Well, here is my first diary post. I would like to first explain a little about what I am working on.
I am currently working with my first walking robot "Zept02" to modify and improve upon. I just recently expanded the I/O interfaces to a breadboard mounted on it's back for R and D. The main processor is a Parallax Basic Stamp 2sx, mounted on a custom made PCB with a voltage monitor & regulating circuit, as well as various relays and connectors. The voltage monitor is a cmos 555 timer configured with independent trigger and threshold circuits for the voltage level detector, and the output is fed into a regulator circuit, which controls the outputs to the various components. This is used to correctly maintain the Ni-cad batteries used for the assembly. Which is done by putting the processor into sleep mode and disconnecting the SSC from the power source. With the use of this circuit the robot will not walk until it's fully charged again. It recharges itself by searching out the highest light source to charge the batteries with a solar panel array. Because Solar Cells can only produce approximately 10-20% rated with average room illuminescense, it has a charge circuit that uses a dual charge pump for low light levels. It can take more then a week to fully charge indoors.
Power Ratings - Batteries: 4 (2x2) 1.2Ah 3.6V Ni- cad Cells (7.2V 2.4Ah); Current: 1.6A walking, 4-20mA idle (depending on accessories, charge pump for solar panels draws aprox. 8-10mA), 20-25uA sleeping; Charging: external jack input regulated for 9-15V, and 12(6x2) 3V @ 40mA photovoltaic panels (Solar Cells) connected to a dual charge pump witch produces about 8.6V 40-50mA in average room illuminescense (100W lamp @ 4-5 feet, actual values vary some); Weight: 4.7 lbs fully loaded, capable of lifting approximately 5.5 lbs
Here is what I have planned next:
I just recently ordered several different AVR micro's to test a new multi-processor design I am creating. As well as a good supply of other misc components and hardware. While I am waiting to pay off my AMEX card and save up for the next purchase, I will be working on communication designs.
The new design will incorporate various systems to control serial communications with a base unit as well as other devices. I am developing this for the next walking robot. The idea is to have the robots interact with each other, as well as communicate with a central stationary system. (Laptop) I am planning to build several small modules for both IR and RF serial communications.
After I can build and test a few of these communication modules I will start working on the next couple of walking robots. The plan is (pending funds) to build at least 4 walking robots that can interact with each other. The actual hardware design is still in the drawings and not set to plan yet. But I am planning to try out a few different hardware designs for the new robots.
I started this new project based on an idea from a recent article about an MIT award recipient, and his design for a swarm of tiny rovers that interact with each other, as well as other related articles.
Hope I can find the time for all this programming.