Open Source Robot ControlsPosted: July 22, 2011
I’ve been playing around with some ideas for an Arduino/Netduino robot control system the past few months. I knew that I wanted to be able to control my robots from an Android phone, PC, or any other WiFi enabled device. I also knew that I wanted the system to be small and simplistic, but also powerful and extensible. The reason I went with an Arduino (Ethernet Pro) or a Netduino Plus for the controller was the low cost, ease of programming, and the embedded ethernet port. I coupled the onboard ethernet with a wireless router so that I could connect and transmit data to the robot wirelessly. Here are the results of our first robot build with this system. The robot was affectionately named Mantis.
While developing this control system, I wrote an open source app for Android devices called IPGamepad. It is now in the market for free and available on Google Code. On the Google Code page you can also find the Arduino, Netduino, and Python code for use on your own robot control system. Episode #7 of The Tech Junkies gives a good overview of how the system is put together, how the code works, and a closer look at the Mantis robot:
As for all of the parts we used in the video, here’s all of the basics you’ll need to get your control system off the ground:
2. Screw Shield ($15)
2. Wireless Router ($30-50)
3. 40A Speed Controllers ($90 ea) (can substitute lower current controllers for smaller motors)
4. Spike Relay ($35) (optional – useful for switching headlights or other 12v accessories)
4. 5V Power Regulator ($15)
6. Battery Terminals ($5)
7. Main Power Breaker ($30)
8. Fuse Block ($15)
9. 12V Battery ($100-$200)
It’s a bit rough, but here is the basic layout of the wiring for a basic robot setup using this system:
I’m definitely looking for help to continue the project and add several more features to the Android app and controls side of the system. Feel free to pitch in or contact me through the Google Code page. As I pointed out earlier, all of the code to make all of this work is up on that page.
If you’ve got any crazy robot ideas or just need some help implementing the system, go ahead and add a comment to this post. I’ll try to monitor the page and get back to you as soon as possible. I’ll be out at Maker Faire Detroit next weekend (30th and 31st) demoing Mantis and a few other robots driven by this system. I hope to see you there!