The Robot

Under Construction

The brain of the robot is a Mini-ITX VIA Eden fanless 533 MHz CPU running Redhat Linux Fedora. Motion is provided by the base of a Tamiya radio controlled tank and a MiniSSC II servo controller. The camera on the robot is a Connectix (now Logitech) Quickcam VC and another camera attached to the server is a logitech Quickcam Notebook Pro.

Although, it has possibilities too, check out this internet controlled car. David Mc Anulty was also very helpful with all the questions I had.

After I picked up the remote control tank, I bought a cappuccino TX3 - which I had originally tried to use as the robot CPU. But, one of the biggest problems in building this (and still a major problem) is power. I tested this computer using a couple of 18V batteries from an electric drill, and then a variable voltage battery but the 5 amp hour batteries lasted about 15 minutes. Not enough time to even test things much less have a functioning moving robot.

Around about this time the mini-itx boards where coming out. Fanless, and low power, this board actually gets five hours out of a five amp hour battery. Although, I eventually bought a 12 amp hour battery (which turned out to be two 6 Volt batteries). Twelve hours of course is still not enough, but it's better than 5 hours.

Update: I did tests with the wireless lan and the USB cam attached and a write to the hard drive every minute... the battery dies after 2 hours (dips below 11 volts), sigh. I'm not sure if it's that I'm not getting a good charge off ofa 110 charger going through a transformer.

So the cappuccino pc was reborn as my web server.

The next major problem was getting the servos to mechanically move the camera. This was a major lesson in keeping things as simple as possible. At first I came up with this complicated brass gearbox that never worked but then I hit upon using threaded rod and plastic clay that gets hard when baked - I'd used it before to do some claymation. It also works great for making plugs.