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aibo_rescue
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SENS-O-RAMA ... - 2007/04/28 17:44 Some of you already know about this little PC-BOT project of mine, and since I have completed a prototype I thought I will share the first installment with the forum. It's a "come-back" exercise and learning experience for me. I have not done anything like this for twenty years or so.

The project is a passive environmental sensor array that lets you to use the bot as a security device or "house-sitter" when used with Windows remote desktop. It's a self contained module with temperature, humidity, movement (PIR), distance (small PING sonar)), and touch sensors (QTouchT chip) and a small LCD (2x16) screen. The module displays sensor data on its LCD screen, as well as send the data down to serial [RS or USB] port from which it can be picked up by any application. The module's internals are based on BASIC Stamp processor and PBASIC, and the external application was done in VB2005. Next, I need to move the hardware prototype from breadboard to permanent board, and install the board and sensors in enclosure that fits into 5.25" bay.

You might ask why a touch sensor? Right now the touch sensor lights up the LCD screen and sends confirmation down to serial port. The intention is to interface this application or data with bots motion system and use the touch sensor as an emergency stop/break. Other possibilities for the BASIC Stamp setup are: home automation based on X-10 protocol, remote IR control working two ways, the bot could control other devices, or the bot could be controlled by a remote control, as well as various light/line sensing abilities that could assist in auto-docking/charging.

Here is the hardware ... still a prototype:





Here are the window captures of two small apps:
It's more flexible with video feed being in its own video monitor app rather than a small video frame being included in sensors monitor app.





This and my immediate next project was inspired by the event that occurred in our house in the very first minute of PC-BOT operation. The bot lost its head (plastic cover) after frontal assault on the coffee table. It had no awareness of it, and there was nothing I could do to prevent the accident in 2-3 seconds I had to react since the switch was in the front under the shell beyond my reach ... since then I call it max-headroom syndrome. My immediate next project will be active distance sensor module based on one or more PING sonar sensors (2cm to 360cm range) that can pan (either by moving the robot, or robot's head, or sensor platform) and tilt up and down to check for table tops and other suspended obstacles.

No more blind spots ...

I will post more details (pictures, component list, electrical drawings, applications and source code) on my website when the project is completed. Meantime, if anybody needs more information, or applications/source code, please let me know. It's not much and not pretty but available.

BTW, did I mention that my bot's name is MAX HEADROOM ...

Post edited by: aibo_rescue, at: 2007/04/28 10:15
Best ... Richard
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jamesbruton
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Re:SENS-O-RAMA ... - 2007/04/28 19:32 That looks pretty existing, I'm thinking about adding more sensors myself at the moment - especially placed, as you've experienced, above the beak sensors where there's s blind spot that's just the right height for coffee tables.

Let me know when you've done the write-up so I can give it a share of front page fame and categorize it in the enthisiast project section.
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aldebaron
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Re:SENS-O-RAMA ... - 2007/04/28 22:14 aibo_rescue wrote:
Meantime, if anybody needs more information, or applications/source code, please let me know. It's not much and not pretty but available.

I'm definitely interested. My bot is in process of the head mod so is tabletop only for time being, but would be very interested, pretty or not, in learning and keeping up, especially as it will relate to pan/tilt capability.
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motters
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Re:SENS-O-RAMA ... - 2007/04/29 06:17 For indoor use I've also found the Sharp infrared ranging sensors to be quite good, although their beam width is narrower than for sonar.
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jamesbruton
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Re:SENS-O-RAMA ... - 2007/04/29 08:00 The 914 already comes with 8 Sharp's and an option to add another 8. It works great out of the box for walls, drops, and general objects - with the exception of things that are suspended just above it's downward facing three-Sharp-IR-beak-sensor-array, like the top of a coffee table...

Post edited by: jamesbruton, at: 2007/04/29 00:01
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aibo_rescue
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Re:SENS-O-RAMA ... - 2007/04/29 11:13 The choice of sonar sensors was based on their specs and potential location somewhere in bot's head. As James mentioned, that is an area of bot's blind spot and is also located farthest from the floor.

The installed Sharp IR sensors have effective ranges of 10 to 80 cm and 20 to 150 cm. The sonar sensor is more flexible. Its min measured distance is 2 cm and its max measured distance is 300 cm and more. I've got good credible measurements from 2 cm to 360 cm (nearly 4 yards).

That extra coverage can make a significant difference when we attempt to use the bot to map the area and really let it move around. The sonar sensor's 2 cm min is also just right to move the bot out of the way, or position it for charging, right against the wall.

Post edited by: aibo_rescue, at: 2007/04/29 03:14
Best ... Richard
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