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The Biggest BEAM Robot
Tuesday, 10 July 2007

C6jones720 has given me some pictures and info to publish about his 914, which he has simply named 'Happy Robot'.

Chris got hold of the 9-Series development platform in it's most basic form so that he could build as much of it as possible to custom requirements. Chris says the following - click on the pics for bigger versions:

Here's my new robot out of the box - thanks to Rich, Tom and White Box Robotics!:
I redesigned the wiring loom  - that's the schematic in the background, and also added this power splitting module to allow easy access to the various power rails:
My new computer, a Jetway J7F2 mini-itx – it wasn't the default board but it was pretty cheap and features a Via C7 CPU!. Hang on a minute... don’t I need a fan for this? (The computer turns itself off at 50’C):
A trip to Maplin's later and Ive added two fans. The computer now runs at about 20’Celsius, which is fine by me. I’ve used Inventa (which is like Lego) to permanently mount the fans in place. So next comes the joy of installing an operating system:
Guess what - my girlfriend didn’t enjoy the mess I made (for two days).

So now I've got a robot that almost does something. Now the robot has two great batteries in the base and an estimated 2/3 hour run time, I don’t think anybody has come up with a docking station yet so I thought to myself - Hmm I wonder if I can charge the batteries on the fly? So I came up with the crazy idea of charging my robot using solar panels when the main power switch is turned off.
It just so happens that at work they were scrapping a load of 24V heavy duty solar cells. I asked my boss nicely and I ended up with one. These were originally fitted to coin-op pay-and-display car park ticket machines as their only source of external power:

I fixed it to the rear of my robot to see how feasible it was - it's pretty big.

Here's the 914 robot complete with a 10W 24v solar cell - it’s a Solarex SX10 and I also got a solar charge regulator to go with it. I don’t think the regulator is that efficient, the designer used linear electronics so there's a big power transistor (heater) to bleed off excess current. I could have designed one myself but, hey it was free!
See if you’re lucky you can get about 12-15volts out of it, which is about enough to charge a lead acid battery.
So there we go, Mark Tilden Eat your heart out!. This must be the worlds biggest BEAM robot! – there's only one thing, this has been the worst British summer for ages!. Living in England means the sun is in short supply so realistically in order to charge my batteries up I have to detach the panel from the robot and put it in my window sill, which stops it being portable.
I can imagine that in a hotter country like most of the US or Europe, where there is more light, this would make a much more practical project.

Chris will give us some more updates as his work progresses. If you have any similar news or views then let me know and I'll give you a share of front page fame!

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