The behaviour for the tentacle mechanism has been difficult to figure out.
Our fist attempt was to use the outputs to communicate how many times the button should be pressed. At first, it was fun, but then it just becomes confusing. Sort of similar to: ‘Why is this thing doing this thing, what can I do to change it?’. You can watch a video of this here.
The next attempt was to use the ultrasonic sensor, and have different actions for each distance threshold. There are also ‘mini-actions’ that occur from the changes between these distances. So when you are interacting with it, the ‘dances’ that the tentacle does will be similar, but the introduction to that dance, LEDs blinking, will be different.
But in the code, it’s more than controlling the robot. There are ‘debug’ statements where the robot is saying things. It gives some context as to what the robot thinks is happening.
So as you can see, this robot has some sort of creepy obsession with distance.
And it gets even more interesting when the human goes away:
As for actually displaying the text to the humans, it might be nice to have a tiny OLED display at some distance away from the robot, that only lights up after some amount of time of interaction. This way the humans will pay more attention to the tentacle moving at first, then notice the display and keep interacting.
What is all this ‘be’ functions about in the code? Those are the ‘mini-actions’, as mentioned above. They just blink the LEDs in certain patterns and such. In a future robot, this will be more involved with the social drives/mind/emotions.
Taking long exposures of the tentacle moving has been quite fun. Here are some of my favourites:
Working on documenting it, there were a lot of lessons learnt while building this!
Have you seen this book: Make: Lego and Arduino Projects? It’s all about adding in Arduinos to your Lego robot projects! This is really helpful if you find you want to do more with Lego robots, but find the NXT too restrictive.
It’s written by John Baichtal (@johnbaichtal), Matthew Beckler (@mbeckler) & Adam Wolf (@adamwwolf)! I’ve met these people at Maker Faire before, they are really cool. They asked me to write the foreword for their book, what a great honour!
This book goes along with the Bricktronics shield for Arduino. It’s how you can connect the NXT motors and sensors to the Arduino. They sent me one, cause even though I don’t have some Lego anymore, I’ll probably use the L293D for something (can never have enough of those chips eh!)
Here is a closeup of the board, not a lot of empty space and the TIP120′s will be standing up:
Here is the board when it is assembled. When following their kit instructions, the steps aren’t ordered from shortest components to tallest, so you may want to jump around a bit.
Look at this, the plastic connector things make it look like a giant compared to the Arduino / Diavolino!
CONNECTOR THINGS ARE STARING AT YOU!
Back in the day of RCX’s, the ‘connectors’ were much simpler and didn’t cost as much, they were just a few wires attached to a custom Lego brick. It was a lot easier back then to wire up your own lights or whatever.
I’m looking forward to using the L293D in some project at some point in time. As for the rest of the board, perhaps use it as robot artwork or something. Or if I find someone that is in to Arduinos and Legos, give it to them
Thanks again to the authours for the invite to write the Foreword. I hope it will get the readers motivated and ready to build (and read)!
More to come later about the latest and greatest RoboBrrd news!
Pretty cool right? All of the electronics were from the Arduino Starter Kit. Here were all the electronics used from it:
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
Wire, shrink wrap, electrical tape
Soldering iron, solder
Scissors, wire cutters, wire strippers
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.
From the side:
Eye from the side:
From the top:
Looking towards the board:
What’s left over (also notice how the eyebrows were cut out of the cardboard from the kit hehe)
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.
Arduino is YOU! Weird eyebrow robot is CREEPIN’! -)
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!