My personal fascination with electronics and technology started at a very early age when Santa brought a simple electronics experimenter kit one Christmas Eve. All the components were laid out on a board and each one had small wire springs for terminal contacts. The instruction book included diagrams showing how to hook up the wires to complete each circuit.
I can't remember all of the experiments exactly, but I do know there was a switch triggered burglar alarm, some light circuits, and a crystal radio, among others. The 'radio' used a rough crystal with a cat's whisker probe with no application. Luckily we were living in Southern California at the time with at least one 50,000 watt broadcast radio station that I could pick up.
I was very intrigued, and pleased, to discover Andrew Alter, a leading humanoid robot designer, Mech Warfare organizer, and RoboGames champion, explaining the Electronic Brick Starter Kit, since it shows that the same basic approach is still very much in use today.
’Old Electronics Kit Concept Made New (Video)’ continues
It's been a long, hot, and extremely humid summer here in Japan. The weather, the economy, and the general mood has been depressed and languid to say the least. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the plans for regular robot competitions, like ROBO-ONE, had to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely after the triple disasters (earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear) that took place on March 11th.
All of that is about to change big time, and all the pent-up robot energy and enthusiasum is going to explode on the scene over the next few weeks in a frenzy of exciting competitions with a new mega robot battle double-header that promises to totally blow away all standing records.
’Mega Hobby Robot Event Coming Up’ continues
Humanoid robot motion sequences are difficult to create, especially when they require moving several different degrees of freedom at the same time. More often than not, the robot will lose it's balance and go crashing over. Turns involving twisting the upper body via the limited number of servos in a humanoid robot is really tricky to do well. That's why we were a bit surprised, and impressed, by the slick turn executed by robototakuTEAM's design below.
’Unusual Humanoid Robot Turn (Video)’ continues
In the early days of hobby humanoid robotics even simple tasks, like walking up a couple of stair steps, was a major challenge. The first robots lacked gyros for balance and used servos that weren't specifically designed for robot use. Later, as gyros became more commonplace, the top robot builders were able to accomplish climbing stairs, with varying results, but the servo power left something to be desired.
Now, with the benefit of high power servos and better, easier to use and program, some off-the-shelf humanoid kit robots, like the Kondo KHR-3HV, can conquer the task fairly easily, as Shibata-san with LIGHTFOOT Robotics demonstrated below.
’Humanoid Robot Stair Climbing (Video)’ continues
I wanted to work on a new artbot design using Sketchup on my MacBookPro, but immediately ran into a hangup. Sketchup is the third program I've run into that has problems running under the Mac Lion OSX. Thankfully, the Google Sketchup website (link below) lists all the known issue and suggested work-arounds. Hopefully they will be resolved soon. Otherwise I'll have to power up my old WindDoze system, which I really don't want to do just for this one small project.
RoboGames champion Nick Donaldson seems to live, eat, sleep, and breathe robots. He consistently wins a raft of medals across a wide range of different categories during the annual robot gathering, and has designed all types of robots including LEGOs, multi-legged rescue bots, and even a few that might be difficult to categorize. Now, thanks to almost 10 years of hard work, dedication, and a little luck, it looks like one of Donaldson's cutest robot creations, a robot monkey, just might become the hottest selling robot toy in the US this Christmas.