View Full Version : [Contest Entry] Yubin Kun: Powerbook-based robot.

12-31-2011, 04:19 AM
Robot Name:
Yubin Kun

-Create a useful but inexpensive medium sized robot as a utility exploration platform using the advantages of the MacIntosh OS X environment. And it had to look cool enough to impress the 10-year-old version of me.

-C (Cocoa API)
-Mocha VNC light


Gutted Original Roomba (only drive motors, battery/power management and bumper supports functionally remain.)
12" Powerbook G4 (LCD and Keyboard removed)
aluminum arm with a "Little Gripper"
iSight camera
"head" made from an Airport Base Station
MaxSonar EZ-1
TinyCylon with green LEDs
2 blue LEDs (for "eyes.")
HS-805BB servo
2 HS-422 Servos
Phidgets 1061 Advanced Servo
Phidgets 1018 Interface Kit 8/8/8
Custom relay motor control board
LM7806 Voltage Regulator

Max Speed: about 9in/Sec.
Turning Speed: about 60deg/Sec.
Max Arm Lifting Weight: about 1 lb.
Battery Life: not great.
Approximate cost of parts used: ~$400
Approximate total cost of parts including those not used, destroyed or discarded in development: quite a bit more.
Estimated Man-hours to Build:100
Cost to social life/personal health to build/demo:incalculable.
Current Abilities:
-Autonomous obstacle avoidance "explore" mode
-"Learning pendant" control via iPad over VNC
-"Dance" and "Joker" routines
(essentially the same as a Hero-1 or an RB5X with an arm.)

Functional Demonstration:


Early "Scarecrow Run." (At this point, the "brain" was an pair of delay-latched DPDT relays, triggered by the bumper switches, temporarily borrowed from another bot.):

Block Diagram
Schematic for Motivation Board:

Early Concept Sketches:

Future Plans:
-iSight-based computer vision
-Autonomous "pick-up" mode
-Dry-mop mode
-Docking mode

I made my first robots at the age of 10. They were a simple electromechanical "bump-and-back-up" unit and a "movit" kit that would do the same thing but would also react to sounds as though it encountered an obstacle. At the time, I dreamed of building something on the level of a Heathkit or an Androbot but it was technologically and financially out of my reach. Fast forward 30 years and the rapid evolution of technology (not to mention a career) have allowed me to assemble and program this machine. I hope to use it to discover if George Devol's assertion that fairly simple robots can provide us with great utility holds true in the domestic environment. In my imagination, a unit this size would be of great help to cancer victims and the elderly in many situations, such as the "concept" in the video above.

Using the Mac platform was important to this project. I've been a Mac user for 22 years, beginning with a used Mac 512 purchased for college and culminating with the aforementioned iPad 2. Using OS X not only allowed me to program using familiar environments and to take advantage of the built-in speech recognition and iSight over firewire (as well as the small form-factor of the 12" Powerbook) but more importantly, it gives the machine what most Mac-fanatics would see as a soul. Perhaps a less whack-a-doodle way of putting it would be that the user experience of the Rob is enhanced by the "insanely great" nature of the Mac. Also, you can pick one up for a song on eBay if you don't care that the LCD is hosed.

At one stage, I had built the unit using "jitter-boards" to control the servos. I was using the remaining outputs from the IFKit to throw SPDT relays two different resistor values to a 555 timer circuit to pulse the servos at fixed rates (for up/down, open/closed, and in the case of the head forward/left/right.) It worked okay but the servos were too noisy to let even the iSight's sensitive microphone to hear voice commands over it. Luckily, I found the AdvancedServo on sale right before Thanksgiving. (I should note that while I did by some of the parts for this project from Trossen, I didn't get them all there. However, I kind of wish I had. Shipping from Canada is a source of much consternation, if you've never experienced it. I live in less than a state away from Illinois so I usually get my TR orders next day.)

"Yubin Kun" is named after the first robot to join the human resistance in the fantastic Daniel H. Wilson novel Robopocalypse (http://www.amazon.com/Robopocalypse-Novel-Daniel-H-Wilson/dp/0385533853/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325322732&sr=8-1). I really don't have any idea what it translates/transliterates into-for all I know it means "Your Grandfather Pees on You."

Other projects I'm working on right now include a Roomba-like unit for picking up pooh in dog runs and an Arduino-based miniature replica of the classic RB5X (aRDui5X.)

(Anyone with experience or advice programming for the iSight in the Cocoa SDK, I'd appreciate your input on the development of the computer vision phase of Yubin Kun.)

11-27-2014, 09:34 AM
This is really amazing! I hadn't seen this before, but it shows some really great work. Using the Roomba is a fantastic idea. Did you get to add any of the other features? I'd love to see what it's become.