earlwb is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Earl Bollinger
Member since: 2002-10-01 18:46:07
Last Login: 2004-08-12 19:24:12

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Homepage: www.earl.bollinger.net


Robotics, Microcontrollers, computer programming. I've been working with computers since about 1974. My son is only been doing it for a few years now. My son and I have built a number of robots and placed well in the local robotics competitions. We are a member of DPRG in the Dallas Texas area.

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I thought I'd post something for the beginning of the new year.
I bought myself a Parallax M-Sortr M&M Sorting machine for my Christmas present. It sure beats the typical "Old Spice" gift packages I always get.
Anyway, sorting M&M's by color isn't as easy as it looks on the surface. But I got it working Ok and the unit is on my desk at work as a nifty conversation piece. It helps to intimidate my fellow programmers and impress the boss too.
It is a lot of fun as it sort of gets people to watch it like they watch fish aquariums and such. It tends to mesmerize them as they watch it sort the M&M's by color and drop them in the correct tubes.

It's been a while. DPRG's Roborama just finished, and I won the Quick Trip First Place Award with my Autonomous Mini-Cooper Bot. I had originally planned to use it for Autonomous Robot Road Racing, but I ran into the problem where at speed the robot couldn't react fast enough to make the turns properly. In real life we can "anticipate" a turn coming up and take action before we get there, but with robots, the robot can only "react" as things happen. I think I'll have to build a more robust road racing robot to test things on as the front end parts on the Mini-Cooper Bot are too expensive to break or make up if it hits something. It can go over 30mph so it does break things when it crashes. Anyway, now that I won first place I stop competing in Quick Trip and do on to better things like Can Can. I just recently had a need for a Function Generator, so after checking around, I felt it best to make my own. One gets to learn plus it costs about $100 or so versus several hundred plus. Anyway, after getting all the parts and PCB made, I built it up and it worked OK right from the start. I still have to tweak the three range capacitors a little, but it's time to put it into a case. before tweaking and tuning I am getting 5hertz to 18megahertz in three ranges, with a 0 to 4v AC output. I also did a layout for a Atmel 8535 MCU to have a digital frequency counter built in too, along with a Peak AC voltage level DMM too. I am just now building up the PCB for that now. I am waiting for some nifty rub on letter transfers to arrive so I can make the knobs and switches look good, or it would all be almost done by now. It was also fun to turn my own knobs out of some aluminum bar stock too. I did have trouble getting the knurling to work out OK though. What was amazing was that I had to use all DIP package IC's as the surface mount IC's were all simply not available. So the PCB's were laid out using DIP's for the IC's with surface mount parts for the resistors and such. Normally you can't get DIP's but surface mounts are available.

I haven't put anything up here in a long time so... I almost have a new version chassis for my nano-sumo bot. I only need to do some more dremeling out of the chassis to get the width under 1 inch. Then I'll have to work on my brushless-coreless DC electric motor some more. It should make for a interesting locomotive source for a small robot. But then I have about a dozen different things I want to do. Too many things and not enough time, and if I have enough time I probably can't afford it.

Tomorrow, Thursday 20th of March, I am driving up to Illinois from the Dallas Area to pick up a steel Sumo ring from www.Lynxmotion.com on behalf of the DPRG club. This ought to be very interesting as I get to see the top secret Lynxmotion facilities, where they make all those great robots. The new Japanese Sumo rules have us using a 1/8" thick ring of steel as the sumo ring for the matches. This allows the use of magnetics and vaccum assist to improve the traction of the robots. Of course you can't just stick a robot in the ring, it still has to move around and attempt to push the other robot out of the ring. This is for the 1 or 3kg 22cmx22cm class of robots. Also www.DPRG.org supports autonomous robotics thus radio control isn't used.

My nano-sumo bot project is still going. I've had a number of attempts at getting under the 1 cubic inch size barrier. And it looks a lot closer now. I just discovered some 402 sized SMD LED's from LUMEX. So I did a Atmega8 (MLF formfactor) PCB using 402 sized parts on it as well. It eeks out a little bit more space on the PCB. I still have a 603 sized component PCB just in case.

Now if I can only find some small rechargable Lithium-ion battery cells small enough to work. using non-rechargable cells sort of sucks as they are very expensive. I see tantalizing pictures, but no one selling them yet. Or at least selling in small quantities.

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