Archive for December, 2008

Roborealm Vision Based Obstacle Avoidance Tutorial

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Roborealm is hands down one of the most incredible tools available to roboticists today and amazingly it’s completely free, as in free beer! Roborealm is a vision processing platform for Windows that allows experimenters to harness basic webcams and wifi cameras for use in robotics. We’re not just talking about telepresence here, Roborealm allows you to filter and manipulate video, as well as get output variables for use in various programming languages and even built-in hardware interface modules (SSC-32 servo controllers, joysticks, etc).

Many roboticists are well aware of Roborealm and all of its awesomeness, so why am I preaching to the choir here? Because they recently published a tutorial on using vision for obstacle avoidance, and one look at it had my jaw dropping. Some very useful stuff here, as well as downloadable example files and code showing how to use it in a real world application. Anyone interested in machine vision and PC based robotics should definitely check this out! While Roborealm is available for free the cost associated with its development is by no means cheap, so if you enjoy the product please consider donating! Information on donating to Roborealm can be found on their site.

Pi > Cake! 3pi Robot Starter Kits available now!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

This robot is wicked cool. And tiny. And for a pile of PCB, wheels, LCDs, and various components, it’s pretty darned cute too. Our friends over at Pololu came up with the 3pi Robot, and the amount of features they packed into this tiny robot is truly amazing.

At only 3.7″ in diameter it moves at up to 3 feet per second, boasts an Atmega 168 C programmable microcontroller, 5 reflective sensors, an LCD screen, 2 precision gear head motors, push-buttons, a buzzer, and room for expansion using your own sensors! If you’re looking for a serious platform to get started in programming the very popular AVR’s from Atmel, this is the robot for you! Our starter kit comes with the 3pi Robot, an Orangutan USB AVR Programmer, and an mini USB cable- everything you need to get started.

Here’s an introduction video explaining how to get started using the 3pi Robot!

Crabfu Featured on the Discovery Channel & NBC!

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Our good friend Crabfu has done it once again, stealing the spotlight with his incredibly talented work. While we’ve known for quite some time what amazing bots and inventions he can build, it looks like the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet show and NBC are equally impressed.

Check out the two clips below for a great overview of some of his work and how he got to where he is today!

Custom C Library for Bioloid Released

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Matt and Stuart from the Robosavvy Forums have released a libavr/libbioloid C library for the CM5 controller, allowing you to program your CM-5 Bioloid Controller directly in C. It’s a work in progress still, but it’s always great to see grassroots projects like this come to life. Programming the CM-5 in C has been possible for some time, but it is somewhat of a convoluted process. The project creators are setting out to demystify the process as well as provide a working library of commands to make custom programming of the Bioloid that much easier. Great work guys! Can’t wait to see this project continue to mature!

The Bioloid continues to be a favorite among roboticists and universities alike, with it’s support community growing daily proving it to be an incredibly versatile research platform. Check out our Bioloid product page for more information!

Give an I-Sobot for the Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

When we announced that we would be cutting the I-Sobot’s price in half, making it only $95.99, our initial pre=orders sold out before we even got the shipment in! We’ve just received another shipment, so if you’re looking for an awesome hi-tech holiday gift for a geek near you (Here’s looking at you kid), this is the perfect choice! This robot debuted on the market at $300, so this is a killer deal!

What’s an I-Sobot? Well he’s the tiniest humanoid robot in production! The ultimate desk toy, this little robot stands only 6.5″ tall but is articulated as most larger humanoid bots with 17 servos, as well as voice commands, remote control, and over 100 special actions and dance routines!  If you order one soon there is still time to get it in before Christmas.

Big Blue Saw’s End of the Year Sale!

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Our friends over at Big Blue Saw are having another sale, which is pretty much a dream come true for Roboticists building their own bots. They are generously offering discount quantity pricing on as little as single part orders, which means major savings for anyone looking to get custom work done for their projects. If you’ve ever looked into machine shop pricing you’ll know what a fantastic deal this is, you won’t find pricing like this anywhere so be sure to check them out! Founder Simon Arthur explains the details:

Big Blue Saw’s latest sale starts Tuesday, December 16, 2008 and ends Tuesday, January 6, 2009.

With this sale any aluminum 6061 parts of 0.1 inch or 0.063 inch thickness are automatically automatically eligible for a quantity discount — even on orders of as little as one part!

This is an excellent opportunity to try our services — you can order just one small part, and save on the setup charges.

This offer is valid for orders placed through our online ordering system only.

About the materials

Aluminum 6061

One of the perennial favorite materials at Big Blue Saw, the 6061 alloy of aluminum features excellent strength and light weight. It is weldable and has good corrosion resistance. This alloy is a true “aircraft aluminum”. Among many other applications, it was chosen by NASA to construct the crew cabin of the Space Shuttle.

MechRC Humanoid Back in Stock!

Monday, December 15th, 2008

When we first announced that we had the MechRC Humanoid Robot is in stock and ready to ship, they flew off the shelves almost instantly selling out. We now have limited quantities back in stock and are shipping out immediately, just in time for the Holidays! These won’t last long, so if you’re still looking for a great robotic gift for a loved one or even yourself, pick one up quick!

We’d also like to share this awesomely over-the-top promotional video:

Three New VEX Starter Bundles Now Available

Friday, December 12th, 2008

This time of year is very exciting for students and teachers as they ramp up for competitions in the new year. VEX Robotics has been a very popular choice in the Educational Robotics field and has recently expanded their product line!

The baseline kits have been upgraded to the Protobot Robot Kit, which is a versatile wheeled platform and make the perfect starting point for any competition. Around the Protobot three different starter bundles are offered, the Radio Controlled Starter Bundle, the Autonomous Control Starter Bundle, and the Dual Control Starter Bundle. These give students and teachers a headstart by providing all the essentials to get started building for their competitions no matter the type or control method. Trossen Robotics would like to wish all of those participating in this upcoming year’s competitions the best of luck!

Need to Control a Ridiculous Amount of Servos?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

We’ve got you covered. The Acroname 84 Channel USB Servo Controller allows you to control an almost absurd amount of servos making this the perfect board for any over-achiever’s robotics project. Now if controlling 84 servos wasn’t enough, get this: Each of the 84 channels can be set to Digital Input, Digital Output or Servo Output. Additionally, 36 of the channels can act as 10-bit Analog inputs. That makes this one of our most versatile I/O boards yet!

Parallax Demonstrates a Simple Yet Sleek Robot Base

Monday, December 8th, 2008

It’s no secret that Parallax makes some awesome robot parts, but recently they’ve stepped up their game with the addition of custom CNC’d components. Specifically, the Motor Mount & Wheel Kit and their Caster Kit which provide the mechanical basics for an excellent robotics platform.

Parallax’s recent newsletter, The Parallaxian, has a cool little project overview showing just how easy it is to create a wheeled robot base using some of their spiffy new components and good old plywood. Used in this project is the Motor Mount & Wheel Kit, the Caster Kit, and a pair of HB-25 Motor Controllers. What we found neat was how simple this robot was to design. Rather than go through the trouble of designing the base in CAD and having it milled, the components were just laid out onto plywood, traced their outline, and holes for mounting them were cut and drilled using a jigsaw and drill. Ingenious! Be sure to check out the Parallaxian Newsletter for details.