Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Proto Cylon: Muscles on the Beast

The ProtoCylon: Muscles on the Beast

By Bobby Neal Winters
As I mentioned earlier, I am using Beginning Arduino by Michael McRoberts. It hasn’t failed me yet.  I’d also mentioned that my ProtoCylon’s robot body will be a car which will be run by a couple of motors.  In order to control the motors, transistors are required.  I wrote about using them in ProtoCylon: Control. There I used a temperature sensor to control the motor of an electric fan. Pretty cool. (Pun fully intended.)
I’d had visions of having to solder a couple of transistors to a pc board in order to control the motors on my robot.  That was before I learned about the Arduino Motor Shield.  The Arduino Motor Shield takes care of the transistors for you.  It also takes care of connectors for the power in and power out.
While an earlier version of myself would’ve insisted upon doing this the hard way, at 50 I am quite happy to use the scaffolding.  My skills soldering are steadily improving--not like they could get worse--and I am gaining confidence.  But I do like to be able to measure progress in visible ways, and today I did.  The robot moved.  See below:What you see there are motions that were pre-programmed.  I didn’t even write the code myself, though I did key it in.  While this is very fulfilling, I am not nearly done.  In order for this to really be a robot, it will have to be able to take input from the outside.  Remember the model: Input; Process; Output.  
I’ve got to decide on the mode of input.  There are two ways I am currently considering.  The first of these is to use my UltraSonic Sensors.  See ProtoCylon Senses.  These I could use to keep it from running into walls kind of like a bat.  The second model is that of the line following robot.  This would require light sensors.  It would have eyes.  I need to think on this a while.

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