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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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 [ ]

Metric Cross Slide Conversion

I recently bought a big pile of lathe spares, including a new leadscrew and nut to convert the cross slide to metric. I'm working on gradually converting the whole machine. I started on the cross slide because it's the most commonly used, and typically is used to the tightest tolerances.

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Plasma TV Brackets

Justyn bought an amazing plasma TV on ebay for a bargain £50. It was sold as broken, but it seems the seller was incapable of pressing buttons - it actualy works fine. It lacked a stand or any means of attaching it to a wall. For a few weeks it was simply gaffer taped to the radiator, but eventually we could live in fear no longer, and decided to fabricate some brackets.

The back of the TV has some captive nuts to screw a bracket to. Justyn bought two 500mm lengths of 20x20x3 steel box from Metal Supermarkets, and I supplied the metalworking equipment. 

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TFT Repair

I rescued a 17" Sony SDM-S74 TFT from a WEEE bin. It powered up ok and displayed an image, but the screen went black after about 2 seconds. So I dismantled it and had a look around.


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3rd Year Project

Thought I'd make my 3rd year project writeup available. It is a switch-mode power supply with digital PID control implemented in a low power microcontroller. The aim is to achieve a higher performance, more flexible design than a traditional analogue supply without the high power consumption of a high-speed DSP.

It scored highly, so might be worth reading if you're a 3rd year Electronic at Southampton.