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Review: Robot, Androids and Animations

Charles T. Curry ctcurry@gte.net

This book is an introduction to do-it-yourself robotics with lots of good sutff and a few problems.

THE GOOD STUFF:

The book starts with a couple of introductory chapters which describe a range of useful and fun robots and an introduction to artificial intellegence.

The next four chapters cover the basic components of robotics; power, movement and drive systems, sensors and intellegence (control). Each chapter includes basic technical material and practical circuits. The power chapter discusses various batteries and construction of a battery charger. The next chapter discribes seversl drive systems including stepper, dc and servo motors as well as the h-bridge and Pulse Width Modulation.

The sensors chapter describes a range of sensors and circuits including the magnetic compass. In the intellegence chapter, BASIC Stamp programs illustrate control functions and sensor and motor interfaces. A bit of fuzzy logic is also included.

The remaining chapters cover projects making use of various concepts and mechanisms. Chapters cover both wheeled and walking moble robots. One project robot is controlled by speech, another is a radio controlled blimp which carries a CCD TV camera. There is also a simple swimming android fish.

.The final chapters cover a computer controlled toy robotic arm and a robotic hand driven by air muscles.

The projects are well covered by pictures, schematic diagrams and parts lists. The Images Company provides components and/or kits for many projects.

There are also references to many web sites for additional information.

You can get a feel for the technical level and style of the book by checking the robotics and speech recognition pages at the Images Company web site: www.imagesco.com

PROBLEMS:

In the first chapter two interesting types of robots were left out:

Personal robots: The Heath Hero and Hero Jr, the Tomy OMNIBOT, the Androbots and others.

Display robots: Found Disneyland/world and Caesar's Palace.

Chapter 4 doesn't include the hack which turns a servo motor into a configuration suitable to direct drive wheels.

Figure 4.11: There should be a connection between pins 8 and 12 of the 556 IC and the connection between pin 13 and the junction of R3 and R4 in my copy is so faint in my copy of the book that it appears to have been erased, but this connection is required for the circuit to work.

Figure 4.18: In this illustraton of PWM the off time is constant as the on time is varied. More usual is for the period to be held constant as the on time is varied.

Figure 5.11: The transistor should be a 2N2222, not a 210222.

SUMMARY:

This book provides both an overall view of amateur robotics and practical information on how to do it. But as noted above, I found a few problems in the details. By definition, the number of unfound problems is unknown.

HOW TO FIND IT:

Robots, Androids, and Animatrons
by John Iovine
TAB Books (McGraw-Hill)
ISBN 0-07-032804
278 Pages
$19.95

 

NOTE: I found this book in the Lindsay Publications Inc. catalog.

The Lindsay catalog contains a interesting collection of mostly reprints of out of print technical books. The latest version that I received included, anong others, books on windmotors, linear electronics, early radios, stills, plastic injection molding and embalming.

To request a catalog, call: (815) 935-5353.