davee is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Dave Evartt
Member since: 2002-07-17 05:44:38
Last Login: 2010-08-04 14:24:22

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Homepage: wehali.com


I have built several robots over the years, both autonomous and the R/C variety (not really robots but...). The first was a rug warrior several years ago using the 68HC11. It was my introduction to real life robotics. Several other robots were built using the motorola chip. I also have built a couple of full sized robots using wheel chair motors, a stamp, and a vantec controller.

I have designed and built a coprocessor for sonar transducers and a pair of sonar glasses for the blind.

I have 27 years experience as a systems programmer and prototype developer(hardware and software).

I recently restored an antique hovercraft, the only one ever built in a John Deere factory. As you can see, I just like to tinker.

Programming languages include Basic, Pic Basic, Visual Basic, Basic 4, forth, LOGO, Pascal (now Delphi), ASM (8080, 8085, Varian 77, IBM 360, 8086, 80286, 68CH11), C, C++, CADOL, Prolog, Perl, Python, C Shell, Bourne Shell, PL\M, Powerbuilder, Cold Fusion (my favorite),ASP, Javascript, JSP, and Java. nuf said.


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26 Jul 2004 (updated 26 Jul 2004 at 13:14 UTC) »

Two things new to report:

  1. I created some firmware for the SG5 Robotic Arm from Crustcrawler. This is, by the way, a pretty nice arm even though it comes with no software at all. Since it uses a BS2P for it's brains, I wrote a command processor for it to allow anyone to control the arm through simple commands via the serial port of their computer using nothing more than hyperterminal. It's simple really, you just send commands to the indifidual joints with the angle that you want the joint to travel to. The first letter of the joint is used as a prefix so to send the elbow joint to 90 degrees, you just send a 'E90', same for the wrist, gripper, base and shoulder. In addition, since the serial controller that the arm uses is a 16 channel controller and the arm only uses 6 of the channels, you can also send a raw command to any of the other 10 channels by sending something like this: 0123 would send channel 0 to position 123. the 123 is NOT an angle but is the actual value sent to the controller which happens to be approximatly 123 thousandths of the way between the low limit and the high limit (250 being the usual low and 1250 being the usual high). You can also set the ramp speed and calibrate the arm so there is a reasonable expecation that when you command a joint to a given angle, it will be reasonably close.
  2. I've also created a program, written in Visual Basic to sequence the arm so that the arm can do something interesting. It adds a delay command to allow a joint to move before the next command is sent. It also allows comments (VB style) to be placed into the sequenced data. It is still primitive but it allows you to create sequences of commands that can be repeated and that can be saved for future runs. I'm planing on adding some sensor to the arm, so this program will eventually be able to sense three things, IR range, CMUCAM and flexiforce pressure sensors, will allow us to detect objects, measure the distance to the object and control grip pressure.
I've also decided to add the ability of the program to act as a webserver, so that other programs can access the arm through the interface without having to write their own code to do it.

At some point, I hope to be able to say 'Find the beer can, pick it up and drop it at 111,123,123 coordinates and have the arm use the amera to find the can, send appropriate commands to the arm to position it and pick it up with just enough grip to lift the can. This will take some doing as the integration of the sensors into the arm controller will be interesting to say the least. Not to mention that my math skills will have to take another beating, but hey, that's the lot of a robot engineer.

I'm hoping the folks at Crustcrawler will add my software to their arm, but so far it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Oh well, I need the software anyway, so I have no problem writing it. Anyone interested can email me at davee@wehali.com for details.

It's been awhile since I posted here, but things have been very busy. On the robot side, I've added a hewxcrawler to my stable and last week added another robotic arm. This one is the SG5 Robotic Arm from Crustcrawler. It did come with any software to control the arm so I wrote a controller for the stamp that came with it. Now I can control the arm with very simple commands from any serial device. I'm hoping the fols at crustcrawler will add it to their arm but I don't think it's going to happen. Oh well. I am now in the process of adding a CMUcam, IR rangefinder and some flexiforce sensors to the gripper to make the gripper and arm more intelligent.

Strabo Pathfinder continues to grow in complexity as more and more robots adapt Strabo. If you want to give your robot the ability to move about freely, you owe it to yourself to check Strabo out.

We are trying to find robot conferences to go to so we can show it off but we're not having a lot of success at it.

I've started another robot project. This one is a PC based full sized robot that will be fully functional with the ability to go indoors and out. The mobile platform is a tread based design using treads off a garden machine. Will be using the wheelchaire motors off the battlebot, vantec ESC, shafte encoders, Ultrasonic, IR and Video for collision detection and object recognition. It will also have a propane powered gas generator to keep the batteries charged. DGPS, Digital compass and Strabo for navigation. Since the PC already has seech recognition and Text to Speech, that will be integrated along with a redundant wireless connection to the Strabo server. All of this will be built into the base. I hope to be able to have this running by mid March and by then, I should have an idea about what to put on the base. I am thinking about several possiblilties, but it certainly will have arms and grippers to grab things.

Strabo continues to get excellent reviews. The program now supports 2 way communications, maps up to 500 feet on a side, map import and export, resize and a few other goodies.

Strabo Pathfinder seems to be a big hit. I never realized how feature poor the personal robot industry is. Still, it's getting better.

So far, only the people who have ER1s know about Strabo Pathfinder though the rest of the world is finding out.

Strabo Pathfinder is probably the only robot independant software on the planet.

Anyway, release 1 is in the can and is getting rave reviews. Release 2 is in the works, though only on the drawing board at this time. I think my attempt to create a robotics company is starting to pay off.

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