Robosapien v1 y basic stamp2

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Robosapien Project
March 15, 2005
ECE 578

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My mission this term is to hack a Robosapien IR controlled robot to add RF control to allow the main brain of the robot to be inside a PC. The PC will control Robosapien using RF communication based on what is seen with an overhead camera.

Robosapien is an inexpensive robot that works with an IR remote. Robosapien has many abilities; he canwalk forward/backward, turn around, dance and give you a high five, just to name a few. With the remote you can store several functions and then at the press of a button Robosapien will execute all the functions you saved. You can also reprogram the robot to use his sensors differently, for example when Robosapien bumps into something with his foot instead of having him stop and say ouch you canhave Robosapien karate chop the object, turn around, burp, and walk away. Although Robosapien is a remarkable toy robot for the price after a couple of hours using the IR remote gets a bit tiresome and I am ready to take a look under the hood and see how we can expand Robosapien’s abilities.

To take Robosapien apart all that is needed is a small screw driver. He comes with a small cup that heuses to pick things up and this is great to hold all the small screws. Once Robosapien’s “clothes” are taken off a glorious discovery is made, all the wire connections to the main circuit board are socketed! This is true for everything except for the microphone and the speaker with are soldered down. The second amazing discovery is that all the connections are labeled so that if you completelydismantle Robosapien you can easily put him back together. The designer Mark Tilden did this specifically because he too liked to hack toys to increase their useful life.

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The first step here is to figure out how Robosapien works. Most of this I found from the internet. There are a couple of links that are very useful:ROBOSAPIEN.tk - Unofficial Robosapien hacks and mods site
Tom's Chips and Code
http://homepages.strath.ac.uk/~lau01246/robot/hackrobos.shtml

Then of course there is the official Robosapien site:
http://www.wowwee.com/robosapien/robo1/robomain.html

So now, let’s dig in. What I need to do is bypass the IR receiver and send the signal from the PC directly to Robosapien over RF. The best wayI can think to do this is by putting a microcontroller on Robosapien and store all the 60 commands that Robosapien has. Then a signal will come over the RF and tell the microcontroller which command to execute and send it directly to the Robosapien controller board. So the high level sequence of events is this: the camera will watch Robosapien, an event will trigger in the PC software written bymy partner. The software will decide what action Robosapien should do based on what it sees with the camera. A command will be sent from the PC to a microcontroller development board which houses a RF transceiver. The microcontroller will send a code for the command from development board transceiver to another transceiver on the Robosapien. The microcontroller on the Robosapien will get the codeand execute the appropriate command function and send it to the Robosapien controller board.

Inside Robosapien
Here is a picture of the main board inside Robosapien. In this picture you can see 3 wires. On the bottom left is Vcc, the middle is GND and the right is IROUT. Robosapien has extra power built-in for hacking but since I am going to use a BS2sc I think I will need an external powersource. Some microcontrollers like a simple PIC may be able to get buy with out this. The GND connection from Robosapien will need to be tied to the battery GND. The IROUT signal comes from the IR receiver in Robosapien’s head. This signal is what we need to replace with the microcontroller. By simply soldering on a wire to both the GND and IROUT pins then we can begin to figure out how to control...
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