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.


Single arc vertebre design #2.2 alpha

27 January 2007


One of the earlier hacks to the v2 mini, new paint and weight reduction !!

Real robots eat code....
now that was basic wasnt it..



Well today my son came running out of the lounge with a look of absolute shock across his face

" you know that ring of light on the xbox dad? well now its nearly all red and the 360 dosent work..."
Well now I had the same look.
Anyway to cut a long story short after 10 minutes of reseting unplugging and just plain quessing about the xboxs hurry to switch out to the error mode was getting me worried...
And then it happened..The whole power grid in the house shut down without warning and my first quess was the faulty 360 had tripped the circuit breakers, but when i open the meter box all the breakers were set.
It just got weirder. Now we had no power in the house and a lack of an obvious fault. so my best quess was an earth leakage somewhere near the meterbox as the safety cut out wasnt tripping even on manual testing.
Hmmm, time to call a electrician I know to open up the power distribution board (need a license for this one guys :)
And quess what we found? a burnt out 2,5 mm earth return from the circut breaker. and to top it off , the 2,5mm wire should have had a core of at least 4mm !!!
scummy house builder!
So with a new 4mm wire in place the xbox was running fine .
So if you see three red lights on your xbox and no signs of why. maybe , just maybe its just a ghost in the machine, the real problem is in the walls of your house...scary thought.
(*this article is not intended to replace the advice of a licenced electrician for your home wiring needs)

26 January 2007


My latest toy is a N73 phone from nokia, While a search around the net will reveal its strengths and weakness's , its not why I got this one. In fact this time around I decided to just go to my local phone shop and see what was actually on the shelf instead of waiting around like I had to to get the 9500. So i decided on two styles or functions as my main indicators and went from there.
First ones I wanted to look into were the slide out phones , the smallest ones i could find. But these all tended to be a bit flimsy when oped and I wounder how long it will last before the connections break between the two halves.
So i went with plan B, the biggest megapixel camera they had in stock.
It was a choice between a nokia and some other brand that eludes me at the moment so it must have been one i didnt like...
So i grabbed the nokia with the 3.2 megapixel camera and it had a slide cover on the camera so I sort of got what i wanted..LOL.
Not bad as a media phone with miniSD slot LED flash ,an actual mechanical shutter and variousgallery views and a slieshow option with sound !!
flash light 1 and a radio with visual radio support help flesh out the oh so n-gage (lament) os.
In fact this is the same OS just release 3 not 1 as the gage was.
The 6600 had v2 and now with v3 (s60v3) there is two releases ( not upates) but a normal and music player edtion .
Mines the normal one but its still cool to mess with.
Now i have a camera with me ill try to get into mobile blogging for real, actually uploading from events and the like from the site with major write ups to follow when I get home.
Anyway nuff ranting..
old robots dont die...they just


Quick idea for bibep leg DOF


While surfing the net for new robot ideas, I came upon this little beast willing ready and able to kick the gears in on a few of our other robot mates..
I know its just a brain, but think of it as the start of a great thing. And what better place to start looking then at some of its features,
INNOVATION FIRST-frc robot controller

16 Digital user set I/O ports
16 Analogue I/O ports
12 standard pwm outputs & 4 high speed outputs
4 led outputs for team colors
2 x PICmicro processor's onboard
Reset pins and Program pins
Serial port interface

So while its high cost and lack of supplied software might be off putting, the host of ports and the radio modem does make it a good option for controlling a ROBO ! robot or maybe some sensor riddled rover ready to take on the backyard, or a war zone, the choice is yours...
And with two ( yes that is TWO) PIC chips on board running the show , you can be sure that its up to the task of taking over the world and becoming a general in the Robot Army.

So now its got me thinking of grabbing a second viper soon and piggypacking it to the one I have here, Im thinking of a different approach to using two brains, instead of giving one over to the robots systems and reserving the other for user input, Im thinking of linking the two together like halves in a brain.
(follow up article on the ideas behind the brain 2 brain link up will follow soon).


Well for those that know me you might have noticed that i've been offline for some months and alot has happened in the robot world (cant anybody save us?).

Ive had some hassles getting the old blog active (lost passwords etc) so in the spirt of change I decided to update the blog and give it a new feel.

The old blog is still up but i will start moving some content over if it fits in to the new content, which will include ideas reviews hack and other robot related articles.

So add the new bookmark to your browser and come along for the ride.