Tag Archives: Creative Robotics

The robotic troika of Atmel summer interns in Trondheim

Troika: A Russian word for a group of three, and also a pretty good Norwegian chocolate bar.

It’s a safe assumption that most of us have had some sort of experience with summer jobs throughout our years as students. It’s also quite likely that some of us remember these jobs as full of sweat and manual work at a construction site, on a farm or in some kind of warehouse; however, not all summer jobs have to be this way. Today, I received a piece of mail from some of the summer interns at Atmel Trondheim, and from the sounds of it, they have some pretty cool things going on!

The Line Follower

A line follower is a machine equipped with some sort of light-sensitive sensors that follows a line — either a black line on a white surface or vica versa.

linefollower

“This project utilizes two Light Dependent Resistors (LDRs) to detect the amount of reflected light from two Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). The chassis is made of cardboard and the whole robot is made without any soldering. The idea behind this robot was to introduce some intelligence to a robot in an easy and inexpensive way,” explains Magne Normann, one of the summer interns at Atmel.

The Avoidance Robot

This is an obstacle avoidance-type robot based around the Atmel Abot. All that’s required to build this kind of robot is a platform, two motors/servos, some wires and a distance sensor. However, this particular project has got an additional servo. The ultrasonic sensor is mounted on a servo in front of the robot, and as the servo rotates, the sensor measures the distances in its envorionment and uses this information to choose a path between any obstacles.

avoidancerobot

The Atmel Tank

Have you ever seen one of those USB rocket launchers and wondered if they’re hackable? Well, they are.

“We got our hands on a USB missile launcher, disassembled it, did a reversed engineering and modified it. Then we added Bluetooth connectivity, put it on an Atmel Abot and made an app for it. The app does have both one and two-player modes; one player controls both the vehicle and the turret, and two-player mode where one player controls the car, while another controls the turret,” Magne shares.  

tank

“Up until now the only way to interface with an USB rocket launcher had been through the complicated USB protocol. Unfortunately not many microcontrollers support this feature. We therefore decided to hack the rocket launcher down to the old school way, so we could control it with simple GPIOs. We opened the launcher up and discovered the unused footprint for a microcontroller. Apparently, initial design was based on using a microcontroller, but somewhere along the way someone decided to go with a die instead. This left the microcontroller pads unused and available for us to use. All we had to do was probe the signals for each command, disconnect the die from the circuit paths and solder our own wires to the microcontroller pads. This way we could use the existing H-bridges and switches without any additional hardware required.”

Magne notes that the tank is currently bringing havoc to the Atmel department located at Tiller, Norway. Interested in seeing it for yourself? The tank will be on display, along with several other Atmel-based projects, at Maker Faire Trondheim scheduled for August 29-30th. Maker Faire attendees will also have the opportunity to compete for the title of Maker Faire’s “Best Tank Commander.”

 

 

 

ATmega32U4 drives open source LEO ‘bot

The Creative Robotics crew has debuted LEO, an open source robotic kit powered by Atmel’s versatile ATMega32U4 microcontroller (MCU).


Additional key specs include an Arduino bootloader, 12 digital I/O pins via an I2C port expander, configurable pull up/down and interrupt capable, 6 digital I/O directly connected to the ATMega32U4 MCU, two PWM capable pins, four external interrupt capable pins, USART and I2C Serial ports, 12 analog inputs, user programmable button, as well as a ‘COMM Hood’ and ‘IO Hood’ comms expansion system.

Leo also features (dual) four wheel and tracked configurations, front and rear tactile bumpers, dual HUB-ee motor plus slave motor connections, dual wheel quadrature encoder reading (128 counts per revolution), dual motor current feedback, automatic motor disable when powered by USB, Arduino robot compatible connector/mounting holes, as well as comprehensive firmware supporting encoders, external IO, PID Speed control and a serial command set.

“LEO is the product of over a decade of design experience in building autonomous robots, experience that also inspired the creation of our HUB-ee wheels,” a Creative Robots rep explained in a recent Kickstarter post.

“Unlike most small robotic platforms on the market LEO can be reconfigured from simple symmetrical two wheel drive to four wheel drive in a matter of minutes – and [is packaged] with a pair of modular tactile bumpers at each end for basic obstacle detection.”

LEO is also quite moddable, as Makers can easily add expansion boards using a dual ‘Hood’ stacking system.

“Hoods are a bit like shields, you can use them to add functionality like extra processors, manual controls, sensors and wireless radios. We call them hoods because LEO is a vehicle (and cars have hoods) and also to differentiate them from the shield system,” said the rep.

“LEO can have two different types of hood at the same time, one for general analog and digital I/O and a second just for serial and I2C communications. This allows you to fit LEO with a Bluetooth, ZigBee or Wifi module without interfering with the general purpose I/O.”

As noted above, Leo is an open source robot project, with all the PCB schematic design files, CAD files for the bumper and caster wheel available for download under the creative commons attribution sharealike license. Software libraries will also be accessible on GitHub.

Interested in learning more? You can check out LEO’s official Kickstarter page here.