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Thread: Advice Regarding Building My First Robot (A Humanoid)

  1. Advice Regarding Building My First Robot (A Humanoid)

    I've asked a couple of questions on these forums over the last few days trying to get my head around some basic questions and I appreciate the responses thus far.

    My budget is around £1000.

    I'm looking to build a robot to experiment with. Ultimately, I think I want a biped that can be either controlled from a PC or be capable of carrying an onboard PC (perhaps a fit-PC2 or Pico-ITX). I'd like to experiment with human interaction, e.g. gesturing, simple verbal responses and perhaps eventually visual processing. I like the idea of a humanoid "pet" (something cute that my wife won't disagree with!)

    In terms of my background, I'm a radiologist with a reasonable amount of software development experience but ZERO experience building robots. I've been really inspired by the NAO and the DARwIn-OP.

    Do people think the Bioloid kit would be a good place to start for me? It looks like I could build a biped from the kit that could be controlled from a PC straight out of the box. I understand that there is no microphone or speaker so the bot wouldn't be able to converse but it looks like there might be scope to add a fit-PC2 to the back of the humanoid eventually.

    Is there much difference between the premium and comprehensive versions of the kit when it comes to my needs?

    Sorry for all the basic questions but robotics is expensive and I want to make sure I buy the right gear to start with!

    FieldDoc

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    Re: Advice Regarding Building My First Robot (A Humanoid)

    For Bioloid kits, do not go with the Comprehensive kit. It still ships with the very outdated CM-5 (same ATmega128 microcontroller as the controller of the HOVIS kits) and a 9.6V NiMH battery, plus the legs are a bit too close to be really stable while walking and the plastic chest frame that holds the CM-5 and battery is prone to breaking. The Premium kit is a major improvement over the Comprehensive in mechanical design and in the controller (the new CM-530 I detailed a bit in your other thread) and battery (11.1V LiPo).

    Tyberius recently did a review of the HOVIS humanoid kit (with the smaller HerkuleX servos) which looks rather nice, but we're still really addicted to dynamixels (instructional robotics lab here has many carbots, Gerwalks, Type-A Humanoids, Type-A legged BipedWalkers, standard BipedWalkers, and two DARwIn-OP's with another assembled DARwIn-OP on order and the electronics kit for a fourth shipping before too long). IIRC, the HOVIS Eco is the same as their standard biped but with really nice plastic casings for a fully enclosed body ($990 special order at robotshop).

    I'm honestly not very fond of bipeds simply because of balance issues while walking, so I think a wheeled rover with a humanoid torso presents the best compromise with a stable and low power mobile base (that can be loaded with as many batteries and computers as you desire) plus the interactivity of a humanoid (NASA's Project M - Robonaut on a Centaur base) (Roller Bob from Toy Story - humanoid torso on a skateboard) (the previously mentioned Nelson).
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
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    Re: Advice Regarding Building My First Robot (A Humanoid)

    IMO the Bioloid is an excellent starting point. I have never used the Bioloid controllers, & instead I went for the Arbotix which I found was more adjustable for all the weird things I wanted on my bot. It does require some programming knowledge, although there are enough programs shared on this site to get things going. I gather the CM-(Insert whatever number here) are more plug & play, but have limitations on what they can do. The Arbotix is more like the fit-PC. Well, a really, really stupid fit-PC.... which has been lobotomised.... with not much memory storage. It just so happens to be compatible with the Arduino style programs, which is a massive bonus if you like to tinker around with little projects.
    I love my Arbotix btw - Smart enough for what I want, & light enough for an AX-12+ humanoid to carry around with all my other stuff. The option I went for was the Bioloid frame kit, the Arbotix kit, & the battery & servos I needed. Everything except the battery I got from Trossen.

    Darkback2 uploaded his program for the Arbotix, & I have been using a modified version of it ever since.

    A humanoid is harder to make stable than a quad or hex, so the quads are quicker to get moving around the floor effectively. The carrying capacity of a humanoid will be your biggest issue if you go that way, which is another plus for the Arbotix.

    Good luck!

  4. Re: Advice Regarding Building My First Robot (A Humanoid)

    Excellent advice guys.

    I've made up my mind - I'm going to pick up the Bioloid Premium kit once I get funding approval from the missus. I will check out the Arbotix as well. Once I get the robot built and my head around servos, etc I shall look into upgrading the brains on the bot.

    Really looking forwards to getting into robotics!

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    Re: Advice Regarding Building My First Robot (A Humanoid)

    Quote Originally Posted by FieldDoc View Post
    Once I get the robot built and my head around servos, etc I shall look into upgrading the brains on the bot.
    Robotis has released open source C/C++ libraries for each of their newer controllers (avr-gcc/AVRStudio for CM-510/700 and arm-gcc for CM-530) with code examples on how to use the various peripherals (buttons, LED's, analog inputs, digital outputs, buzzer, zigbee packets, dynamixel bus packets). You should be getting the CM-530, so if you want to do embedded-c instead of RoboPlus Task/Motion you will need to set up an arm-gcc dev environment (they have instructions on the support site for setting up WinARM + Eclipse). While beta testing the CM-530, I got a bit annoyed with the lack of a uniform library or blank project that allowed any peripheral I desired (every example project used different configuration headers/source files enabling different peripherals), so I compiled pretty much everything I could find in to my own (it is the CM-530 attachment). It might be of use even though I still haven't made an interpolating motion engine for it (a big plus for the arbotix is that fergs built a motion engine for it quite a while ago as well as NUKE for making gaits for quads/hexapods). Also, the Robotis Q&A site can be quite useful in fixing common problems; many have been solved before, but the search function is garbage so it can be a bit difficult to find those answers (just use google to search their site).
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    bleh
    more bleh

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