Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 5, 2012.

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A powerful robotics controller for everyone -- No computer required!

Who are we?

We are the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR).  We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit company that engages in STEM education outreach through robotics. KIPR operates the popular Botball Educational Robotics Program, an autonomous robotics competition for middle and high school students.

What is it?

Project Kovan is an easy to use and powerful linux-based robot controller.  It aims to be simple enough for a middle schooler, powerful enough for a researcher, and versatile enough for the hobbyist.

What makes it different?

After playing with many of the other controllers on the market, we felt that they were all lacking something.  We wanted a controller to be easy to use on the surface, but have the raw power to handle anything thrown at it.  The new controller uses a touch screen, but still has a physical button.  It uses a blazing fast Spartan-6 FPGA in conjunction with an ARM processor to handle tasks.  It uses a Lithium Polymer battery to provide long run times and short recharge times.  It is built on OpenEmbedded Linux, so it is very versatile, and already supports multiple languages and OpenCV for complex vision tracking.  The best part is that you do not need a computer to program the controller! Of course, if you want to develop software on your laptop, it can be quickly downloaded to the robot controller by wifi or USB cable. Project Kovan can also control an iRobot Create or AR Parrot Drone, as seen in the video!

No computer required?

Because the controller is running linux, it is the computer.  With USB input, the User Interface can be controlled with a mouse and keyboard.  The HDMI output allows viewing on most monitors or TVs!  Using the built in editor allows you to program the controller, then use it, all without plugging it into a computer!

Hardware Specifications:

  • 802.11 b/g Wifi
  • 4 - 1 Amp motor outputs with built in PWM and PID control
  • 4 Standard servo outputs
  • 8 Analog inputs
  • 8 Digital input/output ports
  • 1 Physical button (with 6 additional software buttons)
  • IR Receiver and Emitter
  • 800 Mhz ARMv5te CPU
  • Spartan-6 FPGA
  • 320 x 240 back lit LCD touchscreen
  • HDMI out
  • Internal speaker
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports (host)
  • 1 micro USB port (slave)
  • 1 TTL serial port
  • 2000 mAh LiPo battery

Mass: 295 grams

The native programming environment is KISS IDE.  KISS IDE and project Kovan support the C, C++, Java and Python languages.  The plugin architecture of KISS IDE allows for additional robot interfaces and compilers.  All of the code is based on Qt/C++ and is open source. Command line utilities are also provided for those who wish to use no IDE or integrate with another.

The bottom of the case has standard LEGO size holes, for easy attachment.
The bottom of the case has standard LEGO size holes, for easy attachment.

Where are we at in the project?

We have several prototypes that are up and running.  We are confident that we can deliver the controller as advertised (and maybe a little better).  With your support, we'd like to place the first large order and continue developing software for the controller.

Manufacturing

We have a finalized board that we have been using for internal testing and software development. Our manufacturer is only waiting for the number of boards to produce. Once the boards have been manufactured, they will be shipped to us for assembly and final testing. We also have suppliers for the other components of the product, including battery, touch screen, case, and other miscellaneous components. The only thing we need now is your support!

Prototype of Project Kovan displaying a camera on-screen with OpenCV. Note that case shown is not the plastic production case.
Prototype of Project Kovan displaying a camera on-screen with OpenCV. Note that case shown is not the plastic production case.

Over-funding Goals

Like any project, there are lots of cool things that we would like to do, but currently do not have the time and/or resources to do them.

  • $50,000 - Full support for Eclipse IDE in our software tools
  • $100,000 - We add a second T-shirt design into the mix.  T-shirt level donors get to pick their favorite design.
  • $200,000 - Two (2) colors of cases to choose from, vote on the color of the second case.  Controller level donors get to choose their case color.
  • $500,000 - Native support for ROS (Robot Operating System).

Some of the Rewards

Here are images of the Botguy hat and Botguy plush.
Here are images of the Botguy hat and Botguy plush.

Other Uses

If you are not into robotics, some other suggested (but unsupported) uses for this controller are:

  • Fish Tank Monitor
  • HVAC Controller
  • Cool Paperweight
  • Home Automation Controller
  • Web Page Server
  • Theft Protection
Qt/X11 general purpose interface preinstalled!
Qt/X11 general purpose interface preinstalled!

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    One Robotics Controller Package at the Early Adopter price! Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x USB webcamera, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), and 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male). Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US. This is hardware delivery. Software update will be available Mid-January.

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    One Robotics Controller Package plus an iRobot Create to drive around! Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x USB webcamera, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male), 1 x iRobot Create, 1 x iRobot Create battery, 1 x iRobot Create charger, and 1 x serial connection cable. Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US.

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    One Robotics Controller Package, but the controller will be in a white case instead of the standard black case! Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x USB webcamera, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male). Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US.

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    One Robotics Controller Package with a white case instead of the standard black case and personalized with text (25 characters). Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x USB webcamera, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male). Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US. This is hardware delivery. Software update will be available Mid-January.

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    One Robotics Controller Package plus an iRobot Create to drive around plus an Xbox Kinect sensor instead of the standard webcam. Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x Kinect Sensor, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male), 1 x iRobot Create, 1 x iRobot Create battery, 1 x iRobot Create charger, and 1 x serial connection cable. Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US.

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    One Robotics Controller Package plus a special VIP invitation to a local Botball Robotics Tournament near you! Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x USB webcamera, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), and 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male). Travel and lodging are not included. Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US. 501(c)(3) donation letter available on request.

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    One Robotics Controller Package plus a special VIP invitation to the Global Conference on Educational Robotics held each July! Package includes: 1 x Controller, 1 x USB webcamera, 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs), and 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male). Travel and lodging are not included. Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US. 501(c)(3) donation letter available on request.

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    One special Robotics Controller Package (prototype board in a custom case!). As soon as we are ready to place the final order we will send you one of the prototype units housed in a custom case personalized with text (25 characters). Package includes: 1 x prototype Controller in custom case 1 x USB webcamera 1 x switching AC adapter (US plugs) 1 x USB cable (A micro to A male). Please add an additional $10 for shipping outside the US. 501(c)(3) donation letter available on request.

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    You get to name the controller*! *subject to KIPR approval (no foul language or copyright infringement). 501(c)(3) donation letter available on request.

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