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Friday, August 29, 2014

Uploading Old Projects - Part 1

Project Frogo

My first attempt at a autonomous robot


A while ago (2010) I got very interested in robotics. I wanted to build a robot so I went out and bought a bunch of parts from Digikey and Pololu,

I based my design on the Atmel Xplain development kit for the brains and used motors and wheels from Pololu.

My original goal was a four wheeled robot with ultrasound sensors and bumpers so that it could navigate itself around a room. A lot like the iRobot Roomba vacuum machines. When I first started sketching out my idea my wife mentioned that it looks a lot like a frog, so she nicknamed it "Frogo". So it became my project name!

My original vision:
  • Four wheeled, controlled by DC motors with encoders
  • Double decker wood base
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries
  • Breadboard for some glue circuitry (i.e. power regulators, motor drivers, etc.)
  • "Frog eyes" i.e. ultrasound sensors
  • Brains by Atmel Xplain development kit
  • 4.3" LCD screen for diagnostic purposes as well as to look cool

When I bought the parts and built the robot, it ended up with the following:
  • Four Two wheeled, controlled by DC motors with encoders (I used a caster in the front)
  • Double decker Single wood base
  • Powered by 4 AA batteries
  • Breadboard for some glue circuitry (i.e. power regulators, motor drivers, etc.)
  • "Frog eyes" i.e. ultrasound sensors
  • Brains by Atmel Xplain development kit
  • 4.3" LCD screen for diagnostic purposes as well as to look cool

I was able to build a framework so that it could move in different directions based on commands. At first I programmed those commands to go straight, then go left, then go right, etc.

I used the DMA features of the XMega uC to do the encoder reading; therefore, I was able to move the robot in a certain direction at a certain distance. I used some math involving diameter of the wheel and encoder counts to get a relatively accurate read on distance.

I was building up towards adding a ZigBee radio so that I could control the robot via a computer, sort of like an RC car. I would have used that as a platform to further investigate robotics.

Unfortunately I did not get to finish this project as some life priorities came up and I had to abandon it (I moved homes and this little guy got packed away). 

In any case it was a fun project. I learned some new skills, specifically how to model in 3D with SolidWorks.

The whole point of this blog and future projects is to get back to these sort of fun projects where I am learning new skills and applying my knowledge to challenge myself and make some cool stuff.

Here's the information on the project with the source files on Git Hub


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