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3 lb (21 2 lb for the Halon chemical and about 1 2 lb for the bottle). If you add a fire extinguisher to your robot, you must relocate other components to evenly distribute the weight. The extinguisher used in the prototype system for this book used a standard actuating valve. To release the fire retardant, you squeeze two levers together. Fig. 34-6 shows how to use a heavy-duty solenoid to remotely actuate the valve. You may be able to access the valve plunger itself (you may have to remove the levers to do so). Rig up a heavy-duty solenoid and lever system. A computer or control circuit activates the solenoid. For best results, the valve should be opened and closed in quick bursts (200 to 300 ms are about right). The body of the robot should also pivot back and forth so the extinguishing agent is spread evenly over the fire. Remember that to be effective, the extinguishing agent must be sprayed at the base of the fire, not at the flames. For most fires, this is not a problem because the typical robot stays close to the floor. If the fire is up high, the robot may not be able to effectively fight it.
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FIGURE 34-6 Using a heavy-duty solenoid to activate a fire extinguisher.
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You can test the fire extinguisher a few times before the bottle will need recharging. The fully charged bottle in the prototype was able to squeeze off several dozen short blasts before the built-in pressure gauge registered that a new charge was needed. Don t use your only extinguisher for your robot experiments; keep an extra handy in the unlikely event that you have to fight a fire yourself. If the firefighting robot bug bites you hard, consider entering your machine in the annual Trinity College Firefighting Home Robot Contest (see www.trincoll.edu/events/robot/ for additional information, including rules and a description of the event). This contest involves timing a robot as it goes from room to room in a houselike test field (the house and all its rooms are in a reduced scale). The object is to find the fire of a candle and snuff it out in the least amount of time. Separate competitions involving a junior division (high school and younger) and a senior division (everyone else) help to provide an even playing field for the contestants. Rather than a fire extinguisher, competition firefighting bots usually use a fan (such as the muffin fans used to cool computer systems) to blow out the candle that is used as the fire source. The advantages of the fan over the fire extinguisher is its light weight, fairly low power consumption, and ease in which it can be scanned about to blow out the flame.
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34.6 From Here
To learn more about . . . Connecting sensors to computers and microcontrollers Adding the sensation of touch Optical systems for detecting light Enabling the robot to move around in a room or house Adding a siren or other warning device Read 14, Computer Peripherals 29, The Sense of Touch 32, Robot Vision 33, Navigating through Space 31, Sound Output and Input
CHAPTER
EXPERIMENTING WITH TILT AND GRAVITY SENSORS
very schoolchild learns the human body has five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. These are primary developed senses; yet the body is endowed with far more senses, including many we often take for granted. These more primitive human senses are typically termed sixth senses a generic phrase for a sense that doesn t otherwise fit within the common five. One of the most important sixth senses is the sense of balance. This sense is made possible by a complex network of nerves throughout the body, including those in the inner ear. The sense of balance helps us to stand upright and to sense when we re falling. When we re off balance, the body naturally attempts to reestablish an equilibrium. The sense of balance is one of the primary prerequisites for two-legged walking. Our sense of balance combines information about both the body s angle and its motion. At least part of the sense of balance is derived from a sensation of gravity the pull on our bodies from the earth s mass. Gravity is an extraordinarily strong physical force, but strangely enough it is not often used in hobby robotics because accurate sensors for measuring it have been prohibitively expensive. But just consider the possibilities if a robot were given the ability to feel gravity. The same forces of gravity that help us to stay upright might provide a two-legged robot with the sensation that would keep it upright. Or a rolling robot on wheels or tracks might avoid tipping over and damaging something by determining if its angle is too steep. The sense of gravity might enable the robot to avoid traveling over that terrain, or it might tell the robot to shift some internal ballast weight (assuming it were so equipped) to change its center of balance.
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