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11.3 ROBOTS FROM CONVERTED VEHICLES
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FIGURE 11-6 You can build a motorized robot platform by cannibalizing two small motorized toys and using each half of them.
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11.3.1 HACKING A TOY INTO A ROBOT
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The toy chosen for hacking into a robot was the differentially driven, radio remote control robot shown in Fig. 11-7. The toy was purchased as part of a set of two at a local hardware store for less than $10. This may seem like an incredibly lucky find (a remote control vehicle for only $5), but by keeping your eyes open you will discover that there are many endof-life toys that can be modified into a robot quite easily. The body of the toy car was held on by four bolts and was easily removed (Fig. 11-8). The screws holding down the PCB were removed, giving access to the circuitry side of the PCB (Fig. 11-9) as well as the motors, allowing the the snubber circuit built into them to be observed. When hacking a remote control toy, you are well advised to use as much of the existing circuitry as possible. At one end of the PCB, you will see a number of transistors (at the top of Fig. 11-9) that are wired to the drive motors. These transistors and the resistors associated with them should be used as the motor drivers for your robot. What you should look for are four resistors connected between the transistors and the radio receiver. You could trace out the circuit used for the motor drivers and compare it to the ones shown in 20, but it is much easier to find the four resistors leading between the two parts of the PCB and cut the PCB at this point as shown in Fig. 11-10. Before cutting, if you are unsure about the purpose of these transistors, desolder one of the resistors at the receiver side and connect it to the positive power of the toy; one set of wheels should start turning. If it doesn t, then you have either not selected the correct resistors or power is not getting to all the necessary parts of the circuit for the wheels to turn. Once the PCB is cut, you can attach longer wires to the resistors (which will be used by the robot controller) and put heat shrink tubing over the joints. At this time, the toy s power wiring and the four motor driver leads can be wired to a connector that will be attached to the controller board (Fig. 11-11). This may seem premature, but you have finished the electrical modifications to the toy to turn it into a robot!
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FIGURE 11-7 This remote control robot was purchased as a set of two for less than $10. The remote controls work at 27 and 49 MHz and the toys are powered by three AA alkaline batteries.
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FIGURE 11-8 The body removed from the remote control car. Note that the component side of the PCB is facing downwards into the vehicle s plastic chassis.
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11.3 ROBOTS FROM CONVERTED VEHICLES
FIGURE 11-9 The remote control receiver PCB with motor drive transistors at the top.
Now, control electronics can be added to the toy to turn it into a robot. For the example toy in this section, a BASIC Stamp 2 (BS2) was added using the circuit shown in Fig. 11-12. The BS2 has a communications/programming interface built in and four I/O pins are used to control the operation of the toy s motors. This circuit was built onto a prototyping PCB along with a mating connector for the toy s motor drivers. Note that the BS2 is powered from the toy s three AA batteries. Don t worry if you don t understand how the BASIC Stamp 2 works and how it can control the robot s motors; the operation of the microcontroller and how it can be used as a robot controller is described in later chapters. Once the BS2 prototype PCB circuit was assembled, it was mounted to the robot by cutting down some pieces of phenolic PCB material, mounting 6-32 screws on them and epoxying them down to the robot/toy s plastic chassis (Fig. 11-13). The BS2 prototype PCB was screwed down to the chassis using 6-32 acorn nuts, which, along with the six-pin connector to the chassis power supply and motors, allows the PCB to be removed for repair or modification. The completed robot (Fig. 11-14) is ready for action! To test the operation of the robot, the following program was used:
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