No news is … too busy to write anything.

I’ve been busy with buying a car and sorting out a summer holiday to write anything recently but I did manage to find some time to mount my arduino and breadboard onto a piece of perspex last week.  It looks pretty neat and it means that I can wire circuits without everything falling apart.  I plan to stick some wheels and motors (from the printer) on it soon.  I don’t know what kind of battery I’ll need for those motors since they are rated for 18V.  9V (and less) does work but I guess that they’ll drain the batteries pretty quick.

Finding some wheels that will connecting to the motors is going to be fun but I’ll come up with something.

Before then, I’ll use the breadboard and arduino to do some IR tests.  I want to be able to read the codes coming from my iSobot remote control so that I can then use the arduino to program the iSobot more easily.  I know how to do all this, it is just finding the time to do it.

Over the last week, in a bid to get something starting on my tutorials for this blog, I finally settled on a version of GNU/Linux to recommend to new enthusiasts.  I’d recommend, Xubuntu .  I have an old laptop computer (Dell Inspiron 1150) that has 512Mb RAM and 2 Ghz Pentium II.  It is about 5 years old.  I installed a few different distros on it and now it is beginning to creak with the features. Ubuntu has always been easy to install, but it is a ‘friendly’ desktop.  Xubuntu is a very lightweight and fast version of this distro which is why I chose it.

The first additional packages for me to install were b43-fwcutter (because my wireless card doesn’t work otherwise), java runtime (sun-java6-jre) and then installed eric & IDLE (for Python) but maybe Eclipse would be a better alternative.  I ought to grab python-pygame (SDL bindings for Python) also as this is going to be useful for learning to program.  Lastly I grabbed the latest version of Arduino IDE , avr-gcc & avr-libc.

From this I should be able to provide enough information for the Programming of Robots and Video Games.  I said ages ago that I wanted to create my own Distro and this could be the first steps for a Beginner’s Programming Distro.

You’ve probably notice I’ve settled on Python for programming.  This isn’t because it is the best language for programming video games but it is a good interpreted & compiled language which reminds me of my BBC BASIC programming days.  It has idosyncracies that I don’t like but I fancy writing about programming before writing about C++.

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Christmas, New Year and the i-Sobot

I’ve had a throat infection over Christmas.  I didn’t do as much robotting or programming as I’d hoped I would.

My mother-in-law bought me 123 robotics projects for the evil genius for Christmas and it is a good book of general hints and tips.  It sadly doesn’t have any “follow these step by step instructions” to make a giant robot but each individual project will lead you to better knowledge.  It also has some really good introductions to programming with PIC Basic.

I managed to fiddle with my Arduino so more and wire up a wheely robot with an IR proximity detector.  Unfortunately I didn’t complete it.  The final wiring between the Arduino and the hardware kept coming apart and I managed to set my arduino IDE up to program the wrong hardware and that took me about an hour to spot.  I need to get back to it soon.

Because of this little set back I browsed the web and spotted Amazon selling the i-Sobot for half price (£100).  So I bought one a few days ago and it arrived yesterday.  It is really good for it’s size and does a lot of things that have kept me amused for a couple of hours.  It isn’t possible to hack it easily but I think I’ll try to wire up an IR transmitter to the same frequency as the i-Sobot so I can send it commands from a PC or from a programmable remote.  Programming the i-Sobot remote is a bit fiddly and it is easy to loose what you’ve programmed.

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