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Phil Davis

Phil's Articles

Zen And The Art Of Zigbee - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
April 2006
I’ve chosen Zigbee as my first topic for Personal Robotics because ... well, because it’s cool. In this issue of Nuts & Volts, we’ll begin a general discussion on what Zigbee is, its basic functionality, where to get it, and the associated software. Parts 2 and 3 will be in subsequent issues. In Part 2, we will follow a project in which a simple peer-to-peer Zigbee connection will be used to control a robot, and Part 3 will attempt to show a more complex mesh topology...

Zen And The Art Of Zigbee - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
May 2006
Okay, last month we briefly discussed some of the architecture and network topology possibilities of Zigbee along with many of its capabilities. As promised, this month, I want to demonstrate a simple project in which a peer-to-peer Zigbee connection will be used to control a robot using simple commands and to receive data sent back from the robot...

Zen And The Art Of Zigbee - Part 3
Column: Personal Robotics
June 2006
In this last article of the series, I want to talk about using Zigbee in a Star configuration, which will allow you to drive multiple robots from your PC, addressing each one in turn, or sending a broadcast which all will respond to. I also want to show you how to “hack” the Freescale Sard card so you can take PWM directly off the card, giving you the ability to proportionally control two motors. In addition, we’ve also built a small robot as a demonstrator.

Design A Mini Sumo - Part 1
Column: Personal Robotics
July 2006
LAST SPRING, OUR ROBOTICS CLUB scheduled a Mini Sumo competition for the summer of 2005. Of coarse, no one had a Mini Sumo robot, so a mad frenzy of ideas, concepts, and parts ensued.

Designing A Mini Sumo - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
August 2006
For those just joining or the uninitiated, a Mini Sumo Robot and Mini Sumo competitions take their name from the Japanese form of wrestling called Sumo. In this case, two robots (smaller than 4 x 4 inches) combat in a black ring just over 30 inches in diameter, bounded by a one-inch border. For three minutes, each robot attempts to locate the other and push it off the edge...

The Saga Of The Silver Bomber - Part 1
Column: Personal Robotics
September 2006
One day Jerry came across some broken Silver Bomber scooters at an industrial surplus house he frequents in town. Talking to the owner, he discovered they had multiple palettes of the stuff lying around. Originally, the owner wanted $35 a scooter — not too bad considering they sold new for $199 plus...

Building A Balancing Bot On A Budget - Part 1
Column: Personal Robotics
October 2006
You were probably expecting to see Part 2 of the Saga of the Silver Bomber here, instead of this article on a Balancing Bot. To cut a long story short, we left off last month on the Silver Bomber motor controller, with everything designed and just waiting for parts. So, we waited and waited, but only about half the parts came in. Unfortunately, everything appears to be back-ordered, most likely due to the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance Directive) which is all about ‘lead free’ parts...

The Saga Of The Silver Bomber - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
November 2006
In Part 1 of this article (two months ago), we explored how finding some surplus Silver Bombers led to the development of a controller for the motors they contained. We explained what would be required to run various motors of this size and came up with a practical design...

Building A Balancing Bot On A Budget - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
December 2006
For those who missed the October issue, or anyone who could use a refresher, we’ll start with a recap of the robot’s design. See Photo 1 for a look at the finished robot, balancing...

Personal Robotics - Part 1
Column: Personal Robotics
January 2007
Being an amateur roboticist, I am always looking for parts of varying kinds from which to build robots and, since most of the bots I like to construct are mobile, one of the major requirements are brushed DC motors.

Personal Robotics - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
February 2007
Last month, I went over the process of constructing my homemade Motor Test Lab. Since then, I made a couple of changes to the basic design before using it to test a couple of motors. The first change I made was to add a block connector and a switch...

Parameters On the Fly - Part 1
Column: Personal Robotics
March 2007
Whenever I build a robot, there are always variables and constants which need to be adjusted to make sure the bot does just what I want it to; the problem is, it’s usually a pain to change these. So, how can we make this better?

Parameters On the Fly - Part 2
Column: Personal Robotics
April 2007
Last month, I conceptually designed a hand-held console which would allow one to remotely change critical parameters in their autonomous robot. Since last month, I decided that I wanted to go into more detail on the software and some of the hardware...

Parameters On The Fly - Part 3
Column: Personal Robotics
May 2007
This month, I would like to wrap up the design and functioning of the Hand-Held Console by showing you the completed device and by posting the software online for all to use.

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