B9 Electronics: The Inside Story Part 6 – the Finger Lights, Brain & Crown Animation

As I was using the light controller from Tom for the belly and chest lights, so to am I using another board from Tom for the finger and brain lights. It’s basically the same board as the chest and belly lights controller card used in the Torso. The reason I used another one was so that I could get a different blinking and pattern rate than the torso. I wanted an asynchronous blinking pattern between the 2 sections. To me this gives a more realistic appearance of a real, functioning robot. Just as a side note, you could hook up everything to 1 controller card but I wanted that certain, special, something that only 2 cards can provide.
The crown and finger light movement is handled by the Hankscraft 12v 7rpm motor. You can obtain this motor from a number of sources and is readily available. The average price for this motor is 25.00. What I had a problem with was the wires coming out of the brain and finger lights passing through the brain cup into the neck. As you can see from the picture on the left from the B9 website, there isn’t much room and I had to remove the wire sheaths and drill out additional wire routes to go around the Hankscraft motor. It is a VERY tight fit. Take care not to kink the thin wires coming out of the finger lights.

B9 Electronics: The Inside Story Part 5 – Radar Section

My radar section uses the B9 creations’ 2.5v regulated power supply and the Namiki Ear Motors for the ear sensors. Both of which were obtained from Eric Johnson from the club website. The Namiki motors are very sensitive to voltage and you can burn them out easily. The radar is moved by a digital robotic high power JR servo (JR DS8711). The range of movement is 180 degrees. 90 to the left and 90 to the right. I can fit a 360 degree servo in there or I could use a sailing wench servo for continuous rotation but most shots from the series do not show the radar moving greater than 90 degrees because the rotation of the radar section was controlled by Bob Mays head movement, so I decided to stick with that. I would suggest that you use a geared motor to rotate the radar section if you want to have 360 degree movement. However, in order to do that you would need to have a motor controller to be able to direct the degree and direction of rotation. That just means more money and more stuff to cram into the collar/radar area.
I also experimented with IR (infrared) sensors in the collar to direct movement of the radar when the robot is in animatronic mode to further simulate AI (artificial intelligence). The device I used was from Jim Shima’s website called Hyperdyne and Hotcranium.com. These are the same controller cards that the R2D2 group uses for automatic dome rotation in relation to sound and IR movement detection. It works most of the time so long as you are not in a very loud or hot room. That is not always possible at a convention. Also, since the detectors are in the collar you have to be at least 48″ tall for it to detect you. So what I decided to do was put in a IR detector in the rear vent bay to detect those pesky little carbon based replacements we call children. When it detects someone close it triggers a voice message saying to please stand clear and to step away from the rear vent and power pack.

B9 Electronics: The Inside Story Part 4 – The Torso

There is a lot of stuff that goes in the torso so lets start with the most basic question. Where is the power coming from and how will you split up or handle different voltage requirements for all of the electronic gadgets inside the torso? The answer is this: A 12v 12ah gel cell battery in the torso & a few 12v distribution boards. Now before we go any further let me say that I thought of using a slip ring to bring power from the tread section to the torso but I had to rule it out because of the way I am doing the hip rotation. The drive is off center and has an over sized gear cog which obscures the center of the CSS. I did look at the figure 8 procedure to accommodate such situations but However I still want to be able to do a 360 rotation. This defeats the reason for a slip ring. I also though of running wires up from the base and then have enough slack to be able to handle several 360 degree rotations but I just didn’t feel the need for that. Most of the time I will not be doing a 360 degree rotation of the torso.
The distribution boards were originally created for the R2D2 builders group by Dan Stuettgen. I convinced Dan to change his board to include a few 3.3v connections for both rows of teeth lights making them more suitable for our club. Those boards should be showing up very soon. The additional change will also help the R2 group for those wanting the USB powered devices so this change helps everybody out (don’t you just love inter-club cooperation)!!
The Torso Lights
Lets start with the belly lights. I have the lighting kit by Tom Wisnionski for the belly and chest lights. This kit is not for the faint at heart! There is something to be said for just doing basic wiring of the lights with flashing bulbs (but I have never been known for doing what’s easy! ) This kit allows you to vary the blinking pattern and speed of the lights. This kit uses 6v bulbs. I put 6 volt bulbs in the brain, chest, finger and belly lights. It requires a degree of intense wiring but the instructions are (for the most part) clear and easy to follow.
The Dial Lights (chest lights) and the programing bay light hook up to Tom’s board as well.
The teeth lights use the NKK lighted switches part number 633-215kkw016b1jb-r0 at Mouser.com. Those are the ones used in the replica robots. The lighted portion of the switch requires a 3.5v power source so be careful you DO NOT go above that. If the LED blows in this switch you need to get another switch because the LED’s can not be replaced; and at 22.95 each that can get very expensive, very quickly.
The Neon
The neon that I use is the 16 row neon that was sold by Craig Reinbrecht. Craig only sells the 12 row neon now. Another vendor (Dennis Wilbur) sells a 12 row neon as well. Mine is connected to a Tech 22 model 8000 neon power supply (which needs 12v to operate correctly). While we are on the subject, let me show you the correct way to connect the 2 neon halves.If you look on the B9 website Craig has a diagram on what to do but his example shows a 1 piece neon. As you can see the wiring of the neon is like 1 continuous loop for the 2 halves. However describing it just isn’t enough. It helped me to actually see what it looked like. So here it is.
I also discovered that soldering the high voltage wires to the neon is not a very good idea because the heat from soldering can damage the neon. It is best if you just use wire nuts.
Also, when testing the unit if you get a strobing effect or a flash of light then it is most probably because the wire leads you are using are too long. Neon is very sensitive to voltage and resistance. I have found consistently that if use VERY short test leads you will get a successful test. But in any event you should test each section of the neon first to make sure it lights up well. Then when you connect the 2 together the length of the test wire leads will make a tremendous difference in a successful test or not. It would be best if you would use the special high voltage wiring because your 12v power source is generating 8,000 volts. If you see a “beading” of neon then you will need to use the supplied diodes to correct that. Make sure you only apply the diodes to the upper section of the neon. Please note that there is a solid black line that denotes the orientation or flow of electricity through out the neon. Please make sure you have the correct orientation of the diodes or the beading may still continue.
The Bubble Lifter
The bubble lifter uses a GWS777 6BB Robotic servo. This servo can lift over 20 lbs but only if the servo is externally powered with a 6v battery or some other power source. This amount of power is necessary to lift everything above the radar section and be able to move it up or down quickly. A fast bubble movement is imperative if you are to replicate the synchronous of bubble “attitude” when the robot when asking or saying certain phrases. The auxiliary power device that the GWS servo would plug into is shown in the picture to the right.
The Sound System
I decided to use the CF3 sound system by ACS Control Systems Inc. It is the sound system I use in my Astromechs. These typically run around 179.00 plus any additional IO input cards, sand cards and external power supplies if your robot uses AC power only. It is a beauty and easy to use. It can handle as many as 48 contacts (which is what mine has) that can trigger various sounds and contact closures remotely, automatically or in response to other contact closures, IR devices (active and passive), etc.. It has an interchangable SAN card that can hold any amount of sounds files wether they are WAV or MP3. It even has a scripting routine along with background files that can be played (the robot sound).
To trigger sounds without the need of a computer I included a couple of 12 channel RF remotes from Cold Fusion to activate those sounds while he is mobile. These can be found on eBay for as low as 24.95. This is a great little remote that has a teriffic range (500 feet unobstructed). So my robot could be way ahead of me and he could respond to the crowd and no one would see who is controlling him.
 
 
 
 
Arms and Claws
Now you may have noticed that I conspicuously left out the motorized arms and claws. This will be a surprise that you will only see at the build off. I will show you the customized controller board that I had made but that is it for now…. muhahahahahaha ..oh sorry…that was my Dr. Evil laugh coming out…. :)

B9 Electronics: The Inside Story Part 3 – Leg, Hip & Waist

OK, fair warning now… the further we go up, the more complicated the electronics become… sort of…Again, this is what I did. There are several ways to “skin a cat” and this is one of them……
My hip section moves up and down to simulate a power failure from a power pack pull out as well as to bow to pick things up, address royalty, etc. The motor to rotate the torso is also located in the hip section. This is a departure from Mike Joyce’s replica robot where the waist rotation motor is actualy inside the torso. The motors used for both the hip and waist rotation is the Dewert 24v motors. Each one is controlled by a Vantec RET 411P single motor controller. These plug in to the RC receiver. I fused each RET 411p to protect it from any overload or spike from the batteries, etc. The manual for the RET 411P is located on the Vantec web site at http://www.vantec.com/retman98d.pdf. It is a very straight forward wiring procedure where the positive and negative leads of the motor are connected to the white and gray wires of the vantec controller. The black and orange wires go to the positive and negative leads of the battery. Note where the switch goes. I will use one of the switches inside of the programming bay to control hip and waist rotation. By switching them off I could save on battery power consumption and also serve as a safety control mechanism if I wanted to limit movement of my robot.

B9 Electronics: The Inside Story Part 2 – Soil Sampler

For those using my version 1 drive section (for robots 300 lbs and under) and you have the B9 Creations soil sampler and are using Eric’s tread sections, this is the only way to install it. There are some modifications that you will need to make to the face plates of the sampler so it will mate correctly with the drive section. Once this simple and easy modification is done it will fit perfectly. If your robot will be over 300 lbs then you will have to go with a more powerful drive section. Since the version 2 drive section has bigger and more powerful motors the existing soil sampler by Mike Joyce will not fit. I could hack up Mike’s existing frame and still use his internals but I decided to design a new soil sampler because Mike no longer offers a soil sampler. I will also add some new capabilities to the soil sampler. Like actually being able to obtain a soil sampler (what a concept). This one will have 2 settings. 1 for indoor “show” use. That setting will allow the sampler tube to come out to the floor, spin and retract like the original. The 2nd setting will actually extend the sampler tube to go below the level of the floor and drill down into the ground. I thought it would be nice for the environmental robot to be capable of actually doing his real/stated job. In order to accomplish this I will be using a 24v power drill motor with clutch. The 2nd setting just extends the sampler an additional 6″. There is also a small suction tube/vent in the drill tube assembly to aerosolize the dirt for analysis.