Tinkertrons: Make Artificial Neurons For Robots

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Picture of Tinkertrons: Make Artificial Neurons For Robots
Tinkertrons are an attempt to make a cross between a circuit board and a bread board--a kind of universal circuit. These plug and play circuits are designed to be easily assembled and interfaced like tinker toys. They are designed to be easy to rearrange and interconnect. Any Tinkertron can communicate with any other Tinkertron in several ways and the interface allows for parallel processing.

The goal is to create a crude approximation of living neurons and to discover a neural network that is more effective than standard circuits and the standard programming used to control robots.

Pic 2 shows the first real world test of a soft robot arm that is controlled by robot neurons. To see a video and instructable on the robot you can go here:
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Step 1: Tinkertron Neural Network

Picture of Tinkertron Neural Network
Step 1 pic shows a diagram of the Tinkertron neural network. The illustration was made using an excellent free program called Scheme-It. Available from Digi-Key:

The Tinkertron schematics were also made with this program.

Robot Neurons
Robot neurons can communicate with each other by serial or I2C protocols. They each have infrared LED's which can signal their status to the programmer or to other neurons with receivers. They also have any available input/output pins connected to header sockets which can be used to directly connect to any other neurons with 24 gauge wire.

Types of Neurons
At this point there are three main types of Tinkertron neurons:

1. Sensor neurons that interface with different sensors such as switches, compasses, infrared sensors, etc.

2. Master neurons that poll sensors, decide on responses and tell the actuator neurons what sequences of outputs to activate.

3. Activator neurons are all different. Each is designed to activate a stepper motor, regular motor, servo, LED's, or other device. They receive serial commands and do whatever the master neurons tell them to.

Additional Circuits
Each neuron has four header sockets at a diagonal that are used to program the Picaxe processors. Additional circuits such as memory, display, infrared receivers, or others, can be attached here.
u97110 months ago

Would like to make a couple of these at some point,awesome idea and easy to follow designs.

Amazing concept, do you have a schematic for the actuator neuron? It seems like those are two 18x picaxes on there.
fretted2 years ago
If it was air conditioning or plumbing i could do it but these schematics scare me lol
replace valves with transistors, little diameter pipes with resistors and surge tanks with capacitors, and you're half way there :)
im37332 years ago
Hmm... If one was to build enough of these to be able to teach the robot to build more... assuming it had enough resources, I wonder how long it would take for it to either A) reach the functional capacity this design can support (likely due to attenuation from the wires), or B) gain sentience.
budhaztm im37332 years ago
Interesting question. And how long until terminator?
Or, more disturbingly, Replicators...
Yes, but which would be more disturbing, Pegasus Replicators or Milky Way Replicators? In any case, so long as we 1, leave out all agression programming (meaning don't try to make them weapons) and 2, don't piss off the AI they view as "mom", I think we'll be ok.
Realistically speaking using an AI program to have conversations combined with a humanoid robot such as the ASIMO is possible. However there are complications with the 'sentience' part.

Using a few instructables from this site and innovative thinking it is possible to use human motion fed into AI program to a humanoid robot and mimic the movements to become its own. this theoretically can help get a robot standing again if it falls over or prevent it from falling in the first place.
this is a good link for the idea of moving and mimic. all you have to do is wear a suit with movment and flex sensors

if you use the neurons from this instructable and replicate muscles from!/
it entirely possible to make a human like arm too mimic human movment. however compressed air could be a difficulty it could be converted to using distilled water and a pumps.

you can create synthetic 'feelers' or a skin around your humanoid robot as well as temptature sensors. plug the receptors into the neuron chips and you could even put in a bypass in case it touches a spike in temptature to react with out signals having to go to the main processing unit. (kind of like the human reflex.)

all of these together could get you somewhere close to your terminator all you have to do is program a goal for it to complete.

So to answer your question budhaztm, it is getting closer.
Mr.Stein2 years ago
This is a great idea. I attached a schematic for a power module.
mikey77 (author)  Mr.Stein2 years ago
Thank you for your contribution.

I do not understand why you used a .sch file which I and most people don't know how to open without a special program.

If you sincerely want to share, you could simply post a JPEG.
iceng2 years ago
Lots of work goes into this.....   .   .   .     A
marc.cryan2 years ago