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Firefighting robot update

Posted by Erica on Mar 5, 2012 in Electronics, Making

The firefighting robot competition is only a few weeks away, and I’ve been working steadily. Because of the time pressure, there hasn’t been much leisure to blog about it! I’ve accomplished the following tasks, and may write about them later. Partial list includes: Set up wireless communication between the Arduino-controlled robot and a PC running […]

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How to configure an XBee on Linux, Mac, or any other operating system

Posted by Erica on Feb 21, 2012 in Electronics, Making

Consider this post a corrective to all the over-complicated advice I’ve seen out there. If you own an XBee, you likely already know that the official configuration tool, X-CTU, only runs on Windows. As result, if you need to configure an XBee on a different operating system, a Google search brings up repeated suggestions to […]

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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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Stanford and Sebastian Thrun offering more free online classes

Posted by Erica on Feb 6, 2012 in Making

I posted previously about the free AI class taught last fall by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. It was a marvelous experience. I learned quite a bit, and completed all the homework and tests, with a perfect score on the final exam (which was not terribly hard). Well worth the time investment. The video format […]

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Taking Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence course

Posted by Erica on Oct 10, 2011 in Making

This week marks the beginning of Stanford’s introductory course in Artificial Intelligence, taught by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. This is the same course being given live at Stanford’s campus as CS221. Enrollment is free, and includes video lectures, quizzes, and (optionally) homework and exams. I have signed up for the full boat, they say […]

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Robotics Open House at the University of Maryland

Posted by Erica on Sep 15, 2010 in Electronics, Making

Last Friday the University of Maryland had an open house for their robotics department. This was a free event, including lunch, and very well organized. I had not been able to go to any previous robot competitions at the university so I was eager to see what they had. The university has 18 robotics labs, […]

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Playing with a solar robot

Posted by Erica on May 18, 2010 in Electronics, Making

Holly has been begging to build her own robot ever since I made Robie. Fortunately there are some excellent options for kid-friendly robot kits. After browsing the MakerShed we decided to get the 6-in-1 Educational Solar Robotic Kit. This was a good choice. As the box states you can make six different robots. We’ve done […]

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Robie the Robot lives!

Posted by Erica on May 9, 2010 in Making

A few days ago I put in the obstacle avoidance programming for the coasterbot. Almost immediately, he acquired a real personality. The algorithm works incredibly well. Even though the first version of my code had significant bugs — typos, forgetting that moving the sensor servo takes a finite amount of time, etc. — he was […]

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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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Coasterbot moves!

Posted by Erica on Apr 26, 2010 in Electronics, Making

With the electronics done, it was time to go back and work on the chassis. As before, the DVDs are linked with screws. I wanted the servos to be firmly attached. Since we removed the controller units, this left a lot of empty space in the case, allowing for this type of attachment: I still […]

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