Robogames just around the corner....Posted by milw on Wednesday, 28 May 2008
Just a bit over two weeks until the Robogames commence in San Francisco (California)- did you know that there is a 'Robosapien Hacker' category under the BEAM section? I'm curious if any community members will be attending, or even if any have entered!
Here's an excerpt of the rules for this category:
Take an COTS (common off the shelf) Robosapien robot and hack it to do something cool.
- The Robot
You have to use a commercially available Robosapien, the kind you would buy from a common retailer (see our recommended list below). No factory one-off specials. No "bondout" versions. No special frames laced with adamantium. The RS needs to remain the core part of the final hacked machine. There is no metric that can be stated relating to how much is required; if in doubt, you've gone too far. For example, using a single RS arm or leg in the final hack is insufficient.
- The HackThe hack should be meaningful. Bolting a RS to the hood of your car so that its left eye flashes with the left turn signal is not meaningful. Sending an IR pulse to the RS so that both its arms point left in synchronization with the turn signal is good progress. Cutting off its legs, replacing them with motor power amps and having the RS drive a kiddy car around the yards is definitely meaningful.
The RoboSapien is designed for modification. Here is the short hint list for the budding RS hacker.
First off, we must warn you that completely replacing the RS brain should only be attempted by those with a lot of time, electronic skills, and programming ego. You don't have to though -- if you carefully remove the connectors and lift the RS motherboard, on the back you will find all inputs and outputs labeled, and right next to gold pads convenient for soldering wires.
- M means motors,
- P means input or output port,
- VDD is raw battery voltage (caution: fluctuates wildly)
- Vcc is regulated 3.6v (100mA but don't overload it)
- Gnd is universal ground.
The only way to input commands is by direct serial input to the IR-OUT pin (active low signals, 1200bps, visit http://www.robosapien.tk for a list of command codes), and through the P1.4 (right) and P1.1 (left) touch sensors. In three I/O ports, you have his entire body now under control.
The 6 outputs for the eyes (P2.0 to P2.5) can be used as a very effective digital-level feedback source. If you look carefully, you'll see his eyes give distinct patterns for all conditions. Mapping these will tell your uP everything it needs about what the robot is doing. The patterns are shown below. (rseyes.jpg)
The chest area is mostly empty space and ideal for mounting any brain, camera, or control add-ons. However, glue tinfoil (or equivalent) across his internal chest plate first so the waist and shoulder motors do not cause interference with your electronics.
Most of the secret I/R codes are designed so that a controlling computer can cause him to dovetail commands very quickly (up to 30 baud) and even be programmed at very high rates from a nearby I/R port. Some will already have noticed that it is possible to move the robot by the remote faster than he can move himself. Taken to the limit, the robot can be a very responsive "horse" to any uP controller or I/R equipped PDA or laptop.
- The Judging
- Difficulty: How hard was this hack? Did it involve adding microships or modifying the program significatnly?
- Functionality: Does this robot complete a function that could be readily useful?
- Meaningfulness: How far did you take it? Is it a simple shift or addition, or does it radically alter the capabilities of the Robosapien.
Robots will be judged by multiple judges, each grading on a 30 point scale - 1-10 points being given in each of the below categories. Their scores will be added together and averaged.
Although it is too late to enter this year's event, maybe we should think of putting some entries in next year- especially if we have any West Coast members.