18 April 2007

Netstorm Activision Old School Online

Many moons ago when 56k dialup was all the rage a new game came out from the guys at activision called netstorm. At the time I remember going to pay my ISP account and the owner slipping me a CD of a game she was playing behind the counter. It was netstorm an online game with shades of tetris (slightly) red alert and warcraft. All rolled into a package that features floating islands, magic spells and leveling by sacrificing the ememy priest's. While not as indepth as say runescape or adventure quest rpg games it's still a blast.
So the object is to harness storm power by building bridges to the geyser's where the power crystals form and consructing workshops and adding new knowledge like rain generators and sun cannons to power and protect your priest . build golems to collect the power in the early levels and ore advanced machines to collect them later on.
When you can incapacitate the enemy priest you can send a golem or other unit to collect him and bring him back to the alter to sacrifice him to the storm furies to gain more knowledge in the multiplayer online games.
These games are run on a main server with battle rings appearing to slot into and fight upto 7 others at the same time, alliences can be made and broken and battles can be declared a draw by all left in play at anytime. The people who can sacrifice the enemy get a choice from a list of new tech to use in the next game.
so head over to the main site and download a copy now. Its been quite in the games and we need a new set of faces to build the islands in the sky. Why not register on thier forum as well to join up with the ladder comp or post images of your games for all to see.

03 April 2007

Recon Drone Hack

rc drone recon droid, robot
Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
this is our medivac chopper hacked into a remote drone, the shell is foam with carbon rod inserts for the boom and landing skids, but was too heavy,only getting to a height of 18 inches/.

29 March 2007

Night Ranger Intro & mod's

Well we decided to get hold of a remote control helicopter for the lab and after much debate ended up with the electric night ranger by Venom Air Corp . Theses little beast's have a single highspeed engine and two micro servos as well as gyro assisted flight and to boot no explosive LIPO batteries to go boom. This little guy runs on a custom nimh cells running at 8.4 volts or 7 1.2 aaa cells i guessing, as its wrapped in black shrink wrap.
The set is "ready" to fly with just a few basic things to do, assuming you know how to fly (we dont).
The power cell needs to be charged and the controller needs AA cells, eight in fact. But these were in the box, (nice venom green branded ones too).
Their is a heap of diffrent blade decals and we advise you use the main rotor stickers as they actually help to keep the blades from getting damaged, we chipped a blade on a cardboard box of all things and the stickers and a bit of black electrical tape had us up and running in no time at all.

The Next thing to do is read the book while the cell is charging, and watch the video of why you need more area then this to fly in ! We have replaced the tail rotor retaining grommet with a piece of longer silicon hose to hold on better and reduce the chance of loosing it. We also resoldered and taped ver the tail rotor motor as we snapped off both cables flying around the back yard and smashing into a window at night ! whichi is why theres no video.
I also built a training frame and removed all the chassis stickers to clean up the look, lees toy, more drone. The last thing we did was to reroute the aerial around the tail of the helicopter to reduce damage and increase the amount of unwund wire. The aerial was getting frayed wrapped around the skids.
We are having hassles getting stable flight so the whole chassis needs to be rebuilt and centered better, this is a matter of undoing the carbon rods that make up the moat of the frames and resetting them with new silicon tube with more of it. We also managed to snap a skid on a hard landing which is now taped and glued so is working fine, but plans are in place to rebuild them (the skids) in carbon fibre square rod like the trainer frame, and i'll most likely build the frame into it as well saving more weight, and balancing it up easier.
ore on the chopper as we learn to fly, then add our 2.4ghz micro cam to the underside for some onboard crashes. i mean flights.

28 March 2007

Terminator robot

Terminator robot
Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
This guy just popped yp in our local hobby store, a full size cast metal robot from the terminator line of robot, well terminators.
dosent do anything, but nice either way.

27 March 2007

lego webcam hacked

lego webcam hacked
Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
This is the lego web camera from the old Vision command system hacked to an adaptor ring made from some pvc fittings, The lens is a 35mm SLR lens from RICOH and features a macro mode as well as a zoom function. This is an ideal starter lens as the macro lets you use it for close up of circuits to read part id numbers so you can reverse enginner the projects for your own evil designs.
The screws on the ring lock into the len's flanges that used to lock it to the camera body.
The screws are on 25-30 degree angles to allow the lens to be slightly moved in and out for ultra fine adjustment of the focal lenth which for this lens was around 2 inches. ( i think ?) been a while since i knocked up the ring adaptor.

Viper from microbric - power hack

For all you viper owners out there looking for a way to add external power to your project so you dont need all those aaa cells , Heres the power mod for the board, just add your own 7-9 volt power supply to the robot, The red wire "no not the red wire !" solders to the switch block terminal as per the photo and the earth bolts into the holes in the board used to hold the battery boxes on, which you dont need now.

22 March 2007

XBR-001 mirco edtion

For those observant people out there, you may have noticed that the photos of the laminated sections seem out os scale to the plans . Well they are, during the mock up I noticed that the body and chassis were out of scale so after a rethink based on other ideas in our little book of hacks and mods. I decided to cut the chassis down from 300 to 250mm for this first run, the body rings are the same size but it means that the height will be lower to the ground reducing the center of gravity as well.
This will mean less rings for the robot at first reducing the cost, but the bigger robot will allow the ame parts to be reused. think of this as a micro chassis that can later be used as a secon equipment bay or even an oversized head.

Latest Sony Robot Hit's The Street

Well since the end of our friend AIBO we have all wondered if sony was going to bring us something new. Well its not the real deal, but lets hope sony releases some of these guys for us to hack, I mean use..

20 March 2007

Went looking for movies and found this little three part film for your pleasure, check out he other parts at youtube ( just click videos by this user

Robot Destruction Systems

So you want to get rid of that Furby or V2 robot and want a fun way o do it ? well how about this. I would love to see a robot flick this switch...

FURBY- The Choice for Terrorist Hit Squad's

Well a few weeks ago i happened to be on a plane heading for Melbourne when I noticed this little bit of infomation that might make you think twice about tha kid and his furby sitting next to you.
The Plane safety pamphlet in the plane had a little photo of furby with a cross though him, so I figured a little bit more investigation was in order, I dont normally read the plane safety stuff, I figure if I just run up and down shouting We are all going to die , then Ill be fine :)
So after looking more closely I was shocked to see that furby isnt allowed to be operated on board aircraft from this company ? What we yet havent worked out is if it;s because the little guy is really a walking time bomb, or if the annoying litle guy makes you all want to open the doors and jump out to get away... So dont take furbys on planrse or the Men in black are likely to haul your ass off to the little back room and probe your furby for contraband.
Poor guy, as if his life wasnt hard enough, with not having legs to run away from those little terrorists, i mean preschoolers. Happy hacking .

LEGO NXT Open Software Beta

Gostai has released it URBI for NXT beta for puplic use and has started a forum and support center at the site. The screenshots look good and I'm downloading it (3.6mb)in prep for my NXT set. I know I wasnt going to get more lego, but hey Its worth it just for the built in bluetooth controller. While i havent tried out the package yet, any free robot software is good robot software, so check it out

18 March 2007

Battery Hacking #1

Ok so you need some watch batteries in a hurry and cant find any on the shelf? well if its the smaller thin ones your looking for then grap one of the small 12 volt batteries that go in some cameras, and my multimeter :P, so anyway now the part that comes with a disclaimer, (dont do this unless your sure, cells are dangerous if they rupture) get a file and file the end cap from the positve terminal untill it comes out , you may need to use a set of pliers or a screwdriver to lever it out once the metel case is open. Now tip up the power cell and if you have to, pry the edge where the metel case has a seam, untill the eight cells in the battery fall out.
So now you have some power for your next led throwie project which can be found over at instructables.com. Or if you need to reverse this to get a 12volt cell for the camera dlash that went flat, well grap a cheap set of watch batt's and tape eight together to form the stacked cell, then place a small magnet from a old cd drive to the end as a positive terminla and there you go,
Remember, dont play with cells that rupture or show signs of swelling, and please wear safety glasses for this one.

17 March 2007

Wow Wee, Old RoboRaptor Hacks Back

The old raptor hacksite is up online at my good friends site at http://www.evosapien.com/
And includes those sort after goodies including the silent start up and bigger bite.
While your there , make sure to check out the other hackers pages, including the great v2 hacker canadian knitsu.
So head over to our raptor site at evosapien and get those old dusty raptors out of the cupboard.
now you have the perfect excuse to hack that raptor, just dont tell the better half what your up to .
bring on the robot army.

16 March 2007

Robot Fighters Animation

Found this video over at youtube, its not bad for both animation and robot design. THese guys look cool, the future of the robo one and bipeds in general ? we hope so.

Xbr Merchandise

Ive got a few Shirts up with the xbr robot on them at the gallery at zazzle, check out the xbr gallery at zazzle

15 March 2007

3D images without the Glasses

I saw this used on some sites around the net and the idea to apply it to the nasa rover images hit me, so here it is , my first mars rover animated stereogram.

14 March 2007

Optical Illusion #1

please wait large animation file - loading frames

watch the center for a while, defocus, destress, relax and wait for the world... yeah right, its just an optical illusion, it isn't aportal to another dimension

Game background (menu)

Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
Here's a sample for a menu background thzts a bit like concrete

12 March 2007

XBR online

Ive decided to finally commit to building a full scale robot, but rather then just do it and see how it turns out, ive decided to do a fair amount of design and prototyping in CAD before i start building.
Primarily the design is just the chassis and body , but the idea is to create a robot that can be used for a range of uses by changing a few parts around.
The robot is not a design for the lab or workbench, but rather a real world bot based on the four wheel skid steer rovoer designs that are all over the net.
The differance with this robot design is that it isnt some kit that looks like its a high school project, but rather a body that looks good and resembles robots from popular culture, the buyer would then insert his own brains and sensors to do what they want it to.
Ideally the robot will have power and drive systems installed before delivery, but parts for just the chassis could be supplied, and even an open source project letting people download plans and build their own prototype chassis, could be provided.
We are just going to run with this until it works, or we fall over, but we will be giving this the best go at success that we can muster, in terms of time effort and what little money we can scrape together.
The project has spawned a blog that will document the design of the robot shell, and hopefully instill a desire in other robot enthuthist's to build better robot bodies to but their robot projects into. The link is http://xbr-online.blogspot.com/

06 March 2007

3..2..1..SUMO !!

Heres a quick little battle between two ai2 robots from microbric, these little beast's come programmed with several modes including this one.
Ill try to get the viper sumo and the ai2 bots fighting each other soon as well.
But in the mean time grab your giant foam finger and cheer for your favorite team.. RED or....RED.., and yes, in the second video there is a winner. ;)
Catch you when the sparks stop flying...

05 March 2007

Why we need to teach Robotics

WEll news in Australia for the workers at the Holden plant is grim, with over 600 workers given the heave ho in favor of...you guessed it ROBOTS.. I did a google search on the holden plant and was able to locate a company called sage automation that way back in 2003 was awarded a contract by major german firm,Eisenmann. THis multi million dollar contract was part of a 5 year plan to upgrade the car plants in around the world, including ..you guesses it, the Eliabeth facility in South Australia.
So with companys like Sage employing more people to design and construct robot systems for manufactoring, then we realise that now is the time for schools to start training our kids in the Basic's (pun intended) of control systems and basic mechanical and pnuematic systems so they can get good jobs servicing the robot workers and even designing them.
The Robot revolution is going to have some casultity's so nows the time to cut your losses and turn to the dark side...long live the robots...

the image is the elizabeth plant in circa 1965 ? not a robot in sight


Well the much awaited release of the new advanced firmware and gui has arrived with the guys over at microbric just releasing the links to get your version today.
You will need to follow the directions to update your ai2, but once you have it will give you a robot brain with all the bells and whistles stripped out leaving you with nearly double the avaliable memory for your own "take over the world " code...
So what can you expect, well at first glance you might think there isnt much new.
(Apart from the lack of a draw to lcd command icon..)
But there is ...Firstly the most obvious is the ability to build your own robot with out having to conform to the basic configuration. Now you can add a second set of motors or more sensors, including your own homebrewed ones, as now you have accsess to more control with addtional little features unlocking in the bricworks software.
One of the most powerful unlock's is the ability to control the if and loop statements with recevied serial data. This means you can set up the ai2 to receive PC based controls fairly easily if you have a grasp on sending ascii via a telnet program to the com port your using, or for letting the viper talk directly via cable to its younger sibling.
Some of the other little things you might notice is the ability to finally use the analogue in, which because you couldnt rearrange modules couldnt be used.
Now it allows reading up to 2volts in 1024 20mv steps, so finally we can add a host of analogue based sensors on to the bot, including variable resistors, temprature sensors and even windspeed if you want to, maybe you could make a handheld weather station ?
or a remote locking system for your car or bike.
The ideas are endless.
But if you missed out on the ai2 , then you can still buy the big brother from microbric or dick smith electronics.
There is also several Overseas stockist's so check out the net HERE

03 March 2007

Hacking Web Camera's To 35mm Lens

Of all places to find this hack, I found it at a UFO watching site.
Basiclly if you take the lens off your camera and expose the ccd you can take a standard 35mm film lens and using some pvc pipe and some glue and screws you can construct a decent camera for watching the back yard.
You will need to work out the focal length to get it focused and the easiest way to do this is with a torch and a tape measure.
First set your lens to a know length on the lens, say 1meter , then you need to place the lens 1 m away from the torch so the light shines though it. Now take a sheet of paper and place it behind the lens, you should see the torch light on the paper, move the paper in and out untill the light is focused ( all be it on a miniture scale) on the paper.
This is the distance the webcam screen needs to be for it to be in focus.
Work out a system to hold it in place and then plug it in.
I know this is a basic tutorial but as all lens are diffrent you will have to muck around with the right way to mount the components together.
happy hacking..The image is streamed from my camera when it's up and running.
refresh to see new pic, updated every 2 mins or so.

01 March 2007

RobospienV2 Revisted

I have decided to go through some of the earlier hacks and mods for those that missed it.
Ive had a lot of interest in some of the older robosapien and roboraptor hacks, so ill start with a quick over veiw of the v2 cover removel.
First things first, lay the robot down with the arms by its side in the neutral postion.
locate all the screws in the hips and body section, making sure not to overlook the shoulders. remove the screws and place them to the side.
The front will come off first, then you will need to remove the screws inside near the shoulders to remove the back cover, the motor control board is located on the back, at the top of this photo.
Ill go into more detail about the v2 later, includeing a basic head hack that takes under twenty minutes and gives you a crazy new robot....stay tuned.

25 February 2007


Well Ive been net surfing looking for the dirt on the future of the robocup in Australia , with educational experience no longer selling Lego products.
And the latest news shows a major shuffle in the
Firstly NSW company Modern Teaching Aids has taken on the role of suppling LEGO to Australian schools and as of today still seem to have a distinct lack of Lego content on thier site, unlike edex ( the old supplier who has seen the light and gone to microbric) who displayed lots of infomation for the event and also ran mail lists for schools to keep in touch.
With the release of the new NXT from Lego it will be of interest to see if it is included in the robocup events.
The robocup soccer event here in Australia has seen some other micro controllers used but in the rest of the events , they seem to be stuck on uing the RCX, while this may level the playing field in some respects, I think that for the futre of our kids we need to look at more program orientated robots with more control and function, Ok lego has a large range of extra peograms on offer from third partys including great text based editors , but its still only useful for the lego range of products.
The code cant be used later in real micro processor projects made from scratch, so something like the viper from microbric which uses widely avaliable parts and chips is ideal , as the code written in BASIC can later be used directly or indirectly to program real robots and system control units in factories ,toys and heaps more.
I would have like to have seen the robocup board go for broke and allow all types of small robot kits like LEGO, Microbric viper and Ai2 as well as some of the smaller sumo platforms around from overseas , lynxmotion or solarbotics are great places to start.
So it looks like the robot revolution is being fought on the Australian front for the time being and the jury is out on whos going to hold the fort when the smoke clears from the exploding diodes...
score so far... LEVEL PEGGING from where im standing, but ask me again in a few weeks..
things have a habit of changing

24 February 2007

Microbric Ai2 Review

Well I.ve managed to secure a Ai2 from the microbric range of robots and am impressed with what ive found so far.
To but this little critter into perspective ill relate it to the i-bot that first came out before the viper hit the shelves.
The i-bot, while cute and fun to play with lacked a few things to realy bring it up to speed for the school or hobby enviroment. First thing it lacked was a cable to program it. While you could program your own stuff using the GUI it required you to hold the bot up to the screen to read the flashing like a sort of barcode scanner, With the new LCD screenson computers , the IR receiver is having trouble seeing the difference enough.
The ai2 also uses the screen flash technique as well, but an optional cable is avaliable to program the robot, but at the moment the advanced firmware is bieng finalised to allow reprogramming via the usb to serial cable which is actually a aftermarket nokia type adaptor. (this means no serial port on the board reducing footprint, weight and cost.) so we have to wait for the cable to work...
The other main differnce you will see when you play with the bot is the addition of the LCD screen to the top of the robot, sometimes the screen may fade a little, this is due to it lifting slightly when you knock or handle it too much , and a little push around the edges to make sure its tight resaults in a readable screen again.
The screen is backlit for night time use and is a dot matrix screen so there is no constraints to drawing to it later on with the new software.
It would be good to see some open source projects to allow reprogramming of the robot with a text type editor rather then the icon based GUI but that dosnt look likely at the moment.
The robot comes preprogramed with some routines so some of the onboard memory is already used for that, so any user programs will have limited acsess to memory.
The advanced version might address this but then you loose the inbuilt programs if they do.
The other major changes to the modules include (apart from the obvious red color!) new allen key head (hex bolt) screws for the bric attachments instead of star screws, this makes tightening and inserting them really easy. New planetry gear boxs resaulting in a rim driven wheel assembly that also features a new motor control circuit which will work with new programing on the viper.(not the same as the viper motors)
The other change is the new sound module which is a flat square package meaning it will fit into project cases etc easier.
The power is via 3 aaa cells and the robot travels around about 1 in 5 secs ( ill check this later with a clock :P ).
The onboard programs let it function as an stay in line robot, bump robot, remote control robot and sumo robot ...oh and throw in a line tracker as well.
So even with out the newer software, the guys at microbric made sure it was still a barrell of fun from the first time you boot it up...pity they still insist on adding the south aussie fotty team tunes to it..How about the eagles or the dockers next time ..LOL,
So if your after a cute little robot keep your eyes peeled as soon microbric should have them out at educational experience and most likley at thier site.
If your after something a little more matured, try the viper with a text based BASIC programing enviroment it makes short work of preparing a micro processor based prototype or one off platform.
The microbric robot ranks have grown , and this little android has gone along way to competing with the bigger kits, like LEGO NXT or VEX.
so after my first few hours i would have to rate it about 4 out of 5 with the biggest problem being the wait for the new firmware, I cant wait to get into it and write some code.
An improvement over the I-bot for sure.

23 February 2007

Walking with the T-Rex

Ok so the photo isnt a T-rex but it is three raptors eating some poor dinosaur. Anyway back to the T-Rex, this video at youtube was filmed at the perth shows so you still get to see what i saw, even with my camera breakdown.
So sit back and excuse the audio distortion, it really is loud during the show.

Heres another from one of the earlier shows in the eastern states.

VOODO RIG- walk the dinosaur

Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
Ths is the control rig nicknamed the (voodoo rig) for the main control of all the neck body movement and tail movement for the dinosaurs. This one was for the larger Brachiosaurus and requires two hands to use. The black handle you see is for the tail movement and the signals from the control are processed and use a system based on can bus and wifi systems to send the signal to the robots.
, this unit had over 10 DOF to control the robot, and that didnt included the walking routines which are controlled onboard.
theres more photos at flickr, just click the image and check out my photostream.
Unfortunately my camera went flat ( bad batch of batteries - i had 5 sets from the same pack and all only took 3 or phots and went flat. doh !)
but I will be getting some more images from the adelaide show soon.
The show is loud, very loud so leave the babies ( under preschool ) at home or you may end up with a crying child. If you get the chance to get a ticket , try to get one for any show bar the last night, as earlier shows sometimes feature back stage tours after the show.
I went to the last show but unfortunatly due to time constraints with the next show, the tear down had begun so patrons were barred from staying to have a look.
I have heard rumors that a second batch of dinosaur's will be built to facilitate more world wide shows. who knows with this much work going on they may need to create them in a new workshop to get the room.
So stay tuned over the next few months as I track the show around Australia and try to get someone backstage in melbourne for more infomation and insider photos.
The dinosaurs are back and look set to just keep growing.

20 February 2007

Live Robot Hacking -(raptor)

So after ten days in downtown Drouin taking in the sunshine I was just starting to think I had gone the whole holiday without one robot hack to be seen..When low and behold on a quick trip to Marks mates brothers place (we will call him Brad for agument sake).
So anyway the story so far is one unhacked rasptor with the novelty worn off. (editor note-Raptors look really ugly with the novelty worn off them, trust me.) and one robophobic wife who runs when "brad" boots the raptor up. and one sprocket2cog with a few hours to kill before the plane takes off.
end result? Well we started at the bbeginning, a quick trip down the leg had the screws out and the leg inside exsposed so the kids and "Brad" could see what was inside. Next out with the ears and mouth screws and a few minutes later we were well into the mouth hack for the raptor.
(and all still with the batteries in.)
So as time was running out we sat down for a brain session on the ins and outs of the potential for hacking and jacking and screwed her back together.. I left happy knowing one more raptor can bite little kids better and brad was happy for the fact that
happy hacking "brad", now you just have to name it.


Ok this may not be what you expect from me. but hey its two of the best things a man could want....A really pretty woman and a humanoid biped robot...so when I stumbled upon this image over at www.willmurai.com.
I couldnt help but link you over to his gallery to see more of his art.
Great illustrator worth a look.

18 February 2007

New Overlay System 4 Google Earth

After some flying around the "gearth" and downloading some of the overlays from google hacks and the community forums , I noticed a distincted lack of any extra finishing touches to the overlays bieng used. So heres my first attempt at a console style web cam viewer projected on the perth river.
Details include the main image, weather details and some other little bits you need to download to see.
so head over to the forum HERE to get the latest release addons for your gearth experiance .

17 February 2007

New Google Earth Layer

Well ive been introduced to the world of google earth and as always in a attempt to give something back ive uploaded a layer set for current cloud and lightning strike data for australia as can be seen in the image.
The weather updates daily and the lightning strikes are weekly totals for the region.
Google earth hacks will be hosting it soon once it pass's approval.


Realtime Page Avatar system

So you wish you could see whos on that site your visting realtime ? not just as a log on a site survey? Well download this little plugin and program that adds realtime user avatars that are visting your site, now this dosnt show everyone on the net as a person, it only shoes other zweitgeist users on that page.
Chat ballons and avatar actions like waving and dancing allow interaction on a somewhat basic level. Meet new friends or see when friends or family are at your site or viewing the net as a tour in a virtual group.
goto http://portal.zweitgeist.com/
dowload the program and firefox extension and go avatar hunting. there isnt many out there yet. so get more avatars out on the web people..
and lets try for more avatars like robots and cars etc.
cant wait to see the hacks this app gets chopped up with ..more functions would be good as well.

15 February 2007

BRIC WARS Lego and Microbric in schools

Microbric the South Australian based company has released notices on it's web site stating that their products will be sold though Australian supplier to the educational sector, Educational Experience. This led me over to Edex to see what products may be on offer. But low and behold There wasnt any microbrics to be found...But what was even stranger was that the Lego range of RCX and other such goodies was no longer there..the plot thickens.
So it seems that there may a coup coming up in the robocup world soon.
Edex (educational experience) is the main supplier to schools of robot components to schools for the robocup challenge that is run state wide.
Teams used to build lego robots, but now it seems a transition is inevitable towards a full micro proccessor centered enviroment with a curriculim to suit.
Legos attack force consist's of the NXT bluetooth equipped controller with its sound and color sensors standard ( none yet for microbric) so for building 3d models of walkers and such The choice of lego bricks leads the way.
But if you want to build a teat bed for a control system for real world deployment. go the viper every time.
After all 8 bit operating systems still run in large numbers of system critical applications from health and saftey or car and factory control systems, hese single chip computrs are running the smaller real world systems we take for granted, this is the embedded tech robotics will be based around for the near future, tried and tested in the real world , not the school yard.

12 February 2007

Dust ferrerts and bunnies

Dust ferrert
Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
Dont let your laptop's heatpipe cooling get like this or 10 minutes of hard gaming or graphics rendering just overheats the cpu.
The laptop gets a service while on holiday.

miniRobot on Flickr

Originally uploaded by andybone.
And you thought i hacked up robots, some guy has taken half this robets skin off. poor bot. forced to stand half naked in front of us carbon life forms...

11 February 2007

just above the clouds

just above the clouds
Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
I flew into melbourne yesterday so here is a photo from the flight.

08 February 2007


Originally uploaded by sprocket2cog.
One of my mums puppies, bouncer take's riding lessons.
Yes she is only a puppie, about 8-9 mths here.
Old english sheepdogs arent small animals.
there is more of the family at flicka, including her brother and dad, tiga and duke.

05 February 2007


Ive just knocked up a relay prototype for the RC car ive got and its working fine, now just to wire the connectors to the car for it and it should allow some basic control over the speed of the robot once its finished. THe relay is buffered from the viper with a 1kohm resister feeding a pn2222 transistor which in turn feeds power (5v) to the relay coil. three pins on the front edge of the board are the common and open closed terminals, only two will be utilised in this project


The guys over at slashdot posted a link to this video, It's not the best editing in my humble opinion but you get the idea, WE had better not let the rest of our bots see this one or they may start harbouring some contempt for us petty human's.
Thanks to robot2407 for posting this ad from GM.
played during the superbowl this year so it cost them way to much money to show...
anyway enjoy.

VIPER 2 RC CAR update

WEll Ive been busy today building a 9v voltage regulator for the 12 volt car and adding it and the viper to the car.
Ive also added the harness to the controller ready to build an interface board.
This will use standard pn2222 transistors to interface the viper to the control lines on the transmitter.
Ill have to add a relay board to interrupt the motor power to create PWM control as at the moment it has two speeds, off and oh my god its coming to get me..
Anyway hopefully by the weekend ill have the beast running on viper control ready to start programming and adding sensors.
Im removing the door opening motor as it takes up heaps of room and weight and would only tie up one more viper output.
DSE has the regulator kits for $5 at the moment so grap one and convert your viper to 12 volts.

04 February 2007


If you live in Australia and can get into the Dick smith stores you can grab a viper pack and one each of the add on packs (yep all three) for the price of just the viper kit.
Thats nearly $380 worth of product for just $199 !
Thats right get in on the action now and start building your viper sumo or 4wd robot today. (well tommorow as the stores are shut here today.) Head over to DSE to check it out but this is an in store option only, sorry guys no overseas orders :(
goto DES and type in k1800b in the search box to locate the page.
Dse requires you to log into the site to view items now as too many people were linking to the images on site.


Heres the inside of the 1:6 scale RC car im hacking, As you can see the wiring is a bit of a mess so first on the agenda is a rewire of all the remote systems with a new harness and breakout board that can be unpluged in a few seconds to facilitate new system installs, The control board will be rehoused in a weather proof box and ports for the controller and lights etc added. Basicly the whole thing needs a rebuild from the ground up starting with reinforcing the chassis and closing up the wheel arches better. Right though to new digital proportional steering and pwm power for speed control.
The viper I have will take over control of most functions, Ill hack it straight to the controller so It can control the car from a distance if need be.I have removed all the extra parts from the shell including the cockpit and door trims leaving more room inside for systems.
more coming later.

02 February 2007


Well we all know that red goes faster, and it looks like the boys in the lab at MICROBRIC have caught on to the idea. They have released the new addition to the family with the Ai2 kit form robot being sold as parts with South Australian Newspapers.
We may see it filter down to the online shop or even e-bay in the future so keep your eyes peeled if your looking for one.
So what can we expect from the little critter?
Well with out getting my hands on it I can only go on the pics and info around the net.
But so far indicators are good that you can have some fun with it.
It shouldn't be too hard for example to get the Ai2 talking to the viper so some hunter prey scenerio's look set for the arena.
On board LCD screen allows easy reprogramming of IR commands for a remote control robot and even this alone makes it a great alternative to a remote control car.
The motors and wheels look interesting and the new software with the ability to upload to the robot via a USB cable looks like the way to go.
Now we need a GUI like this for the viper system and a USB interface for that as well.
An on board LCD on the Viper Mk2 would be nice as well.
But back to the Ai2, The parts are all red and should be compatible with the viper and I-bot.
The new color will make it easy to indicate different LED's by denoting the color of the part. Red or Blue.
So keep watching the post's ill keep you updated on this one too.


Today I decided to go and buy a cheap remote control car to hack and as it happened i found a realy good deal I couldnt pass up.
This 1:6 scale ferrari styled car cost me $39.00 aud deduced from $109 over the past few months.
(read right place, right time) so now I have a large scale RC car to hack.
I've already peeked inside and am a little bit dissapointed it dosent use a standard servo setup so it will be a little harder to hack into.
Im going to play with it first then do some much needed weigth reduction.
It features a MP3 interface for music on the go and a 12volt power source.
The doors can also be open by remote which may come in handy for something else lateron. like a weopons system release or camera shutter control.
A ufll motor and steering servo upgrade is on the cards for a later project but ill hack the sensors and viper to it first.
might just make a new chassis to take the shell too with aluminium sheet and bigger batteries and motors... hmm so much potential.

SNEAK PEEK Walking with dinosaurs

Originally uploaded by Andrew Scott.
While browsing around Flikr today I came across this photo stream. not a great deal of iages but a few of the WWD show in brisbane.
Thanks Andrew for uploading these images for us to see.

01 February 2007

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS latest perth dates

As of today all the vip seating up until the last show on the 22nd of feb are sold out.
Theres normal seating left before then if you want to sit further back.
I managed to secure a vip seat on the last night so the show should be a good one.
I will be hanging around as long as possible after the show to see if I can get into the Dino's holding pens for a quick look. But if not not just being there is going to be a buzz.

The latest dates in perth have been extended and now run from the 14th to the 22nd of fed with the 19th of feb being a day off (no show) The shows are all on at 8pm at the burswood dome on great eastern highway.
prices range from around $40 concession to $100 for VIP.

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30 January 2007

Walking with Dinosaurs (video)

I located this preview of what we can expect to see at the WWD stage spectacluar.
And first impressions are that its going to be the biggest thing since well, since we first saw CGI films that no longer looked fake. this fusion of robotics and puppetry, mixed with large helpings of movie and stage show style. And your sure its going to be a rollar coaster of a ride.

For those technophiles out there. Heres what Ive been able to glean from pics videos and articles on rhese beasts.

The smaller raptors seem to be a puppeter inside the legs and body with extra control via teleoperated robotics.
The larger robots use a wheeled sled mounted between the legs to give the animals support.
The sleds form a t shape under the tail to facilitate tail movement , without placing puplic safety at risk. These robots are designed not to fall over, and the main operator is mounted inside the robot for ultimate control and safety.
The finish on these robots is first class with painting at a level seen on any major film lot.
The sheer size of these beats is enough to make you think twice about what the future of robots will be, these robots feautered in the video are two of the smaller ones.
The Teleoperation system has been nick named "The Voodo Rig" and actually is a really good concept for controling your own humanoid robots or walking spider type bots.
The system employs a small copy of the robot liked no doubt by a wireless system, ( i have yet to verify this) and the tail and head of the robots is controlled by a puppeter in the stands using the movements of the sled driver as his key.
Like any good performance the cast has to perform in harmony and this production is no exception.
Other opertaors control the eyes and mouth from remote control.
The robots are fabric layered over a foam core, im guessing that there is a aluminium chassis in the larger ones to hold all the systems but it may even be largely steel.
Some obvious faults in the movement of the raptor seem evident from the video, but in the flight of the show you would be pressed to see them.
The buggest thing i noticed from the video ( hey im a hacker, give me a break for picking on them!) is the way the tail articulates off the base of the body. The tail seems to hang to one side and dosent feature flluid side to side motion. This may be due to the fact that the system wasnt installed yet in this demonstration, or isnt implemented. It also seems to move from the second joit from the body with a very decernable crease detracting from the overall aestics slightly.
The roborapto tail hack i did tried to adress the issue of building an articulated tail that moves well enough to at least afford the illusion that it would have been used for stabilty during turns and running. This raptor seems to have a tail that dosnt really know what the head is doing.
Again it may be that a lack of practice by the operators is the reason. But hey im going to see them for sure and ill let you know anyother cool stuff as I find out more.
With only two weeks untill the show opens in perth (my home town) its not many sleeps till santa comes early for this robophile.


Heres a little video of a robot leg test, add some funny music and you have a great youtube video.


"If you only learn one thing about robotics, this is it!"
Ok, big call I know, so i'll tell you why. Beeen to the shops lately? Seen all thos cool toys and gadgets sitting on the shelves in Electronic stores or retail chains ? Well they are all robot parts waiting to be hacked in to that all terrain programable tele-operated robot with enough features to win a science fair or take on the local Battle bot and win.And all it needs is a bit of skill in Interfacing these systems together. Take for example one of my favourite robot controllers at the moment. The viper from microbric. This Basicmicro PIC based system is easy to program and easy to interface to, with predrilled gold plated though holes and a serial port that opens you up to the world of BASIC programing. But at the moment there isnt alot of sensors for it that allow more advanced envirometal sensing like temprature, sound, compass, or long range control via radio link. So what do you do ? Well first thing is to go to these shops and buy a compass or radio control system and a wireless camera add a remote control car and Then the rest is easy. Its just a matter of soldering a few wires together and building one or two circut boards if you start to get more advanced. And then depending if you you need to program your new robot (yes some dont need programming to work.) it's just a matter of adding some batteries. INTERFACING SUBSECTION OVERVEIW Identifing Systems and techniques to interface various systems is the most important step you need to take in understanding the processes and steps you will need to undertaker. This will greatly reduce your build time and reduce your overheads dramaticlly, increasing the fun factor and giving you more resources to complete those other robots you want to make. So the following list will help to identify these systems and help you get started.

-sensor systems
-control systems
-power systems and motor control

-exsisting software
-write your own
-code-free robots

-drive systems
-effectors and weapons
-gas and fluid systems
-chassis and wheel designing


News channels everywhere have picked up on the news of online video hosting services plans to start returning profits to their contributers.
This may be due to the fact that its a video based service and it relates to television very well.
Or some quirk of the internet which if you have been around for a while, have sure to have seen it before.
Maybe the transferal of google video to a GUI with hosting on YouTube has something to do with it with the power of the big boys behind it, its easy to get it seen on major channels.
So what can we hope for from all this ?
An increase in flow in people coming to YouTube with the intention of buying or selling videos, after all some of the quickest rises to fame in the past few months have been internet boosted.

The catch Ads on your page with money paid per view, well Im all for it and can see people making some real money here !!
Gee the internet is becoming an artist paradise isnt it ?
Long live digital media, the world of paper is really dieing..
its just coming at us from the most unlikly places.

Soon we will be going to be surrounded by new stars from the weirdest placse and doing some wierd things...all in the name of pop culture

29 January 2007


If a life size T-rex was standing in front of you clawing the ground and growling just before if bared its teeth and edged towards you wouldnt you want to run away ?
Well im hoping that when I get to see them I can get up really close and see inside...
Yep The walking with dinosaur's stage show started several days ago in Sydney and these giant aussie built robots are so real it 's frightening.
Ill keep you posted about dates and such as i get more info but they are set for a world wide tour that will take in the USA then Asia and Europe. Tickits are looking to be just under $100 aud but check your local ticket vendors for details of shows near you.
Im going to get tickets for this one so ill be writing more about these monsters soon
anyway the offical site for the show is HERE
The image is from the site and shows the 15 robots and thier sizes that are in the show.
go to and check it out , you can even buy merchandise at a later date with a coming soon link on the site to products forthcoming.


overveiw; The raptor is based around a bipedal weight transfer mechanisim.The legs both have thier own motors. The motors, located on the inside of each hip, are mounted inside the forward/rear torso movement assembly,this assembly is spring mounted and is responsable for the raptors rocking motion. The motor that controls this system is located between the leg motors but slighty lower. The neck rotation motor is mounted vertically at the front and also controls the bite via a cam and cable setup.