My initial idea of building a robot got out of hand. I started collecting the parts, making the base, and then it dawned on me...this sucker is going to be very big and heavy. If I make an error in the software or hardware for that matter...it could drive through a wall! Or at the very least, cause some damage to the furniture.

Ok, so now what...you guessed it, make a smaller prototype. Since I like the acronym RADAR (Research And Development Autonomous Robot) that I came up with, I will stick with this for the name, with a model number after it. RADAR1 is born!

RADAR1 started out with some toy motor/drive wheels attached to a round plexi base with a caster tail drag system for balance. Turned out the motors were far too week to drive the base all by itself. Back to the drawing board! Bigger motors, and dual 12VDC gel cell batteries should do the trick. Check out the three shots:

RADAR1 Front View!
Sorry for the glare on the plexi. The front view showes the face - "Every robot needs a face and a name" - Steven Manzer Nov 2004

RADAR1's face has a speaker and polaroid range finding transducer for eyes, a PIR motion sensor nose, a four high intensity LED mouth (lights when speaking - cool!), and a "gotee" made of a DIRRS distance sensor.

RADAR1 Side View!

RADAR1 Top View!

These are shots of the prototype RADAR1 after fabricating the base and attaching the motors, front sensors, brain, and speech processor board. Yet to come, is the top (also plexi) and more sensors.

The brains of RADAR1 are a small PIC board that I purchased from Kin Fong at Embedded Acquisition Systems or EAS. Kin has made a really nice small 16F877 board that is very reasonable in price. It is compatible with the PIC18F458 board which I decided to try (dual PWM with CAN bus - likely overkill on the CAN!). In order to program the PIC, I am using the EPIC Parallel Port Programmer using the in circuit programming feature. Kin has designed his board so this is quite easy, although it took some thought on how to make up the custom cable assembly.

I decided to not use the PIC BASIC PRO that I bought from Randy at GlitchBuster.Com. Instead I decided on the CCS Compiler.

The speach processor is the SpeakJet chip. I made a custom board that includes a small audio amp. Trouble with PIC CCS Compilers is you can not pass constant strings of char>

  • const char SJ_Steven[]={187,191,128,166,131,141, 0};
  • Say(SJ_Steven);

    Where Say is a routine to pass the array to the speakjet. You can not do this in CCS! You have to first copy it to a char array in RAM like this:

  • char SpeechString[50];
  • strcpy(SpeechString, SJ_Steven);
  • Say(SpeechString); // kludgy but works...

    Parts for RADAR1 came from a variety of places. I am trying to keep the costs down as this is a prototype, and who wants to spend more money on yet another hobby. Lots of bits and pieces were scrounged out of equipment destined for the garbage, other parts from surplus places, and still others from the Dollar Stores in town. The electronics are almost all exclusive to GlitchBuster.Com. I highly recommend purchasing parts from Randy. He is very prompt with delivery, very helpful when you run into problems, and has the best prices for the hobbiest.

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