Hylas Homepage

Robotics & Electronics

I was infected with an interest in electronics during my school time. I started with TTL circuits and later on switched to microcontroller projects.

Invariably, every electronics hobbyist encounters one serious problem: What to do with the aquired abilities? Is there any greenhouse to be controlled? Or even a domotic system to be created?

I personally came up with robotics: projects can be kept reasonably small. It's easy to split projects into smaller chunks (in case one happens to be forced to earn ones living ...). The robot models are rewarding in themselves, are something to show off (b.t.w.: have a look at my Robot Gallery :) ).

In robotics, again, there is the next question to answer: what sort of project is it going to be? There are a lot of applications and potential goals to chose from:

  • fire fighting contests
  • maze finding
  • sumo wrestling
  • robot wars
  • autonomous behaviour
  • emergent behaviour
  • swarm simulation
  • miniaturization
  • simulation of planet exploration

And there's much, much more, of course.

In fact, I asked one of my kids and got a nice list of suggestions what could be done with a robot.

There are a few problems every roboticist encounters:

Main problem to me is the power supply. Batteries mean weight, which means bigger motors for more power, which means bigger batteries and so on. Batteries have to be changed, are costly, ecologically not really sound. Or, if rechargable batteries are used it takes quite some time to recharge them. In any case the robot has to stop it's tasks and has to be serviced manually (unless one has the means for autonomously recharging which is complicated and potentially prone to failure). Lighter batteries with comparable or even higher energy density are a possible solution (i.e. lithium polymer batteries instead of NiCad ones). Quite interesting are projects which provide energy by other means altogether: the use of solar panels would be an example or fuel cells. There is also a promising project to supply power by induction (have a look at the 'Power Surface' ).

The next topic to contemplate would be the computational power. We are talking about complexity here, but also rather profane problems: quite a few microcontrollers are simply not usable for the amateur because of their packages. I am not going to solder ball grid array chips ever! Then again, I never thought I would solder 'conventional' smd chips and I have come to term with those over the years ...

On this website I am demonstrating some of my projects. Most are just 'work in progress', some have been for a decade now. Anyway, You are invited to have a look and - of course - I am always interested in feedback ...

I have collected some books concerning robotics and electronics some of which I would like to introduce to You on the literature page. Also I would like to demonstrate my equipment and tools, both soft- and hardware. And I would like to invite You to have a look at my 'materials' page where I'll discuss various materials I am using.

Again, all comments are very welcome!

Robo Gallery- Please click!

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