Name: Stanley Harmon
Member since: 2003-08-23 01:52:13
Last Login: 2012-03-24 00:39:04


The interest in robots has been growing in me for some time now. My oldest son and I actually built a simple robot-like entity once. We used Tinker Toys (support frame, axles, and wheels), a block of wood (deck on frame), an appliance motor (propulsion), a rubber band (belt from motor to axles), Scotch Tape ("glue" replacement for prototyping), a double A battery pack (holds batteries in place), and 4 double a batteries (power for motor) in the construction of it. We had a great deal of fun sending it back and forth to each other across the living room carpet. Once that became "old" we decided to try something bigger. However, lawn mowing and sports got in the way of robot building. In fact, my son went off to do sports and I went off to mow the lawn. I guess my next project will be to make a set of robots to mow the lawn for me. As a software engineer*, this isn't too hard to simulate. However, my hardware knowledge is out dated. To help fix this problem, I am looking into the possibility of obtaining a Master degree in Robotics from one of the local colleges. My current plan is to start in the Fall of 2004. Until then, I guess I will just keep upgrading the old carpet crosser.

* I have been working as a software engineer for about 15 years. My primary languages are Ada, C, and C++. I recently started working with TCL/TK. As for operating systems, I like working with Linux.

Recent blog entries by The Time Keeper

9 Sep 2003 (updated 2 Oct 2003 at 03:41 UTC) »

Well, I guess I need to learn how to count. I actually have three areas with significant inclination angles in my yard. The angles in question are approximately 45, 60, and 75 degrees. Thus, the maximum inclination angle is approximately 75 degrees.

My current choice for framing material is Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. PVC pipe is inexpensive, light weight, and locally available in quantity. The only known drawback for this material is that it melts quickly when exposed to heat.


This week I plan to work on the general shape, size, and mobility of my robot(s). A model should help bring these things into perspective. My attention will be focused on safety, usability, cleanup, and storage.

As time allows, I will start reviewing An Introduction to Embedded Linux Development Using the Sharp Zaurus SL5500 as Target" by Richard A. Sevenich. It will be interesting to see if these "Embedded Linux Development" techniques match what I have learned over the last several years.


There will soon be a time when I will no longer be able to avoid topics such as steering and traction.


Well, I have thought about my new robot for a couple of weeks now. I started with the take care of everything in the yard robot, added a touch of reality, and ended up with a robot that will be able to cut and aerate the lawn.

After researching robot lawnmowers (both commercial and homemade), I have discovered an interesting commonality. They all work on level surfaces. Thus, these creations will not free me from my lawn mowing prison. Why? Because, my yard has two areas with considerable inclines.

As for budget, I would like to submit that a brand new ride-on mower can now be purchased for about $900 US. Furthermore, a brand new robot lawnmower can be zooming around my yard for about $700 US. So, to prevent my creative plans from turning into purchase plans, I have decided to set my budget at about $150 US.


This week I hope to measure the maximum inclination angle for both areas of concern in my yard. This will allow me to differentiate between the areas of inclination and the drop-off (curb) by the end of my driveway.

Another topic of interest for this week is the framing material. I am looking for a low cost framing material that will cleanup easily after use.


There will soon be a time when I will no longer be able to avoid topics such as steering and traction.


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