It's one of those 'small-world' stories, combined with action at a distance, a popular game system, a mobile robot, and a healthy dose of robotic hacking. We were killing a little time surfing the web, looking for good robot stories for Robots Dreams, from our workshop here in rural Chiba, Japan when an urgent email came in from Sprocket2Cog down in Australia. He was all excited about a great new mobile robot platform developed in Canada that includes lots of functionality yet surprisingly uses the Nintendo DS system as its robotic brain.
What we found after a little closer inspection was even more surprising and delightful.
It turns out that the robotic platform is only one of the innovative NDS based products developed by Alexei Karpenko of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His website, natrium42, lists a number of products and documented projects that take advantage of the computing power of the popular dual-screen Nintendo game system.
The most interesting natrium42 product, at least to us, is the DSerial2, a follow on to the earlier DSerial1 Open Hardware Platform for the NDS. Equipped with a USB client, serial and GPIO ports and a 2 axis tilt sensor, the platform opens up a wide range of applications for the NDS including interfacing it to MIDI keyboards, servos, additional sensors, GPS receivers, other computers, and of course - the internet.
At first, we were a little skeptical - after all, those are big claims. We had to really wonder if it was really possible to accomplish all that with the NDS. But, the natrium42 website and it's associated blog and wiki offer lots of detailed examples, documentation, photos, videos, and sample projects. For example, if you're curious about the RoboDS NDS robot they include all the supporting background material, and even let you drive the robot around online via a NDS Wi-Fi connection. We won't tell you how much time we wasted chasing that orange ball around their basement floor. !8-D
The RoboDS Open Robot Platform for the NDS.