Three months ago I purchased this kit from E-clec-tec and I have recently made some nice modifications. First, if anyone hasn't seen this robot in action please check out this short video of it standing up from it's back.replacing the head
The first thing to go was the head- It didn't move and wasn't wired with anything but the indicator LED, plus I didn't like the way it looked ;) I replaced it with a standard Futaba S3004 servo. I mounted it with some standard servo horn screws using the circular mount that came with the original head, and the circular horn that comes with most airplane servos, using posts in between. I plugged it into one of the empty slots and can now access it via RoboBASIC. I plan on surface-mounting 2 small LED's in the front, using the original LED wiring from the controller board.
You could theoretically use any servo but please do so at your own risk. I haven't had any problems so far but you never know. Below you can see where I plugged the servo in- the topmost unused slot on the left vertical row of servo pins.
adding a bluetooth module
The kit comes with an IR remote but it isn't very good, nor does it work outside of the line of sight. Many thanks to the folks over on the Robosavvy forums who have experimented and documented how they have installed a bluetooth serial modem to the microcontroller board, and with a little bit of code can open a connection to the robot. Those guys did all the hard work ;)
So the BlueSmirf serial modem from Sparkfun works exceptionally well with minimal hackery and once I figured out how to connect the leads and where they went it was a snap. It took me less than ten minutes to get it powered up and broadcasting. The great part is the voltage is 5v, same as the Robonova, so you don't need a converter. Here's the data sheet just in case you want more info on it. It can transmit any serial stream from 9600 to 115200bps seamlessly from your computer to the target. Their site says they've tested these units successfully over open air at 350ft.
Robonova with back armor plate off, note where one end of the module gets plugged in.
Here's the closeups- click for supersize pics. note where the power (red), ground (black), and TX (white) wires go. You can modify a servo extension cable for this part, you just need the plug and crimps which you can get at any hobby store that sells RC cars or planes. So the black/red/white plugs into the Robonova board (top left set of horizontal pins, very last slot on the right. The cable goes like this: black ground on top, red power middle, white bottom, and the other end of the wire goes into the bluetooth modem. IMPORTANT!!! Look at the photos closely and note the wiring on the end that plugs into the modem- first you must flip the white around in the adapter so it's now white/black/red on the bluetooth end or it will not work and possiblyt burn out. Just make sure the white plugs into the pin marked TX-0 and red goes to the PWR pin. Ground goes in the middle. The other pins are for outgoing and you don't need them for now.
If you position the module just above the switch like I did, with the indicator LED facing out the switch hole, you can then see the red activity light when a connection is made (below). Now all you need is to turn it on and locate it on your PC. Make sure you have the right dongle, or a bluetooth enabled laptop. Go to your control panel and open Bluetooth Devices, then click Add and follow the wizard. If it asks for a passkey type "default" and seeif it accepts it, it worked for me. Now all you need to do is get your Robonova to run the bluetooth modem and for that we need some code. Keep reading...
get the mech puppeteer program
Robonova comes with RoboBASIC and RoboScript, but I'm also running a clever bit of VB called Mech Puppeteer written by Matt Bauer. It's beta software but it's stable and hasn't crashed once. This is simply a must have for any Robonova owner. The scripts that you need to run the app are included in the installer both for serial and bluetooth.
Anyway, I'll be posting more soon. I have a Futaba micro-piezo gyro waiting to add stability. Should be a fun project. Meanwhile check out the Robosavvy forums for more interesting Robonova stuff than this.