switched on and off with any TTL logic signal.  It draws a miniscule amount of current (26 mA on our meter).  It has a pretty good output, too.  Don’t expect to see it a mile away, but when we shined it at a white wall in direct sunlight at a distance of about 12 feet, it projected a bright, sharp dot.

American Twenty-five cent piece shown for size comparison.

The thing is freaking tiny, too.  Slim and sleek.

It’s as thick as a nickel!  Would have used the quarter from the last picture, but we couldn’t get one to stand on its edge.  Yep.  So far this post has cost me thirty cents.

As we’ve mentioned, wiring it up and controlling it is a cinch.  To use it with the Phidgets 8/8/8, we used the power and ground connections on one of the analog connectors and one digital output to switch it on and off.

Three wires are all you need.  Power, ground, and digital control.

Here’s our test setup.  Laser module is connected to the 8/8/8 with jumper wires from SparkFun.

Here it is.  The stuff.


Buy stuff from us!!!

TTL-Controlled Laser Module
F/F Jumper Wires
Phidgets 8/8/8


HUV Bioloid Accessories: Add Sensors to Bioloid!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

We’re big fans of the Bioloid system.  We love the smart actuators and integrated sensor modules, but like many Bioloid users, we’ve lamented the lack of additional sensor inputs.  Luckily for us, Bioloid guru Jon Hylands felt the pain of the Bioloid community and created some devices to fill the void.  Thanks to Robotis’ published Dynamixel architecture, anyone who’s savvy with microcontrollers can create peripherals that will blend seamlessly with the stock Bioloid components.  Jon is as savvy as anyone, and we’re happy to be using and selling the hardware he’s created.  Anyway, here’s some cool stuff for all you Bioloid fans out there, or anyone interested in using Dynamixels in their own custom project.

USB Bus Board  
The USB Bus Board gives you virtual COM port access to the Dynamixel serial bus.  It has six connectors, but of course it supports a network of up to 254 Dynamixels.  It uses the FTDI transceiver chip, so if you’ve used other USB virtual COM port devices, there’s a good chance you already have the driver installed.  A great plug-and-play alternative to the USB2Dynamixel adapter.
Bioloid I/O Board  
This general-purpose I/O board gives your Bioloid robot the ability to connect to almost any analog (0-5 volt) sensor. It includes 6 analog inputs (10 bit resolution on each). It also includes four general digital I/O pins, and can control one or two DC motor controllers using either locked anti-phase or sign magnitude PWM.  Pretty cool.
Bioloid IMU  
In one package, you get 3 axes of acceleration measurement and 3 axes of gyroscopic measurement. It comes fully assembled, and ready to install into a stock Bioloid humanoid chest compartment.
FSR Foot Sensor Board  
Look closely at the soles of your Bioloid’s feet.  Those little round indentations were clearly designed to accept 0.2" FSR’s.  This interface board can read 4 FSR’s, enough for one foot.  The board fits neatly into the foot, and plugs into the Dynamixel network.  The kit includes the board, 4 FSR’s, and leads for the sensors.

If you have any questions, or you need advice about using these boards, go ahead and post about it in the TRC Forums.