HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Mechatronics Zone

Open-Source Kits Put Robots in Many Hands

NO RATINGS
View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Erector set
naperlou   10/11/2012 10:19:29 AM
NO RATINGS
Jon, this looks like an erector set.  Considering the sophistication of many of our youth, this level of kit might be necessary to keep their attention.

The funding mechanism is interesting.  For small projects like this it is probably a good thing.  For one, it makes the business think about what it is doing in a structured way.

One question, though.  Why would a robot need a GPS?

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Jon Titus   10/11/2012 10:39:25 AM
NO RATINGS
I don't know why this type of robot would need a GPS, although someone will find a use for it.  I was tempted to support this effort and get a robot starter kit in return, but I already have too many projects underway.  Perhaps I'll jump in when the Multiplo robot "Erector set" becomes a commercial product.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Rob Spiegel   10/11/2012 12:45:36 PM
NO RATINGS
Robots for kids young and older have become quite the robust market. A quick Google search reveals a wide range from simple Lego-like kits to more sophisticated projects. They are a contemporary version of the Erector kits. Nice to see.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Jon Titus   10/11/2012 2:22:50 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi, Rob.  This project appealed to me because of the open-source hardware and software.  Anyone with the proper equipment can duplicate the robot parts. I bet schools and clubs could get a local firm to cut out parts on a laser cutter for free or for a small cost.  We could talk with kids all day about computer programming (yawn), but they'd rather have a basic "robot" that could move and figure out how to make it do something. The key involves excellent teaching guides, lab exercised for students, and tutorial info so the kids can learn more on their own and create thrir own projects.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Rob Spiegel   10/12/2012 11:08:05 AM
NO RATINGS
Jon, I agree the hands-on learning can be much more powerful than the traditional lecture. This is especially true when the hands are on something as cool as a robot.

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Erector set
mrdon   10/12/2012 11:09:59 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi Jon, Agreed. The idea of taking a software object from a computer screen and making it tangible is the underlining concept that Seymour Papert of MIT developed for the LEGO Mindstorms kit. Seymour created Logo software back in the late 70's to allow kids to explore computer programming concepts using a triangle as the virtual robot. He called the triangle a "turtle" and based on his research found kids wanting it to be a real robot they can interact with. Seymour then created a salad bowl looking robot which was programmable using switches. Several years later (1998) the original LEGO Mindstorms RCX programmable brick was born.

As you stated, Open Source Hardware is becoming the mainstream trend in rapidly developing cool electronics using passionate makers as design and test engineers for product development tasks. The Multiplo robot has a lot of appeal because of its open hardware and software architecture and the fact it uses the Arduino I see all kinds of cool shields and accessories being developed. Based on the many development actitivies that can spawn from Multiplo, I see this robot being the flagship of tech startup businesses that can play a role in stimulate the economy. 

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Charles Murray   10/11/2012 7:43:40 PM
NO RATINGS
Jon, I wonder how the capabilities of this system would compare to Lego Mindstorms. Could it enable someone to do robotic things that Mindstorms couldn't do? One big difference is the use of open source.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Jon Titus   10/11/2012 8:37:06 PM
NO RATINGS
The Multiplo system builds on the popular--and inexpensive--Arduino-type computer boards.  Many third-party companies and entrepreneurs offer compatible boards for wireless control, servo-motor drivers, and so on, which makes the Multiplo more flexible than the LEGO system--at least in my opinion.  With LEGO's Mindstorms you pretty much get locked into LEGO products.

ttemple
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Erector set
ttemple   10/12/2012 8:08:29 AM
NO RATINGS
Jon,

A little off subject, but have you followed the "raspberry pi" (http://www.raspberrypi.org/) thing?  I would like your take on it.  It looks like a nice educational tool.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Raspberry Pi
Jon Titus   10/12/2012 10:39:11 AM
NO RATINGS
Hi, ttemple.  The Raspberry Pi looks interesting but I haven't bought one yet.  Many people and companies make excellent hardware. Students and teachers need good educational materials to go with them.  Unfortunately, not all companies or groups have the money or people to create such materials or to write them in a way that people find helpful.  Take a look and see if you can find good teaching/learning materials before you jump into anything.

I'll take a closer look at the Raspberry Pi.  Keep in mind that this board might not be a good choice for engineers who want to create a product around the board's Broadcom chip because Broadcom does not plan to sell the chip except to very large equipment manufacturers that can buy large quantities.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Erector set
Ann R. Thryft   10/11/2012 11:45:33 AM
NO RATINGS
GPS is fairly common in rescue robots, military robots, nautical robots and other autonomous robots that need to navigate on their own. It's also found in some remote controlled robots.

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Open-Source Kits
Mydesign   10/12/2012 1:19:50 AM
NO RATINGS
1 saves
Jon, it's a good idea to promote the business ideas. As of now robots are too far from common people and if some freeware or open kits are available, I think atleast half of the enthusiastic peoples may have a try.

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Minibloq Looks Cool and Fun!
mrdon   10/12/2012 12:25:15 PM
NO RATINGS
The Minibloq software used to program the Arduino based Multiplo robots is quite interesting in that it looks like the LEGO Mindstorms iconic programming language. Too bad I couldn't have mentioned Minibloq in my book Learn Electronics with Arduino. I plan on investigating this software as I start developing Arduino projects for my new book Arduino Robotics Controllers this weekend. If time permits, I'll probably do a Gadget Freak project for Design News readers to try it out themselves in a couple of weeks. Here's the link to Minibloq software.

http://blog.minibloq.org/p/blocks_16.html

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Minibloq Looks Cool and Fun!
Jon Titus   10/12/2012 5:01:59 PM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, mrdon.  Let us know when your next book becomes available.  Sounds like readers will have a lot of fun with their Arduino boards.

gsmith120
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Minibloq Looks Cool and Fun!
gsmith120   10/19/2012 7:30:27 PM
NO RATINGS
Mrdon your book looks interesting I will have to get a copy. I look forward to your next book. The class I teach at a MD University currently uses the Arduino board.

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Minibloq Looks Cool and Fun!
mrdon   10/20/2012 6:32:16 PM
NO RATINGS
Hi gsmith, Thanks for the interest in my book as well as the one I'm currently writing.In addition, I'll be working on a webpage devoted to Arduino and electronics. I will add Arduino projects using the Minibloq software as well. What course are you teaching using the Arduino?

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Minibloq Looks Cool and Fun!
Cabe Atwell   11/13/2012 6:22:16 PM
NO RATINGS
The Raspberry Pi is a complete computer system. Although it had some general purpose IO, I believe its original use was geared towards programming. It is worth registering on element14 to see all the projects based on the RPi. You can also buy a breakout board for the GPIO there too. Since a full fledge OS is needed for the board, doing simple robotics projects might be more cumbersome. Take a PIC10F, write a few lines of code that sends a square wave down one of the IO lines, that's it. With a full OS you can do that, but you also have to handle everything else happening in the OS. However, if you want to put in a screen on a robot, the RPi has building in HDMI out with graphics power that rivals the latest smartphones.

Just a thought.

C

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: Minibloq Looks Cool and Fun!
mrdon   11/14/2012 2:30:00 AM
NO RATINGS
HI Cabe, Yes I'm definitely looking into the Rapberry Pi based on the I/O attributes you've mentioned. I'm currently writing 2 new books on the Arduino but would like  to develop a book on the Raspberry Pi to illustrate the ease and power of this Linux based embedded system platform.

Jon Titus
User Rank
Blogger
Raspberry Pi Gone Bad
Jon Titus   10/15/2012 1:47:31 PM
NO RATINGS
I went to the element14 Web site (element14 is part of distributors Newark and Farnell) to get more information about the Raspberry Pi computer because a new board with more memory just cdame out. Unfortunately the Element14 Community section of the company's Web site requires registration even to get basic product specs.  Click on an interesting screen and the data appears for a few seconds, then a black screen with a sign-in form appears.  If you close this window, you go back to the main page.  This is a rotten way to treat potential customers.  Raspberrt Pi?  Phooey.

Partner Zone
More Blogs from Mechatronics Zone
Suppose you wanted to create a FIR filter with your own requirements. How would you find the necessary coefficients, and how many of them would you need?
Switched-capacitor filters have a few disadvantages. They exhibit greater sensitivity to noise than their op-amp-based filter siblings, and they have low-amplitude clock-signal artifacts -- clock feedthrough -- on their outputs.
This column wraps up our discussion of encoders with information about resolvers, which provide angular data over 360 degrees.
Engineers use rotary encoders to measure the angular position of an attached device or to measure distance indirectly.
The Machinist Calc Pro computes speeds and feed rates for milling, turning, and drilling: cutting speed, spindle speed, feed rate (inches/minute), cutting feed, etc.
Design News Webinar Series
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Oct 20 - 24, How to Design & Build an Embedded Web Server: An Embedded TCP/IP Tutorial
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: October 2
Sponsored by Altera
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service