the following; I’ve shortened some of the smaller steps for
this article. Before installing ‘Eddie’ on the robot, there is an
order of programs you’ll need to install first:
Go to www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/try
and install Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and Windows SDK.
There is a 60-day free trial available here (any version is
fine). You’ll also need:
At this point, you’re ready to install Microsoft Robotics
Developer Studio 4 Beta 2 (currently running RDS is very
software intensive). After doing so, open the
ParallaxKitReadMe for instructions on installing the Eddie
services. All downloads and installation instructions and
information are available at www.parallax.com/eddie.
Figure 15 shows the robot’s dashboard — a means of
controlling the basic movements of the Eddie platform by
driving the two main wheels. The dashboard displays
distance data from the IR and ultrasonic sensors. Eddie can
also be driven remotely by the Xbox 360 wireless controller.
Uelmen is shown in two camera views of the Kinect sensor
—- the depth camera’s ‘silhouette’ view and a color view
from the RGB camera.
Figure 16 shows a view of the depth camera data with
a skeletal overview. The black splotches on the screenshot
depict areas out of the Kinect’s field of view. Kinect can be
queried by checking the required boxes in the upper left
corner. This Kinect user Interface is available from the RDS4
package Figure 17 shows the skeletal overview from the
RGB camera’s full color view, showing all three data points
It is strongly recommended that you place some books
or blocks under Eddie’s battery mount plate to lift the drive
wheels off the floor or workbench when first powering the
robot up and installing the software. As with any
experimental robot, they can suddenly come to life in a way
you’re not expecting, and either dart off and run into a
wall or drop to the floor with disastrous consequences. (I
had one do that to me when I had just finished it.)
Develop Your Own Eddie Robot
Readers who are interested in building an Eddie-style
robot may want to consider deviating from the Parallax
design and creating their own configuration. Without
having to cut new metal yourself, Parallax has another kit
that just might meet your needs: the $880 MadeUSA
shown in Figure 18. You might wonder where Parallax got
that name. Well, check out the Jan ‘ 12 article by Gordon
McComb for a detailed explanation.
This base is identical to Eddie in most respects but is a
single-plate base with a pair of Parallax-made HB- 25 fan-cooled electronic speed controls and 10 of their Ping)))
Eddie: RDS4 Meets Kinect Meets Parallax
FIGURE 16. Kinect depth and skeletal views.
ultrasonic range finders (no Sharp IR distance rangers).
Batteries are not included but similar batteries to Eddie’s
can be mounted under the main plate.
Builders can use their own processor and develop their
own code or download code from a number of sources.
The same quality gearmotors, motor mounts, pneumatic
wheels, and casters are included. The machining for the
rims, mounts, swivels and Ping))) mounts is from aerospace
grade 6061-T6 aluminum. Eddie’s control board is not
presently available as a separate product but experimenters
can still use their own designs and microcontrollers to
produce the PWM output for the gearmotor’s ESC
requirements, as well as processing data from the ultrasonic
range finders and the complex Kinect data.
I’ve reviewed and experimented with two incredible
machines the past two months. Each one can perform
FIGURE 17. Kinect depth, skeletal, and video overlays.
SERVO 02.2012 79