Wednesday, September 29, 2004

MotorMind B received

HobbyEngineering (

MMB $29

also, Unipolar stepper $12
two servo's $15 each, already hacked for continuous spin

also recieved impressive Parallax catalog - many impressive learning modules

MotorMind B received

HobbyEngineering (

MMB $29

also, Unipolar stepper $12
two servo's $15 each, already hacked for continuous spin

also recieved impressive Parallax catalog - many impressive learning modules

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Discovered & Blogging

One of my frustrations in pursuing my (new) robot hobby is the lack of a network to help guide me. Given that I've *no* background in electronics I need a lot of help. Till now I've hit the usenet groups and other robot sites.

However, the idea of keeping track of my progress and having others (some experts I hope) looking over my shoulder is great. Maybe they'll save me some time.

Also I've already picked up some excellent ideas reading other blogs @

At some point I hope I'll know enough to help other newbs.

Gary Mize

Friday, September 24, 2004

Ratshack Racer - stepper decoded!

Found a piece in The Robot Builder's Bonanza ( an Excellent book) which explained how to use VOM to decode 8 wires. Confirmed I've a unipolar stepper motor. Also determined I'll need another chip to interface to Oopic (damn!). Even then I'm not sure I know the correct phase order .. anyway that's progress.

This Racer will make an awsom bot .. someday.

H-Bridge for ARobot

Discovered a L293 bridge chip in an box of junk parts I had. What a wonder.

Anyway decided to set it up to use on ARobot body so I can replace Stamp board with the OOBoard.

Had to spend a *LOT* of time looking over the web to find doc on the L293 and also to determine how to pin into the OOBoard ..

Breadboarded all onto OOBoard .. haven't pull the trigger yet .. lottsa wire .. it'll be a miracle if it works .. if it does than I can try all these neat sensors I've got .

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Arobot Basic Stamp II Board

I keep getting distracted. Spent some time looking over the Basic Stamp board that came with the Arobot that I've been robbing for parts on my Oopic projects.

Ordered some Stamp books from Amazon assuming I get time to play with this board. I figure that many of the Stamp projects should translate to Oopic ... another thing on my long list of backlog projects.

Monday, September 20, 2004

oServoSP1 vs oServoX on Hacked Servo's

Although most of the code I see working with hacked servo's seems to use the oServoX object I discovered the oServoSP1 object is designed specifically for hacked servos.

Used this object to calibrate the two Rogue Servo's .. pretty interesting results .. had to build a table with using a range of .center values to try and get them both to reverse at .value=0. Same .value don't result in same reverse speed .. but they do in forward ....

Need to try this with other hacked servo's to see if I get the same result.

Guess this is a process everyone goes through in using two servo's to for independent drive.

Received Accelerometer kit

Its an Analog ADXL202E ordered from ( pretty useful site).

Now I've got to figure out how to solder onto this iddy-bitty-tiny board. Haven't tried it yet .. got to build up my courage first and am hoping I find something on the web that shows me a smart way to do it without frying this little board.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Defining I/O Robot Use ...

Spent time trying to map all the sensor I/O I plan to use (Servos, IR Ranger, US Ranger, Compass ... etc)

Building a table showing what type and number of I/O (dig/Anal) each requires .. to see if I can sqz 'em all in. Looks ok .. now just have to get a bot working to begin testing all this neat stuff out.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Hacking my son's racecar - Radio Shack

Took my son's racecar apart - one that he lost interest in ( I hope) to see if it might work for bot body. Removed circuit board and am left with what appears to be a stepper motor on steering ( 8 wires) and motor driving rear wheels. The thing has a very neat suspension system. It'll make a great body if I can hack into it .. tow big challenges;

1) Decode the 8 wires to stepper - how to interface to the OOBoard
2) Find H-Bridge on the old board - remove it along with the power transistors ..

It's amazing how many projects I've got running in parallel .. well .. guess I'll put this on the side .. not ready for the stepper challenge yet ..

Received Sharp GP2D12 IR Ranger - Works!

Used OOBoard successfully with IR Ranger and LCD .. tested after adjusting .center to 20. Range appears linear and accurate between 6" to 24".

Now if I just had a bot to test it on .. on well ..

Friday, September 17, 2004

Received Optrex LCD Module - Works!

Received Optrex LCD module ( parallal Digikey 73 1026 ND).

Spend a long time insuring I had 14 pinout understood and how to interface with OOBoard which has a breadboard area ( I determined I hadn't fried the OOBoard afterall!).

WOW .. If any 'expert' is reading this please tell me an easy way to hook up to these 14 holes. I won't even tell what I did .. its SOOO ugly ... but it works.

Used the oLCD object .. it works but for some reason you have to hit it twice with PF5 .. the first time it just sits there. Once its working you can send it strings. Used it to get ranges on the US Ranger .. very cool!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Too much stuff .. still can't get 1 bot working ..

Hmmm ...

Rogue Robot: had a complete Bot .. but I may have fried the board

Arobt (an old kit) .. has motor / not servo / so I can't use my Oopic without taking on an H-Bridge project ..

Trekker Xpansion .. got a board that works but no body ...

Guess I need to do some more mix / matching ...

Rogue Servo test with Trekker Board - works

Confirmed Rogue servo's work fine using Trekker Board using oServoX object. Spent some time testing range numeric range from -127 to -127 ..

Servo's respond much differently w/ same number (guess that's normal) and also they don't reverse at zero (guess that's normal also) ... need to play with .center to resolve the second issue. Also not sure that once that's resolved that they both will resond the same.

It's obvious to me now ... duh .. that if both servo's don't respond the same to a number that the robot will turn .. may require a feedback loop in software which *knows* robot's turning .. adjust numbers .. keep it straight ...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Rogue Servo Test .. kinda works...

Erratic behavior using oServoX with the modified servo's that came with the kit. Probably didn't help that I plugged the 3 pin connectors in backwards! Didn't appear that I fried anything after I figured this out.

Basically servo's don't seem to respond to program commands .. just turn on their own. Time to got to bed .. too many mistakes when you get tired.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Rogue Robot Kit / OOBoard Arrives - poor doc!

Ordered the RogueBlue robot kit which came with the OOBoard from Canada. I would NOT recommend anyone buy this kit .. robot is poorly constructed .. doc is worse. However after many hours I found some doc on the OOBoard on a site in England. Imagine receiving a board with no map of how Oopic I/O's map in.

Anyway, this board has several advantages over the Trekker Expansion Board .. most importantly it uses the serial port instead of the parallal port .. you can use DeBug without moving between sockets.

Tested OOBoard JingleBells ... worked.

SpeakJet Chip Arrives

Received chip and did self test on breadboard ... pretty cool. Will set it aside until I get a robot moving and drop it in. I keep ordering neat stuff ... getting quite a backlog. My office is a mess because I loaded upon on *stuff* from Jameco. Need to take an hour and get it all organized.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Parallal LCD Display test fails

Found an old one I had ordered. Spent most of a day on the net trying to get the 14 pins defined. Did a *REALLY* crappy job soldering into those *TINY* holes ... there's got to be a better way ...

Anyway I only got random blocks on the screen when I powered up. Don't think its shorted (poor solder job) but not sure.

Trying to hook things together is the nasty secret they never tell you before you begin playing with electronics. Someone needs to write a book about that. I've got tons of books on Oopic, .. whatever .. everyone just seems to assume a Newb knows how to hook it all up or solder the tiny holes .. wow!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ultrasonic Ranger arrives (SRF04) - good test!

Constructed a 4 wire Molex connector .. my first crimp job and use of connectors .. so that's how they build those things ... neat.

Tested using the oSonarDV object. Seems to work but it was awkward trying to read range using DeBug while moving the Ranger around .. need to spend more time calibrating .. will set it aside till I get a bot that moves.

Servo Test works!

Scavenged a servo from an old Arobot kit which I forgot I had (and never built). Used this in my 2cd attempt to use oServo object from the Trekker Extender board .. it worked!

Sure helps when something works .. seems like a lot of effort and time for small victories .. but its progress.

Trekker Expansion Board arrives

Got Trekker Expansion Board from It offers a lot of I/O sensor tie-ins ready to go. Spent a day studying these .. have accounted for all 40 Oopic pins i.e. figured out where they appear on the Xpansion board.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Oopic Virtual Circuit

Tested blink prgm using Virtual Circuits vs linear code.

It worked. I wonder when this will make a real difference in my projects .. so many bigger fish to fry.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Fried Servo ...

Appears I fried *the* servo I had ordered. First attempt to get a servo to work using oServo object. Good news I tested Oopic board and its ok. After reviewing I determined I had plugged in the 3 pin socket backwards (not polarized) .. and powered with 9 volts vs 6 to servo.

Oopic Debug

Using DeBug on this board is a hassel.

You have to physically move the programming cable to another header after downloading prgm to Oopic to see the variable values.

Not only is it a hassel but I worry about how many times you can cycle without breaking the header or a wire coming loose .. seems like the Stamp had a much better system.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Wires everywhere!

Managing all these wires to get signals on/off the Oopic board is the real challenge so far. There's got to be a better way. I'm learning about header sockets & crimping now .. maybe that'll help.

Once wires in place a simple led blink test was no sweat .. gotta start somewhere .. my first success!

Friday, September 03, 2004

OopicII+ arrives

Received OopicII+ board. Has prior experience with Basic Stamp some years back and selected the Oopic based upon comments in newsgroups about its Object Based programming. Spent the day reviewing the specs... study .. no fun yet.