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From software algorithms to material selection, Mr. Roboto strives to meet you
where you are — and what more would you expect from a complex service droid?
I can’t believe it is September already. Hopefully, you’ve
all been busy preparing for or celebrating about some
robot competition, of which there are many these days
Sometimes, we get tired of what we are doing and
look for an upgrade to our robot. This month’s question is
just that — an upgrade. Anyone who has ever gotten one
of the nifty biped robot kits has also gotten an IR remote
to go with it. While an IR remote is fine for a TV that sits
still at a fixed distance away in a room free from
distraction, it isn’t so great for a competition robot. I
therefore delved into the realm of after-market upgrades
using things never envisioned to be used like this. Curious?
Read on then.
Q. I have a robot kit that I built that uses an IR remote control. The IR remote is okay, but not very reliable so I want to replace it with a radio control
remote. I looked around and saw that the Japanese Robo
One guys are often using a Sony Playstation 2 wireless
remote for their bipeds. How can I get that to work for me
and my robot?
14 SERVO 09.2012
A. What a great idea, and why didn’t I think of that? (Oh yeah, I don’t play video games.) Still, what a great solution. The manufacturer has already worked
out the RF details — it has to connect to a simple controller
port, so this is an ideal solution for remote controls. When
you have an idea that you are sure that someone has
already come up with some solution for, the place to go is
Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, or ...). I found a bunch of sites
with some information on them and a couple of sites with
lots of information on them, but none of them wrapped it
up and tied the solution with a bow. It turns out this isn’t
rocket science, but it isn’t super simple either.
Step 1 is to procure a PS2 wireless controller and get it
to work with someone else’s published software. Always
start from a known position. That way, you can tell if you
are doing something wrong or if something else is going
on. As you know, I’m a Mac kind of guy so I went straight
to a programmer platform that runs on the Mac and has
lots of helpful people hacking on it. I’m talking, of course,
about Arduino. Sure enough, someone has a PS2 controller
library. Bill Porter looked over PS2 controller information
and reworked some starter code written by another
Arduino hacker on the Arduino forums. The result is this
pretty decent library: