Posts Tagged ‘robotics’

February ’09 Contest Winners Announced!

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

The time of reckoning is nigh! The contest winners for this round of the TRC Project Contest have been decided and we’ve got some awesome prizes to give away!

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Plinter Roving Servobot

Project: Roving Servo Bot
Creator: Pinter75
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

This bot went back to the basics. Base board? Check. Super Glue? Check. Zip ties? Check. Ingenious scratch built onboard controller? Check! Throw all of these items together and you have a great wheeled platform with a fully functioning arm. complete with a .NET interface over Bluetooth. The craftsmanship on this bot is superb, so much so that when we first saw it we thought it had been cut from a 3D printer. Pinter75 has taken the project a step further and will be offering it in kit form in the near future, something we are very excited to see come to life.


Project: Charlie
Creator: Darkback2
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

Quadrapods have been around long enough that it usually takes something really special to perk our eyebrows, which is exactly what Charlie the Quadrapod did. Was it the onboard PC that impressed us? The rugged raw metal look? Perhaps the fact that Charlie wields a fully automatic airsoft gun on its back? While all of that is very cool, what amazed us most of all was the fact that Charlie was built by hand, using only simple power tools. No CNC machine, no computer CAD drawings; the brackets and frame were literally cut and bent by guide of hand alone. Anybody who has built parts by hand knows how much patience and skill goes into making identical parts without the guidance of a computer controlled blade. Look for this bot competing in the upcoming Mech Warfare competition at Robogames 2009!

Lego WALL-E by Bizmarc

Project: Autonomous LEGO Wall-E
Creator: Bazmarc
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

Building a Wall-E robot? Awesome. Building it out of LEGOs? Even more awesome! LEGOs sure have come a long way in their lifetime, evolving into the amazing robotics prototyping tool they are today and invoking nostalgia in tinkerers abroad (I mean, who didn’t play with Legos growing up?) Forum member Bazmarc blew us all away when he debuted his LEGO NXT Autonomous Wall-E project, sparking “LEGO-skill” envy unanimously across the forums. Not only did he perfectly capture the look and feel of everyone’s favorite trash bot, he brought it to life with an autonomous navigation system. We can’t to see what Bizmarc comes up with next!

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Third Place:

animatronic Head from Willettfx

Project: My Animatronic Project

What happens when a professional dental tech with a knack for animatronics is mentored by Hollywood special effects legend Dick Smith? A very creepy and very realistic animatronic robot is born. Gary Willett (aka Willettfx) has a true passion for his work, spending hundreds of hours adding the finest details to truly bring his monstrous inventions to life. He shared with us hours of video showing the fine artwork and dedication that goes into building Hollywood quality animatronics, and we ate up every minute! If you’re looking to get into animatronics yourself, he also offers a 3 disc DVD set showcasing every step on how he built his outstanding project!

Second Place:

Robotic Marionette by Sunithaya

The Robotic Marionette project literally reads out like a story. Forum member “Sunithaya” joined us after he had already completed his Marionette project of two years, however he started from the beginning in chronicling the lengthy steps made during the design, building, and final performances. Each post is titled appropriately – as if a chapter in a book, and detailed thoroughly with the thought process that went into each artistic design decision. Tons of photos were taken throughout the life of the project, and it all pays off with a performance video of the Robotic Marionette autonomously dancing. This project thread is a true gem that we’re lucky to have on our forums. We highly recommend a complete read-through to everyone interested in learning more.

First Place:

k9 by DJsures

DJSures pulled down some serious ‘geek cred’ by creating his own K-9 robotic dog. I mean, what self respecting geek doesn’t want their own robotic pet to do their evil bidding? Sure it doesn’t have “omniflexible hyperlink facilities” or the ability to teleport, but this loveable Dr. Who tribute still boasts some impressive features. Onboard 3D mapping capabilities, real time occupancy grids, speech synthesis, adaptable personality levels depending upon the amount of human interaction, obstacle avoidance, an LCD screen for diagnostics, and even the ability to follow people around! Now get this: the entire robot was scratch built. This project is a perfect example of how it doesn’t take four dozen servos, onboard PCs, or complex vision processing to win our contests. Ingenuity, creativity, and the overall presentation of your project are a huge factor in our judging decisions. Watching this little bot go from pieces of plastic and circuitry to a seemingly free willed artificial being is what won DJSures the first place prize in the latest round of our contest!

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The Trossen Robotics crew would like to personally thank everyone who has participated in our contests as well as those who have helped other projects along. What started out as a great way to encourage grassroots engineering and the sharing of knowledge has evolved into a community of hobbyists and professionals who exhibit a passion for their work unlike any we have ever seen. Innovation is viral, and watching builders literally feed off of the excitement fueling these projects is a great thing to experience on a daily basis. We invite anyone looking to get started in robotics, as well as the veterans who have many of bots under their belt, to join the Trossen Robotics Community. We encourage you to jump in head first, if you’ve got an idea- discuss it, if you have a question- ask it, and if you’ve got a project- enter it in our contest. We look forward to seeing you and your projects in the next round of the Trossen Robotics Community Project Contest!.

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!

Robot Fighting and Fun at iHobby 2008

Friday, October 24th, 2008

We had a blast at iHobby this year. Here are a few clips we threw together of some of the fun we had.

Starting off the video is a fight between Farrell Robotics Zog, and our own little Robobuilder. There is also some footage of the Chibotica area around the robotics section, and a peak at some of the robots on display.

Here’s a short video of Farrell Robotics’ Zog vs the Robophilo. This is what happens when you put a fully custom built, top of the line humanoid robot against a $400 budget humanoid! Hilarity ensues.

See you at iHobby next year!

iHobby 2008 Pictures, Farrell Robotics Unveil New Robots

Monday, October 20th, 2008

We had a blast at iHobby 2008! We got to meet a lot of new people, old friends, and new robots!

We were super busy keeping up with visitors at our booth, but we tried to snap a few pictures before the show started each day. We created a gallery of some of the better pictures we took. Farrell Robotics was also there, showing off their amazing new robots Zyn and Kai, which are based on the EX-106, RX-28, and DX-117 servos. They are quite literally the most advanced competition humanoids in the US, completely custom built and a real marvel of engineering.

These bots are literally as big as toddlers, in fact they had Kai dressed the part. Seeing how quick and strong these robots are was truly a sight, I’m pretty sure they could at least take our software guy Alex (not me though, I know their weakspots!)

Here are a few pictures (click to enlarge) but be sure to check out our iHobby 2008 Gallery!

The Crabfu Challenge Winners Announced!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The infamous Crabfu issued a challenge to our Community just over a month ago. In his words:

The challenge:
To bring a bunch of hardware the illusion of life and character. This is NOT about AI or fancy software or hardware. It’s not to achieve real character or personality, but the ILLUSION of it. Autonomous robots can enter too, but this isn’t a contest of the smartest robot, but a smartest “looking” and “moving” robot could win. This is about the art of breathing some charm into a bunch of electronics. So the goal is simple, the most characterful robot wins.”
Well just over a month had passed, and after much deliberation and consulting with fellow animators, the winners were announced.

Third Place: Robot Piggie
Creator: Jagged

Second Place: Delfigelo
Creator: Pladoh

First Place: Darwin
Creator: jes1510

“Thanks everyone for participating, and congrats to the winners. Regardless of who won what, I hope that this little competition inspires robot builders to add some charm to the machine, and shows the importance of visual creativity & emotional impact!


August TRC Project Contest Winners!

Monday, August 4th, 2008

As many of you may know by now, the Trossen Robotics crew hosts project contests every few months, where the winners are awarded in lavish gifts such as gift cards, robot kits and trips to the Playboy Mansion! (Okay, maybe not that last one. But they won’t put me in charge of picking out the prizes for some reason)

Members of the Trossen Robotics Community (TRC) face off in a battle of robotic wits! They come up with all sorts of great inventions, document their work, take a ton of photos and video, and post about it all in our Project Showcase Forum in hopes of being whisked off to the Playboy Mansion! Or…in hopes of winning fantastic robo-prizes.

The time is nigh to pick out winners. We flew our finalists out here to Chicago and determined the winners the only fair way we could think of: We put their projects on the sidelines, armed the inventors with sporks, and threw them into an arena in a fight to the death ala Bloodsport! (Okay, again, this didn’t happen.. who makes these contest rules anyway?) The TR crew locked wits in the discussion as to who would place these past few weeks. Heated public debates were held, dirt-throwing campaign commercials were made, friendships were torn apart… and in the end we finally came to an agreement. Without further ado, here are the runners-up and winners, in suspense-building ascending order!

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Honorable Mention:
Swashbot!Flapper Fish!

Project: Swashbot(s) & Flapper Fish
Creator: CrabFu

You’re probably wondering: “Wait, why didn’t The Great Crabfu win??” Well, that’s exactly why. He’s too great! It wouldn’t be fair to let “Geppetto Emeritus” steal away first place, so we took him down a notch and gave him an honorable mention. This man might not even be human the way he produces robots, it seems like we had a new invention from him every other week! Keep em coming Crabfu!


Project: Walking CNC Router Robot
Creator: Matt Denton

Matt Denton, animatronics whiz of MicroMagic Systems is known for his incredible hexapods. If you’re not familiar with them, I suggest you check them out here. Well simply walking, dynamically balancing, and snapping pictures of people to post on it’s site (yes, the robot has a website) wasn’t enough for this Hexapod. Matt went ahead and taught it how to be a CNC router. That walks. Flashbacks from “Runaway” aside, this project is really amazing and shows how far robotic technology is progressing. He went all out and cut a 3D image of a face out of foam using the robot’s I.K. engine alone. Big kudos!

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Project: Butler Robot
Creator: airman00
Average Score: 7.1
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

Everyone always wanted their own Rosie the Robot as a kid right? Well meet Chives the Butler Bot. Good ol’ Chives here can pour drinks, respond to voice commands, has onboard vision processing and can be controlled via laptop or iPod Touch! To make things better, you can even build your own. Airman00 wrote up a comprehensive step by step guide to build your very own robotic butler! He even is provided all of his code as open source. Great job!

RC Truck

Project: RC Truck Robot Conversion
Creator: Orac
Average Score: 7.3
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

Leave it to one of our members to steal an R/C Truck from his kid and slap a computer on it. Regardless of this R/C Truck’s origins, its obvious that it is awesome. Orac took this car, modded it and added a fully functioning PC and a webcam to it. This not only gave it the option for off-road telepresence, it made it simultaneously chase and run away from orange colored balls. Like a puppy! A really ugly puppy. Made of plastic and metal.

Project: iLush Bartender
Creator: metaform3d
Average Score: 7.5
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

Okay, first of all, this robot serves booze. Do we really need to continue as to why this kicks ass? Metaform3d impressed the judges at Robogames 2008 with his iLush Bartender, which serves up mixed drinks and is controlled via a touchscreen computer. He ended up walking away with a gold in the Bartending category (Yes, there is a robo-bartending category). Wow!

Project: RoboCam
Creator: Norris56
Average Score: 7.7
Prize: $25 Gift Card to the Trossen Robotics Store

This isn’t your average telepresence bot, creator Steve Norris took this one to the next level. Starting off with just an iCreate base, he built a very professional looking robot that can be driven from anywhere there is internet. That’s right, the entire robot can be remotely piloted from across the globe via a custom web interface that Steve designed. He even armed it with a laser to assist with depth perception (I thought lasers were only supposed to be mounted on sharks?) I guess our only question is, when can we buy one?

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Third Place:

Project: XR-B3
Creator: lnxfergy
Average Score:8.7
Prize: Wowwee Alive Elvis

This cool little bot runs a custom microcontroller onboard that has a wireless link back to a computer, which handles the heavy lifting. And by heavy lifting we mean machine vision and room mapping capabilities. Not only is this impressive from a technical standpoint, it also has a very slick aesthetic, and overall a very impressive build quality to it. Be sure to check out the project page on this for more information and updates!

Second Place:

Project: AMOS-WD06
Creator: AMOS
Average Score: 9.3
Prize: Silverlit R/C X-UFO

This Hexapod is just downright impressive. The AMOS-WD06 (Advanced Mobility Sensor Driven-Walking Device) contains 21 actuators and 28 sensors and at its brain is a neural networked PDA. The programming behind this bot is what really makes it impressive as it is being designed to act and react like an insect. It exhibits Phototaxis, has a dynamic obstacle avoidance routine, will shy away from ‘predators’ and if you flip it on its back it can flip around and keep walking! We expect to see even more great things as this project develops.

First Place:

Project: Homebrew Wall-E
Creator: 4mem8
Average Score: 9.7
Prize: SG-5UT Robotic Arm

Well what can we say, we fell in love with this bot at first sight. We got to watch 4mem8 bring this guy to life and document every painstaking step that he took building this Wall-E robot from scratch. That’s right, this was not a kit, in fact he had the majority of it done far before the movie actually hit theaters and the toy stores were flooded with Wall-E merchandise. The robot itself is carved and crafted largely out of wood, and the rest from random parts found here and there… like a true ‘junk-bot‘ should be! 4mem8 has made a great contribution with his knowledge and experience in building bots, so we’re very proud present to him with the first place prize in this round of the TRC contest. Good job 4mem8! You earned it! Be sure to also check out 4mem8’s project on RoboCommunity.

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We would like to take this time to congratulate and thank everyone who participated in this round of the contest. Not only have we seen some amazing projects entered, but we’ve gained some really incredibly talented members in our community as a result. We look forward to the next round of our contest, keep tuned in for more info. You can stay up to date on contest rules and regulations at the Trossen Robotics Project Contest page, and start posting your projects in our Project Showcase Forum.

Announcement: Robot Tutorials Section in the TRC

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Another day, yet another exciting new feature added to the Trossen Robotics Community (TRC)!

We’ve had many requests from members to add a tutorials section to the TRC. The problem was that we could never find anything out there that we liked…. until now!

Introducing the Trossen Robotics Community Tutorials:

TRC Tutorials

Check out some of the awesome tutorials that have been added already:

Adding a Serial Port to the Make Controller” by Adrenalynn

How to Make a Swashbot” by the legendary Crabfu

Starting out with Hammer” by RobotGuy

How to Make a Generic Robot Platform” by 4mem8

How to Fabricate Humanoid Hands” by Droid Works

Programming in MAX/MSP” by Darkback2

How to Make Twisted Wire” by Sienna

plus many more

So, visit the TRC Tutorials section (register if you haven’t already), comment on member’s tutorials and start creating your own! No matter how large or small a tutorial, it’s sure to help out fellow roboticists. With everyone’s help building tutorials here in the TRC, we can create an invaluable resource for roboticists everywhere!

Thank you to all of the beta testers to help get the TRC Tutorials Section running!

February TRC Project Contest Winners!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

In case you’re new to the Trossen Robotics Community, here’s a quick refresher on how this contest works:  First, all kinds of fantastically talented and dedicated people come to our Project Showcase forum to tell us all about the projects they’ve been working on.  Periodically, we (the Trossen Robotics team) sort through these projects, and score them very scientifically in the following categories: "Wow" factor, Ingenuity, creativity, and presentation (this includes graphics, videos, documentation, explanation, etc.).  This is the fourth contest we’ve run here at Trossen Robotics, and the projects just keep getting cooler!  This time around, we extended the deadline and upped the stakes.  Since the last contest, the community has grown and expanded well beyond our expectations, and this has resulted in some of the best work we’ve seen yet.  If you showed off your project in our Project Showcase forum, give yourself a big ol’ pat on the back.  Now, let’s get to the meat and potatoes.  Here are the runners-up and winners, in suspense-building ascending order!

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Honorable Mention

Project: "Johnny 5.3"

Creator: Andrew Alter (Tyberius)

We’ve been working a little too closely with Andrew to let him enter the contest, but we can’t totally leave him hanging.  He’s been building a "Johnny 5"-inspired humanoid/trackbot hybrid, and it’s really coming together.  His brain (Johnny’s, not Andrew’s) is a Pico-ITX running Windows XP Pro.  It has a vocal synthesizer, great big grippers, a reinforced suspension system, a snarky personality, and I’ve heard that it drives around harassing Andrew’s baby.  It’s the embodiment of robotic awesomeness, in other words.  Check out his thread, picture gallery, and his blog.


Project: "Leviskate"

Creator: Rodger Cleye
Average Score: 7.63 / 10
Prize: $20 Trossen Robotics Gift Certificate!

The Leviskate is a "self-balancing motorboard."  Kind of like a Segway for people who really like head injuries.  Seriously though, this contraption is truly awesome.  There are some cool videos in Rodger’s thread, too.  Our favorite thing about the videos is that Rodger sounds genuinely amazed that it actually works.

Project: "The Bratinator Project"

Creator: SN96
Average Score: 7.67 / 10
Prize: $20 Trossen Robotics Gift Certificate!

It walks, it talks, it scares the kids.  It’s… the Bratinator.  Built around the Lynxmotion Brat biped, this monstrosity features speech, binaural hearing, a custom-machined aluminum head.

Project: "Gepetto"

Creator: darkback2
Average Score: 8.25 / 10
Prize: $20 Trossen Robotics Gift Certificate!

It really pains us to see Gepetto in the runners up, instead of placing in a cash-winning position, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.  This was a very close race.  This bot is beautifully made from wood and metal, has a really cool suspension system, carries its laptop brain around with it, and is programmed with some really interesting behavior/mood software.  That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, so you’ll have to read through the thread to see Gepetto’s full story.

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Third Place

Project: "eyeRobot"
Creator: Nathaniel Barshay
Average Score: 8.38 / 10
Prize: $100 Trossen Robotics Gift Certificate!

The eyeRobot is a robotic guide for people with vision impairments.  It has a whole slew of IR and ultrasonic range sensors for collision avoidance, and pathfinding software to keep it moving through the clearest area.  This was a proof-of-concept prototype meant to "marry the simplicity of the traditional white cane with the instincts of a seeing-eye dog."  This project is going places, and hopefully one day it will help other people go places.


Second Place

Project: "Frameless Laser Harp"
Creator: Stephen Hobley
Average Score: 8.88 / 10
Prize: $250 Trossen Robotics Gift Certificate!

Twenty-two years ago, he saw Jean-Michel Jarre play a laser harp at a concert, and from that day he’s been on a mission.  This mission finally came to fruition last month, when he completed his own laser harp, and let me tell you, it’s a pretty stunning piece of equipment.  Using a galvanometer to very rapidly and precisely aim a pulsing laser, light sensors to detect where a beam has been interrupted, and an Arduino brain; the harp sends MIDI control signals to a synthesizer.


First Place

Project: "Phoenix"
Creator: KÃ¥re Halvorsen
Average Score: 9.63 / 10
Prize: $500 Trossen Robotics Gift Certificate!

Phoenix is a six legged walking robot.  Wait, we know some of you out there may be thinking that hexapod robots are old hat.  Well, you’re wrong.  So very wrong.  Wait until you see it move.  Phoenix’s real beauty lies in her graceful motion, which is some of the most convincing and eerily lifelike that we’ve seen in a robot that uses standard hobby servos and a common off-the-shelf servo controller.  The kinematics are computed by an intricately programmed spreadsheet, which we highly recommend you check out if you’re a fan of trigonometry.

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We want to thank everyone for their great submissions.  If all goes as planned, the next contest (which is already underway) will conclude at the end of May 2008.  You can stay up to date on contest rules and regulations at the Trossen Robotics Project Contest page, and start posting your projects in our Project Showcase Forum.