SWARS – See What a Robot Sees

This project is a collection of experiences related to seeing and percieving the world from the point of view of robotic creatures. Robots will send sensor data to the computer and will generate visual and audio landscapes in real time.

The development started during the Audiencia Zero residency in O Espaço do Tempo in Montemor-o-Novo, and will continue until the final exhibition wich will be in July.

This is a colaborative project where many friends are bringing together their skills, until now we have collaborated with:
– Pedro Ângelo with Serial Communication;
Rui Madeira with computer vision technics and advanced maths;
Sérgio Ferreira is a media and interaction guru, always providing precious help and advice;
– Daniel Gomes is working on a MAXMSP interactive sound;
Nuno Morgadinho is developing an online application to remotely control robots.
– André Almeida is a computational guru and a great technology and interaction advisor.

More to come ;)

Sub-projects list:

ICU – I See You

This is the first iteration of this project, and just a quick test for something greater.. hope to have time for it in the future.

Components list:
Motoruino (Arduino compatible board) up and running;
– Wireless camera and video converter sponsored by O Espaço do Tempo;
– Basic pan/tilt system built with PVC;
– GUI written in Processing enabling robot remote control, gives vision feedback and servos orientation.


Ratazana update

This post is a full description of all the building process, the main idea started with the ratbot, and then I found out that I could follow the same concept with a different approach :)

Click the button to read more:

I used this little and cheap car toy, two caster wheels and a plastic tube to build this bot.

I used polymorph to create an inner support to the servo, this way the servo will have an horizontal position which is necessary for this robot.

More side supports were added with polymorph and wood. I guess the servo won´t go anywhere now :)

This is the Arduino based circuit, I´ve assembled all the components on a perfboard. From left to right you see the XBee with 3.3v voltage regulator, L293D motor driver, 5v regulator, Arduino chip, and power connector.

This is the back side of the circuit, a friend told me I was better with wire wrapping technique than his college teacher  :)

The circuit fits neatly inside the case

A rat without a tail it is not a rat at all :)  ..it was made with polymorph, I consider this material to be the best that I have.

I mounted a micro-servo to hold a little sonar (SFR10). Later I will make this bot autonomous

And this is the final look, for now it will be remote controlled by the G-Remote (Arduino Based Remote Control)

I´ve had several issues with this bot, first the direction was unbalanced, it was always turning to one side and was impossible to control, then the motor gears started to have some missaligment and the motor seemed to spin and to go out of grip with the gears, I tried to solve it but the issue still remains, everytime this happens I have to tweak the chassis, press the motor, and it goes ok for a couple of minutes and then it happens again. I feel that the robot could be a lot faster and more powerful, I will do my best to solve this, If I have success I will create another post with a full description of the workaround  :-)

G’Remote – Arduino based remote controller

27-August-2009 UPDATE:
My friend Gerhard from Germany asked me to build a walkthrough regarding the G-Remote, with part list, schematics and code. And here it is.  Enjoy  :D


This is my first attempt to make a custom remote controller, and also my first customized Arduino.
After seeing this post made by OddBot I wanted to try to make one myself.

I figured out that if I purchased one remote controller it would be cheaper than buying two of these and paying shipment to Portugal.

So, ripping the guts from a game remote controller I get two joysticks, a couple of buttons, two nice motors and one small lcd.

Each joystick have one button inside, that is cool  :-)

Now I have more control over my bots, specially the ones with two motors.. will post videos later.

no comments on this one :-)

Tankah – remote controlled tank

Since I’ve started messing with robotics that I wanted to build a tank, and finally that moment arrived when two Tamiya thread kits and a Twin Motor Gearbox arrived.

Everything started with a sketch:

And as soon as I decided what I wanted, the assemble process has begun.
I have some plastic sheets laying around and I thought they would be perfect to hold all the hardware.

The chassis:

Meanwhile the replacement motors from Pololu arrived and I soldered the caps to remove motor noise.
The ones that came with the twin gear box are very noisy (electrically speaking)

This is the design in an almost final phase:

Later I replaced the plastic things for wood, and I used polymorph for the first time, it´s the best material I have seen in the last decades.

The brains (Xbee, Arduino and my custom motor driver with L293D):

When all the things got in place it was time for a test drive through some obstacles..
I figured that it needs some kind of stabilizer.. otherwise it won´t climb more difficult obstacles, OR it may flip around… (I think i´m just having an idea for another bot)

and… this was the solution I came up with  :D

I placed an “arm” on the back, it stops the tank from flipping over when its climbing stuff.

It works like a charm  :-)

It´s a lot of fun to drive this thing!! :-)   still editing the video…