Older blog entries for profesor (starting at number 3)

While I sit at home recovering from back surgery (fun fun fun!), I put together a web page describing the balancing robot I built for the 2003 Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest.

The web page is here: http://www.dragonflyhollow.org/matt/robots/firemarshalbill/.

I also added a project page on robots.net that links to the web page.

Well, I got my robot done barely in time for the contest. I failed to qualify, but won first place in 'Spirit of an Inventor' for my balancing fire-fighting robot! Results of the 2003 contest are here.

I will be putting up a web page with more details, I will post an update here when it's up.

12 Jan 2003 (updated 12 Jan 2003 at 15:09 UTC) »

I'm going to enter the 2003 Trinity College fire-fighting contest. I am starting with my entry from 2001 entry, using the same controller and a number of the same sensors.

I am replacing the drive system with the one used in Snuffy the Shamfire Slayer entered by Alex Brown in the 2001 contest. I have built & incorporated the new drive system, and it works like a dream. Thanks for sharing the info, Alex!

I plan on replacing the compass. It was unreliable and slow. I will get immediate heading data from a piezo gyro, and will correct the drift by adding two more GP2D02 distance sensors so I can calculate my angle relative to the wall (which is really what matters in the end).

I am going to replace my extinguishing system with a motor and prop designed for RC planes. On one hand, it feels like a cop out to go to a fan; but on the other hand the reason most people use them is that they work well. Part of the reason I'm changing is that the duster I was using to extinguish the flames is flammable if it comes out of the can slow enough, which I discovered after the contest last year.

I also plan on a surprise feature of the robot that I'm not sure if I will be able to get working, but if I do it should be a good entry for the Spirit of the Inventor prize (if they still do that).

I wanted to comment on the 'First Robotic Vacuum Cleaner' article, but being only an observer, I cannot.

The Trilobite seems to be very different from the Roomba. It makes sense that it looks similar - we all know the navigational advantages of a circular robot with the two- wheel drive system.

What seems to make the Trilobite different is that it uses sonar (the Roomba uses IR and bumpers), uses magnets in place of Roomba's "virtual wall", and the big thing is that the Trilobite seems to map things and know where it is. The Trilobite says that it can find its way back to it's charging station. The Roomba has no such capability - as far as I can tell, it drives somewhat randomly around the room for a fixed period of time and then claims the room is clean. The Roomba avoid small things by bumping into them and turning away, the Trilobite claims to sense and avoid them.

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