Toy Robotics InitiativeJanuary 2003
Client: CMU Robotics Institute
A professor in robotics at Carnegie Mellon received a batch of prototype "Stayton" robotics control boards designed by Intel. Two weeks prior to attending an Intel sponsored conference and tutorial about the new boards,
The first project was a tele-operated drawing robot. Using an off the shelf base capable of omnidirectional movement, we added a pen attached to a servo motor and a Stayton board with 802.11 wireless networking. The robot, itself, ran a web server hosting a Java applet that allowed anyone with a browser to directly drive the robot or draw a shape that robot would then reproduce by moving and raising and lowering its pen.
I signed on to the project because they were looking for someone with Linux expertise since the new Stayton boards were actually full microprocessors running Linux. The first week was mostly me spent figuring how to build, configure, and install software and drivers onto the board. Part of the challenge was working with a very small amount of memory and untested hardware. Once I had built support for PCMCIA wireless cards, USB to serial adaptors, and a web server, we were able to start using them for robotics. Although, to do robotics you typically need the ability to read from sensors and control servos and motors, but these boards didn't have any way to do that. Therefore we coupled them via a serial connection with another circuit board capable of doing these things. I also wrote the C library that we used for communicating with the sensor board. For the projects themselves, I did all of the programming for the drawing robot, including the java web applet and the robot itself, and both halves of the robotic arm. I also handled the networked startup and tagging for the tag playing robots. I currently host a website thoroughly documenting the process for working with these boards and the projects we built with them.