Experimental Robot Platform





Introduction: Experimental Robot Platform

The goal of this robot is to give me a platform that is upgradeable and customizable so that I would not need to build a new robot chassis for each new idea I want to try out. I have been working on this robot off and on for almost a year now.

I want it capable of entering many different types of robot contests, from Trinity to MOBOT and others. It is being designed to do *everything* like a robot really should. My philosophy says a robot designed to be good at only one task is no better than a dishwasher =P

As a side note, I am keeping a journal documenting more of the specific details. Feel free to check it out if you aren't satisfied with the summarized info I put in this instructable:

Step 1: The Mechanical Design

I designed the entire robot using CAD software.

This is an early concept CAD rendering of it that I made:

I used FEA software to design both the robot arm (see image) and the suspension system. The robot arms consist of multiple servos, and one of them has a controllable gripper. I custom machined all parts using a CNC out of delrin.

I made a video documenting on how I made the suspension system. What makes this suspension system new and unique is that its made from just one single easy to manufacture part!

To give good friction to the custom wheels, I rolled up some sticky rubber and bandsaw'ed a long strip of it. It then went right around the wheel (see images).

The final design is the last image.

This is a video of my robot arm testing below. The robot is drivin by two servos.

Step 2: The Electronics

There was no good microcontroller on the market that can handle all the features I needed.

So using Eagle CAD software I custom designed my own microcontroller, which I call the Axon. It is 100% RoHS compliant, as is the rest of the robot (meaning, lead free and environmentally safe).

It has tons of features, like 16 ADC, 4 UARTs, USB, a bootloader, 55+ I/O, 16MHz, 64kb of flash, and 8kb of RAM.

To mount it, I first screwed on some spacers (see first image). Then I put it on the ERP and attached all the sensor and servo wires (second image).

Step 3: The Sensors

On the head there are two sensors.

The main sensor is the Blackfin Robot Camera which I connected up to my Axon microcontroller.

Below the camera I attached a simple Sharp IR rangefinder to measure distances of whatever the camera can see.

I then programmed it to use its head to track a white line and entered it into the CMU MOBOT contest:

Step 4: Adding Personality

The key trick to adding a personality to a robot is posing the arms and a pan/tilt head. Additionally, make it do 'human-like' activities.

Check out the images for a better idea of what I mean . . .

And nothing says 'personality' more than ninja skills!

Step 5: Robot Vision

The ERP can do more than just track white lines!

By using middle mass detection, the ERP can track colors and even fire!

Step 6: Vote for This Robot!

If you've felt entertained or educated by my hard work, please vote for this instructable on the contest page!

If you have any questions on how to build this robot or others, feel free to ask any questions you like. I'd be happy to help.

thanks for reading! =)

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    Can you please write a step by step instructable on the axon microcontroller.

    Great 'ible! Love the final product. Could you go into a bit more detail though? How was the RoboFest or whatever? Looked fun!

    Hi there, I'm 15 and have no prior experience with programming of any kind (I make BEAM robots); could you give me a brief description and list of these programming languages or at least tell me where I could learn them. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    1 reply

    Hi I don't answer robot questions in email because it can get quite tedious if it isn't a community effort. Try posting your question here, there are several experts that will probably have good advice: http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum (try searching the forum first) John (admin) www.societyofrobots.com

    Nice one.. I lik it.. please mail me.... how to build this robo. smkumaran.n@gmail.com

    Nice robot, like the wheels, don't pay any attention to people telling you your spokes are crooked >_

    1 reply

    the spokes are crooked for a reason not just looks. to sum them up they are pretty much just a one piece suspension system.

    Nice Platform, I know what you mean when you say that your tired about making multi platforms as i do alot of the time, If was was going to replacate your project I would need to have it larger but thats not a problem. plus nice programming skills in C, But I like PBasic and VBasic, I guess its just because I really never gave C and C++ the time to learn but I do know some of it and can follow it to convert it to PBasic.

    9 replies

    If you want to program robots, you gotta learn C . . .

    It's hard out here for a pimp (robot programmer)! First I learned BASIC for picaxe...then went to a little C, then I started taking online classes with MIT and they teach Python! Gah!!! I'm so tired of learning languages! Not to even mention the g-code/mazatrol I learned for work (I program robotic CNC lathes for living :D) Can't we just have a standard people. I vote for C.

    I vote PHP (which really is good for things outside of web development as well)

    I don't think PHP would work well in a robotics situation. I can and will be proven wrong me thinks. C seems like a good standard to agree on it. Even Arduino uses a variation of C. I really want to get out of Arduino for basic projects but I've just got to take the plunge to learn about Picaxes and then learn from there.

    The idea for PHP is kinda a joke (because it will never happen, most people don't even know you can use it for day-to-day programing). I am positive you COULD use it for a robot, but I don't know if it would be as effective as using C. I can't code THAT great in PHP, I have only seen tons of great things done with it. I cannot code at all in C so my opinion on the matter kinda gets nulled anway... but I know it can be done.

    Yeah, PHP works great for Web stuff. Without it, well tonnes of stuff wouldn't exist. However it could be argued that in the absence of it's existence, another language would have been created to fill it's void.

    Whoops forgot what I wanted to originally add to this instructable. Kudo's to poster for making their own boards with that many io pins. :O :O

    Not really the Parrallax chip is a great chip to make robots with. Knowing C is a plus for the other platforms that use a diffrent MCUs, I am learning to program PICs which does use C so I guess I have no choise but to really hit the books. I know that with C you can do a lot more than PBasic I guess thats why alot of people use it. Just call me an old timmer you stay whith what you first learned and to change is very hard but I'll get it. You talked me into it. Thanks

    the OOPic is better =p


    Bravo! I love to learn and build one just like Erp. Take a bow Erp! Gil

    Very nice, compact PCB. I have a question for you. Currently I use DipTrace for my stuff and not familiar with Eagle3D. Does Eagle3D really let you custom design microcontrollers? Is this done at the VLSI level? Drag and drop?