N1-Robot - Featuring a Max 96 Round, camera and docking station!


Markos Fragoulopoulos

N1_robot full size picture
Projects objectives:
Stage 1: Remote control robot through the Internet, move and inspect house and house perimeter through windows with on board camera.
Stage 2: Built in some autonomy, put sensors on the robot so it can self protect from crashes in the event of remote control loss. Make it able to go and attach to its' charging/docking station automatically.
Stage 3: some rudimentary robotic arm that can open doors.
Stage 4: Full robotic arm that can: Open the fridge and bring you a bottle of beer. Get a glass and fill it with tap water and bring it to you. Locate and bring you a tv remote control, cell-phone, wireless phone etc.

Project start: February 2008
Parts acquired so far (march 2008):
  1. Robot base: Zagros SP100 Robotic bundle with Max'96 base kit (chosen for height, price, weight tolerance)
  2. Power supply for currently used parts is a kompernass Tronic energy station (battery) (bought from Lidl supermarkets) with multi voltage output. 
  3. On board PC: Samsung Q1 Origami PC (I bought the new Q1U so this old one was free to use in the robot. I bought it for 1200€ couldn't sell it over 300€ that'sprogress for you :-) )
    Advantages: Small, light, touch screen, Wifi, bluetooth, low power consumption.
    Disadvantages:2 USB ports only, must use hub (might need power supply), no serial, no parallel port.
  4. USB to serial converter 12€
  5. mini-USB hub
  6. Camera movement: PowerPod with LANC control for optical zoom
  7. Camera: Ended up using my old Sony DCRPC110E DV camera which has an excellent lens and 10X optical zoom (bought years ago for 1600€not worth selling.)
  8. USB video capture card: Aver Media AverTV Hybrid Volar HX (94€)
First problems encountered:
  1. Cheap web cam used can not auto-focus, has no zoom or good quality. Decided to use Sony handheld camera, but to get video/audio signal to PC, some capture card was required. I choose the AverMedia USB capture system.
  2. Samsung Q1 original battery lasts for about 30 seconds so I pryed it open and soldered wires that connect it to the Tronic battery.
  3. How do I switch from charging main battery to supplying power to all robot systems (switch from external power to internal)? Answer: Latching relay.
    Latching relay image
  4. How do I start the PC remotely?
    Answer: I use anX10 (AM12U module), I already have the infastructure to control house appliances through the web/telephone/cellphone.
    I use a timer circuit to delay switching on the Q1 pc so it has time to acknowledge voltage input. If I supplied power and slided the switch at the same time it didn't turn on. Used this: Smart kit 1020 (0-5 minute timer),
    I use an electromagnet from a tape recorder to slide the switch. (I tried to open the Q1 and attach wires to the on/off switch but it seemed too delicate for my hands and decided not to risk it.) This is the electromagnet hot-glued on the Q1:
    electromagnet that slides opwen-on switch PC back view electromagnet glued to PC closeup image electromagnet action video
    (3,6Mb DivX) (13,5Mb DivX)
  5. When controlling the robot remotely it was very hard to insert the plug in the socket so I hot glued two "rail guides" to make the process easier. (this should be standard on all sockets for old/disabled people and robots :-) )
    image of 3d design of 220V plug-socket "rail guides"
  6. I couldn't tell when it made good contact with main power (220V) so I attached a water heater lamp next to the plug so that the camera could see if contact was made.
    Q1 Desktop view through winvnc
  7. I live in an old house with uneven floors. There are rags and small (1,5 cm) steps that give the wheels a hard time.
    If robot approaches at full speed, it can climb them but shakes too violently, at some point things will fall off. I must use caster wheels with some suspension or softer rubber wheels. Not solved yet.
N1 robot start up sequence:
  1. X10 on ->
  2. PSU to Q1 active. Q1 needs a couple of seconds to acknowledge voltage input,
  3. 5 sec. timer (220V) starts electromagnet -> pulls Q1 on-switch after 5 seconds -> starts Q1 pc
  4. Meantime, latching relay switches Tronic battery from charging mode to available mode (sony camera, origami, USB hub?, electromagnet takes power from Tronic battery)
  5. X10 off (Robot is now on internal power)
  6. Now since robot is on internal power, it can disconnect from main power (220V) and move around.

Software for motor control is based on Zagros ALV (020407) with some changes to suit my needs

To do:
  • Check for better wheels elastic/suspension?, caster wheels with suspension? Must be able to climb carpets, rags small obstacles use inflatable wheels for casters?
  • Sonars to avoid crashing in the event of loss of control, electronic compass?
Parts for all of your Electronics and Robotic projects

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