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Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Posted by Michael on 26 March 2005, 18:12 GMT

[Solar powered TI cleaning robot] A group of Belgium students participating in a solar robotics competition have built a cleaning robot based upon a TI-83 Plus. There's a picture and also a zip file containing a link to a video that shows the robot in action. As of yet, the group does not have a website for the robot but is reported to be working on one.

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Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Nikky Southerland  Account Info
(Web Page)

This is pretty cool, especially the modded 83+ with a white case.

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 18:20 GMT

Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

News submitted by me :)

You can read a bit more about this project here:
http://joepnet.com/hosted/maxcoderz/
phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=461

And if you'd like to see more photos:
http://timendus.student.utwente.nl/
docs/robot/

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 19:27 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

The link to the video is unfortunately no longer valid I see...

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 19:30 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
ElementFire Account Info

The link is to a complete TV news report that most people will not want to sit through (30+ mins.?). I checked the first 5 minutes, then closed it.

Cool bit of news, though.

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 20:04 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
korkow Account Info

Seems that "28min07sec" has nothing about the robot at 27:07

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 00:12 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Tijl Coosemans Account Info

You should have downloaded the stream and perhaps cut out the relevant part instead of linking to it.

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 13:02 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

I know, and I tried, but I couldn't download the file, nor capture the stream... This was the best I could do (it also had a few commercials in it first :S)

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 13:14 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
anthony C  Account Info

Where did you come across the weblink in the first place?

Reply to this comment    28 March 2005, 03:01 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

I got it from Jurgen. And I guess he saw it on TV and Googled for a stream of the broadcast.

Reply to this comment    28 March 2005, 21:27 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

1) Those links are broken. The first links to a page saying one word: "nope". The second links to somebody's homepage.

2) Is the calculator solar powered? Or just what ever motors push the robot?

3) Umm... this is cool, but wouldn't a Lego Mindsotrms RCX with a little battery powered vaccum cleaner be more appropriate? It wouldn't be solar (too much junk for a solar panel), but I know plenty of ways to fix battery life problems without a solar panel. Nuclear batteries have been invented to use harmless amounts (0.1 microcuires wont hurt a fly) of radiation to produce 70 watts. I think that's more than enough.

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 21:31 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

Geez, noobs :D

First, you can actually *skip* through the video, but as I said, it has been replaced by this week's news, so there's no point in doing that.

Second, as everybody knows you can't post long urls on Ticalc.org, so I cut the links in pieces. You have to paste the second line of the link after the first line in your browser... Do you need me to explain how to start IE too? :p

Yes, the calculator is solar powered as well. I don't know about the servos, but if you really want to know you can e-mail me, and I'll ask the Belgian team.

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 22:04 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Kevin Ouellet  Account Info
(Web Page)

"Do you need me to explain how to start IE too? :p
"

Please, do it! I would like to know it... just kidding! :D

Congrats timendus!

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 22:30 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

actually, the first time i pasted the link into my browser, it looked fine, but didnt load...

this time i pasted the two sections separately, and it worked fine :P
so don't flame people next time... they might have made a very simple mistake ;)

about the robot: impressive imho. Personally, I would have used a lego RCX, or a TI-89, but it's a cool robot! I was especially impressed that the solar panel is able to move toward light sources independantly of the robot. Good job! Amazing!

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 17:36 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

Sorry, I flame quickly ;)
And a Ti-83+ is indeed not the most logical choice for a robot controller, but I think we've certainly proven once again that it IS a possibility :)

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 21:31 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Kevin Ouellet  Account Info
(Web Page)

That flame was funny :)

Reply to this comment    28 March 2005, 03:13 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

It's ok...

I don't mind being flamed except when the flamer keeps on at it... which is when the flamer is deliberately trying to disgrace me :).
So no offense taken :).

Also, I just realized why the 83+ may have been a good choice: it has a much nicer display than the RCX, and cound display real-time diagnostics on the robot. Although I think a 68k calc would have been much better since they could have used TIGCC for the linking port stuff. The linking port of a 68k calc is also much better.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 17:26 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
elbarto  Account Info

As far as I am concerned, the link ports for all the calcs are exactly the same. As for ease of use, I suppose you could say the fact that 68k calcs are programmable in C (well z80 calcs can too, but not as efficiently and blah blah blah) makes it a good idea. But the advantages C brings over ASM is not really specific to the link port related operations. It is pretty easy to write an ASM routine to send a string of values down the link port, which is functionally equivalent to one that would send a buffer in C ...

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 23:45 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
elfprince13 Account Info
(Web Page)

I wonder if someone could get their hands on the source for the controller prog. That would be an interesting read! A whole new field:Calculator robotics.
I bet since it's for a competition they won't want to give it away the source though {:-(

Reply to this comment    30 March 2005, 20:24 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

Well, as I wrote that software, I can tell you that it is indeed not intended to be released to the public. BUT I am working on something that WILL be published if I finish it, and that will probably be an even more interesting read ;)

So keep an eye on the Ticalc.org news, I intend to be in it again in a few months :)

Reply to this comment    31 March 2005, 23:00 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ju From The Fields  Account Info
(Web Page)

Hi there,

Except from the TI83 there's an Atmel-µprocessor
interface involved (some C-programming ) between the calculator and the I/O-pheripherals.
I/O---> f.i.three hobby Hitec servo's, one is used for lifting the sweeper-system.
The solar panel system works independtly and is driven by one DC-motor...with some legotechnic-stuff the panel searches for the ideal light circumstances
Mounted µswitches allows the CCB to react when bumping
against objects...the user is able to choose from three different modes: TIME mode, WHISKER(or bumper) mode and RANDOM mode.

Greetz,

JU
VTI Leuven Team Coordinator

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 22:20 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timendus  Account Info
(Web Page)

Ah, there's the man who did the actual work :D
I only contributed ~150 lines of assembly code :)

Reply to this comment    26 March 2005, 22:53 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
burntfuse  Account Info
(Web Page)

Nice! Which Atmel microcontroller?

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 01:07 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ju From The Fields  Account Info
(Web Page)

It' the Atmel 8535...
the internal UART is used in order to communicate
with TI's linkport.
More details you'll find in it's tech-specs sheet
which you can download from atmel.com
Greetz,

Jurgen
VTI Leuven Team Coordinator

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 08:04 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

Here's some stuff on that RCX thingy I mentioned earlier. I still have the Lego Mindstorms kit, after buying v 1.0 when it first came out. I'm thinking of ebay for v 2.0. ;)

The Lego Rcx has an infared "linking port" that can be used to give detailed info on the state of variables during execution, sensor values, etc, a NQC language that's more powerful than C and as simple as basic, 3 motor ports and 3 sensor ports (actually, there is a way to expand the number of sensor ports), as well as a 9-12 volt (AC or DC, in either case polarity makes no difference!) power jack.
There are types of sensors: touch, light, temperature, and rotation. Home brew sensors can also be safely used since the robot is designed to handle such circumstances as short circuits and power overloads (but don't stick 120 V on the sensor port, use good sense!)

More info on the NQC language at: http://www.cs.uu.nl/people/mark
ov/lego/rcxcc/
Download the best IDE (rcxccext) here:
http://www.cs.uu.nl/people/mark
ov/lego/rcxcc/rcxccext.zip

Note: the links above have been separated. you will need to paste them into your browser separately.

I recommend using the rcxccext instaler for the ide, and not brixcc or the standard installer (rcxcc). Rcxccext has an table with all the sensor, motor, timer, etc. commands for quick and easy reference. Also, there is a dialog box (F12 to toggle) where you can click the various C commands and they get pasted into the code. Plus, there is plenty of sample code and help stuff.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 17:45 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
JcN  Account Info
(Web Page)

Methinks that the solar panel is more eco-friendly than six AA batteries. Also, if the machine were mass-produced, not many people would be interested in constructing their own out of Lego Mindstorms pieces :)

How would you create a vacuum module with Legos? The best I've made with my Lego Mindstorms set is a robot that sweeps stuff into a dust-pan.

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 22:48 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
CajunLuke  Account Info
(Web Page)

Well, you might have a separate electric system to run the vacuum. You could have one motor to flip an on/off switch, two to drive, two sensors as touch-bumpers, and one extra one. (Or two directional bumpers in the front and one in the back, usign up all the sensors.)

Reply to this comment    28 March 2005, 14:17 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ju From The Fields  Account Info
(Web Page)

We did'nt use Lego-Tech for that part ;-)

Well, first of all our vacuum-cleaner crashed the day of the contest :-(
For those who still want to know how we realized it ;-)

We adapt a mini-cleaner from a PC Cleaning Kit by using metal of a Pepsi-can...and our Atmel µcontroller, depending the instruction the user entered on the TI83+, drove a BC-639 NPN driver transistor to apply the needed current to the system...

Ju FTF

VTI Leuven Team Coordinator

Reply to this comment    28 March 2005, 15:56 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

1) Just because the robot tends to use legos doesn't mean that the whole thing has to be legos. I rarely spare some tape, paper, and even sheet metal to get a robot built right.

2) The RCX could easily be run off the solar panel. Just shove some NI-MH rechargable batteries with a solar panel and you're good to go!

3) If the solar power is not enough (how could it not be... that solar panel looks alot like one of those new cell phone chargers with more than 10 watts...), there's always the nuclear battery I mentioned earlier. And you don't need to worry about radiation, it gets 70 watts off the same amount of radiation as a smoke detector uses. Unfortunately, that nuclear battery hasn't kept working for more than three weeks at a time (yet), but that can be fixed. ;)

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 17:51 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
JcN  Account Info
(Web Page)

Besides, the Hitachi chip in the RCX has less development support than the z80 in the 83+. Granted, you can install brickOS for C development in place of the crappy byte-code interpreter provided by Lego, but brickOS is still in its beta stages.

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 22:49 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

1) I know nothing about BrickOS, I personally think RCXccext is more than enough, so I have never bothered with anything else.

2) The RCX has a graphical language. Atmittedly, it's a powerless language, but it'd probably be good enough.

3) The microprocessor in this kind of robot is irrelavent, since there's not really much processing to be done. Here's the logic of how I would do an RCX program for this:

--Send IR message, and if the light sensor picks up a high fluxuation (the robot is close to something).
--If the robot is close to something (like a wall usually), then rotate 20 degrees. (actually, in terms of the real code, this would be tuning on the drive motors in opposite directions for a few tenths of a second)
--If the robot is not close to something, move foward and run the vacuum.
--For this, a magnifying glass should focus an image on two ligt sensors, and the light sensors should rotate. The center of the image will be on one light sensor, and another part of the image on another lightsensor. As the sensors rotate, the robot knows their position, and if the outer light sensor detects strong light that the center light sensor does not, then the solar panel moves in the direction of the outer light sensor until the strong light source is on the center light source. This is probably going to be a programing challenge since the robot itself is constantly moving... mabye the robot could be programed to adjust the solar panel only during foward motion... this would be easier and more efficient.
--Repeat these instructions. (until the run button on the robot is pressed)

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 18:19 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ju From The Fields  Account Info
(Web Page)

Hi there,

Well your explanation does make sense...
why the Atmel is used instead of a PIC16F84 for example is for the serial data communication and the use of the UART...i had some C-programming experience before with this µProcessor, therefor I opted for this fella...
we definately could have choosen for another, less complex configuration...but all this was implemented
with future projects in mind...when Timendus helps us implementing some minor AI with the calculator we just
need an easy PIC serial servo controller and that will do the job at that time...

We do hope other people outthere build their own version of this kind of robot in the future...the great thing is to learn from it ;-)

Greetz,

Jurgen
VTI Leuven Team

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 21:33 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
JcN  Account Info
(Web Page)

1.) BrickOS is an operating system that you can install on your RCX which allows full access to all hardware aspects of the system. It is far superior to the exceptionally limiting byte-code interpreter and memory manager (the "firmware"). You can write code in C (not NQC, which actually compiles into a byte-code script for the byte-code interpreter) and/or assembly, which is linked into an actual executable for your RCX. See brickos.sourceforge.net for more information.

2.) "Powerless" is too weak of a word...

3.) The chip of the RCX is very important if you develop for BrickOS. Once you bypass the byte-code interpreter with BrickOS, you can program in C (not NQC) and assembly for your RCX. Because you don't have the saftey of the "firmware," you must be familiar with the memory system and chip/hardware architecture if you are to program effectively and avoid crashes.

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 23:34 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

1) well, it's all in personal preference, but i think NQC is fine, and much better than raw C, which I am in the process of learning...

2) also, powerless acurately describes the graphical language, i don't think we need strong words here, especially since the language (although crappy) does come in handy sometimes. It isn't great, but it's good enough if you want to do simple stuff really quick

Reply to this comment    31 March 2005, 19:39 GMT

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

and crashes are immaterial on a RCX because nothing important should be kept in RAM only and not your pc...
at least with the RCX... one battery slips, and the RAM is gone lol.

heck, everytime i charge my batteries i loose the RCX ram!

Reply to this comment    31 March 2005, 19:54 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
JcN  Account Info
(Web Page)

1. NQC, "Not Quite C," has little resemblence of the C language. The only similarities include functions (more like routines than functions), braces, and semi-colons. Everything else (the keywords (aside from "int"), pointers, arrays, structures, enumerations, etc.) that is far more important is missing, which severely limits the capacity of the NQC language.

2. Actually, programs written in C or assembly for the RCX require less space, less lines of code (at least for C), and execute faster. Even simple programs are worth writing in C, simply because the executable created from the C source is far more efficient than the byte-code created from the graphical language.

Reply to this comment    1 April 2005, 23:36 GMT

Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Timmc Account Info
(Web Page)

I'd like to see a killing robot controlled by a 83+. That way one could take over the world with their calculator. TAKE THAT!

Reply to this comment    27 March 2005, 07:33 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
mstrmnd34 Account Info

Go to CyberDyne corporation and ask for a Terminator.

Personally, I want to know why you ask for a killing robot. Seems to me that it would be more efficient to take over the world with a TI-83+ programmed to read minds.
If you know enough about EEGs, it could be done ;).

I also wonder why you want to take over the world at all. Seems to me that our leaders suck right now, but I seriously doubt a ruthless takeover is gonna result in better leadership.

Reply to this comment    1 April 2005, 18:54 GMT

Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ayial Account Info

I dunno.... It kinda looks like a 83+SE to me. It's got the yellow, green & blue buttons. The whole calc does look painted white, but maybe that's due to bad lighting?

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 13:05 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ayial Account Info
(Web Page)

Another look makes me think it's a painted white 83+SE *link*

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 13:08 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ju From The Fields  Account Info
(Web Page)

I confirm: we used a TI83+SE and gave it a painting job...it has an overclock-no overclock switch option
and we hacked the battery area.
We thought it might looked cool having a white calculator on top as our robot is mainly white coloured.

Greetz,

Ju FTF
VTI Leuven Team

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 14:38 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ayial Account Info

awesome!! 83+SE!! I can't imagine painting around the alpha letters and stuff that are painted on the front. Or did those get covered up?

Reply to this comment    29 March 2005, 22:11 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Ju From The Fields  Account Info
(Web Page)

Euhmmm...indeed the alpha letters f.i. they are covered up, it's very easy to get a front-cover layout from TI (mut be in the manual too)dough...In that case you can ask a printing company to make a silk-screen of it for a cheap price.

Ju FTF
VTI Leuven Team

Reply to this comment    30 March 2005, 07:40 GMT


Re: Re: Solar Powered Cleaning Robot
Nameon  Account Info

Yah i agree this Solar Powered Cleaning Robot is really cool...

The Creators should make a team of soccer playing robots.. than they could enter in the World Cup..

:)

Reply to this comment    6 April 2005, 00:48 GMT

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