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Mean And Fast: The Extreme Build 914 PC-BOT!
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
Wow! PC-BOT's to the extreme! This is the latest creation from Tom's workbench, the "Extreme Build" 914 PC-BOT that you may remember Tom had previously mentioned in the forums. I asked Tom why he decided to build this 'bot and also asked what makes it so "Extreme". He said: "I wanted to take an off-the-shelf 914 and push the performance and aesthetic envelope. This is an extreme build as compared to an off the shelf 'bot...not necessarily "extreme" in the PC world of things. But, even compared to his PC brethren, he holds his own! First, the specs of the "Extreme Build" 'bot:

-PC-BOT Name: Vincent
-RIN: WBR 5106-000122
-CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz mobile processor
-Mainboard: Commell LV-677 Mini-ITX
-RAM: 2 GIG DDR
-Hard Drive: Seagate Momentous 2.5" 100 GIG 7200 RPM
-Laptop style DVD-Burner
-D-Link DI-524 wireless router (mounted in head)
-Web Cam: Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX
-Two 5.25" bay speaker systems (one in front bay one in rear bay)
-AeroCool 5.25" dual bay temperature / fan monitoring accessory.
-Paint: Base coat / clear coat Acura TSX Red with Cadillac CTS Silver accents
-Operating System: Windows XP Pro
-PC-BOT Control Application: Microsoft Robotics Studio V1.0
-Additional Application Software: ZabaWare -Ultra Hal Assistant, Open Office
-Additional Accessories: Acer 3620 laptop for use as a "terminal"

Tom states that the Intel Core 2 Duo CPU with 2 GIG of RAM behind it gives the PC-BOT an immediately noticeable performance boost...the entire robot is more responsive. Tom says that Vincent was just "activated" and he hasn't had much time to put the Core 2 Duo CPU through it's paces. A full test of the new robot's performance is due in the coming weeks.

Many of you are probably wondering about heat issues and battery life with the Intel processor. Preliminaries show the new CPU running at roughly 137 degrees at the top end with roughly two hours of battery life. Admittedly, these numbers come from simply letting Vincent wander around the lab... more CPU intensive tasks will obviously turn different numbers. Tom says "stay tuned for further testing".

In order to use the Commell Mini-ITX a slight modification of the robots power supplies are necessary. Capacitor C35 needs to be replaced with a 10nF (6.3V or higher, Case size=0603). Currently, C35 is 22nF and that causes a timing race. Once that mod was made, the Commell board functioned flawlessly with the existing power supplies.

Also, I asked Tom "Why two 5.25" bay speakers on the 'bot?", it Turns out that during crowded, noisy demos one speaker assembly isn't enough to shout above the crowd. He says two works just fine.

What's ahead for Vincent? Among others, Tom is working on some advanced speech recognition projects with both cellular and VIOP technologies.
"The Extreme Build 914 PC-BOT was a blast to build" says Tom. "So many talented people were involved and several companies were very, very gracious in sponsoring product for the Extreme Build 'bot. The bulk of the "horse power" came from BWI (www.bwi.com). They sponsored the 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, Commell LV-677 Mini-ITX mainboard, 2 GIG of DDR RAM, and the Seagate Momentous 100 GIG 7200RPM 2.5" hard drive. They were excited to be involved and were eager to provide Vincent with the additional brain power.

BWI is a treasure trove of cool technology for the 914 PC-BOT. They have an extensive line of consumer PC parts and accessories, but some of the real fun is in the industrial PC products that they carry. I found all kinds of unique industrial PC products that lend themselves perfectly to the 914. I encourage all PC-BOT owners to check out the site. There's some serious projects waiting to happen with BWI's industrial hardware! I'd also like to thank the kind folk's at Aerocool (www.aerocool.us) for sponsoring the Gatewatch 2 temperature and fan monitor found in Vincents two lower 5.25" bays. With the Intel's higher operating temperature it was beneficial to have the Gatewatch 2 monitoring Vincent's internal temp (CPU, VGA, Chassis, and Hard Drive) and controlling additional cooling fans accordingly. Aerocool also sponsored some of their other fine products that you'll see featured in upcoming PC-BOT builds."

Please see the rest of the pictures that I have placed in the image gallery. This article will remain in the Enthusiast Projects section for future reference.

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