Archive for the ‘Product Spotlight’ Category

Arbotix Commander Now Available: Xbee Wireless Robot Gamepad

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Introducing the newest addition to the ArbotiX Robocontroller line from Vanadium Labs!

The ArbotiX Commander is an Arduino Software compatible, open-source XBEE-wireless hand-held controller built specifically for controlling ArbotiX/NUKE powered walking robots (but it can be used to control just about any Arduino powered robot). This gamepad style controller comes ready to be setup with the ArbotiX Robocontroller. The ArbotiX Commander was meant to be hacked, modified, upgraded, and otherwise tinkered with. Add additional sensors, customize it with your own handle grips, or rewrite the firmware sketch in any way you see fit!


Brackets and Dynamixels and Bioloids Oh My!

Friday, February 12th, 2010

We’ve been a bit quiet around here lately, mostly because we have our heads buried and are hard at work at bringing you guys some awesome new robotics products and kits! Wanted to take some time to showcase a new reworked section of our site that helps builders like you build your robots easier. Our Robot Servos & Brackets section has been completely revamped, pairing up the servos with compatible brackets and frames (tons of new varieties have been added, as well as more to come).

The Robotis Dynamixel Servos section should be of particular intrest, as we now stock individual Bioloid Frames as well as every type of DX/RX/EX Series Brackets and Frames.

Even our Hobby Servos section got a revamp, now offering Micro, Standard, and Giant Scale PWM Hobby Servos and compatible brackets!

We also started rounding up some cool user projects to demonstrate what can be done with these awesome actuators, which can be found on various related product pages. Here are a few examples!

MINI Robocontroller now available!

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Yet another great microcontroller from our friends over at Vanadium Labs; the MINI Robocontroller is now available for sale!

This is an extremely versatile Arduino-software compatible microcontroller that packs a lot of features in a very small footprint. It is also the board used for the target/scoring system in the Mech Warfare robotics competition. Read more below:

The MINI robocontroller is designed for small robots. It incorporates a powerful AVR microcontroller, XBEE wireless radio, dual motor drivers, and 3-pin servo-style headers for IO.

The board includes all circuitry needed to control a small differential drive robot. It can also easily control up to 4 servos.

See the user manual here.

RoboController Specifications

  • 16MHz AVR microcontroller (ATMEGA168).
  • 20 I/O, 6 of which can function as analog inputs
  • Servo style 3-pin headers (gnd, vcc, signal) on all 6 analog inputs, and 4 of the digital IO
  • Dual 1A motor drivers, with combined motor/encoder header.
  • XBEE radio sold separately. A typical setup will require 2 XBEE radios and an XBEE explorer to be able to wirelessly control your robot from your computer.
  • This board requires either an FTDI cable or ISP. We recommend the Sparkfun FTDI breakout.
  • 2.4”x2.4” with mounting holes in each corner.

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!