|Surveyor Robotics Journal|
Tue, 29 Jul 2008
Unexpected application for SRV-1 Blackfin - MIT SPHERES
The SPHERES program at MIT's Space Systems Lab was developed to allow researchers to test control algorithms for satellite formation flight and constellation building in a long-term test environment on the International Space Station. Each SPHERES satellite is about 1ft in diameter and is fully self-contained with a flight computer, inertial sensors and a reaction control system using carbon dioxide gas. Three are flying on the Space Station right now, while three more are on the ground for testing and continued development.
The MIT group is using the SRV-1 Blackfin board sets to provide a vision system to SPHERES, which will allow several satellites to autonomously dock to several free-floating flexible beams, pick them up and connect them together forming a structure.
A full description of the program including videos is found here - http://ssl.mit.edu/spheres/
Wed, 23 Jul 2008
SRV-1 Blackfin Stereo Camera with pan/tilt and robot mount
Mounting the stereo camera on a pan/tilt assembly attached to a robot base proved to be quite simple. We are using the Lynxmotion BPT-KT pan/tilt head with a couple of extra holes for 1/2-inch hex standoffs. The BPT-KT is a nice stable unit with good HS-422 servos.
We use 1-inch standoffs with a couple of aluminum strips to attach the pan servo to the top of the SRV-1 robot base. The 1-inch x 2-inch mounting pattern for the standoffs is identical for the original SRV-1 base and the new SRV-1Q base.
The servos are driven directly from the stereo camera board using TMR6 and TMR7 of the left Blackfin and can be controlled directly via the 's' command in the control protocol with no modification to firmware. Only change from the original SRV-1 setup is longer motor and battery power wires.
Sat, 19 Jul 2008
Robot Magazine interested in SRV-1 Blackfin university users
Tom Atwood, Editor-in-Chief of Robot Magazine, is interested in talking with university instructors, researchers and students who are working with SRV-1 Blackfin robots and controllers to feature their work in the magazine's "Robot Spotlight" section.
If you would like to participate, please send an email to email@example.com with your contact information and a brief description of your SRV-1 Blackfin usage. Your submission doesn't have to be limited to university applications, as other uses might catch their interest, but this seems to be their primary focus.
Tue, 15 Jul 2008
First frames from prototype SRV-1 Blackfin Stereo Camera
Prototype boards just arrived and first tests were successful, with both cameras transmitting through the shared Matchport (simultaneous feeds shown above in left and right windows). We still need to test the servo or h-bridge interfaces, but the voltages look good. Only issue is that we have to manually reset both processors after power-up - most likely issue is a collision on the SPI channels as both Blackfins simultaneously boot from SPI flash. Not certain yet how we want to deal with that ...
Discussion on this project continues on the Surveyor Robotics Forum.
Mon, 14 Jul 2008
Surveyor Corp and Inertia Labs team to build new quad-motor version of SRV-1 Blackfin Robot
The new quad-motor version of the SRV-1 Blackfin Robot is now shipping. Created through cooperation between Surveyor Corporation and Inertia Labs, the new robot is smaller and lighter than the original SRV-1, measuring 5 x 4 x 3-inches @ 13-oz (12 x 10 x 8-cm @ 350gm) with a more compact Li Poly battery pack and quad-motor drive with tank-style treads.
Inertia Labs is the highly regarded developer of Antweight fighting robots as well as full-sized BattleBots champions Toro, Matador and T-Minus. They are very skillful robot designers and fabricators.
The new SRV-1 Blackfin Robot, designated SRV-1Q, is now available directly from Surveyor, Inertia Labs, and resellers worldwide.
Mon, 07 Jul 2008
Prototype layout is finished for stereo Blackfin camera board
Prototype boards should be here by end of next week. Here are the Eagle files:
There is a continuing discussion of this project on the forum.
Tue, 01 Jul 2008
Some thoughts about a stereo version of SRV-1 Blackfin Camera
There has been an active discussion on the Surveyor Robotic Forum about the possibility of a stereo version of the SRV-1 Blackfin Camera - http://www.surveyor.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1210703461. It looks like we will be moving ahead with this project and welcome comments on the design (to be published in Eagle 5 PCB format).
Here is a mockup of the stereo board set created by setting 3 existing SRV-1 radio boards side-by-side. I believe this is pretty close to how the final layout will look.
The dimensions seem reasonable - overall board size will be 6" x 2.5" (155 x 65mm), with the lens centers separated approximately 4.5" (115mm). Here are some current thoughts on the design:
Part of the concept is to design this as a drop-in replacement for the existing SRV-1 controller, so users who already have the SRV-1 Blackfin can use their existing Blackfin camera and Matchport and will need only an additional Blackfin camera along with the stereo board. For new users, a complete stereo camera setup with both cameras and Wifi will probably cost in the ballpark of $550.