Lego Mindstorms Ramp Crawler

Sam's first attempt

Sam's first attempt to cross the bridge, turn and park. Initially we had it turning once it had the first parking pad but the tracks would not allow it to spin in a short enough distance.

This is adapted from the basic shooter bot from the plans from the mindstorms set./p>

MB Prototype 1

Megablock RC hacked with Arduino

One technical hurdle with using motors with any sort of microcontroller is how to handle the additional power needs that are required. I ordered an Adafruit motor controller but I wanted to get some sort of test bot going before it arrived. Looking around the house I discovered 2 old Megablock remote controlled cars. I figured I could salvage the motors at least but then I discovered that most RC cars contain the same cheap, the Realtek RX2 H-Bridge (Word Doc), and you can tie right into that and let it handle the power requirements.

Here's the first hack of the platform. I hope to turn the two RC platforms into our first bots. This initial prototype is using some hacked code from Dinofab's Rumblebots. Note that he has the 'blob' style RX2 chip, same idea, different look. JB Projects has more details and schemas for the RX2 Chip

I have the Parallax ping distance set a little too high as you can see in the video - the distance before the turn could be halved. I just have some lego holding the battery and pinger on (one advantage of using the Megablock) until I get something better fabricated up. Once that is done I will add the light sensor for detecting the outside boundaries of a sumo area.

Arduino - The missing link

In 2010 we became self-aware

Spent a large amount of time reading Make magazine while we were vacationing in Mexico this winter. Many of the projects involve using a Arduino microcontroller. A microcontroller serves as the interface between hardware (servos, sensors, motors) and software (programming). I have always been interested in robotics but I never really liked programming in low level code to control those kind of interfaces. The Arduino does the interfacing so now I can build hardware components (fun) plug them into the arduino (easy) and then program the hell out of it (super fun™).

The goal is for us (the kids and I) to build a few sumo robots and battle them out and then modify hardware and code on the loser. I have a few techinical hurdles to pass first. I now have the ability to solder IC boards but I lack a warm cozy spot to do it as the shop still isn't heated. I plan to build a seperate work bench for hardware/software projects like this soon.

In the meantime, marvel at all the very distinct (and cool) useless things you can make with arduino's. Enjoy!