Archive for the ‘Electrical’ Category
Time is ticking down, there are only 61 hours left on the RoboBrrd Indiegogo campaign!
Today we just got in the RoboBrrd Brain Boards! They look great, going to be soldering one up pretty soon!
More updates soon to come! w00t w00t!
Here is a new robot creature that I created! It doesn’t have a name yet, so it’s just called ‘weird eyebrow robot’.
It reacts differently when you ‘pet’ it and ‘poke’ it. Beware when it ruffles its brow! It enjoys singing short jingles. Rumour has it that the light up googely eye can peer into your soul.
Check out the video to see it in action:
Watch on YouTube
Pretty cool right? All of the electronics were from the Arduino Starter Kit. Here were all the electronics used from it:
- Micro servo
- Piezo speaker
- 3 Photocells/LDRs
- RGB LED
- White LED
- 2 Yellow LEDs
- 3 Blue LEDs
- 2 Green LEDs
- Lots of resistors…
It actually takes up all of the pins on the Arduino, which is great. All of the LEDs can be controlled individually, and the RGB and white ones (which are behind the googely eye) can have PWM.
Here are the extra parts and tools that were needed. If you don’t have any of these you should get them, or find a substitute. Some of these are obvious, but this list will serve useful for any newbies looking at it!
- Craft sticks, popsicle sticks, coffee stir sticks
- Hot glue
- Orange paint
- Purple sharpie
- Wire, shrink wrap, electrical tape
- Soldering iron, solder
- Scissors, wire cutters, wire strippers
- Googely eye
I started creating the robot just from the popsicle sticks. I wanted to try out a mechanism that was in my brain for a while, a way to control two eyebrows with one motor.
There is a lot of electronics in the starter kit, which is just awesome. It’s way more than you need, which is super for experimenting! I’m probably going to be using the LM293D for hacking the Useless Machine in a later project
So there are some interesting things in there… like a servo, funky coloured thing (aka pinwheel), lots of leds. I painted the eyebrow structure orange and this is how the idea is coming along:
There’s not that many wires for this robot, but I organized them with some tape so it would be quicker to plug in.
All of the pins are used! Yipee! Happiness!
With some testing of the pins and such, we can make the robot look differently!
With some more programming for its behaviour, it is done! (See the video for it in action if you haven’t already). There were some issues when programming it at first- I was writing and testing it when no LEDs were turned on. Since we’re using a breadboard, turning on the LEDs added some noise that I didn’t account for. So I had to scrap the entire program and just rewrite it. It works great now, though! I really like the way it has turned out.
It’s really great to have it running on your desk while you are typing away working on something. It goes to ‘sleep’ after 15 seconds or so, and its white LED does the Apple breathing pattern. When I was editing some of the photos, and got up from the chair, my shadow must have triggered the robot and it woke up, singing a little, so I interacted with it a bit! It’s almost like a real creature!
Back to the Arduino Starter Kit now… the book is cool. Makes me wonder if in 10 years, will they be rare like the Heathkit instruction books?
At the end of the video tutorials that go along with the kit, Massimo always says “Arduino is YOU”. So apparently I am a crazy robot builder with an unorganized desk then:
Thank you RS Components for the Arduino Starter Kit. It was really nice to use it to build another robot. They have videos of Massimo explaining the projects and such over here. Everyone should check it out and let their imagination run with it! Maybe even build a sibling to ‘Weird Eye Robot’, haha.
Also, if you noticed all of the wire, I finally used up the last of my yellow wire, and heat shrink. So right now I don’t have any stranded wire, and I’m running low on the solid core wire. If any of you readers know anyone out there who can donate a spool of wire, and some heat shrink, please let me know! Any help is really appreciated! Thanks!
These boards were supposed to look amazing. However, they turned out BLANK!
First of all I was really lucky they arrived. They were supposed to be sent with the RoboBrrd Brain Boards, but for some reason they weren’t. However they were mailed the same day, so how can you figure that one out? I didn’t have a chance to solder these up since I received them a few hours before getting on the bus to Montreal Mini Maker Faire.
So now it is time to have some fun with these boards, let’s add in some LEDs! Since there are no labels (tip: in geda pressing ‘h’ while having your mouse over the component will display/hide its component name label), I checked with the schematic first and figured out that the circle is supposed to be positive.
These traces really look nice without a fill around them!
The positioning of the LEDs looks geometrically unpleasant without the artwork there.
Each RoboGlyph needs 12 LEDs and 4 resistors. Wow, 24 LEDs sure goes by quickly. Maybe in the future we’ll be able to buy ‘a dozen LEDs’ from our corner stores. They kind of look like a goofy flower.
I’ve never really played with charlieplexing before, but I tested a few of the wires and some LEDs did light up. I’ll be experimenting with it more later on to get it working. Maybe RoboBrrd can wear it as a pendant or something.
Now it is time to investigate why this has happened. It’s probably something weird with the top layer. Here is a screenshot of the various gerber files. From left to right it is, version 1, 2, and 3. Version 1 is the original design, 2 is after Laen suggested I make a fill, and 3 is that suggestion after confirmation that it would work but now a little tidier.
However, if we turn off the top layer and look at the top mask layer, this is what it looks like.
Going even further, this is the top silk layer.
So I’m not really sure what is going wrong here. I’ll probably post this question in some forums and see what the answers and suggestions are. Hopefully it can get figured out soon so I can order the boards and have them shipped in time for Maker Faire NY!
Thanks to everyone who donated to my robotics fund which contributed to the fabbing costs of this!
It was an interesting experience. Next time hopefully these will turn out a lot better.
As @missmoun said:
“Epic Fails make glorious memories as well.”
The RoboBrrd Brain Board v2′s were received back from OSH Park a little while just before Montreal Mini Maker Faire. Check it out!
The silkscreen on them came out really nicely, just as imagined and expected. I didn’t have any/all of the components needed to build one of the boards, so it was time to do some desoldering.
First component tried was the socket:
It didn’t work out very well:
Next up was the crystal and 22pf capacitors!
Here is one of the mistakes on the board. The capacitors should be pushed out perhaps one millimeter or so. They are still able to be placed though.
Attempt at desoldering the FTDI header did not work out too well:
Desoldering these headers worked out!
At this point I decided to power up the board because I was curious what colour the power LED was. But then Pin 13 lit up as well. … What?! This was crazy, pin 13 was tied to 5V, which is the top-layer fill. I debugged everything, and mentioned it to OSH Park. Turned out to be a board defect, so they issued a refund for the board! Sweet!
This didn’t get desoldered correctly, so chopped part of it open. Cool!
Not all of the headers can be easily desoldered. All of the pins were free of solder, guess it just got messed up somehow.
Another attempt at desoldering!
The input jack made it out okay. Was a little worried about this one because it had massive amounts of solder on it.
Here is the whole board built up!
This is a RoboBrrd hiding in a box. It was getting another layer of varnish.
This is basically how the RoboBrrd Brain Board will fit. Except the input areas will face the other way (oops)
Photo of the desk from above. And apparently I actually wrote ‘check for shorts first’, hahaha
The upload wasn’t working and I wasn’t really sure what was happening. The chip wasn’t in a socket because I failed at desoldering one. I thought all of the pins were free of solder, and the chip was coming out pretty well… until two of its legs fell off (owch!) I’m saving this one because it can still become a good freeform Arduino style. Later on I found two smaller sockets, so cut them to be combined, and it worked really well.
Wow, look at all the solder dust!
Trying to solve the RoboBrrd Brain Board problem, I fiddled with the reset button and managed to get the IDE to upload code to it. Great, this means that the TX and RX lines are okay, and only leaves the reset line. I compared to the Diavolino…
Notice the difference? Orange-black-brown vs brown-black-orange. I chose the wrong resistor. This is a bad resistor. I’m never going to use it ever again!
I put in an actual 10K ohm resitor, and the upload worked flawlessly. It works great with the LoL shield as well, which is a pretty good way to test your Arduino derivatives.
The next step with this is to put it inside the RoboBrrd. I still had some of the lifty-thingys that Chris the Carpenter sent with his robot, so I tried some of those.
There’s kind of a design issue…
Also need to figure out what screw size to use for mounting the board inside of RoboBrrd. Here’s what it looks like inside of the RoboBrrd:
It’s really great that the RoboBrrd Brain Board works. I still need to test out if the voltage regulator parts work. Probably going to pop the chip out for that testing.
Building another RoboBrrd Brain Board would probably be a good idea, and I have enough Arduino derivatives around to just desolder parts from and use. Don’t have any screw terminals though, so will just have to pretend there are imaginary terminals there.
Looking forward to using the first ever RoboBrrd Brain Board for controlling a RoboBrrd, it’s going to be pretty sweet.
Thanks to people who donated to my robotics fund so I could get these fabbed. They turned out great, so thanks!
RoboGlyphs are pieces of pcb artwork that are interesting to look at, and can be functional in some form! This is the Plasma RoboGlyph! It’s just a fun little project that I figured I would try out. I ordered these boards along with the RoboBrrd Brain Boards, since the shipping is quite a bit.
Here are the pics of the board!
Check out the timelapse of the making of the board!
Watch on YouTube
It was interesting to make this, a lot of the programs kept crashing so it required so much patience! I started off with this plasma image. It was just some random CC image I found on flickr that was really good.
Here’s a screenshot of it in paused mode:
After using StippleGen, I opened it with Inkscape and made it so that the stipples were filled, and had no outline. Sometimes Inkscape would crash, but eventually it worked. I resized the image down, and exported it as a png. Pretty sure it was with 300 dpi. This png was then transferred into my handy Processing footprint sketch! From there, placed onto the board. It was important to make sure that the blobby part of the art didn’t touch anything major!
Some interesting things had to happen to make the pins/pads layer show up just how I imagined (thanks everyone who helped me with this!). In order for the art to appear with the gold, you have to make sure that the soldermask isn’t covering it, and have a copper fill behind it! This is what it looks like with the soldermask layer on:
With the .pcb file, it’s just a bunch of text, so it is easy to modify a huge amount of things that way. It was fun to see TextEdit struggling with replacing 62,919 items!
The pretty colours of the gerbers are always funky to look at!
My goal for releasing this open source is: to inspire people to do random cool scripty things with gEDA and make interesting art! Hopefully they will post up a pic up online of their creation too!
Below are the credits, let me know if I goofed up on anything so it can be fixed!
The Plasma RoboGlyph is an exploration in pcb art of sorts!
The plasma image is from Luc Viatour, check it out here:
StippleGen 2.02 was used to transform the plasma image. We used 8,268 stipples, 0.50 min. dot size, and 10.00 dot size range. StippleGen is made by Evil Mad Science! And you can play with StippleGen yourself here:
The charlieplexing aspect was inspired by Open Heart kit by Jimmie Rodgers. It’s sophisticated simplicity was really nice, and the Instructable was good to learn about charlieplexing too! (Hopefully I did it right!)
The first few prototypes of the Plasma RoboGlyph were fabbed at the OSH Park! Their boards are purple and gold, and it’s a great service. Check it out here:
The medium sized OSHW logo on the board is from the gEDA format of logos that Windell Oskay made. You can find all the logos here:
Finally, credit to the whole maker community for being fun, cool, and helpful with answering questions & learning more!
Well, maybe this will inspire more random and interesting pcb’s to be made It’s important to try and make sure they are functional in some way too, charlieplexed LEDs are good for that! Also speaking about functional… I don’t have these boards yet, so have no idea if they work or not!
PS: No, the website on the board doesn’t work yet. Still debating what to do with all these RoboGlyph experiments that I want to make!
Happy pcb art-ing everyone!
Here is a colourful annotated picture of what will be on the RoboBrrd Brain Board! This would make a great fridge magnet or something
One of the things I thought would be handy would be to have a shorting block switchey area for both the microcontroller voltage and the servo voltage. This way you can choose what power source you want to run the microcontroller off of, AND if you want the servos to run off of that same power source (from the microcontroller), or from the external regulator. Although with the redesign the servos run fine off the usb power, figured might as well add it in incase someone wants to use even more servos on RoboBrrd!
Crossing my fingers that the onboard 5V regulator won’t heat up too much. It will be interesting to test it out, especially since the copper fill below it should act as a heatsink. The reason why it is facing inwards is because if it was facing outwards, it would be next to the back face of RoboBrrd. This is commonly made out of wood, which I reckon is more flammable than the black plastic used on the headers. Plus, this is where all of the cables will be attaching in, and you wouldn’t want your finger to accidentally slip and burn on the voltage regulator.
Randomly placed picture of the board, here!
Wondering if it will be possible to run this with just a ceramic resonator. I’m not too sure of the quality difference between a crystal and a ceramic one, especially for RoboBrrd. I will find one and desolder it to use with this testing!
There are two ways to input the voltage, the barrel jack will be great with some 5V transformers that plug into the wall. The relief holes I was inspired by the Diavolino. I think I modified the ones on here to be a few more mils smaller or closer … or something like that. These will be great with a small AA battery pack. Totally interested in seeing how long the battery life will be!
Back of the board is kind of boring, since it will be placed on RoboBrrd, I didn’t provide any useful labels. Course, thinking of it now, there should be some for the ‘useful stuff’ headers, and there should probably be some sort of pads for accessing the digital pins, not on the headers.
It would be really cool if this board / layout could be used in other projects as well. The screw terminals are really handy. The artwork may need to change for other purposes though, haha!
In the next RoboBrrd Brain Board v2 post, will be where you can download all the filez, and the post after that will be … whenever I receive the boards in real! They are being fabbed today!
Since redesigning RoboBrrd went so well, the base was eliminated. This meant that the previous version of the RoboBrrd Brain Board was way too gigantic! Luckily, an Arduino does fit into the back of RoboBrrd. It’s a tight squeeze for all directions with all the items I wanted to put on the board.
Making all of the footprints and such was quite tedious and time consuming. Hopefully there will be no mistakes. Slowly getting better at designing boards, but it is still very challenging! Here’s a timelapse video of making the board… it was a lot of work.
Here is what the board will look like:
These images were actually rendered from the gerber files on OSH Park, it’s pretty fancy!
When I receive the boards from OSH Park, I will be desoldering some Arduino derivatives, using their parts in this one, and see if it works! They are going out to the fab on Friday, so perhaps I will receive them before August 10th!
To design the RoboBrrd Brain Board, I used the gEDA suite of tools. For creating the schematic, I used gschem. For creating the board from the schematic, gsch2pcb. For modifying the board, pcb. Finally, for viewing the gerbers, gerbv.
It is quite a delightful set of tools that can do basically whatever your imagination wants to (more on this in a later post ). Very scriptable, open source too.
There is one thing that happened to me with gEDA, but not directly gEDA’s fault. I believe a Dropbox mismatch happened, something was corrupted, which lead to this ‘Abort trap: 6′. Also, couldn’t find any backups.
Luckily that version did not have too much work done already. Here’s an image with everything as a work-in-progress:
As you have seen with the above final board, there are curved routes on it. The trick that I have found with curved routes is to use diagonal lines first, all of the same size (so it is better to copy and paste the same line). Afterwords, you can go through and replace the diagonal lines with an arc. This way the routing will still be tidy.
It is a good idea to keep an eye out on how ‘tidy’ your routes are, especially if you have to use vias. Since vias usually extend beyond the width of the route, there may not be enough space for them.
Also, on the topic of vias, make sure the soldermask is over them (thanks EMSL for pointing that out on Twitter!)
Another thing to look out for are drill sizes. Although the pins may all look to be roughly the same sizes, they may not be. This trickery can happen when using many different footprint files, so watch out! Having many drill holes can increase the cost that it takes to make your board. The drill hole info was generated when exporting the board as a postscript (ps) file, but you can also see it when exporting to a gerber.
In order to reduce the number of different drill holes in the RoboBrrd Brain Board v2, I grouped some together that should be the same size. Then opened the .pcb file in TextEdit (made a backup first as well), found the pads that needed fixing by searching for the name of the footprint or name of the element, and replaced the Pad information.
In the previous RoboBrrd Brain Board, I placed the artwork directly on the pcb. This time I created the artwork as a footprint, and placed the footprint on the pcb. This makes it much easier to delete it and replace it very quickly.
Here is a screenshot of the gerber view. Looking at the gerbers is always rewarding as it is brightly coloured!
Actually, there are a few changes from the screenshots to the final version, namely the fills and the edges. Gave the edges of the board a nice big arc so they will be smooth!
Hope that these lessons learned while designing this board will help some people thinking about making their own boards! It’s an interesting way of making things, and definitely recommend trying it at least once!
In the next RoboBrrd Brain Board v2 post, I’ll discuss why I placed components where they are! In the post after that, it will be about if they actually work! The post after that one will be about where to download all the filez!