Author Topic: Using an old motherboard for a robot  (Read 15636 times)

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Offline SomchayaTopic starter

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Using an old motherboard for a robot
« on: January 10, 2006, 10:02:37 PM »
Hi, I was wondering how to use an old PC motherboard, say a Pentium 3, as a robot's main processor.
That way, RAM and all that won't be much of an issue. I've seen a few tutorials online, but they aren't
very detailed, and the gist is basically to have a stable DC power source. However, how would I be able
to provide the power needed? The motherboard and other components (assuming I plug them in too)
have special power sockets, and the voltage/current requirements needed may be special?

Does anyone have an idea how I can do this relatively easily?

Somchaya - Back after a year of misc things

Offline Admin

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Re: Using an old motherboard for a robot
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2006, 10:04:40 AM »
So basically what a computer power supply does is take AC current at 120V and converts it to DC current at 3.3V, 5V, and 12V.
It also uses large capacitors and rectifiers to smooth out the voltage and make it very stable.

This page should help:

So if you were to make a robot with an old PC, all you need to do is replicate those voltages. Basically use batteries, capacitors, and voltage regulators.

There are also Linux boards designed for robotics, and people also commonly use Palm Pilots as robot controllers.

You probably do not need the power of a PC for your robot however, unless you plan to do complex computer vision or some serious mapping and localization stuff. I have built like 25+ robots and only once did I run out of memory . . . but then I was using 7 sensors and trig lookup tables and other complicated stuff that I doubt you will do.

Another note, if your everyday PIC can't handle it, look into using an Atmel . . . the new mega168 has tons of memory.

Offline dunk

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Re: Using an old motherboard for a robot
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2006, 06:34:30 PM »
you might want to check out thes guys:
they do a lot of psus for mobile aplications:
you would need some pretty big batterys to keep a modern pc mobo going for long though.

if you have money to throw at this one of these may be more practical:
tiny and low power.


Offline rc3105

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Re: Using an old motherboard for a robot
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2010, 01:45:15 AM »
how about an old laptop? 

integrated power management, idle, suspend/resume 

easy to provide dc power

cheap & lightweight, doesn't need a working screen, mouse, or kb

easy to add webcam, wifi, bluetooth, usb, ir, etc

many older ones still have parallel ports, great for highspeed interface or driving steppers

anywho, that's my two cents
I'm a self made man, started out with nuthin and still got most of it left

Offline blackbeard

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Re: Using an old motherboard for a robot
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2010, 10:18:07 AM »
laptops are great for mini robots. like others have said there's linux ports for that kind of thing. one thing i havn't seen come up is a microcontroler. you mentioned that you wanted to use a pentium 3 and motherboard so that "ram wouldn't be an issue" so i'm wondering, have you heard of microcontrolers such as the arduino or the basic stamp? also have you read the $50 robot tutorial? microcontrolers are basicly single chip computers that have everything a computer has on one chip. you write a program and then upload it to said chip and there you go! this is something you're going to need to use even if you're making a robot with a laptop (unless you only use the parallel port and it would be useful even if you do) because you need something to receive data from the serial port.
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