Adventures in Robotics

The Walking Box

12/11/2006 Update- This page is no longer maintained, try here for the most recent version.

4/6/2006 Update- since being posted on and now (digg me!), a lot of people have been asking about the method to create the board itself. I created the schematic using EAGLE and used an LPKF Circuit board mill to cut the traces and drill the holes. I soldered the vias and components by hand and program the chip via Quickbug bootloader over a serial connection to my PC. The code was written in C and compiled with the CCS compiler available on lab machines here at Penn State Behrend. The overall cost of the components is around $30, excluding the board material. The servos cost $10 each from Tower Hobbies. Click here for a picture of the mill itself, and here for a video of it cutting traces in some boards.

In robotics, there is always a need to control motors. One of the simplest source of mechanical power is a servo. However, if you've ever programmed a microcontroller to run a servo, you probably know that anything beyond a couple channels is not the most trivial thing to do. Doing it on a breadboard is even worse. To change all that I decided to design and build a printed circuit board capable of running 16 standard R/C car servos or speed controls. I think it turned out rather well, I added some buttons and LEDs to make it pretty and it all runs off a 7.2V R/C battery. The reason for staying with R/C components is they are relatively cheap and there is a decent variety of parts. After routing, soldering, and programming the board, I tested it out by attaching 6 servos to the bottom of a carboard box and hooking them to the first 6 channels of the board.

I also took some video of the contraption walking around on a table and on carpet.
Mirrored here and here.

Here are pictures of the project.

If you go to Behrend and are interested in joining the Robotics Club, send me an email at RLW213 [at] psu [dot] edu or AIM texasranger556. Meetings are Thursday nights at 7:00 in the Reed building. Stop by!