Archive for the ‘Robot Parts’ Category

Play-I Robot to help kids learn to program

October 28th, 2013 No comments

Disney Rapid Design Tool Creates Mechatronic Characters – IEEE Spectrum

July 26th, 2013 No comments

From: IEEE Spectrum
By Evan Ackerman
Posted 22 Jul 2013 | 14:28 GMT


The typical approach to adding actuated joints and additional degrees of freedom to a robot is slapping additional servos and motors on there. And that’s fine, except that it adds weight and cost and complexity. A little bit of cleverness with gears can go a very long way, and Disney Research has developed a new rapid design tool that can create sophisticated mechatronics that operate with just one motor.

Disney designed ten animated characters with this system, and manufactured seven of them, and in each case, getting the character to do what they wanted it to do took less than half an hour. All of the parts involved can be 3D printed, too, which makes us think that it might be a lot of fun for Disney to release this too into the wild and let people make their own characters with it. But before they do, there some additional capabilities in the works:

Our characters are currently restricted to cyclic motions,” said Stelian Coros, an associate research scientist at Disney Research, Zürich. “However, our research brings us one step closer to the rapid design and manufacture of customized robots that can sense and interact with their environments to carry out complex tasks.

More info at: Disney Research

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June 8th, 2013 No comments

I ran across this robot website that sells neat robot kits, check it out at:

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New Arduino Robot Available in the Maker Shed at Maker Faire

May 17th, 2013 No comments
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April 16th, 2013 No comments

UDOO is a project on Kickstarter that adds 4 rasperry Pi’s with an Arduino on one board. Look really neat and it is already way past its fundraising goal!

Check it out:

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Liquid metal used to create wires that stretch eight times original length – Electronic Products

January 18th, 2013 No comments

Electronic Products
by Jeffery Bausch

Have you ever gone to plug something in but found yourself an inch or two short of the outlet? This may soon be an inconvenience of the past thanks to some outside-the-wire thinking by researchers at North Carolina State University. They’ve developed wires that can be stretched up to eight times their original length and still function just as effectively.


What’s more, beyond connecting to a power source, the can also be used for headphones. They also present a unique opportunity when it comes to electronic textiles.

How they did it

The group started with a thin tube made of extremely elastic polymer. They then filled the tube with a liquid metal alloy made up of gallium and indium, an effective conductor of electricity.


“Previous efforts to create stretchable wires focus on embedding metals or other electrical conductors in elastic polymers, but that creates a trade-off,” explains Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research.

“Increasing the amount of metal improves the conductivity of the composite, but diminishes its elasticity,” he adds. “Our approach keeps the materials separate, so you have maximum conductivity without impairing elasticity. In short, our wires are orders of magnitude more stretchable than the most conductive wires, and at least an order of magnitude more conductive than the most stretchable wires currently in the literature.”


While the video below isn’t exactly the most entertaining piece of media ever created, it does demonstrate the effectiveness of the stretchable wire pretty clearly.


Manufacturing the wire is pretty simple, but it’s still going to be some time before it hits the shelves. Dickey notes that, of the challenges the group still faces with the technology, figuring out how to minimize leakage of the liquid metal should the wires be severed absolutely needs to be addressed.

In the meantime, you can check out the group’s paper, entitled “ Ultrastretchable Fibers with Metallic Conductivity Using a Liquid Metal Alloy Core ” in the online edition of Advanced Functional Materials. Free log-in is required.

Story via:

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Webots: robot simulator

January 18th, 2013 No comments

Here is a link to a mobile robot simulation program. it has a 30 day free trial then it costs. See

Hackable Lego Robot Runs Linux

January 9th, 2013 No comments

Here is a link to a more detailed description of the new Lego NXT Hackable Lego Robot Runs Linux

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Best Beginner Robotics Products – LockerGnome

December 27th, 2012 No comments

From: Locker Gnome
By Ryan Matthew Pierson

What do you buy for someone aspiring to become a robotics engineer? You could go all out and hit them with all the parts and software they might need to develop their own advanced robotics projects from scratch, but what about someone who is a bit young or inexperienced?

It might be argued that the best way to get someone started is to take advantage of some of the robotics products already on the market that empower just about anyone to build and design their own robotic creations.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the more interesting kits that make getting started just a little easier.

Arduino Board

Arduino is an incredibly versatile open-source platform. You can create a wide range of things using boards made for Arduino projects, including robots.

This might be a bit on the complex side for a first-time robot builder, but there are plenty of kits out there that work very well with Arduino boards. In fact, there’s an entire book on the subject of building Arduino-powered robots.

With this particular platform, the sky is the limit.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi made headlines when it became perhaps the cheapest all-in-one computer solution at just $25-35. All you have to do is plug it in, load a low-demand Linux distro on it, and start computing.

While it isn’t exactly intended for use in robotics, it can and has become a popular solution for hobbyist robotics engineers who wish to extend the functionality of existing designs or build something entirely new off the inexpensive platform. The folks at Raspberri Pi have acknowledged this growing trend and dedicated a category of posts to the use of Raspberri Pi boards in robotics.

If you ever thought about building a seriously cheap robot without having to resort to using off-the-shelf kits, this might be an excellent option for you.

LEGO Mindstorms NXT

Few robotics kits out there are as versatile and easy to get into as LEGO Mindstorms NXT. This kit, coming in at around $450, is certainly no impulse buy. The lessons you can learn from building and designing robots using Mindstorms makes it a great value for young folks and adults alike interested in learning a little more about robotics.

It’s a Bluetooth-ready kit that empowers you to design robots to do the simple things that much more expensive kits have problems doing. You get several different robots in a single kit as well, with transitions between one form to another being a matter of disconnecting and rearranging the pieces.

Revell Vexplorer Robotics System

With 300 parts, on-board video with a 150′ foot range, and an endless number of potential configurations, the Revell Vexplorer Robotics System is perhaps one of the best robotics kits out there. Recommended for users 14 or older, this is no simple toy. Vexplorer is a fully functional robotics system that enables you to grab and move objects or spy on your dog.

This system certainly isn’t cheap, but it is a great way to get a real look at what it takes to build a fully-functioning robot. After a while with this system, you’ll be ready to build your battle bot from scratch. Just don’t hook it up to Skynet.

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How It Works: How Servo Motors Work

December 19th, 2012 No comments

From: Jameco

How Servo Motors Work
This little motor-that-could is high in efficiency and power
By Frances Reed – Jameco Content Manager

Servo motors have been around for a long time and are utilized in many applications. They are small in size but pack a big punch and are very energy-efficient. Because of these features, they can be used to operate remote-controlled or radio-controlled toy cars, robots and airplanes. Servo motors are also used in industrial applications, robotics, in-line manufacturing, pharmaceutics and food services. But how do the little guys work?

The servo circuitry is built right inside the motor unit and has a positionable shaft, which usually is fitted with a gear (as shown below). The motor is controlled with an electric signal which determines the amount of movement of the shaft.

What’s inside the servo?
To fully understand how the servo works, you need to take a look under the hood. Inside there is a pretty simple set-up: a small DC motor, potentiometer, and a control circuit. The motor is attached by gears to the control wheel. As the motor rotates, the potentiometer’s resistance changes, so the control circuit can precisely regulate how much movement there is and in which direction.


When the shaft of the motor is at the desired position, power supplied to the motor is stopped. If not, the motor is turned in the appropriate direction. The desired position is sent via electrical pulses through the signal wire. The motor’s speed is proportional to the difference between its actual position and desired position. So if the motor is near the desired position, it will turn slowly, otherwise it will turn fast. This is called proportional control. This means the motor will only run as hard as necessary to accomplish the task at hand, a very efficient little guy.

How is the servo controlled?
Servos are controlled by sending an electrical pulse of variable width, or pulse width modulation (PWM), through the control wire. There is a minimum pulse, a maximum pulse, and a repetition rate. A servo motor can usually only turn 90 degrees in either direction for a total of 180 degree movement. The motor’s neutral position is defined as the position where the servo has the same amount of potential rotation in the both the clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. The PWM sent to the motor determines position of the shaft, and based on the duration of the pulse sent via the control wire; the rotor will turn to the desired position. The servo motor expects to see a pulse every 20 milliseconds (ms) and the length of the pulse will determine how far the motor turns. For example, a 1.5ms pulse will make the motor turn to the 90-degree position. Shorter than 1.5ms moves it to 0 degrees, and any longer than 1.5ms will turn the servo to 180 degrees, as diagramed below:


When these servos are commanded to move, they will move to the position and hold that position. If an external force pushes against the servo while the servo is holding a position, the servo will resist from moving out of that position. The maximum amount of force the servo can exert is called the torque rating of the servo. Servos will not hold their position forever though; the position pulse must be repeated to instruct the servo to stay in position.

Types of Servo Motors
There are two types of servo motors – AC and DC. AC servo can handle higher current surges and tend to be used in industrial machinery. DC servos are not designed for high current surges and are usually better suited for smaller applications. Generally speaking, DC motors are less expensive than their AC counterparts. These are also servo motors that have been built specifically for continuous rotation, making it an easy way to get your robot moving. They feature two ball bearings on the output shaft for reduced friction and easy access to the rest-point adjustment potentiometer.

Servo Motor Applications
Servos are used in radio-controlled airplanes to position control surfaces like elevators, rudders, walking a robot, or operating grippers. Servo motors are small, have built-in control circuitry and have good power for their size.

In food services and pharmaceuticals, the tools are designed to be used in harsher environments, where the potential for corrosion is high due to being washed at high pressures and temperatures repeatedly to maintain strict hygiene standards. Servos are also used in in-line manufacturing, where high repetition yet precise work is necessary.

Of course, you don’t have to know how a servo works to use one, but as with most electronics, the more you understand, the more doors open for expanded projects and projects’ capabilities. Whether you’re a hobbyist building robots, an engineer designing industrial systems, or just constantly curious, where will servo motors take you?

Seattle Robotics Society
AI Shack Blog
Jameco Workshop

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