I did not had time to work on my MiniEric project for a few months now and I kind of need something easier to do and a bit different. Something that it will take more time to build than program (I hope…) and the program should be easy anyway.
Looking around for ideas, I saw a picture with a tray filled with tiny robots and it reminded me about an idea I had long time ago, to build a closed environment robotic ant farm. I wanted a few small robots that would gather small foam cubes and take them to the nest to build their home. The robots would detect low battery and go home to recharge from a solar powered charging station. Also, a Queen robot would have a special gripper that allows her to build a 2 story wall. Then, a second nest can be added in the opposite corner and have the robot ants try to steal the cubes from the other team or something like that. Perhaps a flag that can be protected/captured…
I was toying with the idea of having one inch square robots, but the boards need SMD components. Perhaps I’ll do it later, now I will build a prototype using TH components. First I will build a drone (ant), then a second one, then the Queen. The drones will have a one inch and half square prototyping board, 2 pager motors, a low voltage h-bridge, a mega168 at 8MHz, a 7 segments LED display, 3 IR receiver sensors at 56kHz for communications, one IR receiver sensor at 38kHz for object detection, 5 IR LEDs , a MAX1555 charging monitor for the 350mA LiPo battery, a 3.3V LDO voltage regulator and a On/Off switch. A few capacitors and resistors crammed in the small remaining space… Battery, motors and object detection sensor with 2 IR LEDs will be mounted on the bottom of the board. A couple of copper wires will act as skids and ground lead for the charging stations and 2 antennas will be used for the power lead at the charging station and to hold in place the cubes while the drone pushes them around.
I hope I’ll have some pictures soon.
Mean while, you can take a look at my inspiration for the design:
You can read more about the Open Source Formica swarm robots here: http://warrantyvoidifremoved.com/formica