My passion is robotics and computer vision. However, since becoming a father 12 years ago, getting kids excited about robotics has also become one of my passions. I discovered Catroid while searching for a programming language for my youngest son, who will be turning 8 this fall, to use on his Nexus 7. It's amazing how quickly kids ramp-up to the concept of using graphic blocks to create something (he is also a big Minecraft fan).
He has my passion for robotics, so it was not too long that he started asking about using Catroid to control his robot. After researching smartphone to servo or DC motor interfaces, I discovered there were not a lot of options available. Either the solution only worked with the latest smartphones, or the solution worked with Android only. In addition, all the solutions required custom software. There were no simple methods of interfacing hardware to both Android and iOS smartphones that were compatible with many application in the iTunes or Google Play markets.
This lead to the development of the EMGRobotics line of Audio Interface boards. I decided early on that these boards would plug into the headphone jack since they all have headphone jacks. In addition, I determined that the boards should be controllable by WAV files due to almost all of the smartphone programming applications support WAV file playback, including Catroid. All you need to do is simply download the WAV files from www.EMGRobotics.com and play them using Catroid sound blocks.
STEMbot1 is a simple two wheel robot that uses two RC servos as drive motors. The RC servos plug into an A2SCB_ML servo controller from www.EMGRobotics.com. The A2SCB_ML plugs into the headphone jack of the Android phone running Catroid. STEMbot1 can be built in less than an hour and requires no soldering.
Although you can purchase half of STEMbot1's parts from your local Walmart or Target (I designed it this way) there are three parts that will need to be mail ordered: the servos, the A2SCB_ML Android to servo interface, and the wide rubber bands for the wheels. I put together this kit for Kickstarter to make it easier to build STEMbot1 by providing all the parts (minus the Android phone) from one place. In addition, some money is saved by ordering the servos and wheel bands in quantities.
Risks and challenges
The only risk to on-time delivery is servo availability and cell phone mount availability. The A2SCB_ML Android to servo interface design is complete representing over 200 hours of development and testing. Sparkfun is showing over 600 servos in stock so I am not too concerned about servos. I purchase the cell phone mounts from local Walmarts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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