My current research is documenting the electrical engineering aspects of the Hubo humanoid robot. This entails being able to build (solder together and program) the motor controllers and wrist actuators, as well know the workings of the two x86 computers that run the programs for operation of the robot. As of right now, I will not be diving into the software, as the Hubo runs Windows XP, thus running an API to communicate to the motors.
research during my stay at the hubo lab (9-21-08 to 3-21-09)
Over the past 6 months, I had the opportunity to work among the graduate students of the Humanoid Robot Research Center (Hubo Lab) at KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). By starting out with the basics of electronics board fabrication (placing and soldering components on the board), I was able to gain un-documented knowledge of the techniques to soldering surface mount devices.
By the 3 month mark, I had accomplished most of the documentation of the electrical systems (mainly the motor controllers and other small boards) used on the Hubo humanoid robot. The knowledge I gain here will then be used to perform preventative maintenance on Drexel's Hubo. This was also my first encounter with Texas Instruments DSP's (Digital Signal Processors - they are basically faster and more complex microcontroller - but less complicated than a standard PC). Just this past summer, I introduced myself into the world of DSP's, working with the Netburner MOD5213 and the Freescale ColdFire V2 DSP. Although the complexity of DSP's are higher than that of a standard microcontroller, their processing power is also greater than that of a standard microcontroller.
Around mid-January, I started to work on a personal project for Hubo. I had been playing around with design concepts since December, and it was finally time to start implementing the design. The project is to give the Hubo2 platform an LED Display for the head visor, to display text, graphics, etc. This idea had been previously implemented on the Hubo1 platform (Hubo KHR-3), but using more parts, more "board real-estate", and generally more complex. My design will allow the display to be changed via the CAN bus, rather than hard-coded graphics. Using Cadence OrCAD, I constructed the schematic diagram, trying to minimize parts and power consumption.
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Click here for a PDF of the schematic diagram.
Once the schematic was completed, the board layout came next. In deciding the specs for the board layout, I wanted to maximize space, mainly keeping the board within the Hubo shell (of the head). Once I placed the component footprints on the board, I let OrCAD do the rest, and auto-route the tracks for the board (using 4 signal layers).
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Here is the final board after I sent out the artwork, and received the completed board. I populated it with the LED's (100), transistors, and other necessary components. For a video of the working display (with some revision modifications), click here.
As I started to wrap up (around late January, and February), I found it good to keep track with a Gantt Chart. My Gantt Chart shows my current tasks outstanding and their projected closing date. For the Excel file, click here.
Prior to the Hubo project, I performed research for DASL to find a suitable microprocessor for future use in the lab, as well as gain knowledge about the hardware and software of Digital Signal Processors (DSPs). I like the Freescale Coldfire series of processors, specifically, the MCF5213. I chose this processor mainly because it is a widely used processor, and it is available in the Netburner Inc. development kits. I used the MOD5213 and have had very good results with using the platform. The software is the key advantage, as Netburner makes it easy to set registers, configure the modules, and perform many of the higher level DSP functions with only a few lines of code.
See my tutorials page for more information, an introduction, and guides to begin development with the Netburner MOD5213 development board.
Netburner Website: http://www.netburner .com
Netburner MOD5213 Development kit: click here
This is the motor controller that I built being wired up and tested...
More to come on the Hubo. See my blog for further details.