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Projects DPRG members are constantly working on robot projects. Some are indivdual projects and some are group projects. Occasionally one of these projects is considered so generally useful to other robot builders that we document it and make it available to the world here on our project page.

The dates on these projects represent the date the project was initially documented. Often, work began on the project prior to the date listed. Many of these are also ongoing projects which are still being improved and changed today.

If you'd like to join one of the group projects seen here or just offer a comment on one of the indvidual projects, why not join us on the DPRG mailing list?


Establishing a Dallas Maker Space

by Ed Paradis and Steve Rainwater January, 2010

After 7 years in our Garland warehouse, the DPRG is searching for a new home. The new plan is to try the hackerspace model, combining grants, donations, and membership fees to fund a fully equipped community workshop. There's a lot of work involved in putting something like this together and we hope that by documenting the process here, we may help other groups who are interested in this approach.

Building An Autonomous Glockenspiel

by Ed Paradis and Steve Rainwater August, 2009

The DPRG's music ensemble, Noise Boundary, completed their first instrument in 2009; a computer controlled Glockenspiel with MIDI interface. An Arduino Mega combined with a custom solenoid driver board provide the option of remote control via a remote computer or autonomous operation.

RoombaComm Java Library

by Tod E. Kurt, Paul Bouchier and Jonathan Pitts, July 2009

Several DPRG members started doing lots of Roomba hacking. They began using Tod E. Kurt's RoombaComm Java library as the basis for their projects. They started sending patches for improvements to Tod. So many patches, that Tod decided to make the DPRG the new official home of the code. Paul and Jonathan are maintaining and improving the code. RoombaComm is Free Software, licensed under the GNU GPL. If you're working with Roomba robots, consider trying out RoombaComm.

Tankbot GTR: A Group Outdoor Robot Project

by Ed Paradis and R. Steven Rainwater, December 2006

When DPRG member Bill Cole moved out of state, he left the group a radio controlled Stuart M5 tank made by 21st Century Toys. Around the same time, several DPRG members were looking for a way to get a group project started. The M5 tank toy looked like an ideal platform for a group robot project, so some funds were allocated and we got to work.

Hacking the Tower Hobbies TS-53 Servo

by Dale Wheat, May 2003
Dale starts with a useful general introduction to the use and control of R/C servos. He follows this with detailed, step-by-step instructions for hacking a common hobby servo for continuous rotation. Dale's hack is very elegant, eliminating the modifications to servo electronics that many servo hacks require. While all servo hacks risk damaging the servo, Dale's method is one of the safest and easiest we've seen. It can be easily performed even by robot builders with no previous servo-hacking experience.

Low-cost Gyro-Accelerometer Combo Sensor

by Earl W. Bollinger, January 2003
As homebrew robots grow more sophisticated, they tend to need more advanced sensors. Flying robots and one or two wheeled balancing robots commonly need gyroscopes and accelerometers but, in the past, these types of sensors have been prohibitively expensive. Earl brings the cost down by combining some of the latest solid-state, MEMS-based sensor technologies with some old-fashioned innovation.

Quickie Servo Tester

by Earl W. Bollinger, October 2002
Robot builders frequently use hobby R/C servos either in their original form or hacked for continous rotation. Testing those servos can be a pain because it usually requires either R/C equipment or an operational processor to send commands. Having a simple, dedicated servo tester would make life a lot easier for most of us. Earl has done just that by designing a small, Atmel AT890S2343 based servo tester.

GARP (Group Autonomous Robotics Project)

Updated by R. Steven Rainwater, August 2002
After years of talking about a group robot, the DPRG received an old electric wheelchair from an anonymous donor in New Jersey. Larry Kerns suggested the name "GARP" and things got rolling. GARP's history has been characterized by brief spurts of activity followed by long periods of neglect.

Home-Brew Shaft Encoders for the Pittman GM8712 Gearhead Motor

by David P. Anderson, September 2001
With the help of DPRG and SRS members, David provides a detailed description of the Pittman GM8712 Gearhead Motors and the home-brew encoders he added to them. While the Pittman motors are quite common on the surplus market, David's approach could be applied to other motors as well.

Improving Servo Positioning Accuracy

by David P. Anderson, September 2000
David demonstrates a method of improving both accuracy and repeatability of servo positioning with the use of an external reference potentiometer. This can come in handy when you want to gear up a servo without gearing up the positioning error too.

Simple NiCad Battery Recharger

Ralph Tenny, May 1999
Working with NiCad batteries can seem like black magic to the uninitiated, but it doesn't have to be. This project takes you through building a simple NiCad battery charger with off-the-shelf parts and includes easy instructions for proper care and feeding of NiCads. Project notes include a basic charging circuit, theory of operation, plus calibration and discharging recommendations.

IR Proximity Detector

by Jeff Koenig, August 1998
Proximity sensors are commonly used on mobile robots for obstacle avoidance. This article presents a simple PIC-based, modulated infrared proximity sensor with dual angled transmitters and single receiver. Several DPRG robots use these to successfully navigate our contest courses. The article includes a detailed parts list, PCB layout, schematics, theory of operations, and source code.

Cirrus CS-21 Sub-Micro Servo Hack

by Jim Brown, April 1998
A great step-by-step pictorial about modifying a sub-micro R/C servo for continuous rotation. The ideas clearly presented here can be used to modify most servo motors and leaves 1st-time servo hackers with confidence to convert almost any R/C servo motors into easy-to-use drive motors.

L298 H-Bridge PCB

by Jim Brown, April 1998
A simple H-Bridge for motor control is needed by almost every robot builder. Several DPRG members got together and, over the course of several RBNOs, designed a printed circuit board for an L298-based H-Bridge. The PCB artwork can now be used by others to create this simple circuit that interface a pair of motors with a microcontroller.

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