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October 2012

Onboard Video

Tuesday, 30 October 2012 Category : , 0

The Onboard Video system will capture a live feed from each robot and display both feeds on a screen on the off-board device. The video stream should be good enough quality to be able to facilitate both the movement of the device and determine how much to adjust the fine firing control.

Chosen Design - iWebCamera - £3.00

Provides a virtual webcam to your computer by connecting to an iPhone/Ipod touch running iWebcamera.  This will provide us with two webcam streams on the raspberry pi, one each from a iphone/ipad on each robot.


- 2 compatible iPhones/ iPod touches  - Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
- The iWebCamera App - £2.99 each
- Network connection between the two iOS devices and the Raspberry Pi.

Additional Resources

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Below is a initial summary of the proposed costs that will be incurred in the design of the game.

Project Timeline

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Project Timeline

Overall Concept

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Below is a diagram of what the overall design of the gadget will look like.

Robotic Platform

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The platform of the device will provide a mobile platform to base all the on-board electronics. It should be able to be maneuvered  relatively easily as well as being big enough to hold all of the electronics equipment and associated power supplies. The device should be able to be controlled using a number of digital outputs from the Arduino. The power needed for the device should be able to supplied using an on-board battery although this may be a different battery from the one used to power the electronics.

Off-board System

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The off-board system refers to the scoring system of the game and the smart phone app that will allow the user to drive the robot.

Scoring System

When a robot fires at the other robot and hits a target, they will be awarded a point. The point value will depend on how easy or hard the target was to hit. When the sensor is hit, a message will be sent to the main game master to increment the score of the robot who shot the target. This score will then be displayed on a screen in the form of a GUI. The figure below demonstrates this.

Offboard System and Robots
Smart Phone App
An app will be created to allow the user to control the robot. It will have buttons for the movement of the robot (left, right, forward, backward) and it will also have buttons to control the firing device (pan left/right, pan up/down, fire).


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This system involves controlling the robots through a smartphone and notifying the games master when game events happen, such as a robot being hit, game start/stop etc.

Different communication options and configurations were considered in terms of cost and ease of implementation.

Firing System and Detection

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The firing system is what the robot uses to shoot at the other robot. A robot will have one firing device and multiple targets which will detect the shots fired.


The firing device will be made from a laser diode. A laser diode has a small emission angle meaning that it is very accurate. To detect the laser, a photo transistor will be used. This detects the light and converts it to an electrical signal. The laser diode and photo transistors will be connected to the Arduino, as the Arduino is very good at receiving input from a variety of sensors and also controlling emitters.

Fine Control of Firing Device

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This system should allow the user to move the firing device in small increments after positioning the robot.  An illustration of the movement can be seen below.  This movement can either be on the x axis or on the y axis, turning the device horizontally or vertically.
Using this system it will be possible to alter difficulty by limiting range of movement therefore forcing user to move robot, or speed of movement.

Functional Specification

Thursday, 11 October 2012 Category : , 0

A functional specification has been drawn up in order to clearly define our aims and objectives for this project.  This way, we can prioritise time effectively so that the most important objectives can be achieved first, before moving onto secondary ones.

Diagram of whole system
Below can be seen the basic, intermediate and advanced objectives that have been drawn up.

Introducing... LaserBots!

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The Raspberry Pi and the Arduino are two very different devices each suited to different activities.  

The Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform. It can receive input from a variety of sensors and can affect surroundings by controlling lights, motors and other actuators. It is low power and also has serial communication capability. It is programmed using the Arduino programming language (based on Wiring) and the Arduino development environment (based on Processing). The programming language is very similar to C/C++.

The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer that is small in size (85.60 mm × 53.98 mm) and was developed to aid the teaching of basic computer science in schools. It uses the Linux operating system. The Pi has a Broadcom system on a chip which includes an ARM 700 MHz processor, a VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 Mb of RAM. There is not a built in hard disk but it has an SD card slot.
Arduino (left) and Raspberry Pi (right)
Our embedded systems class requires us to design a 'gadget' using either of these devices.  A selection of ideas were put forward:

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