Recent Blog Posts

17 Oct 2014 mwaibel   » (Master)

Robots: Getting Girls Engaged in Robotics

Earlier this year, the Robots Podcast team came across a very interesting story. It was about two, 17 year old twin sisters who have started their own robotics outreach group. The story about the Tipperman sisters got us curious. What kind of robotics outreach activities are out there to inspire children with robotics? Do any of these activities make a difference in getting more girls to be interested in robotics? In this episode, AJung conducted a series of three interviews. She spoke to the Tipperman sisters to find out more about their activities, spoke with Ross Mead, a PhD student who has years of experience organizing robotics events and inspiring young minds, and with Professor Elizabeth Croft, a roboticist who also happens to study the topic of women in science, technology, engineering and math.

Syndicated 2014-10-17 07:00:00 from Robots - The Podcast for News and Views on Robotics

14 Oct 2014 shimniok   » (Journeyer)

pcDuino V1: getting started

pcDuino is a single board computer based on the Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex A8 processor. It's powerful, running 1GHz and featuring 1G of memory.

Installing an OS on the pcDuino is  different than with a Raspberry Pi. It uses onboard flash for storage, 2G for the V1, and it uses a kernel flashed onto the board, as well.

So, here's how to get started with a pcDuino V1, using a Linux workstation.

To get going, you need to do two things
  • flash a new kernel image
  • install the operating system
You also also need:
  • a 4G MicroSD card
  • a 4G USB flash drive
  • serial USB adapter
I used a Pololu USB AVR Programmer but you could use an FTDI breakout or similar.

Power Supply

Avoid pain and anguish: use a good power supply.

With a random, crappy 800mA wall wart, I experienced unreliable booting, hangs with USB devices installed, and even system freezes trying to set the password to my account!

Using a better power supply solved these problems. After wasting an hour or more...

Updating Kernel Image

Download

I used the 6/20/2014 Kernel image found here: pcduino_a10_kernel_dd_20140620.img

(you might check for an updated version on the pcDuino download page)

Download the image and, while you're waiting, continue below.

What Disk Device?

You need to find out what device your microSD card mounts as. find the device of the microSD. Before you insert the card, look at the disk devices on the system:

    $ df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdb1 227924576 13868168 202646548 7% /
udev 3530296 4 3530292 1% /dev
tmpfs 714416 1268 713148 1% /run
none 5120 4 5116 1% /run/lock
none 3572060 66292 3505768 2% /run/shm
/dev/sda4 267349012 234311888 19455152 93% /home
/dev/sda1 185939524 106053344 70577568 61% /mnt
$

Now, insert the card in your card reader and after it mounts, run df again:

      $ df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdb1 227924576 13868168 202646548 7% /
udev 3530296 4 3530292 1% /dev
tmpfs 714416 1268 713148 1% /run
none 5120 4 5116 1% /run/lock
none 3572060 66292 3505768 2% /run/shm
/dev/sda4 267349012 234311888 19455152 93% /home
/dev/sda1 185939524 106053344 70577568 61% /mnt
/dev/sdd1 1926848 28768 1898080 2% /media/4BAB-4D27
$

You can see that /dev/sdd1, in my case, is the disk partition that was just mounted. It's partition #1 on disk /dev/sdd. In your case, it may be a different device path.

You're interested in writing the kernel image to the disk, not the partition. So remove the partition number to get the disk device path. (For example: if /dev/sdx1 is the partition, /dev/sdx is the disk). In my case, that's /dev/sdd

Writing the Image

You'll use dd to write the image to your disk.

NOTE: Make absolutely certain you are using the disk corresponding to your microSD card.

If you use the wrong device, you could lose data, or overwrite your OS. That's bad.

However, it's easy to avoid making that mistake. Just be careful and pay attention.

Use df to make absolutely certain you have the correct device. Then double-check your command line before you hit return.

Is your kernel image done downloading? Ok, cd into wherever it's saved.

When you run dd, you'll specify the input file, the image, with if=filename and you'll specify the output device, your microSD card device (not partition), with of=device-path. And you'll specify a 4M block size with bs=4M. (Did you doublecheck the device?)

sudo dd if=pcduino_a10_kernel_dd_20140620.img bs=4M of=/dev/sdx

25+0 records in
25+0 records out
104857600 bytes (105 MB) copied, 40.7738 s, 2.6 MB/s

It takes a few minutes. Once it's done:

  • Remove power from your pcDuino, 
  • unmount your microSD from the Linux workstation, 
  • insert the microSD card into the pcDuino's slot, and
  • power up the pcDuino. 

In my case, I saw the TX light blink green, very slowly, while the kernel was updating. If nothing blinks, something is wrong.

When the blinking stops, it's done updating.

Unplug your pcDuino from power. Remove the microSD card.

Now you can install the operating system.

Installing Ubuntu

Next it's time to install Ubuntu operating system. This is where that USB flash drive comes in.

Download Image

You'll need to download the Ubuntu image: pcduino_ubuntu_20131126.7z

(you might check for an updated version on the pcDuino download page)

Prepare USB Drive

Format your USB drive as FAT32 if it isn't already.

Extract files out of the 7z file you downloaded, which will create an ubuntu folder. The two files inside that folder are update.sh and pcduino_ubuntu_20131126.img (20131126 is the date; there may be a different date on whatever file you grabbed)or whatever the date is on the filename).

Move those files onto the root folder of your USB drive. It doesn't matter if there are other files on your USB drive.

Unmount the flash drive and remove it from your machine.

Serial Debug Monitor

While you wait for the download, let's connect your Serial USB adapter to the debug port on the pcDuino so we can see what is going on. when you install the operating system.

The debug port is a 3-pin header, next to the Menu button on the USB connector side.

pcDuino debug port
Data going into the pcDuino is closest to the USB connector (FTDI: TXO). The middle is ground. The pin closest to the A10 is for data coming out of the pcDuino (FTDI: RXI). Connect your serial USB adapter so that TX coming from the pcDuino goes into the RX pin of your adapter and TX coming out of your adapter is going into RX on the pcDuino.

You previously removed power from your pcDuino and removed the microSD. We're about to power it up. Open your favorite terminal program (for example, minicom), connect to the USB serial adapter. Set the baud rate to 115,200, 8N1.

Begin the Install

Plug in power to your pcDuino and you should see it outputting a long string of text. Eventually it indicates that it is searching for update.sh (remember that file?).

Insert the USB flash drive.

  
mount udisk succeed

update.sh found, updating rootfs from udisk, please wait...

writing pcduino_ubuntu_20131126.img to nand flash

it will take about 10 minutes to finish...
update finished
update finished

After some time, the update will complete. Remove the USB flash drive, and reset the board (or power cycle it).

You should see a long string of text fly by. At the end of it you'll see something like this:

  ...
  [    6.350000] Warning: this sunxi disp driver will see significant redesign.
[ 6.360000] Applications using /dev/disp directly will break.
[ 6.370000] For more information visit: http://linux-sunxi.org/Sunxi_disp_driver
[ 6.670000] kjournald starting. Commit interval 5 seconds
[ 6.670000] EXT3-fs (nandd): using internal journal
[ 6.680000] EXT3-fs (nandd): mounted filesystem with ordered data mode
[ 7.070000] init: plymouth main process (68) terminated with status 127
[ 7.120000] init: ureadahead main process (70) terminated with status 5

Welcome to Linaro 12.07 (GNU/Linux 3.4.29+ armv7l)

* Documentation: https://wiki.linaro.org/
root@ubuntu:~#

And that's it. You're done.

Starting Over

If you need to start over for any reason, remove the USB drive, reinsert the microSD card, and press reset. Doing so will reinstall the kernel and allow you to install the OS again.

Syndicated 2014-10-14 14:00:00 from Michael Shimniok

5 Aug 2014 svo   » (Master)

Больше бит с VGA-разъема Altera DE1

Увеличение аналогового разрешения композитного видеовыхода на плате Altera DE1.

Increasing analog resolution of VGA-connector based CVBS output on Altera DE1.

Aumentando resolución analógica de la salida de video compuesto de Altera DE1.

Syndicated 2014-08-05 22:20:29 from svo's interactive persuasion vehicle

20 Jul 2014 Flanneltron   » (Journeyer)

Cognitive Abstraction Manifolds

A few days ago I started thinking about abstractions whilst reading Surfaces and Essences, a recent book by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. I suspect efforts like Surfaces and Essences, which traverse vast and twisted terrains across cognitive science, are probably underrated as scientific contributions. But first, let me briefly introduce the idea-triggering tome. Surfaces […]

Syndicated 2014-07-20 02:14:57 from SynapticNulship

3 Jul 2014 jmhenry   » (Journeyer)

Ladybird autonomous robot to help out down on the farm

Agricultural robots are beginning to come into their own. This article on the “Ladybird” robot explains how one type of machine is being developed to help farmers conduct a host of operations on many types of crops. This “bug” won’t...

Syndicated 2014-07-03 03:19:24 from RobotNext

3 Jul 2014 steve   » (Master)

Shadow Show

Shadow Show

Shadow Show

Shadow Show, edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, describes itself as “All-new stories in celebration of Ray Bradbury”. I’ve been a fan of Bradbury’s fiction most of my life. Friends from my high school days may remember me sitting under the bleachers during Pep Rallies reading “R is for Rocket” or wandering the hallways with a copy of “Fahrenheit 451″. I most liked his early work; stories like Frost and Fire or The City. They blended conventional science fiction with Bradbury’s unique style which approached magical realism. I felt his later writing lost a lot by abandoning the science fiction aspect and focusing exclusively on the magical realism. In any case, I heard about this book and imagined it might contain Bradbury-like stories that recaptured the feel of his early work. Alas, this is not the case.

For the most part, the stories in the book aren’t really at all like Bradbury stories. At least, I’d never confuse any of them with the real thing. Most had supernatural or horror themes and lacked the connection to science fiction. They’re simply from authors who were, in one way or another, inspired by Bradbury. They’re not bad stories. Some are enjoyable and may appeal to Bradbury fans, if only to find out how other writers were inspired by him.

There were a few exceptions, however; stories that are intended to provoke memories of Bradbury or his stories in one way or another. The best of these, at least for me, was Children of the Bedtime Machine by Robert McCammon. This story made the book worthwhile for me and was a real celebration of Bradbury in multiple ways. First, it was a story I could imagine Bradbury writing; second, it combined science fiction with a Bradburyesque magical realism, and lastly, Bradbury’s writing actually plays a part in the story’s plot. It’s the story of a woman living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland; the result of climate change and global war. There’s little plant or animal life left, and little hope for the future. The woman’s only joy in life is a trunk full of old book that she reads to herself. During a visit to a trading post in a nearby town, she’s given a useless machine from the dead past. The combination of a Ray Bradbury book and a machine designed for insomniacs leads to a new hope for a dying world.

If you can pick up the book inexpensively, it’s worth it just for that one story. Or perhaps you’ll enjoy the other stories more than I did. Authors include Harlan Ellison, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Alice Hoffman, Kelly Link, and others.

Syndicated 2014-07-03 02:14:55 from Steevithak of the Internet

10 Jun 2014 robotvibes   » (Master)

I’m back, and ready to kick ass!

Nuff said…Let’s go!

Syndicated 2014-06-10 01:35:20 from Cyb3rnetx

10 May 2014 evilrobots   » (Observer)

http://www.drdobbs.com/a-flexible-system-for-centralized-backup/199101279

http://www.vmwarearena.com/2013/10/vsphere-55-download-free-esxi-55.html#comments

2 Mar 2014 wedesoft   » (Master)

OOP with GNU Guile and GOOPS

Why I like Object Oriented Programming using GNU Guile and GOOPS

Syndicated 2014-03-02 00:00:00 from Jan Wedekind

1 Dec 2013 AI4U   » (Observer)

Artificial Intelligence in German (Amazon Kindle e-book)

If your humanoid robot needs an AI Mind to think in English or German, a new Amazon Kindle e-book goes into great detail about robotic thought processes.



This e-book in English about AI in German (and English and Russian) contains the entire AI source code in Forth, which causes most of the editorial portion of the e-book (18 of 20 chapters) to be readable without charge in the free preview.


13 Nov 2013 jlin   » (Master)



In April of this year, I left my job doing machine learning work at Scribd, to join a new startup building robotic toys to teach young kids how to program. We call ourselves Play-i (supposed to be a play on "AI", but unfortunately most people seem to miss the connection). While we had been very public about what the goal would be, we were very hush-hush about the actual product. In all honesty, partially it was because we changed it so many times. We probably went through four completely different complete product ideas before arriving at the one today. Then we worked many long nights to quickly get the prototypes done. And now our robots, Bo & Yana are finally public in the form of a crowdfunding campaign. You can SEE THE ROBOTS HERE.

Our original idea was to actually create a robot where you can build the robot AND program it. But while testing with kids in our target age range, 5-8, we quickly figured out that we needed a fully-functional robot. We will have our own language for kids to program the robots, in addition to being compatible with Scratch, Blockly, and Objective C. There will be an open developer's API as well, which you can gain early access to by pledging at the level of the developer's pack.

We tested Bo & Yana with kids as young as 2 and as old as 17. The younger kids definitely gravitated towards "Yana", the smaller robot, who can detect gestures you make with it. Older kids enjoy the mobility of "Bo", short for 'robot'. Both genders enjoyed playing with the robots. Each robot works as a standalone toy, but they also can detect each other through IR beacons, for more interactive play.

After much demand, we are adding an additional accessories pack to allow connections from Lego Technic and Mindstorm pieces along with other standard 10mm ball attachment toys.

We have a contract manufacturer lined up to create the robots. While we originally prototyped with Arduino, the boards in the final prototypes seen in the video are indeed custom boards that we plan to use in the mass-produced version. We think our estimated BOM is pretty close. But there's still a lot of work to do, particularly with finalizing the firmware and the software. Our campaign is looking pretty good and we've already met our goal, so we are definitely hiring if you are interested in joining the team.

Finally, please feel free to email me personally if you have any questions about the robots. I know that the website doesn't provide very good information, particularly for those who actually know something about robotics.

Thanks everyone for all your support.

Robot of the Day

Stewie

Built by
Vecheslav Silagadze

Recent blogs

17 Oct 2014 mwaibel (Master)
14 Oct 2014 shimniok (Journeyer)
5 Aug 2014 svo (Master)
20 Jul 2014 Flanneltron (Journeyer)
3 Jul 2014 jmhenry (Journeyer)
3 Jul 2014 steve (Master)
2 Jul 2014 Petar.Kormushev (Master)
10 Jun 2014 robotvibes (Master)
10 May 2014 evilrobots (Observer)
2 Mar 2014 wedesoft (Master)
1 Dec 2013 AI4U (Observer)
13 Nov 2013 jlin (Master)
23 Jun 2013 Mubot (Master)
13 May 2013 JLaplace (Observer)
21 Apr 2013 Pi Robot (Master)
12 Apr 2013 Pontifier (Apprentice)
16 Mar 2013 gidesa (Journeyer)
12 Mar 2013 ixisuprflyixi (Master)

Newest Members

Newest Robots

7 Aug 2009 Titan EOD
13 May 2009 Spacechair
6 Feb 2009 K-bot
9 Jan 2009 3 in 1 Bot
15 Dec 2008 UMEEBOT
10 Nov 2008 Robot
10 Nov 2008 SAMM
24 Oct 2008 Romulus
30 Sep 2008 CD-Bot
26 Sep 2008 Little Johnny