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This book, a compilation of articles from Karl Lunt's long-running column for Nuts & Volts magazine, is a must-read for all beginner and intermediate-level robotics enthusiasts. Written in a friendly, straightforward manner, it contains entertaining anecdotes as well as practical advice and instruction. The author's stories about his various robotics projects will inspire you to try them yourself; and he shares his tips and code to help you. Possible projects range from transforming a TV remote control into a robot controller to building a robot from a drink cooler. You'll want to build them all; the author's enthusiasm for robotics is contagious!
|Part 1.||Getting Started||1|
|Inspiration and Implementation||3|
|Your First 68hc 11 Microcontroller||9|
|Allow Me to Introduce Huey||19|
|The Basics of Hobby Robotics||31|
|An Intro to 68hc 11 Firmware||39|
|My Tiny Forth Compiler||51|
|A First Look at SBasic||61|
|Remote Reloads with 811 bug||71|
|The Ultimate PC Robot Tool||91|
|Inside the 68hc 11||99|
|Quick and Easy 68hc 11 Expansion||111|
|Introducing the BOTBoard||121|
|A Simple DC Gearhead Motor Controller||131|
|A Gel-cell Battery Charger for Cheap||139|
|Build a Switcher with the MAX642 IC||147|
|Try This Junk Box Switcher Supply||155|
|Son of BOTBoard||163|
|More (and More) LEDs||171|
|Design of a Simple Line-following Array||179|
|Stepper Motor Basics||187|
|A First Look at the 68hc12||195|
|Check Out This New 68hc12||205|
|A Basic Robot Design||217|
|And Now, Here's ... Max!||225|
|Build an Open-frame Robot Body||235|
|Adding an Encoder to a R/C Servo||243|
|Part 5.||Robotics Projects||255|
|The Rapid Deployment Maze||257|
|Build BYRD, a Back Yard Research Drone||265|
|Rally 'Round the 'Bot, Boys!||275|
|The Dead-Reckoning Event||285|
|Hercules, My Smallest Robot||295|
|My Marble Maze Machine||303|
|Tackle-bot, a Backyard Explorer||309|
|Try Your Hand at a Mini-Sumo Robot||319|
|I Start on a Fire-fighting Robot||329|
|Part 6.||Adventures in Hacking||345|
|Decoding a TV Remote Control||347|
|Wiring Up an RF Modem Link||357|
|A Dirt-Cheap 8051 Development System||365|
|A Dirt-Cheap 8051 Development System, Part Two||375|
|Hacking a 68302 Modem Board||383|
|Hacking a 68302 Modem Board, Part Two||391|
|The Ready-Set-Go Toy Truck||399|
|Reworking the GameBoy||411|
|Part 7.||The 68hc11||421|
|A Look At the SPI||423|
|68hc11 Memory Expansion||433|
|Part 8.||Way Cool Robots||445|
|A Visit to the MIT Campus||447|
|Designing an Interactive Robot Display||459|
|Deep-Sea Submersible Robots||467|
|Cleaning up the Tennis Court||475|
|The Extremes of Hobby Robotics||495|
|A Whole Lot of Robots||503|
|The NCC Al-CDROM||517|
|A Typical(?) SRS Meeting||529|
|Some Powerful Software Tools||541|
|Appendix B.||Hobby Servo Mods||563|
|Appendix C.||Web Pages||565|
Building a robot fascinates people. Seeing the mechanical fruits of your labor roll, slither, stalk, or lurch across the living room floor has fired the imagination of tinkers of all ages. Whether your ideal machine mows the lawn, explores Mars, fetches beer, or just looks way cool, the feeling is, if you can imagine it, you can build it. Or at least, you can try to build it.
But first-time 'bot builders quickly hit one of many walls, and often call it quits. Unlike other high-tech hobbies, robot-building requires a workable tool set in a wide range of fields. You need mechanical tools for building frames and mounts, electronics gear for wiring circuitry, and software to write the code that makes everything work together. Few people, starting out, have a strong enough tool set in all three areas to pull off a first robot.
Even having a well-stocked workroom and a hurking PC isn't enough, because you also need the skill set to use all of these tools well. A strong frame loaded with top-notch electronics just gathers dust without robust software to drive it. The best robotics program written is worthless unless you can load it onto a working microcontroller with good mechanics surrounding it.
These seemingly insurmountable walls face anyone trying to build their first robot. Some people scale down their ambitions, opting for a simpler, though perhaps less satisfying, first project. Others charge ahead, sometimes creating a masterpiece but more often making a mess. All too many give up, postponing and eventually abandoning the dream of watching their own mechanical creation chase the family cat.
But the walls aren't insurmountable, only tall, and any task can be madesimpler if you follow in the footsteps of others. It was to break down these walls, or at least break a trail around them, that I began writing a column on amateur robotics in Nuts & Volts magazine, back in October of 1992. Each month, I tried to provide one more foothold for those dreaming the dream. Topics included how to write motor control software, how to wire up a microcontroller, or how to make a super wheel mount. Scattered through the hard-core robotics info was the occasional discussion of famous or fascinating machines built by others, and sometimes I would include full instructions on a complete robotics project. Each column was different and, I hope, useful. I know they were lots of fun to write.
Yet even writing about robots can become wearying, and after nearly 70 columns, I decided to call it quits, to change direction. But the calls from readers asking for a collection of my columns, and for copies of older columns missed or lost, was incessant and, finally, decisive. So I present here a selection of my past Amateur Robotics columns.
These are my favorites, written with the beginner and intermediate builders in mind. Those of you who have never seen a microcontroller should be able to pick up a working knowledge without too much effort. If you have already built a couple of large electronics projects, you will find useful information specific to making a robot run. And those readers with a 'bot or two behind them already will find ideas for new robotics projects.
These columns represent tools, built from my experience, to make the hobby of amateur robotics more fun and more rewarding. Most of the tools herein are my own design, the fruits of my own hours. Others are collaborative efforts, the results of projects I completed with fellow robot hackers. Regardless of the source, think of each column as one more tool that you can bring to bear on a large and intricate problem, that of building a robot to call your own.
Some of these columns show their age. Many appeared several years ago and deal with items no longer available. I doubt anyone will be able to find a Ready-Set-Go toy truck nowdays, and I'm sure all of the surplus bargains (and even some of the surplus outlets) have vanished by now. But the techniques I used for modifying or upgrading those items still have value, and you can learn a lot from the approaches I describe.
Other columns describe material that was novel at the time, but has since matured or even disappeared, replaced by newer and better. But the columns still contain useful information, and the recent history they provide helps illustrate how quickly this hobby is changing.
I tried to arrange these columns based on subject matter, but often an article covers multiple subjects. Thus, you might find a column that discusses IR sensor technology and how to write a 68hc11 interrupt handler. To help you sort out what column handles which subjects, I've provided short descriptions in the table of contents. You can also use the index at the back of the book for more help. But I encourage you to view this mixture of subject matter as an inducement to browse, to read through each column repeatedly, sifting it for information and for ideas on your next robotic project.
This hobby is as much about people as it is about hardware. The fun I've had building robots over the years has been multiplied tenfold by the joy of working with the brightest, most capable group of hackers I've ever known. The membership of the Seattle Robotics Society served as springboard, catalyst, cheerleader, critic, and incubator for all of the ideas you see here, and I owe them all more thanks than I can express.
Finally, my wife, Linda, deserves both praise and apologies for putting up with the long hacking sessions, the too-short deadlines, and the frustrations that come with the hobby. I know she enjoyed the successes, the fun of watching me finish another machine, but she also had to put up with the stress when that machine didn't work, and her patience and support helped make the column and this book possible.
Keep on keeping on...
Posted November 29, 2000
If you want to make your own microcontroller this book is for you. If you don't want to make your own microcontroller don't buy this book. Every project in the book requires your microcontroller for function. The book is made up of 55 articles written by Karl Lunt for the Nuts & Volts magazine. The projects range from a simple mobile robot to a firefighting robot and hacking a Gameboy for a robot controller.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.