Animatronic cannon controller

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Honus1

New Member
I figured that there are a lot of people out there that would want an animatronic cannon controller but not necessarily the super duper P1 version- just basic movements (right/left/up/down) and firing using LED and sound.

What I've done is come up with a super small universal servo controller board that is very versatile- it's primarily designed to work using a modified Wii nunchuck board mounted in the helmet but it will also work using a joystick or bend sensors. It has six servo outputs and six analog inputs plus output pins to connect LEDs and a sound board.

For example- if you plugged an off the shelf Wii nunchuck into it you could connect four servos that would be controlled by the accelerometer and joystick functions plus have access to the two push button functions to make the cannon fire and also extend wrist blades. If you had five bend sensors mounted on your hand you could use it to control five servos channels for an animatronic Predator head and you would still have enough inputs/outputs for animatronic wrist blades.

It will have on board battery charging for the LiPo battery that powers it and it will also have wireless capability built in via a socket to plug in an XBee radio. By using the wireless XBee adapters you could have two boards talk to each other- one board accepting inputs and another board providing outputs.

The other thing is that this board also forms the basis for the P1 system- it's expandable. By linking boards together you will later on be able to turn it into a P1 cannon controller simply by changing the code. You can also change the controller code at any time to switch between a Wii controller input or a bend sensor/joystick/push button inputs.

At this point I'll say it will be available VERY soon and will cost under $100 (not including wireless or sound board.) I will not be providing servos or any kind of cannon mechanism for this.

I should have the board finished late tonight so I'll post some pics then- stay tuned!
 

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Honus1

New Member
So here you go- this is just the first prototype using a hand cut PCB. Everything appears to be working just fine! Code uploaded no problem and the charging circuit is doing its job. I haven't yet tried the wireless so as soon as I can make another board I'll try to link them together- should be fun. I'm going to change a few things already- move some of the connectors around to make them more accessible, maybe drill some mounting holes, etc.

ServoBoardTop.jpg

ServoBoardWireless.jpg

ServoBoardChargingLiPo.jpg

ServoBoardBottom.jpg
 

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Guan Thwei

New Member
Really looking forward to this Honus I was wondering when you would be still working on things like this or not?
 

Honus1

New Member
I really never stop working on it- I'm always trying to improve it or make it easier to use or less expensive. I always have multiple projects in the works but three kids and home life take priority.

From here I'll design the revised board using a CAD program (I use EAGLE) so I can output it to a board manufacturer for mass production. The board manufacturing process takes between three and four weeks so figure everything will be ready to ship by late August. I won't be taking any orders until I have the revised boards done and I'll have firm pricing at that time.
 

Termokk

New Member
wow! This is amazing, i would be very interested in one when you are done. I have been looking for a way to control the mechanical aspects of the suit im building but I dont know much about building a control system like this. Still foggy to me how this works but i am very impressed.
 

Honus1

New Member
Just finished the new board design- I'll be sending it off for production. Woohoo! I changed things around a bit to make all the connections easier to access and I added some mounting holes. It's only a tiny bit bigger than the proto- it measures just under 2.25" x 1.75". I figure I'm going to make ten boards in the first batch. It's looking like pricing will be $90 for the assembled and programmed board with a single cell LiPo battery. Can't wait to get it!

I'll also be making some adapter boards that will plug into one of the output sockets that have transistors to handle higher power loads like motors and high power LEDs.

ServoV1.jpg
 

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Northstar666

New Member
Awesome work Honus! .... I have a system in my helmet that controls a paintball cannon, it is much more complex as I need it to do more things but this is a really nice and cheap approach to automating a plasma caster. I have used 2 servos to control the cannon's x and y axis, it has been a real ordeal to avoid using a PS3 six axis controller and using GlovePIE to pick up the X,Y,Z points. I chose to use 2 digital compasses to give me the same reference points (mag North!), one on the backpack and one in the helmet, helmet minus the backpack compass readings tells you when the person is looking left or right and by using this technology, I am able to lock onto multiple targets in 3D space and tell the onboard comp to automatically shoot them as I have all 3 readings. Hope this all makes sense .... in a nut shell, where you look in your helmet from straight ahead to 90degs left is where the cannon aims, a switch in your glove tells the onboard comp to fire!.... keep up the cool work dude!
 

Honus1

New Member
Thanks! If you look at the P1 cannon thread you can get an idea as to how the overall system works- it's really pretty simple. Your system sounds very cool. I'll bet it was a pain figuring that out! How is the tilt (pitch) control? I explained to someone on another board that you couldn't use just a single gyroscope or compass- you need two to make it work properly.

The problem with gyros is that you need two of them, preferably with an accelerometer to account for drift as well as front/rear tilt (pitch). One gyro really won't work well because it will respond to whole body rotation as well as just head rotation, so you would need one IMU at the head and another at the cannon base and then you have to write some code to differentiate between the two. Gyros really only sense change in angular velocity so its output only changes with respect to movement and it will reset itself once you stop rotating your body- the cannon will quickly become out of sync with your movements. That's why to really do it right you need a multiple DOF IMU and you need two of them for true head tracking. Most of the systems I've seen that people post online as a head tracking system for R/C or video control have very poor yaw control and this is why. And they don't even have to deal with the body rotation issue as they can sit in a chair- not an option for costuming.

There are IMUs available now that have on board processing and are programmed to account for drift so some of the hard work is done for you but you would still have to factor in the difference output of two of them and then generate your necessary servo movement values from that. It can be done but it's pretty darn expensive.

The other method I looked at was to use a digital compass (magnetometer) that uses an accelerometer to compensate for tilt since most compasses give false readings if they're not held level. Sparkfun sells one but it's about $150 which I deemed too expensive.

What I did was to basically fake it by strictly using the accelerometer inputs- when looking sideways you just need to tilt your head to the side like a bird for yaw (rotation) control. The accelerometer reads the tilt and moves everything accordingly- the pitch function is normal. It's relatively simple and it's cheap. The P1 cannon setup is a fair bit more complex as the cannon has to unfold and raise up into the standby firing position, so there is an additional servo and controller involved.
 

carlart

New Member
Good stuff as always Jerome! My clay tools were seeing action this weekend for the first time in a long time......... :eek:
 

Northstar666

New Member
Yeah dude, it's a challenge alright, the units I am using are very expensive, $250 US ea, they are used in mini robotic subs, made by ocean server, here's a screen shot of the data ... it allows me to write VB6 code for it and uses the USB port via com port to get the readings off it. I then send this converted info to the servo controller ...... here's a youtube video I did of they Y axis! .... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwKar5nbJIM

Still a long way to go, am working on the onboard camera and video glasses, have found a thermal filter that allows you to run so when you look through the mask & camera you see thermal colors everywhere ..... by completing this project I have proven that you can make a paintball caster and full predator system! ..hahahahaha (evil sci fi laugh!)

Compass_software.jpg


IMG_0065.jpg
 

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Guan Thwei

New Member
That is awesome! Kudos to you for pulling that off.

For thermal imaging I think you need one of these: http://www.thermal-eye.com/products/3600as.htm
Bring your checkbook! You can also do video overlay for your video glasses using a BOB-4 on screen display module:
http://www.decadenet.com/
I have been guessing on using these Honus, but I always thought that the on Screen Display would some how would be difficult to have in the visor, so I have been looking @ things like these
2 of them anyway.
4d-systems-stamp-sized-intelligent-oled-module.jpg
 

Honus1

New Member
Boards are in! A few weeks ahead of schedule- how often does that happen? :D

ServoBoardPCB.jpg

ServoBoards.jpg


They look awesome- I should have one soldered and tested pretty soon. As soon as they check out I'll make them available for sale.

Jerome
 

Honus1

New Member
Price will be $90 for an assembled and programmed board with a LiPo battery to power it. To make your cannon move you'll need to add servos, servo battery and an input device (Wii Nunchuck.)

Jerome
 

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