The Linkbot – designed by the Barobo crew – is a modular robot platform powered by Atmel’s ATmega128RFA1 (running at 16MHz) that boasts 100oz-in (7.2 Kg-cm) of torque and a free-run speed of 300 deg/sec.
“[The ‘bot] integrates an 8-bit AVR microcontroller (MCU) with an 802.15.4-compliant and ZigBee-capable radio transceiver operating in the 2.4GHz band,” the Linkbot crew explained in a recent Kickstarter post. “Out of the box, it communicates at 250kbps over the air, but with custom firmware you can enable speeds of up to 2Mbps for an 8X increase in throughput.”
So what sets the Linkbot apart from other robotic platforms? Well, for one, it is a fully functional individual ‘bot that can be switched on and used right out of the box. Perhaps most importantly, the Linkbot offers an almost unlimited capability to expand, as it is equipped with three mounting surfaces to attach additional modules or accessories which can be designed and manufactured on a 3D printer.
Indeed, SnapConnectors can be used to easily snap-on accessories such as wheels, a gripper, a camera mount and more. And yes, there is also a #6-32 bolt pattern on each mounting surface, allowing Makers and modders to attach virtually anything to the Linkbot.
Additional key hardware specs? A multi-color (RGB) LED, three -axis accelerometer, buzzer, RJ11 (6P4C) expansion connector, 3x buttons, micro-USB connector, rechargeable lithium-ion battery, high torque weight ratio motors and a polycarbonate shell.
On the software side, the Linkbot offers absolute encoding for precise control of the ‘bot, along with a graphical interface (BaroboLink) that allows Makers and modders to run programs, actuate motors and read sensors on a PC. Essentially, BaroboLink converts PoseTeaching into Python and C/C++ code.
“The Linkbot communications protocol has been implemented as a cross-platform C library which includes functions to connect, move, and get data from robots. The library is able to communicate with any module over USB,” the Linkbot crew noted.
“Linkbot can also be used as a dongle to wirelessly communicate with other modules. The C library is compatible with SWIG, which may be used to generate wrapper libraries in a variety of different languages, including Java, C#, and Python.”
There are also a number of “built in” modes for the ‘bot, such as BumpConnect which allows Linkbots to connect to each other wirelessly without having to connect to a PC, along with TiltDrive which converts one Linkbot into a remote control.
CopyCat allows users to control a single Linkbot by rotating the hubs of another, while PoseTeach makes it possible for Makers to program complex robot motions with their hands instead of using a keyboard.
Linkbot has thus far raised $13,532 of a $40,000 goal with 20 days to go. Additional information can be found here on the official Kickstarter page.