News and Updates

 About this Site

This website shows some of the robots built by Dave Shinsel in his “spare time”. It contains hardware and software design info in the hope that this information will help and inspire others who want to build robots.

Website Update

If you added comments since March 2016, your comments may have been lost due to a database corruption during a recent website tool version update (Arrrg!).  Please resubmit your comments or questions.  Sorry for any inconvenience!

Also, I’ve been wanting to create a new interface circuit board, and I found this cool site, PCBWeb. It looks really good!

 Source Code Information

I created the robotics framework that is used for all my robots, because I wanted to understand the entire software stack in detail (and because I was not satisfied with any robotics framework back when I started this).  More recently, I have been moving to ROS. I am leaving my old source code available for reference, but if you are starting a new project, I highly recommend you check out ROS, and try Turtlebot to get stated.

Android Phone Robot Control for Arduino

I have made a sample program for controlling an Arduino robot (stand-alone or connected to a PC) from an Android phone.  This also might make some good sample code for anyone wanting control Arduino from an Android phone (and get data from Arduino).  Download it here.

RCL - Through the eye of a contestant - cover

Servo Magazine article

Robot Combat League –
Through the eyes of a contestant

“…The hydraulic fluid spraying puts the fire out as the referees blow the horn to tell us to separate…”

 

 

Maker Fairemf_bayarea_seeme_125x125

I had a great time a the May 18th Maker Faire in the Bay Area.  Lots of cool and amazing (and some really crazy) stuff! When I presented on the “Meet the Makers” stage, Dr. George Kirkman, the Robo Tech for Team Steel Cyclone was in the audience!  I asked him to join me on stage, and we had a great time discussing RCL and answering questions from the audience.

 

Robot Combat League Champions!

Robot Combat League - Season 1Dave and his daughter won the $100,000 championship in the new SyFy Series, “Robot Combat League”!  Their robot “Crash” is 7’9″ tall and weighs 828 lbs. For more info, see www.facebook.com/ShinselRobots

BrimStone KillShot

1/15/2013: Arduino support added

Also, removed external dependencies, so it’s easier to reuse the code posted here. For more info on Arduino support, see the Loki Electronics and Source Code Download pages.

Videos

Also, search for “Loki Robot” on YouTube

 In the Design area, I have photos of the robots during construction, as well as schematics, software design overview, and the source code for Loki, Turtle, and Seeker.  I hope you find this information helpful in your own designs.

51 Responses to News and Updates

  1. abdelselam akmel says:

    it is amazing!

  2. Stefan Eriksson says:

    Hi!
    You seem to have an eye on this with robots for “normal people” 🙂
    My spark was lit when you saw StarWars & Battlestar Galactica in the 70s, and interest has only increased with the years when the films Terminator, I Robot, Judge Dreed, Transformers and Star Trek, etc. has passed the big screen.
    I have long wanted to make me a robot that you can have some fun with at home.
    But as time and money has always been an obstacle seems “your” solution interesting.
    Was very inspired by your robots but especially when the robot Loki, I’ll try to start with a small project now 🙂
    Thanks for a great inspirational site and your generosity to show your “solutions”!
    Hope will confer with you if you “get stuck” if I get started?
    Sincerely. Stefan, Borlänge in Sweden.

  3. Tom Carroll says:

    Dave,
    I’m doing another article for Servo Magazine and am featuring Loki, again. This article is a bit different from the others in that I am describing how easy it is to find robot parts or steer your robot design towards the parts that you find. You’ve told me in the past, but, could you tell me again of all the unique things you used in the construction of Loki. E-mail me directly, if you don’t mind. Tom

  4. Robert H. Zeiler says:

    Dave,
    In the LOKI mechanicals for the arm, specifically shoulder joint, you use a dc geared motor with encoder. This drives a chain and effects eventual rotation of the shoulder joint. I have built an arm similar to yours (still under contruction) except using a stepper motor and chain drive. Since the dc motor is not a servo, I was wondering how you command the dc motor to start/stop and go to the correct position? Of course I understand the feedback loop from the encoder, but doesnt this mean turning on/off the motor for a specific duration? Then, how do you calculate that duration?

    Reply

    • dshinsel says:

      The stepper motor sounds good. One thing is they can miss a step, so the encoder seems like a good idea to detect this, but you could just use sensor to detect home (that’s what printers do). Make sure you properly ramp up and ramp down the acceleration to avoid missed steps.

      Send me a picture when you get it working!

  5. Robert H. Zeiler says:

    Dave,
    In the LOKI mechanicals for the arm, specifically shoulder joint, you use a dc geared motor with encoder. This drives a chain and effects eventual rotation of the shoulder joint. I have built an arm similar to yours (still under contruction) except using a stepper motor and chain drive. Since the dc motor is not a servo, I was wondering how you command the dc motor to start/stop and go to the correct position? Of course I understand the feedback loop from the encoder, but doesnt this mean turning on/off the motor for a specific duration? Then, how do you calculate that duration?

    I am able to generate the necessary stepper pulses using a stamp connected to a stepper driver circuit. At least for now, it works during testing. I also plan to attach an encoder on the shoulder for position feedback.
    Reply

    • dshinsel says:

      The dc motor has an encoder on the back, which is connected to the motor controller. I use a Kerr controller that I got surplus, because it handles the PID for “Servo control” of a motor. All I have to do is tell the Kerr controller the position I want (in “ticks”), knowing that these get translated via the chain reduction to the arm itself. This is handled in these two functions:
      CKerrControl::SetArmPosition()
      CKerrControl::TenthDegreeToTicks()

      Note that it all depends upon the “Home position”, which is calibrated at start-up by having each arm move forward, then move back until an IR sensor detects it. This is the home position for all future movements.

  6. Robert H. Zeiler says:

    Dave,
    Thanks for the info., which controller are you using from them. The Kerr Pic-step controller only provides 2 amps per phase. From my experimentation, I am looking at roughly 4 to 5 amps peak and running at perhaps 1 to 2 amps holding. I got this steppers new from surplus. They work well, but only this one provides the necessary torque. Also, you mentioned PID for servo control of a motor. What is PID and does that mean I use a dc motor as a servo???

  7. alex says:

    Thanks for your information, I have always looked for this! I am a Machine engineer and have worked in this industry for two month. So there are some fields I don’t know about much and hope find more information on your website!

  8. Robert H. Zeiler says:

    Dave (and daughter)
    Watched the Robot Combat League last night. You guys did a great job and congrats on the win. Keep up the good work.

    On another note, it seems as though the bots could use a better controller. If forward motion is controlled by one person and arms by another, it would take too much coordination. Why can’t one person do all the controlling? Why can’t the bots legs be controlled by a human like the arms?

    Anyway, best of luck for the future battles…I’ll be watching

    • dshinsel says:

      Thanks!
      RE:”seems as though the bots could use a better controller. If forward motion is controlled by one person and arms by another, it would take too much coordination. Why can’t one person do all the controlling? Why can’t the bots legs be controlled by a human like the arms?”
      Yes, controlling the legs was fairly difficult to master. There is a control for direction, another for leg height, another for leg speed. They all interact with each other, and there are some combinations that cause the robot so wobble or loose traction. Plus, it was hard for my daughter and I to hear each other over the crowd 🙂

      But, that teamwork part also added an interesting element to the show. Keep watching, it gets even more fun!

  9. robert says:

    You should make a Tutorial on how to make a robot like loki from scratch that will be the best

  10. shane says:

    hey Dave i’m really impress with your fine work, you see i’m 19 years old and i would love to know how to code. do you know any books or sites that can teach me???

  11. Deven says:

    Great job on Loki! He’s so cool. How much did it cost for you to make loki?

  12. Laura Lemmons says:

    Hey Dave. You wouldn’t mind starting an online class in robotics so I can learn more could you? I’m 18 and I’m heading into the field of robotics. But I gotta know. who was the hardest robot to create: Crash or Loki?

    • dshinsel says:

      I’d be glad to help get you pointed in the right direction; there is a lot of great info on the internet, and I can help point you to the information.

      • Laura Lemmons says:

        Mind emailing me some good websites? I’ll add them to my bookmarks and look at them. Bc I’m wanting to build Loki AND Crash a “sister”. wouldn’t that be nice?

  13. Chris says:

    Absolutely love Loki’s head, trying to replicate. For the life of me I cannot find any flashlight that is even close to what you used. It may seem trivial but it seems to e the only thing holding up the making of the head. Care to share where you got them?
    Congrats on winning the Robot wars championship!
    Chris

  14. Atul Priyadarshi says:

    Hey i m trying to make a similar robot… but instead of windows i m trying to use linux and all coding to be done in java… what changes will have to be made… and how the vision system will be changed for that. plz share..

    congratulation for winning the championship..
    nice pic with chris Jericho

    • dshinsel says:

      If you want to use Linux, I highly recommend you use ROS, and then apply Loki specific capabilities.
      I will be working on this, so if you make progress we can collaborate. But, since ROS is C++, you would need to use C++, not Java.

  15. akshay aadhi says:

    please tell me , what kinda study do i need to do to accomplish something like that….. AM juz enterin the engineering field now so can plz temme which course to pursue…….??????!!!

  16. Atul Priyadarshi says:

    how did u used to power the kinect…
    it needs to be attached to an external power supply..

    • dshinsel says:

      The robot has 2 batteries; a big 12v battery used for most things, and a small 6v for a few things like the Kinect.
      For Kinect, the two batteries are wired in series to give 18v, which is regulated down to 12v via a model TI PT78ST112 switching regulator, available at digikey.com. This regulator is very efficient and easy to use. it just requires a 1.5uf Cap on the input side (from the battery), and a 10uf cap on the output side (leading to the Kinect)
      There may be a better way, but this is what I did.

  17. Nikolay says:

    В России, особенно в облостях, трудности с подобного рода подробной информацией о полной конструкции робота.Буду Вам очень признателен за возможность использовать Ваши наработки в своей конструкции робота, и получении консультаций по возникающим вопросам.

  18. John Kabat says:

    Dave,

    I have taken your recommendation to heart!
    I have completely re-built my drive system using Electric Scooter wheels. For A look at what I have done so far see: http://robot.jkabat.com

    Any Idea if Robot Combat League is coming back?
    How about a picture of you and Amber with the Trophy?

    Regards
    JohnK

    • dshinsel says:

      Hi John,

      Wow, looks cool! I love the Halloween candy part!
      The drive system looks good!

      RE: “Any Idea if Robot Combat League is coming back?” I have not heard anything official, but I don’t think they are doing a second season, unfortunately.

      RE: “How about a picture of you and Amber with the Trophy?” There is a picture on http://www.facebookcom/ShinselRobots Is this what you mean? P.S. Amber and I take turns putting the trophy on our desks at work 🙂 It’s a great conversation piece 🙂

  19. Atul Priyadarshi says:

    Hi dave,
    As said earlier, I am developing a similar robot in linux.. and i have made a software prototype without ROS. but i m having some difficulty in controlling arduino. can you plz tell me how to control and arduino from a c, c++ program.

    • dshinsel says:

      Hi Atul,
      I just uploaded a new version of Loki that shows this nicely.
      The code is actually a little more complicated, because I added some sync characters to assure good communication.
      If you download the code, look at the following:
      For the PC side: “Dev\_Robot\Common\HWInterface.cpp”, and search for “ArduinoCommWriteThreadFunc” and “ArduinoCommReadThreadFunc”
      For the Arduino side: “\Dev\_Robot\RobotArduino\RobotArduino.ino”, and in “RobotUtilities” tab, look at “CheckForSerialData” and “SendStatusToPC”

      Hope this helps!

  20. Jeffrey says:

    Hi Dave,

    I found your Loki robot very interesting and I’m thinking of implementing some of its features into my own robot project. I have a question with regards to the Xbox Kinect. I realize you installed a complete pc into Lolki to handle the kinect and was wondering if something smaller like the Raspberry PI would work with the Kinect.
    Thank You

  21. Erik says:

    Hello Dave,

    I was looking at your Arduino code (RobotArduino.ino) and I was a little confused. I am not certain how the RobotUtilities.ino is included. For example you make a call to BlinkEyes in the RobotArduino.ino and I can see the function in the RobotUtilities.ino but I am not sure how the functions in RobotUtilities.ino are included. Is it done in one of these:
    #include “C:\Dev\_Robot\Common\HardwareCmds.h”
    #include “C:\Dev\_Robot\Common\HWInterfaceLokiArduino.h”

    Sorry if this is a basic question still trying to get use to the Arduino.

    Thanks!
    -Erik

  22. laith says:

    hello Dave
    I really like your robots and I am asking you can you give me the materials of Loki
    and how do u build them and what programing web do you need for Loki.

  23. Benito says:

    ola dshinsel, gostaria de saber se voce me venderia um kit completo do loki só pra mim monta-lo aqui. e quanto custaria?

  24. Tim Kepler says:

    Any updates? how about some vids showing these things still function, some data on product longevity would be neat.

  25. Mark Adair says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you could post the code to your Seeker bot? I was wondering the brand of camera that you have on it. Anything you can post/send me would be awesome! Your work here has inspired me to build my own bot, hopefully it will be as awesome as yours!

  26. jonathan says:

    HI, I’m making a robot, and I need to know how you were able to make your “Loki robot” talk, is there some kind of simple program I can use that doesn’t involve coding?

    • dshinsel says:

      There are simple ways to get a robot to talk. I suggest you google “arduino talk”.
      But, if you want to build a robot, you will need to learn at least some programming. Arduino is a great way to start.

  27. Danny says:

    Hello Dave,
    Loki is amazing, I am trying to build a Loki Robot for my son. I came into a problem with the Dynamixel for head and trex. on the software it is highlighted in blue and says waiting. the ardunio and Kinect both work fine. any help would be appreciated.
    thank you
    danny

    • Danny says:

      Hi Dave,
      the TRex is working the problem im having is with the Dynamixel servos for the head. I get a error in red blinking on and off on the gui.

      thanks
      danny

  28. Chris says:

    Dave,

    On your elbow rotation joint dynamixel there appears to be a metal bushing attached to the servo horn itself. Was this a custom made adapter? And also the bearing at the elbow itself.. Where is that from? Thanks. Chris

  29. Sam Malas says:

    Hi Dave,

    I want to build a robot that can trim bushes into any shape. Something like a robotic arm with a chainsaw (or something smaller) attached. Please let me know if this is something you can help me out with. Thanks.

    Sam

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  34. William Emert says:

    Dave,
    When it comes to robotics do you think stepper motors are best for robotics?

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