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   Servo Magazine

Servo MagazineSoon virtually every aspect of human activity will be influenced by robotics. Advances in medicine, space exploration, security, maintenance, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, retailing, and more will become dependent on intelligent machines programmed to carry out ever-increasingly difficult tasks. Advances in robotics will be as dynamic and important as those of computers in the 80s and 90s. Just as with computers, hobbyists will be a driving force in their evolution. Servo will be there to take you inside this fascinating world of science and technology.

In addition to hands-on robotics projects, Servo will delve deeper into the science of robotics and take you right to the lunatic fringe of what robotic technology is all about. A definite must-read for anyone interested in building or learning about robots.

Amazing machines are being conceived and built in labs, universities, and even garages all over the world and Servo Magazine is your ticket in the door. Each monthly issue will inspire, educate, and entertain with feature articles, interviews, tutorials, projects, and sources for parts. Whether you're building your first line-follower or finishing off the perception layer in a positronic brain, Servo Magazine delivers the sharp technical tools you need to stay on the cutting edge.

12 Issues   $24.95   


   Robot Science & Technology - February 2001

AIBO RobotGetting Started In Robotic Vision with MindStorms Vision Command

The latest add-on for Lego's popular Robotics Invention System. Michael Gasperi (co-author of the authoritative book, Extreme MindStorms) describes the combination of a PC-based color video camera with interactive software that enables your robotic creations to see. This is an excellent introduction to robot vision for the novice.

AIBOAIBO Second Generation: New & Improved

A clear description and comparison of the AIBO ERS-110/111 and the ERS 210. Dean Creehan examines both the old and the new in the categories of: External Features, Internal Hardware, Main Software - the Life of the AIBO, and additional software available. If you're an AIBO fan, this article will clarify the differences.

GearsMultitasking the 68HC11 Robot Brain

Jim Salvino explores multitasking with Motorola's 68HC11 microcontroller. The article explains two varieties of multitasking - cooperative and preemptive. Topics include: Hardware, Software and Tools, Scheduler and the Real Time Interrupt (RTI), Variables and Constants, Multitasking Initialization Logic, Task Construction, and Running the Code.

BOE BotBasic Branching and Servo Control

The second in a hands-on educational series by Chuck Schoeffler and Al Williams. Chuck and Al introduce BASIC Stamp branching and EEPROM access commands used to make the Boe-Bot follow a pre-determined path. A piezo speaker provides a feedback mechanism which identifies the location within your program. Topics include: Review of Servo Control, Sound Feedback, Approximating Distance of Travel, and Using the Data Statement and EEPROM to Store Movements.

Sumo RobotCrash-n-Burn Sumo Robot

A “must read” for anyone interested in Autonomous Sumo Robots. Contest winner and veteran robot engineer Jim Frye give us an easy-to-read article covering the overall design as well as each step and component in the process of constructing the Crash-n-Burn Sumo Robot. Fully illustrated with detailed drawing and explicit photographs, Jim's article takes the reader through the creative process step-by-step.

StiquitoA Simple Circuit to Make Stiquito Walk on Its Own

Stiquito experts James Conrad and Serge Caron describe and analyze a simple circuit to make a small, inexpensive hexapod robot with almost limitless applications. The propulsion is nitinol, a Shape Memory Alloy actuator wire that expands and contracts, roughly emulating the operation of a muscle. Topics include: Circuitry, Gait Generator, and a comprehensive illustration of construction.

Mini SumoBuild Your Own Robot Mini-Sumo

Autonomous Robot Sumo King Bill Harrison describes the construction of a Mini Sumo Robot from scratch using parts of discarded gadgets, toys, and kits. This easy-reading, high tech description applies to all skill levels. Topics include: Finding the Materials and Tools, Construction, Programming, and Testing.

CircuitDriving a DC Motor with an H-Bridge

If the rotational direction of a DC motor can be controlled using the direction of current flowing through it, how can the direction of a direct current flowing through a DC motor be changed? Tak discusses different scenarios of Relay Implementation and Semiconductor Implementation, including Experimenting with the L293D H-Bridge IC and Pulse-width Modulation (PWM). By Micromouse veteran and University of California robotics instructor Tak Auyeung.


   Robot Science & Technology - March 2000

RobotMagOWI Robotic Arm Trainer

Mark presents a thorough review of mechanical design concepts of the OWI arm, describes how to add position feedback to each of its joints and explains the technique of interfacing your embedded controller. Topics include: OWI Arm Basics, Gripper Mechanical Design, Instrumenting the Gripper, Object Detection, Finger Position Detection, Wrist Mechanical Design, Instrumenting the Wrist, Elbow Mechanical Design, Instrumenting the Elbow, Shoulder Mechanical Design, Instrumenting the Shoulder, Base Mechanical Design, Instrumenting the Base, Computer Control, and Sensing Position.

OWI Robotic ArmSensing & Locomotion
Using the New OWI-007 with a Win95/98 Interface
by John Iovine

The author describes a two module project using the OWI-007 robotic arm training kit and a PC interface kit available from Images Company. Together these modules form a functional unit that permits you to experiment and program automation and animatronics into a fully controlled "wired" robotic arm. This technologically detailed article covers: The Robotic Arm, Basic Motor Control, PC Interface Construction, How the Interface Works, Connecting the Interface to the Robotic Arm, Installing and Using the WIN 95 Program, Creating Script Files, and Animatronics.

BOE BotBuilding and Programming a Small Mobile Robot

The authors layout their plan for this five part educational series starting with the first article on The Construction Process and Drawings for Building Your Small Mobile Robot, and a brief introduction to the BASIC Stamp II. Also included is: Servo Modification and Testing, Mounting Servos and Wheels on the Robot Platform, Installing the Tail Wheel and Battery Holder, Mounting the Board of Education and Connecting the Servos to the Chassis, and Programming Your Small Robot for a Basic Movement Pattern.

GrowBotWinning Against the Obstacles With a Modified GrowBot Kit

After winning the national RI/SME Journey Robot Contest in 1997 and 1998 with his scratch-built robots, Gene tackled the next year's competition with a kit from Parallax, Inc. In this article, Gene describes his construction and modification of the GrowBot, with which he captured gold in 1999.

Mars Polar LanderBringing Martian Technology Down to Earth

The author discusses what we can learn from the Mars Polar Lander, "a robot with many ideas and technologies applicable to earth-bound utility and amateur robots," says Mr. Auyeung. Of particular interest is the Surface Stereo Imager (SSI). The article includes the three purposes of the SSI: imaging, ranging and analyzing with easy reading detailed descriptions. Two artist renderings of the Mars Polar Lander are also included in the article.


   Robot Science & Technology - September 1999

Robot Science & TechnologyThe C* Algorithm

The C* Algorithm does two things, unlike the A* in our last issue which did nothing but plan. This algorithm plans and then, using time outs in the planning process, gives your robot direction based on that planning for its next move. A thinker, and a doer. However, what it may not do is find the shortest and  fastest way through a maze. But, at least your robot is on its way! This unique algorithm is useful if your robot has a movement to make but insufficient time to plan the entire activity prior to starting the move.

FIRST Robotics - 1999 National ChampionshipsFirst Robot Team

RS&T's Floyd Painter describes one of the worlds largest robotic competitions. The championships were held at EPCOT Center in Orlando, FL and were attended by the RS&T staff (not to mention the teams, sponsors, guests, press, etc. who numbered in the thousands!). Over two hundred teams competed. Catch the spirit, excitement, and color of this major robotic event which pitted teams comprised of professionals, students, and faculty advisors from United States and Canada against each other. The founders of FIRST, Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers, explain what it is all about in an exclusive interview with the RS&T staff.

FIRST LEGO League Pilot Competition

What a combination! FIRST and the LEGO Co. joining forces to stimulate learning about science, technology, and robotics. Why wait until high school to get a basic understanding of computers, programming, and robotics in general? Enter the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) - devoted to bringing all this to youngsters and making sure they have FUN along the way. This article, by Technical Editor, Gene Ronan, will give you a feel for the philosophy behind the league, the challenge, and the future of the FLL.

Motion Control with R/C Servos

Let's get our robots moving! Do you like mimes doing the herky-jerky robot routine? It sure looks funny and is not at all how we would like our android robots to perform. We may not be able to achieve the grace of a ballet dancer but by using the techniques that Joseph Miller outlines we should start to make progress toward smooth motion. Joseph Miller, owner of Positive Logic Engineering, contributes his ideas on inertia, acceleration, deceleration, and many of the problems robots encounter along the way to graceful movement. More than just theory, motion scripts are included to help your robot on its way. Happy Trails!

Infrared Sensors from Sharp

While your robot is happily, and hopefully smoothly, moving down the trail, how do we keep it from running into walls, chair legs, people, etc.? Two recent additions to your arsenal of avoidance gear are the GP2D02 and GP2D05 Infrared Detectors from Sharp. Steve Richards, of Acroname Inc., describes their similarities and differences and offers advice on interfacing, beam patterns, and tricks and tips for using this hardware to best advantage. Included are code snippets for their programming.

LEGO Robot Ideabolts Galore with LEGO Mindstorms

Now you can get hands on experience in a jiffy! No need to make your own parts or hack something else to get started. The LEGO Company has entered the robotics field in a big way with the introduction of their Mindstorms Robotics Invention System. Just start popping the pieces together and in no time at all you have an working robot! Dr. Bob Brady points out that, as with all things LEGO, this kit is infinitely expandable. Dr. Bob builds and programs the Torbot, and lets us know what he thinks of the kit.

The LEGO Mindstorms Kit

Taking a different tack, Dr. Tak Auyeung looks at the Mindstorms kit from a technical angle. He gives us useful data on stall current of the LEGO motors, their efficiency, torque, etc. He also covers the touch sensors, brains (RCX), and other parts of interest. Summing up, he mentions some of the 'missing features,' and suggests areas where LEGO could improve the kit. This is a 'must read' for those contemplating using the kit for advanced prototyping.


   Robot Science & Technology - May 1999

Robot Science and TechnologyFluffy, The Convertible Robot:
Upgrade Your Hexapod With the BasicX Microprocessor

A hackers delight! Chris Harriman details how he combined some readily available parts to produce a unique robot. He takes a Lynxmotion, Inc. H2-KT Hexapod II Walker, a BasicX microprocessor, a Polaroid sonar sensor from an old camera, and a nice size battery and creates the robot of his dreams. Adding the capability to control the bot with a joy stick allows you to get everything working smoothly before you let Fluffy go it alone. Its all here in stunning color from theory to execution - code included!

Build Your Own Hexapod Walker Robot (part 1)

This one gets you going in a hurry! George York and Shelley J. Christopher present some ideas on how to set the mid position on servomotors without having to use the microprocessor. This comes in handy when you are trying to find out just how big the envelope of your Walker will be prior to designing a skin to dress it up. It also covers motor positioning and mounting, and construction and mounting of the legs. You will get a very good idea of the overall size of you bot right up front.

Robot dude Popular Micromouse Algorithms, Part IV:
A * Algorithm
By Tak Auyeung, PhD

Our good friend and Contributing Editor, Dr. Tak Auyeung of the University of California, Davis presents another interesting algorithm. This one, believe it or not, does nothing! Well, actually, it doesn't do anything physical. Why, you ask? Because it is an algorithm that plans. A thinker, not a doer. However, what it does do is find the shortest and thus the fastest way through a maze. It will amaze you!

Intelligent Evolving Soccer Robots Part II:
Soft Computing Enhances Learning Process in Robots

soccer robot So, how in the world do you get robots to cooperate in team sports? This concluding article by Mohammed Jamshidi, PhD., Denise Padilla, and Marco de Oliveira explores fuzzy control, fuzzy behavior, and genetic algorithms and how their interactions can be employed by a team of robots to play soccer. Well, now that robots can play soccer, tennis anyone?

FIRST Robotics: Gunn High School FIRST Team
Students Take Charge of Engineering As a Team Designs and Builds Its Robot

first robot competition The FIRST organization presents one of the worlds largest robotic competitions. Floyd Painter, our own esteemed Editor-in-Chief, chronicles some of the challenges faced by the Harry M. Gunn High School of Palo Alto, California FIRST Team in their quest to develop a winning strategy for their robot G-Force. Going for the glory, the team decides they want a quarterback robot that can do it all.

cog Centerfold:
COG, a humanoid robot by scientists and engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

From Conception to Creation:
How to Construct a Robot Warrior Part II

chewtoy robot Lots of hardware! An ammunition box for the main frame, hacked kiddy car motors driving the wheels through a 100 to 1 gear reduction system for motive power with plenty of torque, electricity supplied by two big Yuasa MPH 1-12 batteries good for 100 Amps or more all add up to quite a powerful package. Ronni Katz finishes off her Chew Toy robot warrior article with some great advice and a whole lot of resources detailing where you can find whatever you may need to build your own warrior.

New Product Update:
The Board of Education - What's A Microcontroller?

A tutorial handbook of microcontroller basic knowledge and experiments, plus a companion breadboard, make for a fun and exciting learning experience. The Board of Education, a prototyping breadboard, introduces the student to electronic fundamentals without the pain normally associate with things electronic.

Feed Your Head (book review):
Artificial Intelligence: A New Synthesis by Nils J. Nilsson

This textbook is designed for use in an educational setting. Entering Artificial Intelligence students, directed and assisted by their professors, will find a wealth of information and ideas coherently arranged and concisely presented. Topics include Reactive Machines (Stimulus-Response, Neural Networks, etc), Searches in State Space, Knowledge and Reasoning, Planning Methods Based on Logic, Communication and Integration, and more.

Fabrication: The Hexapod Walker Comes to Life! Part I
hexapod robot hexapod
Covering a wide range of design considerations, George York and Shelley Christopher acquaint the reader with ideas on dressing up their robots. Skins, that when done right, will make your skin crawl!


   Robot Science & Technology - January 1999

GrowbotA Growing (and affordable) Robot

This issue of RS&T highlights affordable robots, and the cover features GrowBot from Parallax. The magazine also includes a unique segment on kits and ready-to-roll machines in a Twenty-First Century Robot Showcase. Here is information on some popular robots, where to get them and how much they cost.

FIRST, Robotics Partnering Industry and Youth:
Young People in Engineering and Science

US FIRSTImagine yourself as part of a tumultuous crowd of ten thousand screaming fans, decked out in team colors and cheering for your squad. Cheerleaders, mascots, banners waving, elated fans surging and urging the players on. This crush of humanity you are part of must be watching a game during the state basketball tournament, or could it be football delirium right? Neither is the case; the athletes performing on the playing surface are unique, original radio-controlled robots built by teams of high school students. The ten thousand enthusiastic spectators are real: They were attending the 1998 national finals of the robotics competition sponsored by the FIRST Foundation (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). This is the story of FIRST, and some of the people who made that exciting scenario possible.

Building an Inexpensive Insectoid Robot:
Propulsion using Nitinol wire
stiquitoDesigning and building a robot is an exciting and challenging project, and you have several choices to make early in the process. You need to decide if it will be expensive or inexpensive, big or small, smart or not? Will it walk or will it roll, and will it be required to traverse flat or rough surfaces? Sometimes the answers to these questions are influenced by your financial resources. If your robot must be inexpensive, or you are just starting out in robotics and want to keep it simple, a practical solution for you is an insectoid robot. This feature article is about small, thin insect-like robots that use artificial muscles for propulsion, and nitinol, the enabling element in these robots.

The Art of Robot War
By Sun Tzu and Carlo Bertocchini

Art of WarOver two thousand years ago a Chinese warrior-philosopher named Sun Tzu wrote a book called The Art of War. The lessons in that book can be applied to a wide range of modern day problems. Business managers scour the book for lessons in business administration, politicians use the teachings to outmaneuver their political foes, and even after all these years, the military can still find some important lessons in The Art of War. With such wide-ranging utility, it would be surprising if there was not a lesson or two in the book for a person who is involved in a robot competition. Imagine that instead of a great military leader, Sun Tzu was a champion robot wrangler who penned wise and poetic lessons about the art of robot war. This feature examines what Sun Tzu may have been trying to tell us aspiring robot champions.

Popular Micromouse Algorithms, Part III:
The Flood-fill Algorithm

This is the third in a series of articles that discuss algorithms used by Micromouse robots to solve a maze in competition. IEEE chapters have organized these annual competitions all over the U.S. and they have enjoyed a steadily rising popularity. While the exact rules differ among the competitions, the main objective remains the same: use a robotic "mouse" to solve the maze as quickly as possible. The basic premise of the problem is that the Micromouse robot does not know the configuration of the maze before its first run in the maze. The coordinates of the destination, on the other hand, are known. The robot is allowed to store information and repeat solving the maze within a time limit. In previous issues, we presented the Wall Hugging and Depth-first Search algorithms. The subject of this article is the Flood-fill Algorithm, which works for mazes that have known coordinate-designated destination cells.

Vacuforming on a Shoestring

vacuformThe centerfold of the November issue of RS&T, the Sony entertainment-type robot, is a prime example of how cool a robot can look with a little extra effort! In this continuation of our fabrication series, we acquaint you with a technique you can use to clothe your robot in a sleek outer garment. Just think, no more dangling wires, sharp edges, or disconcerting metallic glare to distract you from the graceful movements of your robot as it goes about its assigned tasks! In keeping with the basic philosophy of this series, vacuforming is something you can do in your own home. You can do this in your kitchen.


   Robot Science & Technology - November 1998

Robot Science and TechnologyAutonomous Soccer Robots

The technological spotlight falls on soccer-playing robots in the November issue. Two features delve into the ability of teams of autonomous robots to perform all the functions of human soccer players, cooperating with each other toward common goals in adversarial situations. These informative features discuss computing techniques and system architectures that allow robots to cooperate effectively as teammates in a complex, dynamic environment. The Sony Corporation entertainment-type convertible bot appears on the cover in its wheeled configuration, and on the centerfold as a quadruped walker. Do-it-yourselfers will love the articles on plastic gear fabrication, converting servomotors into rotary motors, and how to choose the right motor for a robot. Our construction series continues with a how-to on designing and assembling a combat robot, written by a veteran warrior, and the second in a series of Micromouse maze articles discusses the principles and the algorithm behind the depth-first search method. The departments are thought provoking and informative, highlighted by the presence of the all-seeing, all-knowing Iconoclast. Don't worry, he's one of us.

Intelligent Evolving Soccer Robots: Part I

Soccer RobotsIn today's fast moving technological world, intelligent techniques of incorporating reasoning, learning, perception, and coordination into analysis and design philosophies of systems seems to be an unavoidable eventuality. At the NASA Center for Autonomous Control Engineering (ACE) of the University of New Mexico, students and faculty researchers are using soft computing techniques to create autonomous control paradigms to provide 'intelligence' to robots. One of the current research topics at NASA ACE in robotics is the use of multiple autonomous robots for the cooperative execution of tasks. In this Part I of a two part series, fuzzy logic and fuzzy control are discussed.

Walking Soccer-Playing Robots

Sony RobotResearchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and the Sony Corporation collaborated on this article about legged robots at RoboCup'98. RoboCup is held annually, coincident with the human World Cup soccer tournament. Last year an informal league of three teams equipped with Sony's innovative, fully autonomous quadrupeds, competed in an exhibition series won by the CMTrio team. Robotic soccer represents a very challenging environment in which multiple robots, acting as teammates, work together to achieve objectives in the presence of adversaries. Problem solving in this environment requires that the robots learn from experience and feedback. To achieve this, the CMTrio built into the robots learning, navigation, localization and role-based behavior capabilities that allowed them to operate as teammates on a small soccer field.

GearPlastic Gear Fabrication

In robotics, the weight of the components of your robot can work for you --or against you. This is the third article in our plastic fabrication series. In this article, we show you how replacing metal with plastic where practical can dramatically lower the weight and improve the performance of your robot. For demonstration purposes, we've chosen a steel alloy gear and asked our fabrication specialist Rick Hahn to make an identical gear out of plastic. This article leads you through the not very complicated process of replicating metal gears in plastic.

From Conception to Creation:
How to Construct a "Robot Warrior" Part 1

War_Machine.gif (2272 bytes)If you are thinking about entering in a robotic combat competition, here are some very useful tips on how to prepare. Ronni has competed in the past two Robot Wars and will have three different designs to enter the next competition. In this article, she uses her lightweight design "Chew Toy" as the example model. Of the three possible entries, this one is the most basic and the one that will actually be a "garage built" robot using easily obtainable parts and tools that most builders either already own or can acquire with ease.

Modifying a Futaba FP-S148 Hobby Servo Motor for Use as a Robot Motor

Electric motors make things happen, without them our robots are ... NOT. Unfortunately, they usually do not come equipped to do anything but spin. We need to gear them down to have them perform useful work. However, not many of us have the time to build, or the cash to buy the necessary gearboxes. Luckily, a solution is at hand in the form of servomotors that can be converted to perform as regular motors and come complete with gearboxes. Karl Lunt explains in this article how this conversion is accomplished.

Motor Selection and Performance
by Carlo Bertocchini

Building a robot requires many decisions. Everything from the type of sensors you want, to the color you will want to paint it. Some of these decisions are trivial, others will make or break your robot. One decision that is in the make-or-break category is motors, not just which ones to use, but how to optimize their performance.

Most robots use a particular kind of motor, the permanent magnet direct current (PMDC) motor. The discussion in this article is limited to PMDC motors.

Also covered are factors you should consider before you choose a motor, including power requirements, over-volting, heat dissipation, the use of resistors, and how to use controllers to control 'on' and 'off' time.

Popular Micromouse Algorithms, Part II:
A Depth-First Search

The second in a series of articles that discuss various algorithms used by Micromouse robots to solve the Micromouse maze. In the July 1998 issue, we explained the terminology used, basic robot abilities, and exploring the maze. We employed the "wall hugging" algorithm and discovered its main fault. This article discusses another, more successful, popular algorithm used to solve the Micromouse maze, the Depth-first Search.


   Robot Science & Technology - July 1998

Robot Science & TechnologyOf Algorithms and Micromice

To win a Micromouse maze competition, you gotta have a plan -- an algorithm, to be more precise. -- according to Tak Auyeung, Ph.D. Tak teaches the Micromouse Lab course at the University of California at Davis. Tak is writing a series of articles for us on maze-solving algorithms. He uses pseudo-code to describe the algorithms so even nonprogrammers can understand the logic behind a maze-solving program. In the first of his series, Tak explains one of the simplest algorithms -- wall-hugging on Page 30 of the July 1998 issue.

LIS RobotBig Bad Blue Steals the Show

Lost in Space, the movie, was a disappointment to many, but Big Blue the robot was mighty impressive. We interviewed Verner Gresty of Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London to find out how he and his team built and operated the 3,000-pound monster bot. See Page 24 of the Premier Issue of RS&T for the story behind the bot, then check out the way cool centerfold of Big Blue and his maker in the July `98 edition.

Fantastic Homemade Plastics

The plastic manufacturer said it couldn't be done. RS&T Labs proved them wrong. Multimedia artist Rick Hahn devised a way to replicate small, intricate parts in plastic using a homespun injection mold. To find out how he did it, read and see the step-by-step instructions and pictures in "Inject Some Fantastic Plastic into Your Next Robot" on Page 19 of the July 1998 issue.

Tech Challenge 98
Building a RobotThe Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose believes you're never too young to start learning about robotics. Every year, The Tech sponsors a robot-building contest for elementary, junior high and high school students in the Silicon Valley and environs. RS&T's news and feature editor Tom Durkin covered Tech Challenge 98 last April to find out what it is all about. Tom reports it was all about learning-by-doing -- and having a heck of a lot of fun doing it. In addition to reporting on the contest itself in "Silicon Valley's Best and Brightest Take on Tech Challenge 98," Tom profiles two teams in "Ingenious Ingenues" and "Winning Isn't Everything." What was this year's Tech Challenge? Pick up a copy of RS&T's July '98 issue and start reading on Page 26.

Smarter Than a Breadbox

You can't get much more fundamental than learning to build and measure discrete DC circuits on a solderless breadboard from Radio Shack. This tutorial from RS&T Labs introduces you to Ohm's Law, resistor color-coding, zener diode voltage regulators, transistor logic gates, truth tables and other keen stuff you won't find in the kitchen breadbox. Check it out on Page 21 of the July 1998 issue.

tutebotDo-It-Yourself TuteBot
There's an old Chinese proverb:
I hear, I forget.
I see, I remember.
I do, I understand.
So do it! Build your own tutorial robot, says Dr. Bob Brady of MIT's Lincoln Labs. Dr. Bob not only shows you how to build a simple mobile robot, he explains how to calculate gear ratios, determine wheel torque, build an analog electronic control system, and run performance tests on your TuteBot. But he doesn't stop there. He challenges readers to try adding sensors and "go digital" with a programmable Basic Stamp microcontroller. Read all about it -- complete with color photos, equations and schematics -- starting on Page 6 of the July 1998 issue.


   Robot Science & Technology - Premier Issue

Robot Science & TechnologyAluminum: The Not So Heavy Metal

Aluminum is aluminum -- not! There are nine different series of aluminum alloys, and they each have very different properties. In this highly informative article on fabrication, robot builder Ronni Katz explains how to cut, bend, drill, and weld aluminum -- and which alloy to use for each purpose. Ronni also throws in a few tricks of the trade that will help you avoid some of the common novice mistakes. If you're serious about using aluminum to build your robot, you should seriously read "Winning with Aluminum" on Page 46 of the Premier issue.

It Ain't Brain Surgery, But ...'ll have to do your homework to keep up with veteran robot programmer Karl Lunt's two-part series on the "Basics of the Digital Brain." The brain Karl picks apart is a Motorola 68HC811e2 microcontroller mounted on a printed-circuit BotBoard. In Part 1 in the Premier Issue, Karl goes inside the black box and gets into hexadecimals and I/O registers, among other things. In Part 2 in the July '98 issue, Karl tells how to use the SBasic programming language to read sensors to control your robot's behavior. Check it out!

Firefighting Robot Putting FEAR and Marv into Fire Fighting

Two articles in the Premier Issue of RS&T feature construction instructions for fire fighting robots at the annual Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest. Terry King's FEAR (fire extinguishing autonomous robot) and John Piccirillo's Marv differ in construction, but their purpose is the same: to find and extinguish a candle flame in an 8x8-foot model house. While Terry gives more of an overview of the construction process he used in building FEAR, John gets right down to the mechanics -- and mistakes -- of building Marv. Terry's "Robot Construction Instruction" starts on Page 5, and John's "True Confessions of a Hack Designer" begins on Page 9, and both stories feature lots of colorful pictures.

Motion Detection with Passive IR

Just about everything you need to know to install motion detectors on your robot is covered in "Pyroelectric Basics" by Steve Richards. Steve not only tells you how passive infrared motion detectors work, he shows you with colorful pictures, graphs and schematics. Steve also offers some tips and tricks to make sure you get maximum performance out of your pyroelectric sensors. Move on over to Page 58 of the Premier Issue of RS&T and read all about it.

Mother and Baby Bots to the Rescue
Mother and Baby Robots A very hacked RC toy Jeep and a very expensive industrial robot have been mated as a "marsupial" search-and-rescue team by the faculty and staff of the Colorado School of Mines. The semi-autonomous mother bot Silver Bullet carries 60-pound baby bot Bujold in a Plexiglas pouch to the scene of an urban disaster. When Silver Bullet locates a possible victim trapped in the rubble, she launches the shape-shifting Bujold to crawl in for a closer look. To find out more about how this prototype robot team will change urban search-and-rescue methods and save more lives, see Page 34 of the Premier issue.

The VxFiles: The Anatomy of a Glitch

How do you reprogram a robot on another planet? Verrry carefully. Shortly after Mars Pathfinder landed on July 4, 1997, something went wrong with the onboard computer. For no apparent reason, the real-time operating system, VxWorks, would cause the computer to reset itself. News reports at the time were "generally incoherent" and "wildly wrong." NASA downplayed the situation, but scientists and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Wind River Systems Inc. (the makers of VxWorks) spent a frantic three weeks finding -- and fixing -- what the media called "a glitch." To find out what really went wrong and how Pathfinder was fixed, read Tom Durkin's analytical article on Page 36 of the Premier issue.  


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