Jan 272013
 

A friend in XinCheJian hackerspace Shanghai asked me today what I have been up to. I was thinking not too much, as I have watched quite a few movies (Sleep Dealer is pretty good, Avatar was way better than I expected) and re/read several books & magazines, but then I started to list some of the things I have been doing…….

  • PartTester – built 2nd board with 1% R – did not work, and now 1st one not working – same issue, eventually worked out LCD had partially died on trip home from China.
    • Looking into ways to do improved or auto-calibration
    • As part of above, part of X-bot work discovered that Gerbers used for PCB production have an electrical issue where 328 processor digital ground is not connected. This is only in the Gerbers – the schematic is correct!
    • Red circle in photo highlights difference between “good” gerber (blue) and my gerber with missing ground connection.
    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!

    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!

    • X-Bot – learning SMD soldering (old, unrefrigerated solder paste = :(, new = :) )
      • Made a pogo pin ISP connector to easily test if processor was working
    • Playing with el-cheapo Taobao STK500 programmer (good in HV mode, but can’t get it working in ISP mode)
    • Fighting several nasty computer issues
      • XP system freezes for 1/2 to 3-5 minutes yet CPU is at 1% and no other symptoms or errors!
      • XP ongoing anti-virus software instability issues
      • battling security update issues on XP and Lububtu
      • Lubuntu intermittent keyboard & mouse issues – only some keys/buttons work!
      • Lubuntu SMB file copy issues
      • Lubuntu “system problems”
      • Lubuntu restoring backups – path too long
      • Unsuccessfully trying to install Windows 7 to SSD and user directories to different disk
      • Unsuccessfully trying fix injet printer ($$ cartridges, cleaned, factory resets, extra cleaning…..)
      • …..
    • Replacing swimming pool pump (now pool is leaking – think it is drain system)
    • Car window electric winder replacement
    • Fixed front door lock
    • Home Theatre – fixed bad solder joint that stopped right channel working
    • Toshiba SD-K310P DVD player won’t play disks – seems like region free hack has stopped working
    • Dish washer – bottom arm won’t spin .. ongoing effort to fix
    • Backyard jungle:-
      • Getting rid of dangerous European wasp nest
      • Digging ditch for irrigation system repair
      • Hacking away at six months growth (two trailer loads so far), have not even started on the 80+ meters of hedges yet!
      • Watching Cockatoos, King Parrots and Roselas
      • Saw a falling star
      • Cleaning up flood in garage last night due to major storm – we were lucky – could hear clean up with chainsaws nearby.
      Backyard Cockatoos

      Backyard Cockatoos

       

      Backyard King Parrot

      Backyard King Parrot

       

Dec 112012
 

The two winners of of the SwarmRobot competition group prizes are:

  • DooMMasteR on behalf of stratum0
  • Jon on behalf of his group.

Both entries scored well against most of the judging criteria and were evaluated as well deserved winners!

Emails have been sent to the prize winners. There were no winners in the individual category.

A big thanks to those who entered and also to all those who visited and especially the sites that provided links!

Nov 272012
 

Reminder: Only a few days until entries close November 30, 2012, 6AM GMT

Your entry only has to be idea – you do not have to make anything to enter! Don’t be tricked by lack of visible updates about the competition, the web site traffic show that is is reasonable interest in the competition :)

All you need to do is write a submission on what you would do with the SwarmRobot PCBs. The winners will be those displaying the best spirit of open sharing and learning in what they intend to do with the PCBs and how they intend to do this.

Prizes 15 PCB pairs (main controller and IR shield).

  • Individuals – 5 prizes of 1 PCB pair
  • Maker/Hacker spaces or other like minded groups – 2 prizes, each of 5 pairs of PCBs

Detailed information on the competition and how to enter can be found at:

Nov 112012
 

Below are all the necessary details for the competition. Please discuss via this forum.

Update: Please indicate which category you are entering in your submission – Individual or Group.

One final hint in addition to all the criteria below and the hints in the original post: this competition is about ideas for what you hope to do with the SwarmRobot PCBs when you win!

Judging criteria for entries:

  1. What you would do with the SwarmRobot PCBs.
    • What you intend to do with the PCBs
    • Swarm behaviour/capability of robots
    • Swarm of people creating…..
      • Swarm – of robots and people creating…..
      • Individuals – can work with others via the internet
      • Groups – can work as a group or with other groups
      • XinCheJian is one such group of individuals!
    • Imagination and creativity
    • Realism – can the ideas be implemented with AtTiny2313A SwarmRobot PCBS (including additional shields & code)!
    • Originality. A smart new design that extends and inspires
    • Technical prowess
  2. Displaying the best spirit of open sharing
    • Learning
    • How you intend to implement your ideas.
    • Documentation. Schematics, theory, pictures and/or video. It’s all about sharing, so that others can do or extend!
    • This sites/AFRON goals = open, sharing, accessibility, education, low cost

Rules

  • Any idea can be entered, but judges will favour ideas that can easily be implemented on the prize PCBs.
  • Original entries will score you the most points. Please don’t copy existing ideas from the internet.
  • Submit as many entries as you want, but please submit each separately.
  • Good documentation is a must. Use a video, pictures, schematics, etc to document the idea.
  • The submission files must be released under an open source license. Closed source software or hardware is allowed, but should be fully disclosed and redistributable.
  • We want to show off your ideas, and other websites will too. You agree to allow any part of your submission to be republished here and at other media outlets.
  • All rules, categories and decisions are subject to change at any time. We’ll do our best to let you know about any changes and why they were made.
  • Entries must be received by November 30, 2012, 6AM GMT. Winners will be announced on this webpage by December 10, 2012.
  • Preferred way to submit your entry is via this forum. Please note that forum accounts have to be manually approved – due to all the spam issues. So don’t leave your account creation until the competition deadline!
  • Alternate submission is via an email to this sites contact email.

Legal stuff
We want everyone to have fun, and nobody to get sued. Welcome to the legal section.

  • Void where prohibited. The competition is open to world wide participants, unless your local laws say otherwise. We aren’t lawyers, so you need to determine any restrictions on your own, before entering. If you win a prize and can’t collect it, you will need to work it out on your own.
  • Pay your own taxes. If you win a prize and taxes or import duties are due, you will need to work it out on your own.
  • Any cash prizes paid by PayPal or money order, super void where prohibited. If the winner is unable to receive it, or there’s a legal problem with a cash prize, we’ll donate the money to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • No purchase necessary for entry. This isn’t a lottery.
  • Permission to use your entry. We need to post your entry on the blog. By entering the contest the entrant(s) consent to have all submitted material related to the contest used without notification. Likely uses are promoting the contest and open hardware, and advertising for competition sponsors.
  • Judging. Our judges’ decision is final.
  • Legal paranoia. Entries that violate local, Federal, or international law may be disqualified.
  • Rules may change. If the rules do change we will publish the changes as quickly as possible.

Rules and legal inspiration taken from the awesome 555 Contest (via WayBackMachine) and DangerousPrototypes 7400 competitions.

Nov 052012
 


Been thinking of running a competition to give away some free PCBs and now that I have your attention thanks to Slashdot, here goes:

Prizes 15 PCB pairs (main controller and IR shield).

  • Individuals – 5 prizes of 1 PCB pair
  • Maker/Hacker spaces or other like minded groups – 2 prizes, each of 5 pairs of PCBs

To enter: Write a submission on what you would do with the SwarmRobot PCBs. The winners will be those displaying the best spirit of open sharing and learning in what they intend to do with the PCBs and how they intend to do this.

Hints:

  • Look at this sites goals and those of the AFRON competition
  • Swarm – of robots and people creating…..
  • Individuals – can work with others via the internet
  • Groups – can work as a group or with other groups
  • XinCheJian is one such group of individuals!
  • XincCheJian wiki has a lot of SwarmRobot information and ideas
  • Be creative, but realistic – it would be great if you can follow through with your ideas and the PCBS!
  • Look at this sites goals and those of the AFRON competition

Entries will close – near the end of November. Full details with closing time and how to submit will be published shortly. If you can’t wait – then look to how dangerousprototypes run the 7400 competition – loose and flexible rules, with core goals of encouragement and having fun!

UPDATES: 

Stack of SwarmRobot PCBs

Stack of SwarmRobot PCBs

Nov 032012
 
Oct 232012
 

The video shows three SwarmRobots being controlled by one InfraRed signal – sorry for the poor video quality.

Looking at ways to have some sort of SwarmRobot display for MakerCarnival in Shanghai in early November, found this AtTiny 2313 code which can decode RC5 IR. It compiled, loaded and ran (verified looking at serial data output), but it did not detect IR from several different remote controls tried.

Using this Arduino code, (which uses some really nice multi-protocol IR receive and transmit libraries) it was discovered that all the remote controls used where NEC protocol, not RC5! Research indicates the NEC protocol is very common in Asia!

Rather than find NEC code for the AtTiny, or write code decode NEC, I used the above library to send RC5 and now a SwarmRobot can receive commands and as the shows, several SwarmRobots can be controlled at the same time! Kept using RC5 because it actually sends two sets of information an ID and a command, so this really fits controlling robot X to do command Y, or group z of robots to all do same command.

The code is on GitHub: SwarmRobot AtTiny2313 and the Arduino transmitter.

Oct 162012
 

Success:- Using one InfraRed transmitter LED and four receiver LEDs for 360 degree object avoidance. The program logic is very simple at present.

Unfortunately the setup is not yet reliable – works one day but not the next and there are still some initialisation issues.

Biggest issue seems to be that there are huge variations in the functionality of IR receiver LEDs and we have not found matching data sheets for the two types we are using!