The Abington firefighting competition is one month away. I’ve been working hard on the controller software, and at this point FireCheetah reliably navigates on continuous surfaces (floor or rug). That is well ahead of where things were last year! Along the way I came across a few things that may be useful to other roboticists.
Last year I participated in the Abingdon firefighting robotics competition, in which a robot must navigate a maze, find a candle, and put it out. We entered two divisions: K-6 where kids are allowed to remote control the robot, and the senior division where all actions must be autonomous. The kids won their division, but [...]
After two months of work, the big day was finally here. Friday night we drove up to Philadelphia with lots of tools and the robot nestled in a box at my feet. The kids were very excited and we all brought matching robot t-shirts to wear. Saturday morning we showed up bright and early for [...]
As I write, we are on our way to the Abington Firefighting Competition. Up until last night, I was not certain that we would make it. In the previous post I mentioned various gremlins with the motor control system. Running at a lower voltage more or less made them go away. It worked so well [...]
Good news — FireCheetah’s remote control mode is working! Here is a video of the bot in action:
The robot is actually quite fast. I had to slow it down to 30% of full speed to control it reliably by hand. The weight is unevenly distributed right now as well, which adds to the challenge. I [...]
I’ve been looking for a reason to build another robot. A few weeks ago I found a list of robot competitions around the world. Ignoring the battle bot options, geography and capability led to me to the Penn State Abington Fire-Fighting Robot Contest:
The objective of the fire-fighting robot contest is to design a computer-controlled robot [...]
Last weekend we went to Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. This was a repeat visit for us, and I wondered if we would see anything new or just a repeat of last year. Good news: lots of new things and we all had a great time.
The Faire has gotten a lot [...]
For the LED stairs, I need to control 14 LED lamps and 2 sensors. From the beginning, I had in mind an Arduino as the microcontroller for this project. Although it is possible to do a primitive version of these stairs without a microcontroller, having a brain at the center gives many more options. And [...]
I was featured in MAKE Robot Dispatch #7 — thanks guys! Hard to believe that there is less than a week left in the contest.
One of the requirements of the contest is for the robot to do some obstacle avoidance. The Jameco bundle came with some switches to do bump sensing. While this might be [...]
I have a working Ardweeny!
The Solarbotics replacement kit arrived this afternoon. I assembled it as before, with a few differences. The male programming headers were put in with the proper orientation. And I decided to test the Ardweeny without soldering the chip in at first — the pressure of the outer pins holds it pretty [...]