Hey everyone. You probably don’t know, but along with game programming, I do a little work with robotics on the side. I build simple hobby robots for my own enjoyment with B.E.A.M. technology. Here is what the acronym means:
B: Biology – Beam Robots are inspired by animals, including the control system (More on this later)
E: Electronics – A given
A: Aesthetics – You don’t want an ugly robot.
M: Mechanics – again, a given
OK, now we know what it means, how do you do it? Well, BEAM robots are built to be very simple, and no need for a microcontroller. They are often built with solar engines (Circuits that store and dump energy from sunlight to power larger circuits) to make them self-sufficiant. A few types of BEAM Robots:
Symet: A symetrical robot that has 1 motor and 3 different ‘arms’ that can touch the ground. When two are touching the ground, it scoots one way, and when it runs into something, it makes 2 different ones touch the ground, moving it in another direction.
Photovore: Means “Light-Eater” in Latin I believe. In their simplest form, they are two solar-engines mushed together into one bot. Other circuits use inverters and photodiodes to control them.
Walker: BEAM robots, normally not powered by solar power, that do exactly as it suggests: Walk! Most of these are either 4 or 6 legged. Two common types are the Bicore and the Microcore, basically circuits that pass along signals with delays in between.
Solar-roller: A circuit that charges up a capacitor with solar power and dumps it to get a long burst.
Those are the basic types of BEAM robots. If you are interested in them, I would suggest www.solarbotics.net for some awesome resources, and the BEAM yahoo group at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/beam/ This discussion group seems to have slowed down a bit, but is still a great place to ask questions, and one of the few. Now read up on the basics and try doing a little bit with this.
Ok, back? Cool. Now onto MY own thing. Last summer I drew up a circuit for a flying robot based on BEAM style controls. I allowed myself to use inrared, inverters, transistors, and motors, and that’s it. I first started by making a simple detection system to raise the aileron whenever a object was detected. IE: If the left side detects, raise the left aileron, vice versa. I next added a checker system to see if the batter was at low power. If it was, I decided to slow down the main motor and raise both ailerons, to flare for landing. That’s about it, the basic circuit. It may be slightly difficult to follow if you do not know much about electronics, but hopefully a fair knowledge should be able to follow it. Now, I haven’t ever finished this robot, so I cannot guarantee it will work. I am actually in the process of prototyping right now, so if you beat me to finishing, let me know how it goes. Here is the schematic: