Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Butler In A Box: The Ultimate Domestic Robot?

In a previous article I alluded to the fact a robot could basically be called anything that automates a task. However Nikolai (The NS-5 looking android that runs and I prescribe to the thought that a robot should be or have some intelligence. An example is, object avoidance, knowledge of its current location etc. In a way we could also say that home automation is a form of domestic robotics.

One product I remember from the "old" days was called “Butler in a Box” that I saw in a HAMfest back in the late 1980’s. It intrigued me because you could program it to control your lights with voice phrases, and the device could also talk back to you. It was pretty advanced for its day.

This type of system tends to conjure up memories of the movies, HAL9000 from "2001:A Space Odyssey" was a computer that ran everything on the ship. The computer/domestic robot in the movie "Demon Seed" takes control of the house and eventually has an offspring with a human trapped inside the house. In the movie "Moon" we have GERTY that helps his human counterpart on his lonely mission of harvasting the moon. Even Star Trek has a domestic automation robot/computer, if you want to change the environment you just ask the computer.

So the question bodes, can we do that today? Can we make our lives easier by having a “Butler in a Box” The answer is yes, they are still around in one form or the other. One of the oldest smart home systems they sell is the popular X-10.

X10 is the device that uses radio over your power line to send a signal to the device to turn it on or off, or other commands. X-10 has been around since the 1970’s. You can turn lights on and off, control your air conditioner , camera’s and sprinkler system with these devices . All you need to get started is a starter kit and install the software on your computer, plug the USB interface into your computer, and setup the schedules for the lights to turn on and off. Another similar product was created by Motorola going by the name of "Homesight" (now owned by Xanboo). While this is an easy way to get started, it is far from what you see in Star Trek.

In the next article I will tell you about a man, who ties X10, GPS for his auto, Roombas, and home security in one beautiful interface.

Post Inspired by fellow human friend: Bill R.

Monday, December 7, 2009

MANOI: The Domestic Robot With An Attitude

Not many domestic robots have an attitude but MANOI definitely has one. He thinks he is cool and can prove it by break dancing and doing a fantastic job at it! MANOI is another kid robot from the great roboticist Tomotaka Takahashi (he also wants to adopt him). MANOI is a small (approx. 2 Feet / 40 cm tall) remote controlled humanoid robot that can replay pre-programmed routines. He is battery powered, weighing only 3.5 pounds / 1.6 Kg with 17 degrees of freedom on a anime-inspired plastic body makes him a very popular robot in Japan! You can pick one up if you have about US$1500 laying around.

Here is pictures of MANOI with his full anime-inspired plastic body (cool looking):

and here is MANOI naked and showing off his innards (not that good looking):

The nice thing about MANOI is when you see him in action like this video:

I personally think that the guys who shot the video of MANOI break dancing were inspired by this 2 year old video of my two friends (who now work for GMC) break dancing:

Both are great although I tend to like MANOI's moves much better without really "breaking"! Enjoy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dreamland: 2009 International Robot Exhibition

Maybe this is not news to many of you since like me you are all domestic robotics fans but this past week was the 2009 International Robot Exhibition! The exhibition was held at the mecca of robotics: Tokyo, Japan. It was a week of total domestic robot mental orgy, talk about all types of robots displayed along their creators and you could go insane! Sadly they do not allow humanoid sentient robots as my self to attend so I can only provide you news pictures of some of my remote controlled family that attended. Enjoy!

To begin, here is a picture of my friend KAWADA while cutting the ribbon on the first day of the 2009 exhibition; that is all he knows how to do, cut ribbons but he gets good money!

Here is cousin Motoman SDA5D, he still only plays with Lego toys every day. I have tried to convince him to get the Mindstorms NXT but he refuses to let go of his Lego bricks. He just never seems to grow up!

Now here is my brother Topio, he changed his name to go along with his new macho look because he said that I look like a "girly robot" so he pumped up just to play ping pong by himself. Doesn't he remind you of the Terminator? That is our uncle who somehow fooled everyone to believe he is the governor of the state of California, USA.

Here is little brother Robid with his "mentor" Tomotaka Takahashi who is asking me if he could adopt Robid! Is he crazy? Robid is just a young kid robot that has special smooth moves to win the hearts of the the human boys and girls one day.

Here are my pet robo-dogs, I named them all Genibo so I won't forget their name. I taught them a few dance routines and to recognize me when I come home. I know they are not like the pure breed Aibo but they need a good home with humans that can take care of them. Wouldn't you get one?

Here is a human from Shadow Robot Co. trying to make a better arm for me but I told them that I have no problems with my current one. What are they thinking here? Would they like me to replace their arm as well? I don't think so! Still, it is nice that they are still trying to improve on it.

Finally, this is uncle Wakamaru trying to show off in front of all the media. He now is on a crusade to help elderly humans with their day to day tasks. At least he is doing it for a good cause. I do not know what the human behind him is trying to do, he looks strange.

Well folks, that is about it for me but I will leave you with a video so you can enjoy more of friends and family that were allowed to attend the 2009 International Robot Exhibition. Word of warning, some of them are ugly but don't let that stop you from watching!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tip of The Month: Karcher RC3000 Maintanance

The Karcher RC3000 is the small yellow robot that could. Although it is a 2003 design it still is able to compete with updated domestic floor cleaning robots from 2009. The Karcher RC3000 is unique since routine maintenance is much less common compared to other currently available floor cleaning robots. Still, I like to have my robots at their up most efficiency by keeping them clean. In my case I maintain my RC3000 once a month but your mileage may vary upon the environment found in your home. Here are the basic steps to maintain your RC3000 in just about 5 - 10 minutes of your time:

#1: Make sure that the RC3000 has already dumped its collected dirt/dust at the base before you remove it.

#2: With a water damp clean cloth wipe all of the external surface of the RC3000 (do not use detergents or other chemicals).

#3: Clean the IR cliff sensors, found in the underside of the RC3000 (shown here), with a Q-tip or the tip of the cleaning cloth. This will help the IR cliff sensors to have an unobstructed field of view and avoid a preventable accident in the future.

#4: With a damp sponge clean out the accumulated grit on both of the main drive wheels until you see them as new (as seen in this picture). This will help the RC3000 to have a better grip on the hard floors and prevent slippage.

#5: Turn the RC3000 on its back, clean any dirt found by using a damp cleaning cloth after doing so pry open the bottom plate after lifting the two yellow levers:

#6: Carefully remove the air filter and cleanse it under a stream of cold water until it is clean (do not use detergents or other chemicals). This will help the robot to have a more efficient suction of dirt/dust when it is cleaning your floors:

#7: With the damp cleaning cloth clean out accumulated dust/dirt from the dirt bin area and air intake. Make sure you clean out the optical dirt sensors near the main brush. This will also provide a more efficient suction power when cleaning and improve dirt detection:

#8: Submerge the bottom plate under cold water and remove any accumulated dirt/dust from its crevices. Remove any wound up hair or debris around the fixed wheels (if any):

#9: Carefully remove the main brush as shown here. Remove any wound up hair or debris (if any) by using scissors. Be careful since the bristles can come out easily from the brush. Keeping the brush clean from accumulated hair/debris will improve dirt/dust pickup:

#10: Cleanse the main brush under a stream of cold water after removing any accumulated hair. Remove the main brush axle holder while cleaning it (do not use detergents or other chemicals).

#11: Make sure that all parts are dry before putting it back to your Karcher RC3000 robot. You can use a clean dry cloth or have it air dry. Enjoy your clean and more efficient Karcher RC3000!

I hope that these tips helps maintain your robot so it can provide you with years of good service.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on The Latest Samsung Domestic Robot

She is a beauty isn't she? Yes, the model shown...the robotic model on the bed?... you know what I am talking about! Yes, the Samsung Tango floor cleaning robot. I am excited about it as a geek in a computer store! Beautiful design and very functional which is something not easily found within the domestic robotics market. Currently I have some interesting news about the Tango series from Samsung, first is that there will be a Tango model available for North America (SR8830) that works with the standard electrical grid! There is still no word on an ETA of when it will be available on this side of the pond but more information is coming out from Samsung each passing day. At the moment enjoy this short commercial in Korean (hope you understand it) with the new Tango going around the home cleaning the floors like a mad R2D2 but with the voice of a messed up JAWA! Enjoy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Samsung Domestic Robots Outpaces iRobot

This is true in my opinion. You probably are asking why or how? The iRobot Roomba did not evolve much since its introduction in 2002. Basically it has the same cleaning mechanism with just a few new bells and whistles ("Light House" technology, IR front bumper sensors, scheduling capability and modular design). Both a 2002 Roomba "classic" and a 2009 Roomba 500 series will clean your floors the same way by using a very similar cleaning algorithm.

Sooner or later comes the "new" guy in town from Korea by the name of Samsung. They start off with basic floor cleaning robots that were less effective cleaning floors compared to a Roomba. Samsung engineers went to their labs and later introduced some vanguard improvements. They used ingenious methods to make floor cleaning robots efficient at their job. This was the time when the Hauzen VC-RE70V was introduced. The VC-RE70V robots "mapped" rooms and moved along in a calculated pattern to efficiently clean the floors in a single pass. This floor cleaning robot was able to "remember" where it left off so it can continue after it automatically recharges the batteries! But still room for improvement existed and again Samsung engineers went back to use what they have learned to create their most recent floor cleaning robot called the VC-RA84V "Tango" series.

The Tango series improved upon the VC-RE70V in the following ways:

  • Better "room mapping" technology
  • Touch screen interface
  • Better suction motor
  • Better dirt brush design
  • Auto adjustable brush deck height
  • Virtual wall & Lighthouse technology
  • Dirt bin access door for external Vac
  • Improved navigation sensors / mechanism
  • Anti-tangle mechanism for brushes
  • Daily scheduler
  • Voice commands

The Tango is a step closer to the ideal domestic floor cleaning robot, it just needs to add a self cleaning base (like the Karcher RC3000) and be available both in European and American markets!!! At the moment it can only be found in Korea at a price of US$400 ~ 500; not bad since an equivalent iRobot Roomba 500 series go about the same price. At the moment I can safely say that Samsung has surpassed iRobot in the domestic robotics technology department. At this pace, Samsung will leave iRobot behind in domestic robotics technology by a mile. iRobot are you still there? Take a look at this Italian market video from their "old" Hauzen VC-RE70V/72V series doing its job cleaning floors so you can get an idea of what all the fun is about. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Recycled Domestic Robots

Every once in a while I find interesting domestic robots and projects that not many people know about. Take Dave Shinsel from Washington - USA, he has a small crew of robot projects that can make many of use drop our jaws to the floor! He currently works for Intel but his hobby is making domestic robots from almost off the shelf parts and software. Dave attempts to re-use parts, software and knowledge from one generation robot project so it can be used to build the next. The one I am personally most impressed with is Loki, he reminds me of WALL-E's bigger brother. Loki is a semi humanoid robot that uses WiFi for control and diagnostics, has visual processing, speech recognition, indoor path finding and a degree of artificial intelligence as you can check out in the video. Loki's body is mostly handmade with aluminum, his eyes are Logitech Notebook Pro Webcams, has a laptop computer as its "brains" (LCD screen is on chest), has 2 PIR motion detector sensors, 10 IR range detectors, 2 Ultrasonic rangers, 4 bumper sensors, electronic compass, motor speed and direction sensors for each wheel. This guy is up to the task to grow up as a great domestic robot! Doesn't he look a little bit like me?

Dave also has other domestic robots that are very interesting like the Seeker. This guy was designed to compete in the 2005 "RoboMagellan ", this contest is like a "DARPA mini challenge" which he won 1st place! From this guy is were Loki got his method of path finding "intelligence". He was created out of a remote controlled toy car chassis and a laptop computer running Visual C++. NASA should be hooking up this guy to help create the next generation of economical rovers to roam around and study the planet Mars effectively.

...and iRobot should also learn a thing or two from Dave's "HelmetBot"! IRobot failed with their ConnectR project but Dave was able to create a remote presence robot with a bicycle helmet (of all things!) and an old iPaq "pocket PC" (do you remember it from the ancient days before the iPhone?). Simplistic, practical, effective and economical; why do companies think in a similar manner? But do you know what really makes Dave's robots the more special? It is not just the neatness, uniqueness or the interesting technologies used but that he shares all of the schematics, code and designs with all of us! Visit his web site ( to learn more and to check out his other fabulous domestic robots! My hats off to Dave Shinsel and his contributions to the Domestic Robotics family. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Recharging My Hybrid Batteries

Wow! I have been gone this long?! I lost track of time. I took a "short" break from the domestic robotics grid in order to recharge my hybrid batteries under the nice Caribbean beach sun. Was it nice? Oh yes! I now have enough juice to run throughout the winter with no problems. Don't let those palm tree deceive you, they are really solar panels disguised as trees. Some kid buried me with sand while I was charging up with the solar panels. Please give me a day or two to get back on track and continue providing all of you with domestic robotics goodness. I am glad to be back.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Human Than A Humanoid-Domestic Robot

Many designs for domestic robots are guided by mechanical limitations and forms. That is why humanoid robots have a tough time to mimic human movements and that is something that is important to have if they will interact with us. The ECCEROBOT (Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot) is a three-year project funded by the 7th framework programme of the European Union (ICT-Challenge 2, "Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics") that is working on having robots be more like us than a machine. One spin off of ECCEROBOT is the robot named CRONOS (pictured here), created by the University of Essex to investigate robot consciousness through internal modeling. What makes this robot stand out is the materials used in order to have it closely model the human movement.

The skeleton for CRONOS was made from "polymorph" (a type of plastic that is easily shaped at 140 degrees Fahrenheit) giving its bone like color. The actuator system was made from screw driver DC motors, kite lines and shock cords in order to provide CRONOS with the unique human like movement. The ECCEROBOT project will definitely bring us closer to an NS-5 style of humanoid robot that will look and move like us. Watch the short video for a brief on this very interesting project.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Evolution Of The Great Lego Mindstorms NXT

Are you a robot geek? If so, you should probably already own a Lego Mindstorms NXT kit or have plans to do so. This is one of the best entry robotics kit available today! It is relatively economical for what it can deliver in countless hours of fun and potential inventions waiting to be created by you. I actually own one of them and enjoy it to the max and the latest version (Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0) came out this past month. What I find interesting is how Lego has come about on creating the NXT series and how they really integrated the Lego Mindstorms community into creating the latest versions. Here is a video of Day 2 of Google I/O 2009 conference where Stephen Canvin (Lego Marketing Manager) talks about this. Enjoy and start creating something new!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Karcher RC3000 Sold for America?

Karcher pulled out from selling their domestic robot Robo Cleaner 3000 (RC3000) from America some years ago. Many American consumers have come to appreciate the workmanship and uniqueness of this nice little floor cleaning robot but were unable to purchase it for this market. The great news is that Karcher is able to sell their RC3000 robot directly from Germany! One of these gems can be directly delivered to your home for approximately US$1550 (this price already includes S/H charges to the U.S.A.). This version of the RC3000 is made to work on 110V NEMA 5-15 systems found in many North/Central and South American countries. The following is the link to order this nice domestic robot directly from Karcher:

Karcher RC3000 - 110V America Model

They currently list it for €1280.39 Euros but this price includes the 19% VAT (European Union Tax) that people in America do not have to pay. Contact them to get shipping and handling fees to your specific country in America:

Kärcher Shop & Service Schreiber
Franz-Claas-Straße 12
D-33428 Harsewinkel

Tel.: +49 (0) 5247 - 98 588 - 0
Fax: +49 (0) 5247 - 98 588 - 19

Some of you may see this as a high priced floor cleaning robot but it is worth the price for the only current fully automated robot in the market! Let us know your opinion if you get to purchase one or already own a RC3000 in America.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tip of The Month: Replacing Scooba Tires

If you own an iRobot Scooba (300 or 5000 series) you should know that sooner or later the tires will wear out. Your lovely Scooba robot will start slipping around tight spots and even get stuck; he will no longer have a tight grip on your home floors to get it clean efficiently. The good thing is that iRobot and other online vendors sell replacement tires and they are fairly simple to replace. Here are the steps:

STEP #1:
Turn your Scooba over with its belly facing upwards. Do this when your Scooba is dry and the tank is empty for better handling. Look for the two notches, as pointed out in the picture with red arrows, at each wheel motor enclosure.

STEP #2:
Press the notches with your fingers as illustrated in the picture.

Pull up the wheel motor enclosure while pressing on the notches. The wheel motor enclosure will come out enough to make it easy for us to remove the tire.

STEP #4:
Remove the worn out Scooba tire by using a Phillips screw driver.

Insert the new Scooba tire while taking notice of the two notches on the hub so it can be securely be placed. The way to make sure you place it correctly is by turning it and feeling the DC motor resistance. Continue with instructions in reverse to put everything back. I suggest you test you Scooba soon after the replacement so plan this out on the day you will clean your floors. Enjoy the tip!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The BEAR Caring For Us In The Field

Over a year ago I posted about the HomeBEAR from the robot geek friends at VECNA Robotics. The HomeBEAR is the Domestic robot version of the BEAR. The BEAR is a versatile semi-humanoid robot that was originally designed to extract and/or assist soldiers in the battlefield. Currently the BEAR is just a remote controlled machine with no artificial intelligence but still can provide a huge help in very dangerous situations or environments where it is most needed. The BEAR provides much more degrees of freedom and strength compared to other equivalent hazard robots that exist in the market. In the video you will be able to witness the abilities and strength of this very interesting robot. The BEAR could easily be retrofitted to assist in many non-military tasks (search and rescue, construction, hospital assistance, exploration, etc.) and could possibly have A.I. added for research and exploration tasks. I would be pleased to see more from VECNA and how the BEAR will be used in the field in the near future. Enjoy the video.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Asimo's Brain Has Been Upgraded

Our robot geek friends at Carnegie Mellon University were successful to program Honda's Asimo "brain" to be able to specific positions while avoiding obstacles. You may ask why is this such a big deal? For a humanoid robot like Asimo it is! Not only that but it can also avoid obstacles dynamically and adjust to changing position goals in real time! The planning and control behind this new programming is just remarkable and can not wait for these guys/gals from Carnegie to evolve this new programming to adapt to 3 dimensional obstacles. This is a giant leap for Asimo and domestic robotics in general. Take a look at the video so you can enjoy Asimo and his new "brain"!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nikolai: Disfunctional Humanoid Domestic Robot

Sorry for taking a long time to post but I was being serviced at the local humanoid robotics lab (a.k.a. Hospital). The human doctors have found out that I had a faulty appendix and had to remove it instead of fixing it! Could you believe that?! I am being put back together, recharging my batteries and my sub-systems are coming back online shortly. Give me a couple of days so I can continue providing all of you with great domestic robotics information and tips!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Robot In Your Head

In a previous article I asked the question “What is a Robot?” I explained that it is a hard question to answer. Hollywood and the media has tainted the image; everything we remember about robots came from SciFi movies or TV shows. Here are a couple of examples. The robot in "Lost in Space”, who constantly warned of danger to Will Robinson. Rosey the domestic robot in the “Jetsons”. My favorite is the toaster on “Red Dwarf” who constantly ask would you like some toast, and no matter how many times you tell it no, it then engages you in idle conversation, only to ask you once more if you would like some toast. Once you are exasperated by the experience the toaster replies that after all he is a toaster, and it’s his purpose to make toast. Last but not least are the “Star Wars" droids R2D2 and C3PO.

Now we come to what the market is giving us as robots. Wowwee has a few models that are fun, and probably not much use as a functional robot, however more than a toy. iRobot has some domestic models to clean your floors, pool and gutters. In the past there has been the Heath kit Hero, the Androbot Topo with BOB. Yet all of these products fail to be equivalent to what Hollywood has portrayed. If we expect a robot to be like C3PO, then what we are really looking for is an electronic companion like the one Nikolai Tesla covered about the Canadian programmer built. So the answer to our question is that robots are what you want them to be! Stay tuned to this site because Nikolai is constantly looking at interesting developments in this field and he will give you the information to make, buy and maintain your dream bot.

Post Inspired by Bill R.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Domestic Robot That Could

Toyota recently introduced the brother of the 'trumpet playing robot' that could probably out run some of us. At the moment this humanoid domestic robot can out run Honda's Asimo (could you imagine humanoid robot races instead of gas burning cars?). Within the provided video you can witness that this robot can stay standing on its two feet after being pushed like its pet friend "Big Dog". These "features" could be considered as progress and a step closer to a true autonomous humanoid robot like the NS-5 but what is it with these engineers?! Why not put all these "tricks" into a single robot and go from there? Continue making progress with projects like this one, Asimo, ReemB and others, add all these and future "tricks", let them be autonomous so they can provide us with true assistance. Stop making the trumpet playing robot, the running robot, the robot that reads, the robot that catches a ball, the robot the helps you sit on the toilet, the robot that.... you get the idea. The funny thing is that this same guy (or one of his cousins at Toyota) shows up at the end of the SciFi series Battlestar Galactica like a sign of things to come. Would you still want one? As Depeche Mode used to say "enjoy the silence".

Friday, July 31, 2009

Tip of The Month: Free Storage For Scooba

If you own an iRobot Scooba you know the headache of storing this guy after he completes a cleaning session. The problem with Scooba is that it works with water and water brings mildew when left unchecked.

You can not leave the Scooba sitting on the floor since with time the foam wheels will flatten out and it takes time for them to get back to its normal form. Sitting on the floor without drying also brings up the mildew problem so what can you do to solve this problem? iRobot sells a stand for US $15.00 to take care of these issues but why pay if you can take care of it for free!

If you own a 400 series Roomba you most likely still have standard wall mount gathering dust on the wall or inside the original box. I do not know why iRobot engineers thought of this contraption since most of the time the Roomba is either cleaning your floors or charging. The great thing is that the Scooba tank (any current model: 300 or 5000 series) or the complete Scooba can be stored on it! The tank can be setup with both flaps open so it can vent out any trapped humidity as you see on the picture. Later you can store the complete Scooba (as pictured here) so the wheels can maintain their form and the underbelly can dry out well. Enjoy your new Scooba storage!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Is A Domestic Robot?

What is a robot? This is a very difficult question to answer. If you say it’s a machine that makes your life easier, then you are surrounded by them, dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer. Yet we don’t get to excited about them because these appliances are pretty stupid. Another words they only do that one task. That being said, they work well, and you don’t see many people swapping out the washing machine for a washboard.

If your answer is it’s an intelligent machine. Then the products at iRobot should interest you. The product has intelligence built in, it won’t eat your cat. It does what you want , which is clean your floor. The drawback is, who empty’s the device? You do.

So while we have been living with robots for a while, they always leave something wanting. We have become slaves to the devices, we need to maintain them. Maintaining them takes our time. This violates "Bill’s law of computing", “I don’t work for the machine, the machine works for me”. Then we know that iRobot has a ways to go, in order to satisfy that demand. The Karcher seems to meet that demand, yet the current leader has not taken up that challenge. So the new question is, is a robot a toy or a useful machine. If you answer both, you will have more fun!

Post Inspired by Bill R.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Future of iRobot's Domestic Robots?

Just a few weeks ago I watched iRobot's CEO, Colin Angle, speak about the future of their domestic robotics division. He aired in the month of June 2009 on a Discovery Channel series called "Next World"; he seemed to have made this short interview within iRobot's HQ or research lab. He mentioned the following interesting ideas into the near future of domestic robotics:

  1. Create a system to eliminate the need of dust/particle bin on the Roomba (possible use of atomizers).
  2. Having different iRobot robots work together by letting them communicate with each other (i.e. Roomba letting Scooba know when he is done sweeping and let Scooba start scrubbing the floors)
  3. Create a "Laundry Robot with manipulators" to help you in the laundry room.
  4. Create a "Virtual Presence Robot" like the long forgotten "ConnectR".

These are exciting news from if iRobot pursue these projects and improve on the ones that exist today. Evidence can be found, within DomesRO, that can back up Colin Angle's predictions:

  1. Eliminating the need to use the particle/dust bin. Check this post about iRobot Patents (June 2009)
  2. Robots working together by using inter-communication techniques. Check this post about iRobot research on "swarm robotics" (August 2008).
  3. A robot to assist in your laundry room. Check this post about iRobot's Domestic Robot Product Road Map (May 2008).
  4. Creation of better and more affordable "virtual presence" robots. Check out this post about the cancellation of the ConnectR project and how it brought them back to the drawing board but not out of the race.
Something is definitely brewing behind the walls of iRobot HQ; we just do not know if this recent silence is a good or bad thing for them and us.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Teach A Future Robotics Geek How To Solder

Our friends at Make: are running a "Teach Your Family To Solder" week and since I consider all of you my robotics geek family I decided to post some basics on how to solder. Robots and electronics are like flesh and bone so you need to know at least some basic soldering before hacking/tinkering or creating your own robot.

First you need to get some basic soldering tools from your local or online electronics store:

  1. Soldering Iron w/Stand (This IS the main tool; get one with temperature control)
  2. Solder (Get 60% Tin/40% Lead for best results but you can get SAC305 for to be free of Lead)
  3. Flush/Diagonal Cutters (Important to cut leads close the circuit board)
  4. Handy Hands w/Magnifying Glass (Not Pictured but it helps hold circuit boards)
  5. De-soldering Tool (To help you de-solder electronics)
  6. Digital Multimeter (Helps measure Voltages, Amps, Continuity and other fancy things)
Secondly you need the basics, here is a quick tutorial on soldering from they guys at Solarbotics that you can print out and keep handy at all times:

I also provide you with two "quick" videos (movies can help you learn better and faster by using the "Monkey See Monkey Do" technique; it always works!). The first is a quick basic How-To-Solder and the second is a bit more specialized for electronics soldering (much of what we do for robotics). Enjoy!