Texas Instruments recently came out with a fun and powerful development robot based on the Stellaris LM3S9B92 microcontroller. The robot, known as the Stellaris Evalbot, is packed with tons of functionality that leverages the LN2S9B92's robust feature set. The Evalbot comes pre-assembled, with the exception of the wheels and bump arms which take just a few minutes to put together.
First of all, let's talk about the function-rich microcontroller at the heart of the Evalbot: the Stellaris LM3S9B92. The Stellaris, created by Luminary Micro (acquired in 2009 by Texas Instruments) is a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 MCU which runs at speeds up to 80Mhz. It sports a wide array of features including:
- 256 kB flash and 96 kB SRAM
- 32 Channel DMA
- 32-bit external peripheral interface
- ROM preloaded with a boot loader, AES and CRC functionality
- 10/100 Ethernet MAC/PHY
- 2 CAN controllers
- USB 2.0 Full Speed OTG/Host/Device
- 2 SSI / SPI controllers
- 2 I2C interfaces
- I2S interface
- 3 UARTs
- 8 motion-control PWM outputs with dead-band
- 2 quadrature encoder inputs
- 4 fault protection inputs
- 3 analog comparators
- 16 channel 10-bit ADC
- 16 digital comparators
- 24-bit systick timer
- 4 32-bit or 8 16-bit timers
- 2 watchdog timers
- Low drop-out voltage regulator
- Up to 65 GPIOs
The Evalbot is the perfect platform for learning about and developing for the LM3S9B92. It takes advantage of nearly every feature included in the Stellaris MCU. The Evalbot is both battery and USB powered, and automatically switches when plugged in to a computer. It features a collection of analog and digital peripherals along with a large amount of breakout pads and headers for I/O expansion. The Evalbot includes:
- MicroSD card connector
- USB Host and Device connectors
- I2S audio codec and speaker
- RJ45 Ethernet connector
- Bright 96 x 16 blue OLED display
- On-board In-Circuit Debug Interface (ICDI)
- Wireless communication expansion port
- Two DC gear-motors provide drive and steering
- Opto-sensors detect wheel rotation with 45° resolution
- Sensors for bump detection
The Evalbot comes preloaded with the μC/OS-III real-time kernel. The Evalbot includes a time-limited version of the IDE (from IAR) you will need to get started programming the bot. Also included is the source code for the Evalbot and some handy in-circuit debugging tools. It's fairly easy to get set up, but runs on Windows only. I was able to flash a modified version of the firmware after just a few minutes of tinkering. My only complaint is that the software is quite expensive to purchase once the trial period runs out.
The Evalbot retails for $149 for the robot by itself or $200 for the robot and a book about programming the μC/OS-III real-time kernel. If you're looking to learn more about real-time systems and play with a powerful microprocessor I highly recommend the Evalbot.
As I mentioned in the headline, I have five Evalbots to giveaway, click here for more info about the giveaway.
Texas Instruments was generous enough to send me five Evalbots to give away. I
will be drawing drew names from a hat on Black Friday, November 26th. To be entered in the drawing you must [have] meet the following requirements:
- Have a project idea for the Evalbot
- Be a paying member of a hackerspace
- Be willing to share photos and/or a brief writeup once you have completed your project
- Be a US resident (I have to ship these on my own dime)
- Post a comment with your project idea and hackerspace affiliation below
To be entered in the drawing, post a comment below describing your project idea. Don't forget to mention which hackerspace you belong to.
I drew names out of a hat (literally), here are the winners:
- Clarence Risher from Freeside in Atlanta, GA
- Daryll Strauss from CrashSpace in Culver City, CA.
- Erik Arendall from Makers Local 256 in Huntsville, AL.
- flea from 23b in Fullerton, CA.
- tilver from DenHac in Denver, CO.
- Although not drawn out of a hat, members of Null Space Labs in Los Angeles, CA can use mine.
A few weeks ago I toured USC's medical center for WIRED News. One of the interesting things I saw was their Surgical Skills Center. One thing they do there is particularly pertinent to a serious issue in our world, the Iraq War. Click here or on the image below to see the Heal a Robot, Go to War gallery on WIRED News.
The WIRED Nextfest is coming up next week here in Downtown Los Angeles. I am really excited about many of the exhibitions. It's one thing to read about a cool robot online, but to actually see one in real life is even better, as long as it doesn't try and chop off your arm with its sword. I have compiled a list of what I think will be some of the more interesting robots at Nextfest:
- Keepon: This cute, yellow, dancing robot is currently my favorite robot. His little eyes are two cameras and his nose is a microphone. His mastery of expressive head bobbing is quite impressive. I want to get a close-up shot of his insides which are actually quite complex. He will also be making an appearance with Spoon on the 10th
- Chroino: This little robot is totally bad-ass. Check out his strut and watch him stand up, like a person would, unlike a Robosapien 2. This will be one of my next robot purchases!
- Kiyomori[Warning Flash + Music]: Personally I've always thought that the world needed more robots wearing traditional samurai armor replete with swords. I hope that nobody pisses off Kyomori and loses an arm.
- Hubo FX-1: Holy smokes, the alpa stages of mech warriors are upon us! In Korea, "human-riding robot" doesn't ride you, you ride robot.
- HumanKind: Hanson Robotics has endeavored to create expressive robot heads that appear to be human. I don't know if I'm the only person who is creeped out by this, but I'm guessing that I'm not. Their new head, Joey Chaos, is a "one of a kind humanoid rock star is known for his attitude and smart remarks," I guess that could be fairly entertaining.
- Zou Ren Ti: What's creepier than an expressive robotic head? How about creating your twin in robot form. Yep, Xi'an wins.
- Takanishi Bots: There is something really retro about the assorted robots from Takanishi. The WL-16RIII looks pretty original though and the WABIAN-2R looks more modern than their other offerings.
- REEM-A: Pal Technology's REEM-A robot has a sense of equilibrium and if you try and push him over he will regain his balance. I wonder what happens if you push him too hard?
- Juke Bots: My German isn't so great, but from what I can tell from the pictures, the Juke Bots are a pair of what look like industrial welding robots that dance to music. Dancing robots are always crowd pleasers, and oddly enough dancing is a common robot design feature.
- Shadow Hand: This robotic hand is supposedly "the most advanced Dexterous Hand in the world." It looks pretty complicated, containing 40 air muscles.
- BodyBug: I'm not really sure what the point of this robot is, and the demo video, which was clearly inspired by, if not blatantly stolen from, Apple, confuses me even more. I guess it's a robot for playing a dancing game with your friends? I have no idea, but I suppose I'll find out more at Nextfest.
- Salamandra robotica: Ok so this isn't the most interesting robot ever, but the page has some neat motion graphs.
- The LEMUR Robots: NASA's multi-limbed bots look like a cross between robotic insects and big-eyed lemurs. Apparently they can climb walls.
- Outerspace: This robot looks like your average desk lamp, but comes alive and responds to your input as you can see in this video.
- Recon Scout - Reconnaissance Robot: This little dumbbell shaped robot is remote controlled and made for military work. You can toss the Recon Scout into a battle zone and drive it around to get an idea of what lies ahead.
- SRR: Sample-Return Rover: These venerable robots created in 1997 and 2000 may be old, but they're still useful. They can even work together to retrieve samples in hazardous environments.
- Glowbots: These intercommunicating, interactive, LED-encrusted robots remind me of a physical version of Conway's Game of Life. You can watch some videos of the Glowbots here.
Wired Nextfest takes place September 13th through the 16th in the South Hall of the LA Convention Center. Tickets will run you $20 if you're and adult, $15 with a student ID, and kids 2-12 are $5.