Friday, August 20, 2010


At Your Service, or AYS (pronounced ace), is a project the students completed for the Animatronics competition in TSA (Technology Student Assoc.). Having done TSA for a number of years (9), I can say that are clear positive and negative things at the regional, state, and national levels. When we won first in System Control at Nationals in 2005 (robotic legos), I was ecstatic to be the advisor back then. Since then and many politics later, we are still entering students into these TSA events. I am very proud of the 2010 seniors that took this comedian idea and turned into a full on bartender with audio; taking orders and telling jokes the whole way to #1 National Champs!

A.Y.S. uses 2 VEX bricks with a slew of servos (continuous rotation and 210^) for the head, arm, and hand/ finger controls. Potential energies (gear boxes, rubber bands and springs) help with torque issues.

We were originally using PROPELLAR chips and circuits, but time contraints and audio issues made the team use an applet for the audio.
The hands grip and lift the cups. Besides the four fingers (Simpson's style), these are well made reps of generic human movements.

There are also a light and ultrasonic sensor that react and start the operations of the robot (when it detects you, it starts taking 'orders' / asking for tips and telling jokes). These are seen in the center with PWM wires and the ping sensor is under the front of the bar to detect movement.

This is the ABS prototyped head, drawn in 3D CAD (Inventor) then PRINTED, no bull, in our Dimension prototyping machine (check earlier blogs on DU frames and TIE fighters created in this machine). A servo controls the movement of the mouth to match the audio and another servo also controls the eye movement to 'watch' the human for interactions. The students did a BUNCH of trial and error to get the voice to match the movements of the jaw, and they used JAVA to push an applet that has the audio from an attached laptop.

So how does AYS move? This was the first system that the students had to build back in the Fall. We went with a roller coaster connection system on some old Bosch framing we had laying around. It worked great, powered by a car window motor for slower movements up and down the blue bar.

This is bad pic of the inside of the robot (rat's nest!), but it has a Victor to control the wheels (window motor) the VEX bricks, and the batteries ( 2 VEX 7.2 volt and a 12 volt 1.3amp). Oh, and lots of wires, seen here in "being worked on" mode.

Thx to the seniors who worked on this project:

J Linc, Silvio, Tedesco, and the Tanap.

Big thanks to LINDAB engineering for the spiral round we used for the body here and on the R2D2 unit!

Monday, August 16, 2010

About time...2010

I know, I know, it's been over a year since I put some stuff up. Well, I have been busy (ODU Master's grad in Fall- ONE MSIM class left!) and my students have been going full throttle too. Congrats to the Animatronics National First Place dudes - great successes lie ahead for ya'll as college freshmen! I'll get A.Y.S. up on the next post. With a number of 2010 students projects, I'll post these now and more in a few weeks. The Quadrover (HONDA DOV gas powered hydraulic bot) has a bad microcontroller board... maybe this will work to push the brakes....

PARALLAX Propellar 3 microcontroller board - thx C.C.

Seen here w/ 3D CAD mouse (awesomeeeeeeeeeeee) from 3D Connexxion and, the infamous black eagle.

All black Imperial R2-D2 'CanDroid'- left and right gear box wheel systems, head rotates, laser engraved shoulder 'tops'; lights, manipulators and end effectors are in the design phase (2011 stus), and yes, an afro is attached to the top.

Thx CanMan

Ah yes, the TEAM 769 C0ld Ph0enix (FIRST 2004) drivetrain flipped upside down for a remake. This idea then grew into a full on passion for launching t-shirts (footbal, soccer and Tides games hopefully). It runs on 2 or 3 12V, 22A batteries to keep the 2 compressors at capacity and you could sit on it like a go kart cuz of it's torque at the wheel.
And we have =-]

Thx to C.C. and the whole group of Senior Robotix students of 2010