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'[PIC]: Toy cars for robots?'
2001\03\28@222421 by Ellen Spertus

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Has anyone adapted motorized toy cars to be controlled by a PIC or other
microcontroller?  I'd welcome any pointers.

Ellen

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2001\03\28@230803 by Brian Reed

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Hey!  One I can answer.  Not a ton of detail on my page yet, but:
 http://www.reedonline.com/brian/robot/bedlam/
is mine with an F877 on the ICD demo board.

It's a Radio Shack Bedlam, currently in closeout.  They have a
replacement tread vehicle that looks more like a tank (Bedlam
is a kind of buggy).  Should be $30 (or less) but you may have
to call around to find one.  Open it at the store and inspect that
it wasn't a return item (check cleanliness).  Battery was like
$18 + charger $10.

I had to do a little channel re-wiring to use the existing H-bridge
circuits, and one may put out a little more current, explaining
a bit of a veer to the right for now.  Or the veer may be my
fault (marginal resistor vals in my opto isolator circuit).  Software
could compensate if I can't solve it in H/W.

Another option: forget the included H-bridges and install
matching bridges.  2 for the treads, add a third for bi-dir
control of the left / right wheel carriage.  I don't have a bottom
photo so you'll havta see a Bedlam to get the idea.  It's very
cool and sturdy.  The new tank model has a hard plastic tread
made of dozens of links, it looks very fragile... the bedlam has
a rubber loop that I probably couldn't break in my bare hands.
Small advantage to the "Sentinel Tank": it comes with a rotating
turret, which I think reverses direction each use.

My phase 2 is about complete.  I have one pre-programmed
motion cycle, and I'll probably add a couple more.  It's using
an interrupt-based time-slice multitasker, ready for phase 3...
adding sensors.

- Bri
R

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2001\03\28@234842 by Dan Michaels

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Ellen Spertus wrote:
>Has anyone adapted motorized toy cars to be controlled by a PIC or other
>microcontroller?  I'd welcome any pointers.
>

Ellen,

The illustrious "Wiz" did it:   http://www.wizard.org/gadget.html

Also, Tom Handley did it - and he may be lurking around about piclist
somewheres. I think a major problem Tom found is that the basic off the
shelf RC toy car runs a little too fast to make a good robot, and has
to be geared down substantially.

You can find lots of info by doing a directed search on google.com.

If you are looking for specific design info, I have a bunch of robotics
links that are fairly well categorized:

http://www.oricomtech.com/emerge6.htm#Work2

best regards,
- dan michaels
=====================

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2001\03\29@005255 by Brian Reed

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> I think a major problem Tom found is that the basic off the
>shelf RC toy car runs a little too fast to make a good robot, and has
>to be geared down substantially.

Too fast to make bumper switches worthwhile, but maybe not
unmanagable. Speed control is a must (ala PWM).  My RS Bedlam
happens to have 16 ridges around the drive wheel, and I'm thinking
about painting them black & white to make an encoder.  Enough
to determine conditions like: stalled, too fast, or speed is just right.
That's the theory, anyways ....     ;^)

- http://www.reedonline.com/brian/robot/bedlam/

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2001\03\29@084226 by Andy N1YEW

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I have :)

http://www.qsl.net/n1yew

look under radio shack triton X1

andy
----- Original Message -----
From: Ellen Spertus <spam_OUTspertusTakeThisOuTspamMILLS.EDU>
To: <.....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2001 10:21 PM
Subject: [PIC]: Toy cars for robots?


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2001\03\29@131625 by Steve Nordhauser

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Two thoughts on this area.  First, there are higher end cars than the Radio
Shack one that might be easier to deal with.  The servos for steering and the
electronic speed controls are driven by a pulse between 1mSec and 2mSec.
Pretty easy with a controller.  As someone said, they are fast and questionable
for a robot.  There are some monster trucks that are geared down like the
clodbuster.  You can find out more about this from:
http://www.towerhobbies.com

Also, I keep finding those all plastic kiddie cars at garage sales for $10-$50.
These can move about 80lbs (made for 1-2 young kids)  These are geared
way down with lots of torque, come with the batteries and charger.  You might
want to trash the car since there is no frame to work from.  Once you lose the
chassis, the size could be made reasonable.  I've always thought this would be
fun to make a beer cooler that followed me around.  I could be the envy of
everyone at the beach.

--
Steve Nordhauser
Director of New Product Development
Imaging Systems
IEM Corp.
60 Fourth Ave.
Albany, NY 12202-1924
digitalspamKILLspamnycap.rr.com  http://www.iem.net
Phone: (518) 449-5504x21  Fax: (518) 449-5567

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2001\03\30@020856 by Chris Carr

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> Also, I keep finding those all plastic kiddie cars at garage sales for
$10-$50.
> These can move about 80lbs (made for 1-2 young kids)  These are geared
> way down with lots of torque, come with the batteries and charger.  You
might
> want to trash the car since there is no frame to work from.  Once you lose
the
> chassis, the size could be made reasonable.  I've always thought this
would be
> fun to make a beer cooler that followed me around.  I could be the envy of
> everyone at the beach.
>
I saw one of these on sale at a local supermarket just after Christmas and
bought it with the intention of changing it into a robot. Having bought the
thing I lost the incentive to modify it. A Fire Engine just running around
aimlessly seemed boring.

However, the battery compartment under the seat is just the right size for a
can of beer. The battery can be moved to the cab where the electronics can
also be installed. The vehicle follows you around and when you remove the
cold beer, it goes off and gets another one.

Thanks for the idea Steve. This is the equivalent of the Emergency Medical
Hologram Mobile Emitter.  Up until now Cold Beer delivery has required I
stay within arms length of the Garden Railway. ;-)

Regards
Chris

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2001\03\30@071931 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Once you lose the chassis, the size could be made reasonable.
>I've always thought this would be fun to make a beer cooler
>that followed me around.  I could be the envy of
>everyone at the beach.

I once had a lecturer at Polytech who was threatening to make a robot that
followed him around shouting "hey wait for me".

I think what he suggested doing was to have a belt with a heap of IR LED's
around it (probably a dozen or so would be sufficient) pulsed at a rate the
robot could recognise and follow. I do not know how he intended to have the
robot keep from crashing into him and knocking him over.

The only trouble with this scheme for your fridge is the sunlight at the beach
would probably saturate the IR receiver unless you could work out some form of
attenuator using photographic filters or some such that the robot could switch
in automatically if it found the receiving photodiodes saturated.

Even more impressive would be to lie on the beach and the robot to have enough
speech recognition capability that when you turned to it and said "another beer
please" it opened the fridge door with one arm and reached in and handed you a
beer with the other arm:) 'Course it would only understand your voice :))

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'[PIC]: Toy cars for robots?'
2001\04\02@133648 by Tom Handley
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  Ellen, sorry for the late reply but I've been busy and it's been hard to
keep up here... Dan and I kind of started at the same time and compared many
notes here in this forum. Please check the archives for the subject line
beginning with "PIC Robot Update" for more info on my current efforts.

  I started with a RadioShack R/C car and the first problem I encountered
was the gear ratio as Dan has mentioned. That, and the mechanical `slop'
in the gears. While they do have a tank model, I had a racing car...

  It's important to define what you want your robot to do. In my case, I
wanted a technology `test-bed' to try a variety of sensors. It was to be
confined to roaming rooms in my house. Going into this, I realized I wanted
a dual drive so I can basically turn in small spaces. I thought a about
using treads but cat hairs on the carpet would have been a problem. Since I
already had this RS car, and it only had rear wheel drive and front wheel
steering, I thought I would experiment with motor control and a basic bumper
switch. The turning radius was about 2ft... After wasting way too much time
analyzing the RC car's receiver and `crude' H-Bridge, I designed my own
motor driver and interface. While this worked well, there was still a
problem with a high speed motor and low-torque gears. I tried several
combinations of PWM frequency and duty cycle but it was not really what I
was looking for. However, I did manage to add bumper switches and it was
able to climb around the thick-braided carpets in my house. Overall, it
was good experience.

  They do have a tank model and someone else mentioned Tower Hobbies for
more expensive vehicles with a low gear ratio, but I strongly suggest taking
a hard look at doing it from scratch. Tamiya makes an excellent series of
gear boxes that are normally used in a lot of the R/C models and toys that
you see. I ended up using their Worm Gear Box HE. It cost around $10.

  My current `bot' uses a dual drive Tamiya Worm Gear Box HE. with front
wheel drive and a castor wheel with bearings in the rear. It's built on a
9x6" aluminum base with a similar upper deck. So far, I've got a rather
fancy power management scheme that supplies the dual Tamiya motors, the CPU,
and the sensors. There are front bumper `whiskers' and IR sensors that look
left and right. I've been testing the Vector 2X Compass on a wooden platform
to eliminate stray fields. I expect to integrate that with the bot this
month. I'll be adding ultrasonic ranging, mounted on a standard RC servo to
build-up an acoustical description of the environment. I'm also looking at
light and sound sensors. I also have VoiceDirect364 which I have already
interface to a PIC but want to add to this project. Since I made good use of
the lower deck for motor control, power supplies, and the CPU, I have plenty
of room on the upper deck. BTW, my little bot is controlled by a 16F877 so
far but I may add a Lattice CPLD to expand the capability.

  - Tom

Ellen Spertus wrote:
>Has anyone adapted motorized toy cars to be controlled by a PIC or other
>microcontroller?  I'd welcome any pointers.

Dan Michaels wrote:
>Also, Tom Handley did it - and he may be lurking around about piclist
>somewheres. I think a major problem Tom found is that the basic off the
>shelf RC toy car runs a little too fast to make a good robot, and has
>to be geared down substantially.


------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tom Handley
New Age Communications
Since '75 before "New Age" and no one around here is waiting for UFOs ;-)

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2001\04\17@183542 by Bruce Cannon

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This is an awesome topic!  I'd love to have a beer cooler follow me around.
However the actual task of creating a mobile platform that could
successfully follow me around (and as someone said, not smack into me or
anything else) through an unknown environment is, for me at least,
impossible...

I made a couple of Stamp-based Radio Shack toy car platforms a couple of
years back, and as long as you don't have very high expectations it's great
fun.  As far as gearing, etc., I think the hardware is the least of your
worries...

Bruce Cannon
Silicon Crucible
(510) 787-6870
1228 Ceres ST Crockett CA 94525

Remember: electronics is changing your world...for good!

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