how to connect barcode scanner to visual basic 2010 CONSTRUCTING HIGH-TECH ROBOTS FROM TOYS in Software

Creation DataMatrix in Software CONSTRUCTING HIGH-TECH ROBOTS FROM TOYS

142 CONSTRUCTING HIGH-TECH ROBOTS FROM TOYS
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Most of the OWIKITS and MOVITS robots come with preassembled circuit boards; you are expected to assemble the mechanical parts. Some of the robots use extremely small parts and require a keen eye and steady hand. The kits are available in three skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. If you re just starting out, try one or two kits in the beginner level. Once (properly) constructed, the OWIKITS and MOVITS robots last a long, long time. I have several models I built in the mid-1980s, and with just the occasional nut tightening here and a dab of grease there they have continued to operate flawlessly.
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The Furby, from Tiger Electronics, is an animatronic creature that appears to have learning capabilities and even artificial intelligence. Actually, the Furby has neither; it s a clever collection of motors, gears, switches, sensors, and an on-board computer, as shown in the deconstructed Furby shown in Fig. 11.6. The Furby interacts with its master, as well as the environment, and contains thousands of behavioral permutations.
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FIGURE 11.6 The Furby, from Tiger Electronics, is a marvel of engineering finesse.
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MAKING ROBOTS WITH CONVERTED VEHICLES 143
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Furby s on-board computer is a blob, or chip-on-board (COB), and inherently not reprogrammable or hackable. However, you can connect the main Furby motor and its various sensors to a new control circuit, perhaps one made with a Basic Stamp II microcontroller.
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Rokenbok toys are radio-controlled vehicles that are available in wheeled and tracked versions. Despite the European-sounding name, Rokenbok toys are made in the United States yet can be difficult to find because of their high cost (the basic set costs well over $180). Each vehicle is controlled by a game controller; all the game controllers are connected to a centralized radio transmitter station. The Sony PlayStation-style controllers can be hacked and connected directly to the input/output (I/O) of a computer or microcontroller. The transmitter station also has a connector for computer control, but as of this writing Rokenbok has not released the specifications or an interface for this port.
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The Armatron, once a common find at Radio Shack, occasionally reappears at that store, ready to capture the imagination of anyone who plays with it. The Armatron (see Fig. 11.7) is a remotely controlled arm that you can use to manipulate small lightweight objects. You control the Armatron by moving two joysticks. A rewarding but demanding project is to convert the Armatron to computer control. Because of the way the Armatron works, using a single motor and clutched drive shafts, you need to rebuild it with separate motors so a computer can individually control its various joints. One way to do this might be to connect small 12-volt DC solenoids to the joysticks. Each joystick requires six solenoids: four for the up, down, left, and right movement of the joystick and two to turn the post of the joystick clockwise or counterclockwise.
Making Robots with Converted Vehicles
Toy cars, trucks, and tractors can make ideal robot platforms if they are properly designed. As long as the vehicle has separate drive motors for the left and right drive wheels, you have a fighting chance of being able to adapt it for use as a robot base.
MOTORIZED VEHICLES
The least expensive radio-controlled cars have a single drive motor and a separate steering servo or mechanism, which doesn t lend itself to robot conversion. In many cases, the steering mechanism is not separately controlled; you steer the car by making it go in reverse. The car drives forward in a straight line but turns in long arcs when reversed. These are impractical for use as a robot base and should not be considered. On the other hand, most radio- and wire-controlled tractor vehicles are perfectly suited for conversion into a robot. Strip off the extra tractor stuff to leave the basic chassis, drive
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