Computing stuff tied to the physical world


In AVR on Nov 3, 2008 at 00:42

Asuro is a simple robot, which I ordered as a kit from Conrad. The mechanical construction is entirely based on an epoxy board which also holds the electrical circuit. The brains consist of a C-programmable ATmega8, the older 8 Kb version of the 168 chip used by Arduino’s.

Here’s the result of a few hours of tinkering:


Another cost saving feature is the IR-link, which can be used to re-flash the program. It does require line-of-sight to function, and has a limited range of 1 to 2 meters as far as I can tell:


The above image shows the RS232 serial board that came with the kit. I must have made a mistake while building it – because it didn’t work. Luckily, I had also ordered the ready-made USB version, which works fine.

The test program pre-loaded into the Asuro activates all elements (LEDs, front switches, motors) as a way to test proper operation of each of them. It was most useful to chase down and resolve a few small build problems. There are photo-sensors which can be mounted underneath for line-following, but I chose to add some connectors for a prototype board instead. The reasoning being that these sensors could always be added back via such a prototype board.

So, does it work? I can’t really tell.

I couldn’t find any ready-made programs to make it do anything robot-like such as driving around and dealing with obstacles, or light-seeking/-evading behavior. And it’s clear that any form of intelligent control will require some serious programming and testing. Besides, the motors were very noisy and coarsely controlled, so I doubt it really can do things with any level of grace…

But I had a good time building this thing, and learned quite a bit about what it takes to make a little autonomous robot.