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Open Source Robotics The Internet Hardware

DIY Web-Controlled Robot That Takes 1 Hour To Build 56

fixpert writes "We hooked up Pinoccio (an Open Source, wireless Arduino-compatible microcontroller) to a Pololu 3pi Robot to create an unmanned rover that can be driven via the Web. We posted a quick video where you can see us driving our Web Rover in Nevada all the way from Brazil. We used the iPhone's built-in accelerometer as a super-intuitive interface for driving the bot. You can read all about the project — how we built it, what you need to make your own (including source code), and a simulator of the accelerometer interface that you can play with. We're hoping to make Pinoccio the perfect platform for Software Developers to learn how to hack on DIY hardware."
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DIY Web-Controlled Robot That Takes 1 Hour To Build

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't they mean assemble?

    • Re:Build? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @04:17AM (#42880719) Homepage
      Aren't they ultimately interchangeable?
      • Re:Build? (Score:5, Informative)

        by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @04:40AM (#42880813) Journal

        When the parts are already made, then not really.

        Think of it this way, when you get a piece of wood, cut it, plane it, drill it, and end up with a kitchen table, you built it. When you buy a kit from IKEA and snap a few pieces together, you assembled it.

        However, the terms are used interchangeably. When is the last time someone who built a computer actually had to lay out a circuit board and soldier parts to it. On the contrary though, when you buy your new dell computer, the assembly involved consists of plugging in the keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, printer and turning the power on.

        • No, no, no. It's not *building* unless you grew the tree, cut it down, and milled it yourself.

          • That's just silly. if you grew the tree, you would be farming. If you cut the tree down, you would be lumber jacking.

            Yeah, I know what your saying. Its a matter of perspective.

          • by DrXym ( 126579 )
            And at least half the tree contains your DNA somehow.
        • If you want to build a robot you must first invent the universe...

      • Re:Build? (Score:5, Informative)

        by solidraven ( 1633185 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @04:57AM (#42880887)
        No, never ever claim that around EE graduates. We despise things like this being called "building". If we build a robot we carefully select components, consider several circuit layouts, battery efficient motor operation, draw circuit boards, solder everything by hand to make prototypes, redo the flawed parts, ... What they did was take a few pre-made modules and stick them together with pin-headers. You could teach a 8 year old to do that. So yes, there is a very large difference in assembly and building. So you might ask why we haven't shown off hundreds of these things: Building these sort of robots is fairly easy, they just don't have any real use. A simple analog circuit can be far more elegant and useful!
        • Re:Build? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by phaggood ( 690955 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:14AM (#42882919) Homepage
          > No, never ever claim that around EE graduates. We despise things like this being called "building"

          Never, ever claim it's 'cooking' unless you graduated a French cooking school!

          Never, ever claim you taught something unless you have an education degree.

          Never, ever claim you improved cleaned a room unless you've gotten the dust levels down to some ridiculous clean-room PPM.

          Never, ever claim its 'programming' unless you're doing it in binary.

          Geez, anal much?
        • never ever claim that around EE graduates. We despise things like this being called "building"...... solder everything by hand to make prototypes,

          Never claim that around technicians. They don't teach soldering or good fabrication skills in College. You'll mess it all up. Give someone the prints and the BOM and go off to do something else.

          redo the flawed parts, ...

          Well, we warned you. Better order more parts quick from Digi-Key and find a technician to fix it for you.

          • Actually, I'm not sure what college/university you went to. Here you weren't able to pass basic electronics without being able to solder properly.
            And since when do we order more parts? Minimizing part count is general practice. Less parts, less things that can go wrong. Also, since when do we have money to hire technicians? Last time I checked we only have one old technician from the vacuum tube era, and he's sick most of the days. Great guy, just don't give him anything digital or high frequent.
        • Re:Build? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:57AM (#42884181)

          Arrogant EE graduates with big egos and a chip on their shoulders, a.k.a. pricks (Hopefully you aren't one of them but I notice you like to use "we" a lot.) The same people who scoff at Arduinos and other easy to use electronics kits that make their expensive piece of paper (Degree) look marginal. Get over yourselves, you have the knowledge to *design* those kits.

          From Merriam-Webster's dictonary - Build:
          1: to form by ordering and uniting materials by gradual means into a composite whole : construct
          2: to cause to be constructed
          3: to develop according to a systematic plan, by a definite process, or on a particular base
          4: increase, enlarge
          Synonyms: assemble, confect, construct, erect, fabricate, make, make up, piece, put up, raise, rear, set up, put together

          Who cares if the robot doesn't have any real use and comes in kit form. The author used "build" instead of "assemble" and now everyone is having a shit fit. Who cares again? Oh that's right, obnoxious university grads. From the definition above, they did indeed build a robot. Even if they snapped two pieces together, they built the damn thing. Hell the dictionary even says the two words are synonymous with each other. Which brings me to our next word, design.

          If they claimed to design a robot that can be remote controlled over the internet then I would be more inclined to agree with you. They didn't design the physical portion, the kit. They merely designed and wrote some software that allows an iPhone to control a robot kit. Lets say I build a robot with some motors, wheels, an FPGA board, glued it together using hot glue and a Popsicle sticks, and write the software. I did indeed design and build a robot. I may have not built the motors, FPGA chip, FPGA board or software development tools, but I did take those components and design a method of assembly and programming to make them into something else.

          Note: I am not directly attacking you or calling you arrogant, etc. I am just sick and tired of the antisocial, arrogant attitudes I see in some grad students.

          • And here we go again, disagree with the Arduino folks and you're the devil. To use the analogy somebody else used: So you wish to compare a frozen meal put in a microwave oven with a homemade dinner?

            Sure, call us obnoxious, arrogant, ... Turns out that these days it's considered electronics to just slap two "lego blocks" together with a slightly modified example code. Believe it or not, there are levels of putting things together that require very different levels of insight. People are amazed when they
  • by SupplyMission ( 1005737 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:41AM (#42880585)

    Cool demo, but seriously, this has been done a thousand times already, in various forms, and more elegantly at that. It looks like it took Eric about 1 hour to slap together the web page to drive his little robot.

    And then he produced a video with a woman driving the robot. I suppose that is somewhat original.

    In conclusion... big deal. Next.

    • see now, i want one big enough and sturdy enough to have it go pick up food for me down the road..
      • see now, i want one big enough and sturdy enough to have it go pick up food for me down the road..

        Do you mean a robot or a woman?

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @03:43AM (#42880595) Journal

    I want one of these large enough to mount a shotgun and chainsaw to so I can sit from the roof of whatever building I used to get away from the zombies and clear a path for my escape.

    • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:27AM (#42882447)

      I want one of these large enough to mount a shotgun and chainsaw to so I can sit from the roof of whatever building I used to get away from the zombies and clear a path for my escape.

      Why waste a shotgun? Just build one large enough to slap a fresh brain on and while they are chasing that make your escape. An RC car will work just as well and will provide hours of fun watching them chase after the brain mobile.

  • Now let those pesky kids try to get onto my lawn! *evil laugh*
  • Waste of time. Looks like they are shopping for sucker^^^^investors.

  • How did they get it through the customs? Anyone who knows how many kilos it can carry?
  • Robots are needed not only on Mars or in a nuclear power station.

    Nobody want anymore clean dishes in restaurants. The job is to clean plates and put them into dish-washing machine.

    Or cleaning public toilets. Not for any money, not immigrants. Nobody wants to do it.

    If a robot is built who can do it robustly, controlled and protected by a server program via Internet, it would be the new industrial revolution.
    • I'm thinking of a more educational use; Curiosity landed on Mars a few months ago and I think it would have been the awesome-est STEM-related outcome had hundreds of thousands of middle-school kids been able to take a break from their standardized test reprogramming, er, studying and instead they got a $200 kit to remotely 'explore' the alien landscape that is the dirt patch behind the school.
  • can see us driving our Web Rover in Nevada all the way from Brazil.

    Sadly, someone's going to read this, think 'perfect IED' and put the hacker space in quite a bad light.

  • I had my undergraduate students build something similar back in 2009 on top of a Roomba platform, which in turn was based on ideas from Kurt's "Hacking Roomba" book. This solution was featured in Make Magazine volume 27 [] It was the same principle, build a remote surveillance platform that could be driven over the Internet and they did it for under $200. How is this solution (5 years later) any different? I'm not asking to be mean, I would like to know if this solution is somehow t
    • It has an iphone on it
    • Cool, I'm not familiar with your project, but I'll check it out —I love Roomba hacking! I remember seeing Phil Torrone at SXSWi make a huge Frogger game using Roombas, you could play from the rooftops. Super cool. Well, I can't comment specifically on why it's different until I read up on what exactly you guys did, but I think one big differentiator for Pinoccio is under the "Why It's Awesome" section on this page: [] We didn't get into it with this demo yet, but it
  • by LodCrappo ( 705968 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:02AM (#42883525) Homepage

    "We used the iPhone.."

    "...make your own (including source code)... We're hoping to make Pinoccio the perfect platform for Software Developers to learn how to hack on DIY hardware"

    So you are using Apple's closed and tightly controlled ecosystem in your "DIY" open source project?

    How does this make any sense? Isn't the Apple platform specifically designed to *prevent* experimentation by hackers? After all, controlling and censoring software is pretty much their main thing. Why would anyone use Apple products in an open project?

    • Hey Lod, this is Sally from Pinoccio. You don't have to use an iPhone at all. You can use ANY device that has an accelerometer. You can even use your laptop with Chrome or Safari —basically, any device that exposes the accelerometer via the web browser. If you want to see if the device that you're using right now is supported, go to the Web Rover page and try the "Test Drive Your Accelerometer" simulator. Also, the controls are kind of secondary to this project. You could put together a web page with
  • I have built and sold since 2010 an Arduino board that lets you take any phone and any tank-style toy (or car with a standard servo for steering) to do exactly this. It has a longer range, too, since it can work in any network coverage EDGE or better. Question: Why was my work never news, then?
    • Also, my rig is actually open source (the software is there for generic!java and android) and the schematic can be had for the asking (basically, send me an email asking for it, and I send you a pdf or vector).
      • I like your site and your portfolio and products.

        If you want to get the free slashvertisement of a /. story, you need to use the platform to do something that slashbots would like to talk about, like maybe explore a walled-off section under the stairway of some historical building, or something.

        Also, your store sends people to which then in turn sends people over to Have it take people directly where they need to go.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes