Archive for the ‘Product Spotlight’ Category

Inverse Kinematics for Dummies!

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

And… we’re back from our vacations during the holidays and hope that all of you had a great 2009!

Inverse Kinematics can be a scary thing to the robot hobby novice. There is a lot of trig involved, and if you’ve learned anything from reading this blog you’ll know that being Norwegian apparently makes it a lot easier to grasp.

Mike Ferguson of Vanadium Labs has just released NUKE (Nearly Universal Kinematics Engine) in Beta form, which is a comprehensive and easy to use IK system built around the arbotiX Robocontroller. To make things even easier, he’s created a step by step tutorial on how to implement NUKE on your arbotiX based robot.

The Nearly Universal Kinematics Engine (NUKE) is finally out in a first beta. NUKE is a PyPose tool that allows users to setup an IK/Gait engine for their ArbotiX-powered bot, regardless of the size, servo orientation, etc (as long as it fits within an available template). Right now our templates only support 3DOF Lizard-legged 4 and 6 leg robots, however 3DOF Mammal-style leg support isn’t far off, and low DOF Biped support is in the works. This is the same system that powered Issy, Roz, and Jeff to take the top 3 spots at CNRG’s Walker Challenge. It takes about 20-30 minutes to setup your bot once you get the hang of what’s going on. The output is fairly straight forward to expand/alter. It’s mostly been running on Quads, I’ve yet to fully test it on Hexapods (first person to post a video of NUKE powering a hexapod gets a cookie at Robogames..)

NUKE is written in Python, and it exports a C/C++ Arduino project that runs on the ArbotiX. NUKE can be downloaded from our Google code site: Documentation is also on that site. We also have a google group for support (it’s very new, hence the low traffic) .

Pre-Order the Bioloid Premium Kit! Free 2nd Day Shipping!

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Bioloid Premium Kit

We are now accepting pre-orders for the long anticipated Bioloid Premium Kit!

Initial quantities are limited, the cut off date for this pre-order is December 7th! Act now to reserve your Bioloid Premium Kit.

This kit is expected to be ready to ship December 14th-18th, and due to the holidays rapidly approaching, we are offering FREE 2nd Day Air shipping to all pre-orders within the United States!


Autonomous Mech Warfare Robot Making Progress

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Forum member Xdream is working hard towards not only creating a bipedal Mech Warfare entry, but making it completely autonomous… and so far, he’s made some pretty solid progress. Heck, it’s more accurate than my current remote control setup. Check for updates on his project in the Autonomous Mech Thread.

Also, for those looking for an inexpensive bipedal Mech Warfare platform, the BRAT based Mech project over at Lynxmotion is turning out to be quite promising, with complete build instructions and code available.

Phoenix 2.0 Software Released

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

I’ll let Xan, the author of the code and fellow Phoenix collaborator, explain away:

The major changes in 2.0 are fixed point calculations to lower the cycle time.

Separate files to easy change remotes or hexapod settings. This will allow the user to simply add the correct remote file and hexapod file to adapt the code for different hardware without having to hack in to the core.

Single leg control to directly control one of the legs. This can be used with or withouth balance mode.

GP Player support. This allows the user to play sequences that are stored inside the SSC. This will need the current GP firmware for the SSC and a bi-directional connection between the BAP and SSC.

Here’s a full list of the new features:

;NEW IN V2.0
; - Moved to fixed point calculations
; - Inverted BodyRotX and BodyRotZ direction
; - Added deadzone for switching gaits
; - Added GP Player
; - SSC version check to enable/disable GP player
; - Controls changed, Check contol file for more information
; - Added separate files for control and configuration functions
; - Solved bug at turn-off sequence
; - Solved bug about legs beeing lift at small travelvalues in 4 steps tripod gait
; - Solved bug about body translate results in rotate when balance is on (Kåre)
; - Sequence for wave gait changed (Kåre)
; - Improved ATan2 function for IK (Kåre)
; - Added option to turn on/off eyes (leds)
; - Moving legs to init position improved
; - Using Indexed values for legs
; - Added single leg control

The software will be uploaded to my Project page.

Lynxmotion will also update the phoenix tutorial. This will include a link to the software as well. I’m sure they will notify us when the work is done.


And here’s a rather lengthy video demonstrating the new Phoenix code in action!

HUV Robotics Bioloid Accessories are back!

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Our good friend Jon Hylands has finally returned to producing his widely popular 3rd party Bioloid add-on & accessory boards, and they are now in stock and ready to ship! We have had a huge demand for these and many people were disappointed when production was stopped, but we and surely many others will be glad to have them back.

The Bioloid USB Bus Board provides a transparent and simple connection to the AX-12+ Bioloid Bus. This board allows your PC to communicate with Bioloid bus devices (AX-12, AX-S1, IMU, etc) using a USB cable (not included) at speeds of up to 1.0 Mbps.

This Bioloid 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 drive one or two DC motors using either locked anti-phase or sign magnitude PWM.

This Bioloid Foot Pressure Sensor includes one board, four .2″ FSR pressure sensors designed to be attached to the Bioloid foot, and the wiring necessary to connect the sensors to the board.

Pressure sensors on the bottom of your biped’s feet will allow the robot to sense whether or not it is in balance if it is on a smooth flat surface.

The Quads are Coming!

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The arbotiX Robocontroller has been a hit so far in the robotics community! We’re starting to see projects popping up that take advantage of this awesome new controller, and specifically a few quads have caught our attention in the TRC, so we figured we’d share.

Here is forum member Sthmck’s quadrapod robot progress so far, which showcases a robot built using the Bioloid system and autonomously reacting to input from some Sharp IR sensors.

lnxfergy’s new lizard-inspired quadrapod, Sally:

And finally, lnxfergy’s fully autonomous Firefighting robot, Issy:

Some great progress so far and we can’t wait to see more!

On a side note: We’ve been a bit quiet lately because we’re in the process of moving to a much larger facility where we can build bigger, better robots! We’ll get caught up soon.

Serializer WL Robotics Controller now under $100

Friday, October 9th, 2009

.NET Developers rejoice! The Serializer WL has dropped $30 in price down to $99.95, making this powerful robot controller even more accessible.

Easy Robot Control using .NET or Robotics Studio:

The Serializer WL Robot Controller provides a ready-to-use solution to interface the Microsoft™ .NET framework or Microsoft™ Robotics Studio to common robotic hardware.

Never before has it been this easy to interface DC motors, servos, analog sensors, I2C devices, single and quadrature encoders, switches/relays, and other devices to the .NET framework and/or Robotics Studio.

Be sure to check out our Xbee section for add-ons for this awesome controller!

arbotiX Robocontroller Now Available!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

We’re officially launching this much anticipated new Robocontroller today! Thanks to all of those who pre-ordered, your board should be on it’s way! Our initial stock of these is limited, so get em while they’re hot!

The arbotiX Robocontroller, an advanced 3rd party Bioloid controller, is now in stock and ready to be sold! It incorporates a powerful AVR microcontroller, XBEE wireless radio, dual motor drivers, and 3-pin servo-style headers for IO.

The arbotiX robocontroller is specifically designed to control robots built using the Bioloid System and AX-12+ servos, although it is also a very high-end solution for powerful rovers. It is not intended to be a drop-in replacement for a CM-5, rather it is intended as a high level development tool for building more sophisticated robots.

For full information and product manual, check the manufacturer’s page.

arbotiX Robocontroller Specifications

  • 16MHz AVR microcontroller (ATMEGA644p).
  • 2 serial ports, 1 dedicated to Bioloid servo controller, the other to the XBEE radio
  • 3 Bioloid AX-12+ style ports onboard, plug your AX-12+ Servos directly in!
  • 32 I/O, 8 of which can function as analog inputs
  • Servo style 3-pin headers (gnd, vcc, signal) on all 8 analog inputs, and 8 of the digital IO

We have also put together the arbotiX Robocontroller Starter Kit that includes everything you need to get started, including a pair of Xbee radios, an Xbee USB Explorer, and a USB AVR Programmer!

arbotiX Robocontroller Now Available for Pre-Order!

Monday, October 5th, 2009

We’re officially launching this much anticipated new Robocontroller tomorrow, but we figured we would give our faithful blog readers a chance at one before we do a main page announcement.

The arbotiX Robocontroller, an advanced 3rd party Bioloid controller, is now in stock and ready to be sold! We still have some additional information to add to the page, as well as a new ISP programmer we picked up… but for those of you wanting to get the ball rolling, check it out and pick one up while supplies last! Our initial stock of these is limited, so get em while they’re hot!

PhidgetSBC – Phidgets Linux Based Single Board Computer

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Phidgets have long been a favorite for computer software developers due to their ease of use, wide selection of sensors and I/O boards, and solid API offering for a variety of programming languages. The one thing that has always been a requirement however, is a physical connection to a computer via USB cable.

All of that is a thing of the past now with the introduction of the PhidgetSBC; an Arm9 based embedded Linux computer (it runs a custom Linux Distro built using Buildroot) combined with the tried and true Phidgets 8/8/8 IO Board.P1070

So what does that mean to you? In its simplest form and function, it effectively cuts the cable of your Phidgets projects and allows you to access your Phidgets devices over ethernet or the included Wifi dongle. The onboard computer acts as a server for the variety of APIs that Phidgets offers, and this enhanced ‘mobility’ opens the doors to a much wider variety of applications. The PhidgetSBC can function as a wireless extension of your PC, a Wifi enabled Robot Controller, or even a standalone Robot Controller. That’s right, the PhidgetSBC is fully programmable; there is an easy to use interface that allows you to load custom C or Java code directly to the board and have it run autonomously, without the previously required PC link. If that wasn’t enough, more advanced users can modify the Linux build to their hearts content, host other USB based Phidgets devices by simply plugging them into the PhidgetSBC, and has integrated support for streaming a web cam feed back to your PC. I’m really just skimming the surface here, for more details check out the (as always) very well documented product manual.

The PhidgetSBC will run you $243.90 USD and we are currently accepting pre-orders for this as we anticipate it to be a very high demand product. Given that the development kits for the onboard computer used here usually run in the ~$150-200 range, this price is a VERY good deal to anyone looking to take their Phidgets projects to the next level. Initial quantities will be limited and orders are filled on a first come first serve basis, so get your pre-order in ASAP to snag one up!