Saturday, August 31, 2013

Voltage Differences Cause Issues

Alright, so I got four more Energizer rechargeable batteries, charged them up again like I had to do on the last set, and finally I had a separate power source for my Arduino board.  Hooray!  I then reconfigured my cables on my breadboard to clean it up, hooked up my TX/RX connections between my WiFly module and the Arduino board, and then I ran into another road block.  I wasn't receiving any communication between my laptop and the Arduino board.  After some research and reading over both datasheets, come to find out that the WiFly module's TX/RX connections are 3.3V tolerant and the Arduino's TX/RX connections are 5V tolerant.  Well how can I fix this issue?  I'm needing to step up and step down the voltage for communication to happen between the WiFly and Arduino board.  Luckily, SparkFun has already developed a breakout ready to go for purchase on their site.  Here's the link: Logic Level Converter

I should be receiving it on September 3rd, 2013 so as of right now I'm on hold till then.  All I have to do is run some wires connections between the two to this converter and my problem will be solved.  Apparently, some others have came across this issue and have developed a board to switch between a 3.3V and 5V tolerance.  Very smart idea and something that Arduino should put in place on their next board that they develop.

After this implemented into the project, hopefully by then I will have a new video to post up of the progress.  I hope everyone enjoys the progress and possibly encourage someone to start their own robotic project.  If you decide to take one on, use our forum to post your progress and make a blog.  BizSol Systems Forums It's neat to see your progress as you go along and easy to follow up to see what you've done so far.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Silly Mistake and a New Piece Added

Well with me being so excited with getting past my last hurdle, as soon as I got out of work and ate some dinner, I went to Walmart to get some rechargeable batteries to use for my project.  I put them in my battery holder and I have no power.  What the?  The batteries were completely dead out of the package.  Go figure.  I put them in the Energizer charging base that I already had.  The base tells me they are completely dead and will take a few hours.  NO!!!  I guess that was a sign to go to bed.

I wake up in this Morning to check on the batteries and they are fully charged.  Perfect.  Let me remind you it was late the night before and apparently I wasn't thinking straight.  To get the Arduino Mega 2560 to boot up properly with external power, you need at least 7V.  I only had 4.8V coming in.  So I had to put this to the side till I make another run later today to get some more supplies.

While I made my late night run, I grabbed a cheap soldering iron to do some minor work here and there while I troubleshoot and get everything laid out for Butler.  When I start putting the final project together, I'll get the proper tools to do the job correctly.  When I ordered my wireless WiFly module, I almost got the Electret microphone to use for Butler to hear the voice commands.  I soldered on three different colored cables to connect to the breadboard and adjusted my previous sketch and BitVoicer program to listen to the external microphone rather than the laptop's microphone.  I wanted to get this done ASAP as for some reason the microphone on this laptop was not doing the project justice.  With no issues at all, the microphone is working perfectly.  I even tried it from a distance and no flaws!  Once I get the external power setup, I will create a video to show the last three things done to the Butler project.  Maybe tomorrow I'll have a video for you all to view.

Here's a few photos in the meantime:



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When There's a Will, There's a Way

I'm so excited that after my research of wireless connections, ADHOC networks, and WiFly commands finally paid off with getting the WiFly RN-XV module to connect to a wireless router.  I wrote out a tutorial to hopefully help at least one other person trying to achieve what I was trying to do.  The information was out there but not all in one place.  With the tutorial I wrote, anyone should be able to follow and get the module working with no issues.  You can read the tutorial here.

Now that I was finally able to overcome that obstacle, I can move on to setting up the separate power source and test uploading sketches wirelessly with the new setup.  I will post my update on this once I go get some new rechargeable AA batteries to put in my AA holder that I bought.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

It's a hard knock life...

Not much of an update to give this week.  I had to finish up my school work as this was the last week for these classes.  Also, working on improving my career so working as much as I can to keep cash flow coming in to pay bills and survive. 

With budgets, new policies, and hour cuts at work, it makes it hard to fund your hobbies you enjoy doing so much.  All I can do is work with what I got at the moment.  There is so much potential here but as always money puts a limit on everything that we do.  In the meantime, I will be doing research and looking for new parts to get once I'm ready. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

BizSol Systems Official

BizSol Systems is the official group's name developing Butler.  With so much required for this project, we have been working on putting together a team to help keep up with all that is going on. 

Based out of Orlando, FL, our team will be made up of all different ages and lifestyles to help develop new ideas for the future with Butler being the first project.  We are currently working on our site to involve the community more in our projects and get feedback from you all as well.  Thanks for reading and keep checking back daily for more updates on what's going on.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Troubleshooting to its MAX

After quite a bit of time waiting for my replacement part, I finally received the new wireless module for Butler.  After refreshing my memory on all that I learned about the module, I was finally able to connect to the EEPROM and rewrite information in the module.  Well, I've hit another road block.  I have officially prepared myself to hit a road block after each step me and the group completes.

Now, I'm having troubles with connecting to my Belkin wireless router.  I've given the right settings to the module so it can connect but something isn't adding up.  I'm most likely going to do some research on what type of router I best need to use for flawless connectivity.  I want to figure out though why I can not connect to current router.  If I was to mainstream this product, it would need to connect to any router without any issues.

So, the new task at hand is to research wireless connectivity and the best approach to take.  I've had others ask why I'm not doing Bluetooth or other forms of connectivity.  The main reason is distance and being a strong wireless connection that can send lots of data if need be.  Bluetooth is short range at the moment and is more expensive.

I'm not giving up on the project and have started asking questions to the community to get some feedback as not much material is out on the web for research purposes regarding what I'm trying to accomplish.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Not a Good Day

On Tuesday, I received the wireless module and separate microphone for Butler.  I'll need to get a soldering iron for the microphone and I'm sure there is more soldering in the future.  I can't put a robot together with just a bread board.  I mean I could but I'm not going to.  The bread board is only meant for prototyping and keeps everything clean while testing.

Well yesterday, 8/7/2013, I spent a good 11 hours working on the wireless connectivity of Butler.  After spending all that time retracing my steps, I come to find out that I had a Dead on Arrival (DOA) part.  I'm not going to lie, I was pretty upset and by the end of the day, I had a headache coming on from all the head scratching trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  So, now I have to wait for the supplier's response to see how to resolve this issue in a timely manner.

In the meantime, I'm going to work on doing a video about the Butler project.  This will be about a week long project I'm assuming for what I'd like to have in the video.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Starting to Plan the Body of Butler

I've started doing some research on how I want Butler to look and putting down measurements on what I find as I work.

I chose to do a dual track system on the bottom similar to "Wall-E".  The belt will be 3" wide.  I chose to go with lynxmotion's parts.  They have a good reputation and durable.  After doing some calculations, the motors will need to be doing 292RPM for the 3" diameter sprockets that'll be used for the tracks on the bottom of the body.  The equation is RPM = (( 60 * speed ) / ( diameter * PI )).

The speed remember is how many inches you want to go per second, in/s.  I did some calculations and found out that a human walking averages 45in/s.  What I did is laid out a tape measurer and walked normally the length of the tape measurer.  I had a small tape measurer at the time of 138" and I was able to walk it in 3.1 seconds.  You get 44.5" when you do the math.  So I just averaged it to 45" to make it easier.  The diameter is the size in inches of how big the wheel or sprocket attached to the motor.  In my case, it's 3".

I've chose to go with this motor times two for the track system.  Planetary Gear Motor - 12vdc 20:1 300rpm (6mm shaft)  It's got the speed I need.  Now, the plan is to keep Butler light and strong so as soon as weight is added onto these motors, the RPMs will drop and hopefully just to the right number that I've proposed above.  That's why I chose to do a little bit of a higher RPM'd motor.

Here's a sketch of what I have planned.  My goal is to come as close to this as possible.  The box I already have on hand and uploaded it in my first post.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

First Week of August Video Update

Here's the video update for this first week of August on Butler's progress.  Enjoy!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post.  I'm usually posting once a day at least on what progress has been done.  Sundays are usually quiet unless I have extra time to do some work.  Thanks for visiting!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Simple math problems solved from voice commands

After many hours of programming, I finally completed quite a feat today.  I was able to successfully run a voice commanded math problem, have Butler run the math problem, and then display the correct number back to me by blinking the LEDS to whatever the number was.  Granted these are simple math equations but until an LCD or voice box is applied, this will do for now.  The main process has been implemented and conquering this task just shows that there is no limits at this point on what I'll be able to accomplish with Butler's AI.

Today, I ordered the microphone that'll be installed into his system and the wireless card to disconnect the need for the USB cable when processing voice commands through the PC.  I should receive the parts in about four days so I'll have more posts to provide.  Until then, I'll be tweaking the coding for smoother transitions for voice commands and a broad terminology applied for each command.

No pictures or videos today but will certainly have some in tomorrow's post!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Voice Commands and Flashing Lights

So the LEDs and speaker have been added to the system.  BitVoicer has been implemented into Butler.  The voice commands are working great.  Unfortunately, the microphone on this laptop isn't doing it justice.  I'm now working on implementing a microphone into Butler for better voice control from a further distance.

The LEDs are connected to digital pins through a 1000k ohm resistor.  The speaker is connected to a digital pin through a 100 ohm resistor.  The coding has been written and split up through different tabs for better reading of the code and easier to change if needed.

I have found ways to implement different tones to different commands given.  Butler can even play familiar tunes, whistle, and sing.  Butler will certainly have all types of different abilities that will stand above the rest.

Enjoy a few of the videos that we've taken through the progress:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Some Random Notes for Today

I have already started planning out the body of the robot.  I was going to start my DJ business again so a few months ago I started to purchase equipment for it.  I didn't get far so I only have a rack case and a power strip which luckily I'm going to be able to reuse in different manners.

For the body, I'm using this rack case that I am going to reinforce inside to be real sturdy and then attach the extremities to this case.  After they are attached, I'll start installing the sensors and work on a head piece.  Since the cavity of the box is 16" deep, I'll install a board to separate the internal wiring and boards from the storage the robot will use.   I plan on using either a door that he'll open on his own or a roll up that he can store inside.  This part will be interesting to program so that he remembers what he put inside himself.

The base stands 21.5" tall and 15 1/4" wide.  Adding the head piece and bottom base will add to the height.  The arms also will add to the width.  I'm waiting to finish the head piece and arms first so I can know the total weight of the upper body so I know what type of axle and motor setup I'll need for the bottom.  The handles and strap that went around the box will be removed.

At first, I did not know where to begin with the base and then while I was at work brainstorming, it hit me about the rack case.  I shaved off about a week of time constructing this guy just by having this case!  Can't wait till this guy starts really piecing together.

Here's the casing I'll be using as the main body

My brain hurts, So much research!

Some new notes to add to the journal.  I found a previous Wall-E robot prototype tutorial.  I plan on using a few parts and techniques it has listed.  I will refer back to this in the future.

BitVoicer will be used for our voice recognition.  I purchased the license for $4.95 today which I was quite pleased with the price for such an advance type of software for robotics.  I've been messing with it to learn the functionality and will be using THIS to practice using BitVoicer.

I'm going to make a quick run to RadioShack to get some resistors, LEDs, and an 8ohm speaker to start working on outputting tones for different commands.  I want to make Butler different from other "typical" robots.  I'm thinking more like R2D2 responses to commands.  I believe I can express feelings with the movements, sounds he makes, and lighting.

The light sensors seem like they will work for their purpose.  I will need probably four different light sensors throughout the body due to a very limited angle of only 5 degrees of detecting the light source.  When the sensor was directed straight into a light source, it worked great.  More study will go into this.

The sonar sensor works.  I did notice that it will error out when there was a sudden change.  Going to research into this further to see if it's the coding or the sensor itself.

Here's a few pictures to entertain you on what's been done so far:
My Toolbox
Light Sensor
HC-SR04 Sonar Sensor
My Setup

Breadboard / Arduino Mega Setup

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Here's to a new beginning!

Well here we go!  I'm really doing it this time.  Nothing is holding me back.  My goal with this robot is to have him be able to answer any question you may have and think on his own.  I want him to move on his own, think on his own, and understand what you tell him.  Here's to the next age of robots!  His name will be Butler, a completely autonomous AI robot.

I have a really good laptop, a toolbox for all the stuff I'll be getting over time, and the starting setup to begin.  Below is what I got in this past week:

- Asus Ultrabook Aluminum Intel Core i3 1.8GHz, 4GB DDR3 Memory, Windows 8
- Arduino Mega 2560 Microcontroller
- HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Distance Sensor
- Light Brightness Sensors
- 400 point breadboard
- 12V AA battery holder
- 2.1mm DC pigtail power plug

I have downloaded Arduino from and have it installed already on the new laptop.  I plan to just test out the sensors are start working with the programming.  I'll post my findings tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

- DM