Lightweight webcam driver for embedded Linux 
Thursday, March 8, 2007, 02:20 PM - Robotics
Michel Xhaard has developed spca5xx-LE, a lightweight version of the spca5xx USB webcam driver for Linux. This driver is useful for using webcams with embedded linux boards such as the FOXboard (based on the Axis ETRAX 100LX CPU).

Michel also maintains this list of webcams supported under Linux, particularly those supported by the spca5xx(-LE) driver.

1 comment ( 82 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 1918 )

New ARM9-based Linux board from KwikByte 
Thursday, March 8, 2007, 12:24 PM - Electronics
KwikByte is rolling out the KBAT9261 single-board computer based on the 200MHz Atmel AT91SAM9261 with DSP intruction set. The board has 128MB RAM, 8MB boot flash, CF interface, ethernet, 2xUSB 2.0 ports, VGA port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, audio in/out. It comes with Linux/Gnome. The price is $190, and the 13x12x2.5cm case is optional.


5 comments ( 445 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 5264 )

Grand Illusions 
Thursday, March 8, 2007, 02:59 AM - Misc TechnoToys
Grand Illusions is an interesting on-line store that sells various techno-toys, particularly focused on optical illusions and bizarre effects.


1 comment ( 99 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.9 / 2937 )

Yet Another Desktop Humanoid Robot 
Thursday, March 8, 2007, 02:30 AM - Robotics
Japanese company Plen has a cute little desktop humanoid robot with a USB interface that can skate. The noisy all-Flash website is a bit annoying, but the videos are cute.

3 comments ( 20 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 5041 )

More R/C sensors from EagleTree 
Saturday, March 3, 2007, 05:50 PM - Flying Contraptions
EagleTree Systems just rolled out a bunch of new sensors for their MicroPower E-Logger system. The E-Logger can record a number of quantities in a flying airplane, such as motor current, RPM, battery voltage and temperature, etc. The new sensors include: altitude (with better than 1 meter resolution), airspeed, and servo current.

1 comment ( 80 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3.1 / 5353 )

Nao: commercial humanoid robot from France 
Thursday, March 1, 2007, 06:37 PM - Robotics
French company Aldebaran Robotics is developing a humanoid robot called Nao that should hit the shelves by the summer (or perhaps by the end of the year), and should cost between 2000 and 3000 Euros. The company has around 15 employees, and has been working on the Nao for a few years. Unlike many humanoid robots on the market, the Nao has a lot of on-board compute power, and includes speech recognition and synthesis, vision with real-time face detection, and Wifi communication. The embedded computing platform runs Linux. A number of video clips are available from this page, including a 50 minute TV show in which a semi-working prototype was demonstrated.



1 comment ( 123 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3.1 / 5389 )

Urbi: event-driven language for robotics 
Thursday, March 1, 2007, 06:24 PM - Robotics
French company Gostai offers the URBI platform, a set programming language, SDK, and software tools for programming robots. The URBI language features parallel execution, event-driven programming, a remote object protocol called UObject and other niceties. The open source URBI SDK can be downloaded from Urbiforge, and is available Linux, Mac, and Windows (under minGW). URBI engines are available for Aibo, Khepera robots, and (apparently) for the upcoming Nao humanoid robot from another French company Aldebaran Robotics.



2 comments ( 179 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3.1 / 5330 )

Spyke wifi-controlled robot with camera 
Sunday, February 25, 2007, 12:00 AM - Robotics
The Spyke Robot will be available in April for 300 UK Pounds ($580). It has a camera, can play music, and can be used as a Skype phone. It is controllable via Wifi, and comes with open source software.



2 comments ( 122 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4870 )

Interstellar Travel: working out the numbers 
Sunday, February 18, 2007, 03:45 PM - Misc TechnoToys
A really nice blog on Physics, Computation and Philosopy called Strange Paths has a long article on interstellar travel. This very detailed article works out the numbers in terms of energy, time (proper and otherwise), velocity, etc. It also has a design for a self-sustaining "ark". An interesting read. The blog also has an extensive list of online and offline books and other resources on mathematics and physics.

2 comments ( 117 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 2.9 / 4451 )

Coltrane's Giant Steps played by a Robot 
Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 02:44 AM - Robotics
The Takashima R&C Laboratory at Hosei University in Japan has been developing robots that play (real) wind instruments for mnay years. They have a saxophone-playing robot and a trumpet-playing robot. Their web site has pictures and MP3s of their robots playing various pieces, including one of my favorite Jazz pieces of all times: John Coltrane's Giant Steps. Another recording has their robot playing Coltrane's Giant Steps solo faster than Coltrane.

They also have various videos of their Sax robot playing various pieces, including Giant Steps, as well as videos of other robots (trumpet, trombone, shakuhachi).

A video is also available on YouTube.

The recordings were apparently done in 1999.

I'm not sure if this entry belongs to the Robotics or to the Jazz category. I'll go with robotics.


1 comment ( 93 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4743 )

Servo-Free control in cheap R/C plane 
Sunday, February 11, 2007, 07:28 PM - Flying Contraptions
In the last couple of years, a deluge of ultra-low-cost ready-to-flay R/C plane seems to have engulfed toy retailers. Because servos are the most expensive part of R/C planes, most cheap planes have multiple motors and use differential speed control to control turns.

The Air Panther, available at R/C Trading Post uses a different idea: a small propeller inside the vertical fin. I remember reading about this idea many years ago in the "Cloud 9" column in the now defunct magazine R/C MicroFlight. Now, you can buy a ready-to-fly plane for 35 bucks that uses it.


1 comment ( 71 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4450 )

Micro Turbines operational in 6 months? 
Sunday, February 4, 2007, 09:54 PM - Flying Contraptions
The Future of Things has a story about MIT's micro turbine project. The goal of the project is to produce turbines that are a few mm in size using the same technology used to produce integrated circuits.

Prof Alan Epstein, who has been leading this research for about 10 years, expects an energy density of 500-700 Watt.hour/kg in the near term, and 1200-1500 W.h/kg in the longer term. This includes the turbine and the fuel supply. The energy density for current Li-ion batteries is about 120-150 Watt-hours/kg.

He says commercial versions producing 10 to 50 Watts could appear in 3 to 5 years.

2 comments ( 109 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4652 )

Air Midi Micro: Micro RC Equipment 
Sunday, February 4, 2007, 09:54 PM - Flying Contraptions
Air Midi Micros sells Micro R/C equipment from Slovakian manufactrurer Microinvent. They have Gasparin/Potensky motors, including geared pager motors, 4g outrunner brushless motors, magnetic actuators, brushless ESC, and receivers. Not cheap, but worth a look.



1 comment ( 87 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4898 )

Flying Insects and Robots Symposium 
Saturday, February 3, 2007, 02:42 PM - Robotics
The 2007 Flying Insects and Robots Symposium will take place August 12-17, 2007 in Ascona, Switzerland. The deadline for submitting abstracts is March 31st.

Looks like fun.



1 comment ( 22 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 2853 )

Super Cheap RTF R/C Drenalyn 
Tuesday, January 30, 2007, 06:23 PM - Flying Contraptions
The Drenalyn is a popular indoor R/C design in France (I built many such planes myself, see here, here, and here).

It was only a matter of time before a Chinese toy company would produce a low-cost ready-to-fly version. I actually approached the Air Hogs people a few years ago with the PMAV concept, but they were not interested.

Chinese R/C toy company Hongxin Toys is selling a Drenalyn-like R/C toy, which they call a "Kite Airplane". The widget is available in the US from Geeks.com at the incredibly low price of 70 bucks (complete, with transmitter, battery, and on-board LEDs for night flying!).

Most low-cost R/C toy planes are boring 1 or 2-axes types (without ailerons), but this one has elevons, and is probably fully aerobatic.



1 comment ( 141 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4472 )

Francis Plessier: Pioneer of Unusual Miniature Flying Contraptions 
Tuesday, January 30, 2007, 05:57 PM - Flying Contraptions
You probably figured out by now that we are fond of flying pancakes at Yann's Techno Toys. R/C plane builders have long built fun planes with low aspect ratio or circular wings. The first example I ever saw was Plessier's "Soucoupe", a circular wing built by legendary French modeler Francis Plessier in the mid 1970's. Plessier flew a Soucoupe (with a smiley face painted on the bottom side) at the annual Cirque des Cigognes in Bretigny. I built my first Soucoupe in 1975, right after seeing his. Francis Plessier always came up with crazy ideas for the "Cirque", such as a flying dog house (below), a flying iron (below), flying lawnmower, and many others. His ideas have been ripped
off (often without proper credit) by airplane kit companies in the US.

Pictures of Plessier's Soucoupe, Iron, and Dog House are available at this page.



2 comments ( 225 views )   |  0 trackbacks   |  permalink   |  related link   |   ( 3 / 4766 )


Back Next