Thursday, February 24, 2011

TOBL: It's Working.

It's working, it's working. It = TOBL and here are some stats:
  • 6 wheels
  • 18 gears (think about it...)
  • 84 oz/in Torque
  • iPhone-controlled via TouchOSC app interface
  • OSC/Serial communication
  • 8 zip-ties
  • Top speed of 0.413 mph (my personal favorite)
After much adieu, TOBL has been captured on film with my new camera -a Pansonic Lumix DMC-ZS7. It's about to make this blog a whole mess snazzier, 9.1 megapixels more snazzy to be exact. Henceforth, all videos shall be shot in 720p HD, like this one (fast-forward to 2:34 for wall flips):

Kind of dark but I still recommend watching in 720p.

Now held together by 8 zip-ties, thats 4X as strong as last time!

One of the finishing touches on TOBL was trimming the servos. However, PWMShield V1.0 is not yet wirelessly-updateable and in the monotony of disconnecting and reconnecting all the controls hardware, I vaporized yet another trace. This board should be renamed "GhettoShield" after all the loose wires I've had to solder to busted traces. The circuit works fine though, and using it saves $33. After fixing the trace the servos were trimmed.

Can you spot the latest exo-trace?

I don't talk about software very often, and that's because I don't know much about it. I do like to share the code I use though, isn't that the point of the whole open-source movement? After all, most of the communication software for TOBL was "taken" from this iPhone-controlled tank and this SFE tutorial (Thanks to both!). I modified bits of this software and wrote the rest to interface this existing code with my TouchOSC layout and electronics. In order to return the favor here is the Arduino and Processing code. You'd think a wireless iPhone-controlled robot would have denser code than ardWINDo, but take a look, it's surprisingly compact.

This project was a lot of fun. It's rare that you can take an idea and bring it into fruition exactly the way you imagined it. My initial goals were to make it iPhone-controlled and able to drive after rolling over -TOBL does both of those things. It wasn't cheap, I would estimate ~$250 including redundancies, but TOBL is an awesomely fun desk toy and an even better platform for playing with software, different sensors, and whatever else.

I also learned that servos are great for being servos, but not so great at being drive motors (especially modified micro-servos). For future projects I will venture down the new and exciting road of custom motor-controllers. Time to start playing with H-bridges...

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