I will try to catch readers up with my work in robotics in this post.  Like I said, I started a year ago in March of 2010.  Happened to be looking through some magazines about robots, just thought they looked cool.  I came across some articles about Mech Warfare and was hooked.  But that was all of my robotics experience – ever.  That goes the same with electronics, programming, anything that has to do with robotics, I had zero experience in.  Maybe when I was very young I took apart a few Sega controllers and re wired them when my dog chewed part of it up, but that was just connecting wire A to tab A, easy.

The Robotis Bioloid Comprehensive Kit is an all inclusive robotics platform made for versatility as well as power, that’s where I started.   It was able to help a total beginner like myself get going in robotics.  Put together all the configurations, played around with the programming software, made some of my own creations, and was ready to get going on my mech.

Mech refers to the robots found in video games much like Mech Warrior, Chrome Hounds, Front Mission, etc.  They are piloted robots made for military purposes.  If you visit the Mech Warfare site you can read the rules and vision of the competition is.  I can give you a short rundown of it.

  • The robots must walk (there is another division for treaded vehicles)
  • The driver can only view the arena through a First Person POV camera mounted on the robot sending the video back wirelessly to a laptop or viewing device.
  • The driver scores points by shooting BB’s and hitting the opponents target panels a certain number of times.

That is pretty much the idea of the competition.  The robots are small-scale, ranging from 8-24 inches tall.  But that does not mean they are easy to make, or make well.

The robots come in 2 types, Biped and Quadruped.  The bipeds look very cool and resemble the mechs from the video games more closely.  The quads are able to move quicker and keep their balance having more feet touching the floor.  This is why I decided to create a quad for my first mech robot.

I was introduced to Autodesk Inventor, a 3D design program that I use frequently now to plan out my robot and design builds.  Was able to put each little piece 3 dimensionally on-screen to make sure everything fits and works.  This has been a huge help.

Now I was able to create my custom robot for the competition.  Plans changed multiple times in order different parts to fit or work correctly, but the design was done and I started getting more parts in for the mech.

Pretty much the project on this mech is in the final stages of completion.  In the videos you can see the mech has the ability to walk and look around so far.  The programming is all done for that, with help from the creator of Vanadium Labs and the Arbotix Robocontroller who created a Python based application to take measurements of the leg segments and body and spat out Arduino based code.  The only things left to do are:

  • Wire the motors on the guns for firing.
  • Program the guns for firing.
  • Program some usual movement sequences.
  • And practice…

I am hoping to have those last few things completed within the next week.  I would like to be able practice piloting the mech through the first person POV camera around the house.  I will get more practice for Robogames because of a new event which has opened up.  It is called the ShepRobo Fest.  It is at Sheperd University in West Virginia in a couple of weeks.

That is where I am today with my Robotics.  I have some future plans which I will talk about in the next few posts, but for now I think I have written enough.

Photos will be posted shortly…

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