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RiPPLe is a venture into creating a prototype for a low-cost, easy to use robot designed for the average household.
23 backers pledged $5,530 to help bring this project to life.

About

Project RiPPLe: Robotic Personal Platform project video thumbnail
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$5,530

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Important Notice: I am 16 years old, and thus I am doing this project collaboratively with my parents, who are overseeing the project with me. My mother is Deb Johansen and my father is Curt Johansen. They have helped me extensively with everything related to my project, and while they cannot help me a whole lot with the actual building and programming of the robot, they will certainly help me get the materials and figure out how to build it, along with connecting with my backers and getting my rewards out.

Also: Please note that I am in high school and in no way am I a master at robotics or electronics or programming or any of the other fields related to robotics, so please be patient with me if I plan something in a way that might not be the best way. I know I will learn a lot during the course of this project, and I think my robot will turn out just that much better.

Update: Parallax, Inc. is generously donating one of their high-quality drive systems for use in the robot! Check them out at Parallax.com.



The Goal

The goal is to create a prototype robot for what hopefully with eventually become a commercial robot that can live in a home environment and help out with various household tasks.

The Design

Over the past few months I have been trying to get the design and parts list just right, and right now I feel that most of it is complete. However, that certainly does not mean that they are set in stone, and I may end up changing a portion of it as I am building the robot.

I have been working on a virtual 3d model and a physical model for a while now, and I have gone through about 3 complete redesigns (mostly of the torso). This is what I have so far:

My current 3d model
My current 3d model
My model, without arms
My model, without arms

I also have a list of the various parts of the robot and where they will likely go:

Base: 

  • 4 wheels, two of them driven and two of them free-rolling casters - Differential drive 
  • 2 motors with quadrature encoders and 2 motor controllers 
  • 1 computer/server running Ubuntu Linux with ROS
  • 1 control board with a microcontroller to act as an interface with the sensors and motors 
  • 1 battery pack with control circuitry 
  • Plenty of RGB LEDs for visual feedback and coolness factor
  • Plastic shell around aluminum frame 
  • Base Width and Depth: 20 inches
  • Base Height: 6 inches

Head: 

  • 1 Primesense depth/color camera module with 2 microphones 
  • 1 accelerometer 
  • 1 compass 
  • 1 gps system 
  • 1 robot controller with a microcontroller for low-level control of the sensors
  • Two speakers for stereo sound and to enable the robot to speak
  • Plenty of RGB LEDs for visual feedback and coolness factor

Torso:

  • 2 connections for two robotic arms
  • 1 touchscreen meant to increase the amount of applications for the robot, and have a visual feedback interface on the robot
  • A telescoping torso, so that the robot will be able to grow taller in order to reach some things such as a table, etc.
  • Plenty of RGB LEDs for visual feedback and coolness factor

Note: I might (time and funds permitting), install a fuel cell power system in place of the battery pack, adding my robot to the ranks of the next generation of hydrogen-powered devices! So if you want me to do this, then let me know and back me, so that I am able to.

The Process

This project will commence during the summer of 2013, when school is not taking up most of my time, so that I can work on it a lot. Based on how ambitious this project is, it will probably not be finished to my liking until next year, but I will keep working on it as much as I can. School next year will be exciting, and I want to set up a club for any interested students at my school, so I can get a few more people working on it.

Of course, the first milestone in the project would be this kickstarter campaign, because without it there would be no project! But the later milestones in the project will look something like this:

  • Purchase parts, and do an initial check-in to make sure they all work as expected. 
  • Assemble the frame of the robot. 
  • Mount mechanical pieces, e.g. the motors, wheels, casters, any main wiring, etc. Need to make sure that everything operates smoothly and functions appropriately. 
  • Connect up and mount lower-level electronics, including sensors, low-level control boards, any wiring, etc. After that, run a full diagnostic test on controlling everything from the electronics. 
  • Assemble and mount computer/server, hook it in with lower-level electronics systems and verify that they communicate effectively. 
  • Finally, add plastic body and secure it to the frame. Add any other aesthetic pieces to the robot, such as LEDs, displays, etc. 

Of course, these are very general guidelines, but hopefully you get the idea of how the project will pan out. I will be recording plenty of video and taking plenty of pictures along the way, so that I can keep you guys informed and up to date on the whole process.

As always, please email me at christian@ripplerobotics.com (or use the ask a question button below) if you have questions, suggestions, constructive criticisms (I will still read them!), or tips on any aspect of this project. (I guess if you want to say hello and introduce yourself as well that would be fine). :) 

So, if you’ve made it down here either by just scrolling down here or reading through the whole description, then THANK YOU! If you like this project, then please consider backing it, or share with family and friends!

Risks and challenges

While I am dedicated to the advancement of this project, there are many obstacles that can (and will) arise during the process. I understand this and usually I will be able to solve these problems with perseverance and hard work, however, should a problem arise that is beyond my capabilities there are many people who I can turn to for help who are more experienced than me.

And, of course, if any of you have any suggestions, I would be more than happy to read them.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    YOU ARE AWESOME:
    Every pledge, large or small, helps! You will get your name on our list of backers on our website, and I will send you an email thanking you for your belief in me and my project.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    ROBOT ENTHUSIAST PLEDGE LEVEL:
    You will get access to some special videos that I will make that describes how the robot works in detail. The videos will start coming out as I work on the robot, so you won't have to wait till next year to tune in! You also get the the lower tiers as well.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    SUPER SUPPORTER PLEDGE LEVEL:
    You will get a copy of a special short documentary film that I will be putting together after the project is complete. I will be taking lots of footage as I go through the project, and so you can get the entire journey from start to finish. Of course, in addition, you will get the lower tier rewards.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    THE SWAG PLEDGE LEVEL:
    You get a nice t-shirt, and of course the lower tiers as well! Note: Please be patient with delivery, as I will need some time to get it together while still working on my project! You will get all lower tier rewards as well.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    GENEROUS SUPPORTER PLEDGE LEVEL:
    You will get your name put on the robot, along with everyone else's name who has pledged at this level, and so everyone will know of your great contribution! Note: This is meant for individuals. You will also get the lower tier rewards.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    THE FEATURED PLEDGE LEVEL:
    You will get the logo of your choice featured on a part of the robot (most likely the base or the torso), and it will be about the size of a bumper sticker, so that everyone will know the amazing contribution you made to the project! Note: This reward is meant for groups of people or businesses. You will also get all the lower tier rewards that are $100 or less.

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Funding period

- (30 days)