Parki Internals III : Design Hints and Informatics

What is a robot without its programming? Just a bunch of metal and electronics that lay in a garage. A good informatics design is just as important as a good mechanical and electronic design. Without them, robots cannot “live”.

With Parki, the mechanical part was very well designed. It was simple, but reliable. The electronics were at least as good as the mechanics, without it the robot would have just been a collection of aluminium pieces assembled together.

And we tried as much as possible to well design Parki’s mind software.:P

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Parki Internals II: Electronics

Here we are, after several months of silence, I’m giving you out the schĂŠmathics of Parki.

You thought I was really going to give them to you?? Lol!!

I might consider it if you ask though… 😉

Let’s talk about more serious stuff. Parki’s core has 12 circuit boards which are :

  • The motherboard (1) : a Pic18f4680 as the core/brain of the robot and lots of connectors for the other circuit boards.
  • The Power Supply (2) : contains three high current capable voltage outputs : 5V for the logic, 6V for the servos and 19V for the motors.
  • 2 three channel input boards (3) : they work as an interface between the micro-controller and the Bumpers (Contact sensors).
  • 19V Power distributor board (4) : used to connect the output of the power supply and to distribute it to the motors.
  • three 5V Power distributor boards (5)  : one of them powers the motor boards, the others connected with a cable switch in between. When the cable is disconnected, the logic circuits are turned on and the robot starts moving.
  • Two Stepper Motor Boards (6) : uses a SN754410 as  motor driver. However, we burnt the IC and we didn’t have a replacement, so we changed to another IC the day of the contest.
  • Servos distributor (7) : interface the servos, the micro-controller and the power supply.
  • Line scanner (8) : an array of 14 IR sensors (QRD1114) scans the terrain to find lines under the robot. The purpose was to increase robot’s position accuracy. However we already had a very good one so we didn’t use this board in the end.

The following pictures illustrate Parkis electronic system.

parkiElectronics

And finally a schĂŠma that specifies all the connections between the electronic boards.

PS : it’s in french and some small changes were made in the final version.

modulesKelebulcV7

Parki Internals I: Mechanics

Parki is composed of two motorized wheels (1) in the back and two ball casters (2) in the front. The main platform (3), where all wheels and balls resides has a rotating plate (4) made of aluminium. In the left there is a small arm (5) that turns 180° which has pliers (6) in its end. Above all these, we have a small single-axed arm (7) that goes up and down. Finally we added two upper plastic levels (8) to place the electronic circuits. The pliers enables parki to take the disks one by one and put them in colons above the moving plate while the small arm (7) places the brick above the construction columns.

An image that explains the robot parts.

robot1

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Kelebulc and Parki

This post is intended to describe the French Robot Cup 2009.

Parki is a robot  created to participate in the 2009 Eurobot contest and the 2009 French Robot Cup. The rules for this contest might be found here or here (direct link) or here in french. This event is organized by “Planète-Sciences”. You can have more info about this Robotics Cup here and about eurobot here. And finally one more link about our team Kelebulc.

The objective of this years contest is to build the highest temple in 90 seconds. The elements to build it can be found in the floor, spared as in 10 different configurations and in the distribution centres located in the opposite wall of the starting square. Our robot, already had a brick to complete its temple.

The field as shown below was completed with 4 disks (construction elements). The construction zones are coloured in brown and the temples built on them depend on the height of the construction zone. The circular centre zone is the highest one. The one located in the bottom centre is mid-high and in its sides, they’re floor levelled.

terrain

The field of the 2009 Eurobot Contest.

The robot is  supposed to build either green or red temples. Your starting position tells you the colour. The construction elements distribution is not known until the match has started so we had to think about having a strategy that would work in all (10) cases.

We designed our robot to be simple, light-weight and easy to build. We tried the best to make it reliable and oh boy! we did it! We achieved all of our goals.

More about Parki internals next.

Eurobot 2009

The French Robot Cup is now over. Three (or four) days of full continuous hacking inside a tent with more than 250 french teams leave you a nice souvenir. Lots of tests, pistachio, pasta, beer and fun where always present.

workspace

The French Robot Cup is not an easy task, it requires though work. However, we all had a lot of fun designing, doing, debugging and programming this robot.

A summary of the events:

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And the winner is…

…Parki!! By the Kelebulc Team…

That’s how Saturday ended.

On Friday morning we finished one of the 6 strategies of the robot. We knew, that the other teams were also having problems, just like us. But we were not sure their robots were working better or worse than PARKI, so I fixed one of the other 5 strategies on Friday night. We were ready for a death match… Not really, but we were 2/6 ready, though.

I met the other teams on Saturday evening, we realized that this year’s competition is not as easy as it seems. There were no robots ready for a full competition yet, but everyone did a good effort. In the official matches we experienced strange behaviours, never the less we succeeded and won the CRA (Coupe Rhones-Alpes).

cra2

cra1

It was nice to meet people from other teams and schools, to share experience, knowledge and even sandwiches.

We’re currently optimizing the robot performances, and we hope to have a 100% robot before the French Cup.

Stay tuned.