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What is this site for?

This site is primarily for me, Hoss, to store information about my robotic projects. Although any and all are welcome, it's really designed for my own needs to organize information in a central location that I can acess from any web browser.

I tend to work on robots (they are just one of my many "hobbies") in spurts, often, with several months in between. Keeping detailed tech info, ideas, procedures, documention, etc, in a single, well organized, place; better allows me to jump in after a long hiatus and get right back to where I was.

Background

Quester.jpg
flickr:4633078181

Sometime in 8th grade, my uncle gave me the book "How to build a robot butler for under $300". I can't find the exact book online anywhere, but it looks to have been renamed (or I'm not remembering it right, it was a long time ago after all!) and re-released in 2002 as "Build a remote-controlled robot". I was into RC cars & airplanes and any other sort of gizmo I could get my hands on so this book was perfect, plus it was based off using an RC airplane's radio control system which I had a few of at the time. Today, the robot you build in the book, named "Quester", would be better described as a Showbot, or Animatron, that looked like what most consider a robot to be. Still, I built "Quester", and he ruled. He could dispense drinks, vacuum the floor, and play music (FM radio). People were amazed when they saw him. But he didn't do anything automatically. He was entirely radio controlled. A clever design that used the servos from the RC unit to hit leaf switches to turn things like motors on and off.

I built a few other such robots using my own designs, but never completed them as much as the first one. I eventually got bored of this style of robot. After high school I went to ITT to study robotics. I never ended up getting a job in robotics (never tried, wanted to do something else), but over the years, I've since built a number of robots from OWI kits, to beam robotics, to PC and micro-controller based robots. Some of the more recent ones are listed in the section below along with other robots I've acquired over the years.

I found that I heavily favored the PC based robots the most. I also really enjoy fully autonomous robots. I just like the ease of programming from a full OS like Windows or Linux, plus I know PCs very well from my career with them. Not to mention for the last several years, so many ways to integrate the outside world to your code on the PC have been made, Phidgets being my favorite. I almost never have to deal with low level drivers, CPU instructions, memory locations, etc. My last couple robots I programmed entirely in VB or C#. This has been great for when you want to write code to interact with complex things like 802.11 networks, video cameras, video displays, etc.

My Robots

Below is a list of various robots I've built, have, am working on, etc. Click on them for more info. Lazlo v3.0 is my current project.

Lazlo
Lazlo is actually a name I gave to a series of robots I've made (and still am making). As of this writing, there are three versions of Lazlo, each with their own page(s). v1.0, v2.0 and, v3.0. All Lazlo robots are PC based robots running Windows XP and programmed in VB and now all in C#.

Microbot
The Microbot Teachmover is an educational robot arm from the 80's. I used to use one back in high school. In 2006 I found one on ebay and got it for a deal. I've played with it a bit and even wrote a windows UI app for it. More...

OWI Arm
OWI is a company that makes many small educational robots, but more on a toy level. I've built my share of their small robots. I have both the old and new model of their robot arm. Maybe a good candidate for an arm for Lazlo. More...

Smallbot
This was a small vacuumed form robot kit I picked up from a guy at a local Seattle Robotics Society meetup. More...

RAD
This is a robot toy I picked up from a toy store with the idea to hack it with my own electronics. It was a pretty cool platform with tank tracks, motorized arm, dart shooting gun, speaker, and various lights for effects. I never got much beyond taking him apart though. More...

Pan Tilt
I built this device so that I could remotly control the pan & tilt of a camera streaming on the internet. Maybe not really a robot, but close enough. :) It would be a cool attachment to put on a robot. More...

Roomba
I picked up a Roomba from a local Goodwill and used it for awhile, but it didn't work all that great and the battery was old and couldn't hold much a charge. So I ended up taking it apart for parts, primarily the drive units which I wanted to use in Lazlo v3.0. More...

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