Category Archives: Robots

busy days of spring

So I haven’t posted anything lately. And all in all I haven’t really finished any projects lately yet either. I haven’t made any headway on the frequency counter because I haven’t bought the parts I need. I did manage to snag some awesome old Atari joysticks at a church rummage sale. The plan is to convert them to wireless so they can control other things. Last week I attended TI Tech Days 2008. It was a good event. I didn’t pay anything because Digikey sent me a “don’t pay for this event” coupon in the email. They had some good talks on Zigbee and charging lithium ion batteries. I ordered up a neat like 40 dollar TI wireless dev kit that consists of a MSP430 chip and a CC2500 chip. I’m hoping that I can use those for the wireless Atari joy sticks. Also I’ve started building another robot.

J-R the Robot

My daughter has named him J-R. Couple things about him. His body is made of 1/16 inch aluminum, which sucks to cut and drill and bend when all you have is a hack saw, power drill and a counter edge. I went and picked up the aluminum pieces this weekend and since I’m sorta measurement retarded was surprised and how thick it was. Also there’s a couple parts made out of 1/4 inch aluminum bar and this time I was surprised at how small it was. I had to make the parts a couple times over because it was so tiny and the drill holes kept getting messed up. Overall he looks pretty good, not so straight, but straight enough. I have to get a Tamiya dual motor setup and a Sharp GP2D12 infrared sensor and then a bunch of various other components. I’m hoping I’ll be able to wire him up in the next month and then start programming.

Anyway, hopefully in the coming months I’ll get some more projects finished. So stay tuned



My daughter seems to be interested in robots so I set out to look for some sort of robot for her. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of stuff out there for a 3 year old. I figured that if nothing else I could build something and then let her play with it and tell her how it worked. I googled around for a bunch of stuff and eventually came across BEAM bots. They seemed nice and simple and interesting. I decided to order some solar panels from solarbotics and set out to build a trimet. I had just dismantled an old all in one radio, tape, cd player that was going in the garbage so I had managed to salvage a handful of motors from this. A trimet is real simple, you have a DC motor, you hook the solar panel up to some capacitors and then wire the capacitors to turn the motor on when they store up enough juice. It’s really a neat little thing. Here’s a picture of the guts of it all.


You can see the resistor, two transistors and the 1381 voltage detector underneath the solar panel. The body of the motor is used as ground for the circuit and then a paper clip ring is formed to be the postive rail. Then all the components hook up in the center and the solar panel on top. Here’s another shot of the trimet closed up.


The only thing I was really disappointed about was that there really hasn’t been a sunny enough day here to get the little thing going. It scoots around but not nearly as fast as if I just hooked up a straight 5v supply to it. I ordered up some extra solar panels so maybe I’ll make some other BEAM bots too.