Feb 2014: If I didn’t have enough hobbies already… I’ve just gotten myself into the world of quadcopters and flying. I’ve never flown before. My RC experience is limited to 4 wheels on the ground. Navigating with 2 sticks and learning the world of yaw, elevation, pitch and throttle has become my next challenge. I’ve wanted to learn how to fly for some time, so here we go..
I’m not going to re-create the wheel as credit goes to the folks over at marginallyclever.com for putting together a great build log of the DIY Betamax Quadcopter. In a nutshell, for less than $300 you can build a very capable quad that should give you plenty of fun and also provide the ability to mount some small and light equipment. There’s also lots of optional add-ons like GPS that will make the quad smart and more easy to use. It also uses Arduino-compatible MultiWii which is software that runs on the NanoWii to allow you to control your quad (or other RC machines).
Wifi Bot Control is an Android app that allows you to remotely control a robot (or other device) via WiFi. You can also (optional) view a video stream from an IP camera mounted to the robot. WiFi Bot Control also provides up to 8 additional customizable command buttons that allow you to perform additional tasks on your robot / device. You could use these commands to initiate other activities such as enabling/disabling sensors, moving other servos / arms / picking something up, turning a LED on/off etc. With the provided sample sketch, you can customize the robot to do what you want. WiFi Bot Control can be downloaded on Google Play and is compatible with most versions of Android and most device sizes from phones to tablets.
Glow Control is an Android app that couples to an Arduino-based controller over Bluetooth allowing for control of various tasks including Landscape / Patio LED lights. You can either schedule the zones to turn on / off within a time range, or use a light sensor to trigger them when it gets dark. It also offers up to 4 additional customizable buttons that allow you to add functionality. You could use it to control garage doors, sprinklers, etc. The sky’s the limit since you can customize the controller and Arduino sketch to your needs. Under the hood Glow Control simply sends commands over Bluetooth to an Arduino controller. If you are a maker, then you can use this app to control pretty much anything you can imagine. For my project, I am using it to control 2 LED zones on my new patio.
**Note – Glo Control is no longer available in Google Play.
BT Bot Control is an Android application that allows you to remotely control a micro controller-based robot using Bluetooth (i.e. Arduino). It also allows you to (optionally) view a video stream from an IPCamera mounted to your robot. This could be any type wireless IP camera or phone that has the ability to broadcast a video stream/images to the web. Example Foscam, Ai-Cam etc. If you are looking to control your robot over WiFi, check out WiFi Bot Control.
Sometimes I build robots that attempt to solve real world challenges. Other times, robots are built based on random ideas. This robot is a case of solving a LEGO challenge – specifically, with their Technic tracks/treads #575518. At no fault of theirs, these plastic tracks are slippery on many surfaces. Great for carpets, flat areas, dirt (if you dare) – and great for turning as well. However, when you try to climb with them, they are as slick as ice.
If you Google them, you will find some great ideas on making these treads more ‘sticky’. Some have used 1/2 Technic pins (which fit nicely into the supplied holes), others have used elastics wrapped around them – all great ideas that work fine. I attacked the challenge from a different angle. The result is DG – or Dual Grip (yes, the name is somewhat plain). DG went through numerous revisions as I worked out kinks related to weight, stability, traction, sensors, flex etc. At the bottom I have included some pictures on previous versions of DG – some changes significant, others subtle.
The idea was to have a treaded robot that could navigate varying terrain, turn quickly and of course, climb. Based on my experience with my other robots using the same tracks (eg UNV and DynaTrax), I found that they were not very good when it came to inclines. I figured that the LEGO rubber wheels have great traction on most surfaces, so why not slap a set of them along with the treads. However, this posed another challenge. I did not want both wheel systems in contact with the ground at all times as this would make turning tougher and be redundant.
Your first question is probably “what does UNV stand for?”. Well, its nothing special – I simply could not come up with a name for it, so what better way to tag it then simply unnamed vehicle. After receiving a bunch of the new tread links, I wanted to create something grand with them. Scouting the web, I came across these multi-purpose robots (see below) that can be outfitted for police / bomb squad use, or for scientific work. Thought they looked pretty cool, so they were the inspiration. UNV was sitting around for months before I finally got around to taking pictures and a video of it. Read on for details…
Sometimes my robot building ideas are spurred by nothing more than wanting to make use of one or more cool items that I get from time-to-time. In this case it’s two – tread tracks that can be had if you own the Technic Snowmobile (8272) and a TechnoStuff Tilt/Accel Sensor. I was fortunate to have received a huge bag (a few hundred segments along with wheels) of the new tread tracks a while back and begun playing with them to see how they compare to their smaller black Technic counterparts. In a nutshell, I like these ones better as they are larger (more suited to the size of robots and Technic creations I build) and stronger – they dont come apart as easy. They also have pin holes in them to boot, so the sky is the limit for making large tracked vehicles.