Basic Stamp Kits
Books for Kids
Robots at Work
|Applied Robotics and CD-ROM guides you through the steps of
creating a small, rolling robot. It is a practical, project-oriented book and includes
projects on the mechanical platform, DC motor control, R/C servo control, sensory input,
and microcontrollers. You will be introduced to all the challenging aspects of robotic
systems including mechanical design, sensory systems, electronic control, and computer
software intelligence. Along the way, you'll also learn about fuzzy logic, subsumption,
Applied Robotics includes projects to build robot
"brains" using both simple discrete electronics, as well as simple and advanced
microcontroller systems. Robots are programmed in both assembly language and the
fuzzy-logic robot language called Fuzbol. The Fuzbol CD-ROM comes with the book.
This book gives a great, project-oriented introduction to the field of robotics. It
guides the beginner through the challenges of building a working robot and it will provide
new ideas and techniques for the advanced builder. No single project in this book is very
difficult; in fact, most of them are simple. Applied Robotics will have you
building your robot in no time!
Chapter 1: Introduction To Robotics
Robot - "A reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material,
parts, tools, or specialized devices through various programmed motions for the
performance of a variety of tasks." Robot Institute of America, 1979
Since mankind's earliest time, life and death have fascinated us. as has the possibility
of creating new life through our own efforts. In a way, the early tales of the Golem (a
clay creature brought to life through certain spells and incantations) mirrors both the
creation of Adam brought to life from the dust of the earth and our own desire to build
Of course, we didn't have the name "robot" for this creature
until Karel Capec wrote his classic Rossum's Universal Robots in 1921. His machines, as in
so many stories since, turned against their creators. Capec's "robots" were much
like Dr. Frankenstein's monster, creatures created by chemical and biological rather than
mechanical methods. The mechanical robots of popular culture are not much different from
these biological creations. They look, act, and emote much like the humans they are
designed to emulate. However, that isn't what robots are typically like.
The average robot today is used in the factory or assembly line and, at its
anthropomorphic best, consists of an arm and a gripper, vaguely reminding us of a
dismembered arm in service to an endless row of parts marching before it on the conveyor.
As hobbyists, we are not building Frankenstein's patchwork creature from spare parts dug
up in the middle of the night, nor are we looking to recreate the high-precision, highly
durable equipment used on the factory floor. We are here to learn, explore, and play. For
our purposes a robot isn't a "specialized device with various programmed motions for
the performance of a variety of tasks." It is a machine that senses its environment
and reacts to it independent of human intervention.
The main thread through this book is a small, wheeled robot that serves as the test
platform for a variety of experiments in sensing the environment and making intelligent
choices in response to it. The "intelligence" of this robot is below any
measurable limit, yet through our efforts it will transform from a pile of inert parts
into an entertaining "pet."
At a very basic level, a robot consists of:
A mechanical device, such as a wheeled platform, arm, or other
construction capable of interacting with its environment.
Sensors on or around the device that are able to sense the environment
and give useful feedback to the device.
Systems that process sensory input in the context of the device's
current situation and instruct the device to perform actions in response.
Of course, this definition covers such mundane things as your home
thermostat. We should have more fun than that!
Tools and Equipment
I know a man who built a baby's cradle using nothing more than a pile of wood and his
pocketknife. It is beautiful and I can't imagine how he did it. Given the choice, I would
use a different set of tools. While it is possible to create all of the projects in this
book with a minimal set of tools and test equipment, the more tools you have the easier
all of this becomes. The minimal tool set would include an electric drill and bits, small
screwdrivers, small pliers, a wire cutter, wire stripper, soldering iron, and a
multimeter. A better set of tools adds such things as an oscilloscope, higher-quality
variable-temperature soldering iron, tweezers, and a third-hand vise. Whenever buying
tools, get the best you can afford and you will never regret it.
Almost all problems can be defined using the black-box model of input, processing, and
output. Without tools you have to guess at what is happening. Good tools give you good
information. They take the top off of the black box and show you what is really going on.
Since a project rarely works the first time, anything that helps with the debugging
process pays for itself in time and frustration. When building projects, especially the
microcontroller-based ones, a good sense of paranoia can be very handy. Trust nothing,
rely only on what can be seen on the scope or through the readouts. Understand each chip
in the project and know what to expect from each pin. Read the manufacturer's data sheets
and try your best to understand them. And remember - nothing is ever entirely free of
errors, so stay alert.
For electronics projects I recommend using something like the Global Specialties
Proto-Board for all of the prototyping and testing (Figure 1-1). You can get this type of
prototyping board at any electronics supply store, and they come in many different sizes
and configurations. The one used in this book is a Global Specialties UBS-100 which has a
connection pattern as shown in Figure 1-2. I like this board because of its two separate
power distribution strips (one set on each side). If you use one with a different number
of power strips, you will need to modify the board layouts for some of the projects. I
always take a permanent felt-tip pen (such as a SharpieŽ) and mark the holes on the power
strips, red for power and black for ground....
A good tool in any experimenter's toolkit is a pad of grid paper. Take plenty of notes and
keep them forever.
Finally, a tool that is easily overlooked is the online or mail order catalog. Many parts
can be had quickly through the mail, purchased from catalogs or off the Internet. Before
you begin the projects in this book, I recommend that you find the on line catalogs or
order the paper catalogs from these companies....
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction To Robotics
Chapter 2: Mechanical Platforms
Chapter 3: Power Supplies
Chapter 4: Electronic Control
Chapter 5: Adding Sense
Chapter 6: It's Alive! Simple Robot Behaviors
Chapter 7: Microcontroller
Chapter 8: MCU Senses
Chapter 9: Igor, Fetch Me Some Brains
Chapter 10: Fuzbol
Chapter 11: More Sense
Chapter 12: R/C Servos
Chapter 13: Pneumatics
Appendix A: Fuzbol Language Reference
Appendix B: Sample Programs
Appendix C: Conversions and Code References