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[DPRG] Introduction (Hello World!)

Subject: [DPRG] Introduction (Hello World!)
From: John Dolecek jdolecek at gmail.com
Date: Thu Jul 31 20:40:39 CDT 2008

Hello DPRG.  I've been a lurker here for several months and even made it out
to spy on some of the indoor events at the recent competition.  Well, I've
decided to come out of the shadows and say hello to you all.

I'm a 27 year old Mechanical Engineer currently working at a company
designing CNC machines.  My interest in robotics has been around for a long,
long time; but as a mostly mechanical mind in a completely mechanical
family, I didn't have the knowledge in electronics and programming that I
needed to make anything very interesting.  Over the last year or so I've
started to expand my knowledge in these areas and at this point I have two
robots under construction:

BotOx - Is a small, tracked robot designed to carry a camera and
environmental sensors and communicate with a base controller and/or other
bots.  Version 1.0 was controlled using a wii nunchuck and was tethered to
the controller on the robot.  The camera was wireless but had no pan/tilt.
There were no sensors.  This iteration proved the chassis and drive system
and allowed me to develop an algorithm to map a joystick input to a
differential drive system (I'd love to see other solutions to this as
well).  The robot consisted of a Tamiya tracked vehicle set, Tamiya geared
motors, an Arduino (Atmega168) controller, driving a solarbotics L293 motor
controller.  I also experimented with a few different battery setups on this
one but wasn't really satisfied with any.  I know that with these tiny
motors driving at the speed I want from them will have a greatly shortened
life.  Version 3.0 will address the chassis issues.  I'm currently working
on Version 2.0.  It is intended to incorporate Xbee radios for wireless
communication between two Arduinos or between and Arduino and a base
station.  I'm also beginning to incorporate some sensors for temp (ambient
and motor).  I'm trying a new battery setup using 16 AA Ni-MH cells.  The
power system uses one battery only to drive the motors but uses both
batteries to drive the electronics.  I've gone to fairly great lengths to
reduce noise in the system.

The other bot I shall call "Wild Bill".  It was a differential drive,
drug-store RC.....thing.  Now hacked into an ugly abomination that
incorporates a swivel wheel, and a completely hacked up fully automatic
airsoft gun.  It too uses and arduino and Solarbotics L293 for electronics.
I still need to build a transistor driver to control the gun.  I'm going to
use the original radio that only had two DPST switches for control.  I will
program one of the turns to fire the gun.  So it'll go forward and back, but
only turn one direction.  Turning theother direction will fire the gun.

Anyway, thats enough of a novel for right now.  I have some programming
questions for you guys but I'll type that up another day.

John
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