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Programming the Arduino with the Eclipse IDE

Posted by Erica on Dec 18, 2013 in Making

Back when I was working on my firefighting robot, I wanted a better system than the default Arduino IDE (integrated development environment). With dozens of files and thousands of lines of code to manage, a professional development environment became highly desirable. I blogged previously about moving my Arduino code into Eclipse. On November 19, 2013 […]

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More robot software improvements

Posted by Erica on Mar 14, 2013 in Making

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. […]

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FireCheetah returns

Posted by Erica on Jan 13, 2013 in Electronics, Making

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 […]

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Robot competition day

Posted by Erica on Apr 23, 2012 in Electronics, Making

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 […]

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Finishing the firefighting robot

Posted by Erica on Apr 20, 2012 in Electronics, Making

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 […]

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FireCheetah is running

Posted by Erica on Apr 1, 2012 in Electronics, Making

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. […]

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Building a fire-fighting robot

Posted by Erica on Feb 19, 2012 in Electronics, Making

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 […]

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A visit to Maker Faire

Posted by Erica on Sep 19, 2011 in Making

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 […]

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Expanding the Arduino: cheap ways to add output pins and power

Posted by Erica on Jun 9, 2010 in Electronics, Making

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 […]

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Coasterbot gets a pair of eyes

Posted by Erica on May 2, 2010 in Electronics, Making

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 […]

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