Electronics

Firmware

TODO: write this

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Charging Contacts

The robots have two skis soldered to the bottom of the PCB and two charging prongs on the top. As well as supporting the front of the robot, the skis are ground terminals for charging. They make contact with a foil pad in the charging bay. The angled charging prongs are designed to wedge under the aluminium rail in the bay, which is powered.

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Wheels

The wheels are the only components on the robot which require any considerable custom fabrication. Surprisingly, we couldn't find a commercially available rubber wheel a few millemetres across! We had a look around for suitable rubber washers, etc, but found nothing. Instead, I developed a simple method of mass producing the wheels from neoprene sheet.

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Circuit Design

Circuit Design

The circuit design aims to minimise cost, area and component count. In this section, subcircuits will be introduced and discussed.

Power 

An MCP1702 3.3V linear regulator provides a stable source for the MSP430. Its maximum supply voltage is too low for direct connection to the battery and in any case, the noise produced by the motors would likely be too great.

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Hardware Overview

Hardware Overview

The robots were designed carefully to save money without sacrificing too much functionality. The greatest cost savings were made in the mechanical design. The robots are just one printed circuit board (PCB). The wheels are the only custom mechanical parts; everything else is an off-the-shelf component, compatible with standard electronics manufacturing techniques, soldered to the PCB. As a result the platform is economical and its manufacture simple, for researchers and electronics assembly firms alike.

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Formica: Affordable, open source swarm robotics

Now open source; build your own!
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Formica (or Southampton swarm robotics) now world famous!

Whilst most of the team were out of the country, Alexis and Klaus presented the Formica robots at the ALIFE XI conference on artificial life. The conference was hosted by the SENSe research group, of which I will soon be a member. It attracted researchers from around the world and sounds like it was very interesting; wish I could have been there.

Submitted by jeff on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 02:53. categories [ ]

Formica: Swarm robotics

Submitted by jeff on Sat, 05/17/2008 - 15:48. categories [ ]

Louder Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Pete brought me a challenge from Sarah's house - make their carbon monoxide alarm louder. A malfunctioning boiler and landlord means they suffer frequent CO problems. I suggested that Pete buy a personal attack alarm from the SUSU shop whilst I figured out how to get a signal out of the CO alarm.

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Optojeweltronics

A few weeks back I was thinking of ways to fuse electronics with jewellery. The first one I came up with was an LED on diamond. You could have a classical diamond ring with an LED built in the bulk. Gold contacts could be evaporated on, and could merge in nicely with the rest of the ring! ...
Submitted by jeff on Sun, 03/09/2008 - 16:13. categories [ ]