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Mixing things up with R0kker-bot...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:17:48 PM America/New_York

 R0kker Robot Side ViewFor a while now, I have wanted to experiment with the rocker-bogie type chassis, read NASA Mars Rover, and seeing its mechanical merits. However, the time and effort needed to construct one has been preventing me from doing this. Creating this type of chassis without a significant time commitment is easier said then done, unless you already have the right set of components that play well together.

This is where the right blend of build-plate strips, Meccano parts and micro-motors come in handy to build the table-top version of NASA Mars Rover quickly - the 'R0kker-bot'. The build-plate construction system is a set of aluminum strips that can you can drill, bend and cut to any shape or form you wish. And just in case you're not up to speed on what Meccano is, you can look it up here; I highly doubt that though, as you are here and reading this, but just in case :).

The basic chassis setup, excluding wiring and electronics took three hours to complete. You can bolt together the main chassis in an hour using Meccano parts, and it takes another two hours to drill and attach the motors using build-plate aluminum strips. Most of those three hours went into trying to fit Meccano and build-plate components together nicely, and into ensuring that the dual-wheel arch frame has enough clearance for rotation and doesn't get stuck against the main robot body. Meccano’s large bolts do get in the way; therefore it is essential to make sure that there is enough clearance between the frame and the main body. In the picture below, you can see how the motor/wheel combination is attached to the build-plate aluminum strip and then to the Meccano part with regular Meccano bolts. Once the mechanical part was finished, I proceeded with getting everything wired up.

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Converting DEV-32 board to 3.3v logic levels

Sunday, December 7, 2008 4:23:00 PM America/New_York

ATMega644 and DEV32 board running at 3.3vWhat happens when you need 3.3V controller board and spare DEV-32 board lying around? Well, you end up converting one into 3.3v logic friendly controller board.

The process is not too complicate but requires extra hardware such as ATMega324p or ATMega644, a couple of 3.3V voltage regulators in TO-92 form-factor and some patience. You could use any other newer micro-controllers that support lower voltages and are pin compatible with ATMega32.

 Benefits of running DEV-32 at 3.3V

  • you can easily interface with 3V logic level components such as XBee, EM408 GPS, Copernicus GPS, etc. without extra voltage level-shifting components;
  • you reduce your power requirements;
  • you can use one of the lighter/smaller LiPo batteries to power your micro;
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Arduino/WIRING IDE for Mega32/644

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 8:28:38 PM America/New_York

AVR ATMega 32 and 644It seems that we are done with Arduino/Wiring IDE port for ATMega32 and ATMega644. Code runs on both microprocessors in the exactly the same manner.

The ultimate test - if robot performs identically after the brain swap the port is successful. We upgraded robot main controller from ATMega168 (Arduino Board) to ATMega32 and then to ATMega644. And yes, the bot performed exactly the same regardless of what micro the code was running on.

Here is the micros that we were used to run the tests.

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1st iteration of Arduino IDE porting effort

Thursday, May 8, 2008 6:40:00 PM America/New_York

diff screen-shotWell, here we go. Most of the testing for ATMega32 is done and all seems to work as expected. So, if you would like to try writing code in WIRING for your robot or embedded control project you can download Arduino patches here. Here is the screen-shot of a DIFF utility showing what files were modified to get Arduino /Wiring code working with ATMega32 microcontroller. 

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Arduino IDE support for ATMega32 and ATMega644

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 5:23:00 PM America/New_York

ATMega socketed in STK500We are currently busy porting Arduino /Wiring IDE to ATMega32 and ATMega644 micros from Atmel, so you could get a simplicity of wiring programming language on these two powerful embedded controllers. We will post 1st iteration of the port once we are confident that it's reasonably stable. If someone feels adventurous and wants to try it NOW, send us an email and we will make it available.

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