Author Topic: hobbyist for hire?  (Read 3741 times)

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Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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hobbyist for hire?
« on: January 30, 2015, 05:44:53 PM »
I am a disabled person and I need to build a very simple device with a microcontroller and a single micro servo.  Basically a simplified version of the $50 robot.  However, I really do not know of anyone who can assist me with this project.  So I'm just asking how to go about finding a trustworthy person who can easily build that robot for me, with a couple of slight modifications.   

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2015, 08:55:21 AM »
 :) Hello!
I would like to build it for you, but I do not have the capability at this
time. I can, however, answer some questions, and help you navigate
towards whatever your robotic objectives, whatever they would be.
This forum seems to be most helpful, so I am confident you have found the
right starting point for your robotic project.
Hopefully, more people will contribute in this forum, which helps everybody.
 ;D ;D

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2015, 06:30:23 PM »
The project is to build a device that can turn a page on my Kindle reader.  So I just need a servo with a capacitive material attached to the end of the arm.  I need to control it with a micro controller, a switch for input, and maybe some sort RF interface so it can be remotely controlled.  And I would like it to be battery-powered.  And I want all of this in a reasonably small package.  I already have a basic stamp microcontroller board with its own breadboard, but I would prefer something smaller possible.  I think I have seen some smaller breadboards that I could use with a different microcontroller.

Offline jlizotte

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2015, 07:19:49 PM »
Where are you located, dmehling? I'm in Ohio (USA). I'll help if I can, but not for hire.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 07:23:36 PM by jlizotte »

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2015, 12:51:01 PM »
Texas

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2015, 01:38:01 PM »
 :)
The project is to build a device that can turn a page on my Kindle reader.  So I just need a servo with a capacitive material attached to the end of the arm.  I need to control it with a micro controller, a switch for input, and maybe some sort RF interface so it can be remotely controlled.  And I would like it to be battery-powered.  And I want all of this in a reasonably small package.  I already have a basic stamp microcontroller board with its own breadboard, but I would prefer something smaller possible.  I think I have seen some smaller breadboards that I could use with a different microcontroller
*******  ;D   *******
Correct me if I am wrong; you want -
servo attached to Kindle, and touch the screen when activated by switch or remote? correct?
If so, the control package could be attached to the servo, on the side, for compactness; The battery
to power the servo, however, might be bigger. If the power consumption is low, it may be possible to
use a solar cell, with a small battery, to extend life, and be compact.
The remote however, will have to be on size so that you can use it comfortably.(its own battery, too)
If the kindle is close to you, if might be easier to use infrared control, that wireless.
If this is the process you want, all that matters now is the completing the system.   ;D ;D

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2015, 02:11:51 PM »
That is basically right.  The remote itself does not matter to me, since I will not be using it personally.  Right now I have to have someone turn the page for me, and that's fine in most cases, since I always have someone nearby to help with whatever I need.  I just think it would be a lot more convenient if they could use a remote, so they would not have to walk all the way over to the Kindle.  I would prefer RF, since not having to aim the remote makes things so much easier.  A solar cell is an interesting idea.  I'm never reading in the dark, so there will be always light available.  Do you think a typically well lit room should provide enough light for the solar cell?

Once I get that working, I might add a switch that I could use, like a switch I can hit with my tongue, since I cannot use my hands.  But I still want the ability to have remote control as well.

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2015, 07:36:06 PM »
 :) Hello!
I came up with an idea today, that might simplify the circuit alot, and
(I think) is readily avaliable, and approx $20.
If it is to acutuate a button on the touchscreen of the Kindle, a simple
solinoid could be used.(extends when power is put to it) Torque is
not an issue here, so power is conserved. What you would need is
a simple infrared controller to motor, which I think is sold in kit form already.
In reference to the solar cell power in a normally lit room, calculators now
already are used in that purpose; as to the effectiveness, the circuit will dictate that.
Hitting the switch with your tongue is not a problem; another infrared remote will be added.
wireless could be substituted for infrared, is desired.
I will look up some kits to see if they will work.   :D
I had an idea of making a robot, just like the ones imagined to help people,
but how? these pursudo - concepts could help you.
 :) :) :) :) :)
The question is; How do you get a machine to follow your commands? Even if they are complex,
and how would it run the learned command that you just taught it?
 :'(
I started using Dragon Dictate to capture the voice commands (some of this is in Linux), then
parse the commands, seperating them into action/description subroutines.
My C++ program would run the command, supported by subroutines that the robot would run
normally. (I alike these to the Cerebellum, which runs the "automatic" functions in the
human body, even we do not concentrate on the actual action being done)
 ;)
In relation to you, Dragon Dictate does allow some control over your desktop by voice command.
Some of these commands can be redirected. I have a version that did this, but it got destroyed. :'(
I would have to look up the latest version to see if those functions still are avaliable.
It might be of help, if you would desire more complicated things done, to try to locate
one of these versions that may do this.
I need to start back on that project anyway, but have not had the time. I will look into it,
along with the control kit. :) Wish me luck!   :)

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 11:28:25 AM »
 :) Hello!
I would like to ask a question, where permissible. Am I going in the right
direction that yo need?   ???

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 11:47:22 AM »
 :) Hello!
I did find the following companies offering kits;
Apogee
Velleman
Ozitronics
Carl's electronics
The small infrared kits, controller and reciever, cost appox $10, max.
You would have to add on a solinoid to perform the action of course.
I will keep looking for options....... :)

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 07:00:09 PM »
Thanks for your suggestions and the time you have taken to research various options.

Your suggestion about using solenoids was good, but it doesn't really seem like that is something I want to use.  I just want to be very careful with anything that will touch the screen of my Kindle.  It seems like with the servo, I could slowly adjust the position until the arm touches the screen.  It also seems like a servo would have less power than a solenoid, so it would not touch the screen with as much force.  I could be wrong, but that's what I was thinking.  Also, I looked at various solenoids and it seems like it will be more difficult to determine how to mount them than with a servo.  I have a special bracket to hold my Kindle, and I will have to attach the servos to bracket.  It will be much harder to mount a solenoid on this specific bracket.

I think I have abandoned my idea to use solar.  I could not find a solar cell that was small enough, and one that would collect enough energy.  If my calculations are right, my project should not take much power, so I think a small lithium battery would work better.  I want to get this device as small as I can, and with solar, I cannot really get it small enough.

I appreciate your suggestions about the IR kits, but I am not too sure about those either.  First of all, I still want to use RF.  Secondly, a kit seems too large.  Once I get all the details of my project figured out, I will get someone to help me put it together on a breadboard.  Once I do that and make sure it works properly, I want to move everything to a prototyping board, or even a PCB.  I feel like that is the best way to get my project to be as compact as possible.  For the RF, I thought maybe I could use one of these and be able to put it right onto my breadboard/prototyping board:

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10532

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2015, 10:19:06 AM »
 8) Looks like that will work.   8)
I assume your kindle is the size of a tablet. I was trying to imagine the dimensions
of the board/batteries/servo. It would seem to have a flat square containing the
board and batteries that would attach to the underside corner, while the servo
extends above the board, to have access to the screen. Maybe a telescoping
"finger" of the servo, so that you could exact the spot on which you want to activate.
In that case, it might serve to be compact, easy access and easy to handle and repair.
What do you think?   ;D

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2015, 06:48:12 PM »
 :) Hello!
Further reference to the design of the device;
With the board and batteries on the bottom of the Kindle,
the servo would need to be able to swing, at least, 180 degrees,
then be able to be "locked in", to secure the target area you want to
activate. The telescoping "finger" could be extended, then activated to
the touch teh target area. :D  A sensor on the end of the finger could
serve as a limit switch, to stop the servo from going too far on the surface
of the Kindle. Any suggestions?   ???

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2015, 07:00:04 PM »
I haven't exactly figured that out yet.  It will have to work with the special Kindle holder that I am using, and I will not be able to mount the microcontroller and batteries on the back of the Kindle.

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2015, 09:41:21 AM »
 :) Hello!
I will try to post a CAD drawing of the look of the device I am imagining.
I could make a model, to try on my tablet, to see if that works.
Please keepme posted on your progress....   8)

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2015, 04:19:46 PM »
If it helps at all, this is the bracket I have for my Kindle:

https://www.ishotmounts.com/ishot-g7-pro-universal-tablet-tripod-mount-stand-adapter-holder

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2015, 03:47:21 PM »
:) Hello!
Thinking through the whole design issue, and the questions/directions
in sight, maybe this would be an option;
Buy the microcontroller, servos, and accessories that you think you will need.
Buy a power supply that can deliver a main voltage, in which you break down
into subsystems with voltage regulators. (alot of seperate power supplies would work too)
Set up a test jig and fixture, to be able to look at the entire setup. You can begin
programming, then measuring the results you are looking for. If any problems come up,
you can deal with them accordingly. When all your projections are realized, and the
system is the way you want it, you can assemble the unit in the form in which it will
fit on your Kindle. What do you think?   :-\ :-\

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2015, 04:47:52 PM »
I really want to keep this design as simple and as small as possible, so I want to avoid the use of multiple voltage regulators if possible.  I think I have decided to use the 3.7v lipoly batteries, since I have now found servos that operate in the range of 3.3v - 4.2v.  And that of course is approximately the range of the microcontroller I want to get.  So based on that, I don't really see the need for voltage regulators, since the batteries and servos do not require such a narrow range of input voltages.  But, based on what bdeuell, I will make sure to connect the servos and microcontroller separately to the battery.

So at this point, these are the components I will be getting:

Two low-voltage ultra micro servos
1200 mah lipoly battery
lipoly battery charger (the one sold by Adafruit, which allows the battery to stay connected to the other components while charging)
Two Moteino microcontrollers (they have built-in wireless capabilities, and will need a second one to act as a remote)
a small breadboard
a few various other small components like on-off switch, LEDs, resistors, capacitors, etc.

So, I think I can order these components pretty soon and set up a test version on the breadboard.  Once I can correctly get the circuit together put together and program the microcontroller, then I can begin thinking about a more permanent design and how to put it into an enclosure.

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2015, 04:39:21 PM »
I just got to wondering if servos are the right type of actuators for this project.  I am concerned about the amount of torque they can generate and if they could potentially damage or scratch the surface of my Kindle touch-screen.  At the same time, a low torque actuator would probably require much less power, which would also be quite helpful.  However, I really have no idea what else I could use.  I just need a way to gently touch the screen.

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #19 on: February 25, 2015, 07:05:34 AM »
 :) Hello!
I agree with your assumption that you will need a lower torque servo.
At this point, you have a ballpark idea of what you want to do, just the
"tweeking out"  is needed. It seems that the critical part of the robot finger
is going to be the screen touch sense, in which you will probably want to
have two; one for the screen, and one for an overpush limit.
Keep me posted....  ;D ;D ;D

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2015, 04:22:58 PM »
I just discovered that there is a much simpler method of simulating a touch on the screen, which will completely eliminate the need for actuators.  I didn't really think about the fact that the Kindle has a capacitive touch screen and not a resistive screen, therefore it doesn't depend on pressure to be activated.  I just read that you could place a piece of tinfoil or some other conducting material on the screen and run some power to it from the microcontroller, and that would simulate a finger press.  I'm not completely sure yet how to implement this, but it should be easier than using a servo.

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2015, 04:49:13 PM »
 ;) Interesting!
That part of the screen must be dedicated to actuating the
page turning. Hopefully, this will not take away from your
reading. I have not heard of this, but I am sure it is possible.
You will probably have to tweek this out too; but it sounds like
it will be less difficult. I will check around to see if I can find
somebody doing this. Keep me posted...  ;D ;D ;D

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2015, 05:42:11 PM »
There is a little bit of margin on the right and left sides of the screen where there is no text, so I could lay the conductive material in that area and it would not cover any text.  I guess what I need to figure out is how much voltage and current should be applied to the conductive material.  I saw a video of someone using this method with just a wire going from one of the pins of the microcontroller to the conductive material.  So I would assume that is about 3.3v and current might be 40 mA, at least that is the current output for some of the microcontrollers I have looked at.

Offline dmehlingTopic starter

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2015, 05:45:17 PM »
After further research, I have come to understand that it doesn't matter what voltage or amount of current is running to the conducting material.  Instead, it simply needs to capacitate or have capacitance that can be detected by the touchscreen (I don't know if this is the right way of describing it.)  On another forum, someone said to use an n channel mosfet, in order to switch the capacitance on or off, or something like that.  Based on my limited understanding, a mosfet is used to provide higher voltages and current, but I only need to provide a few milliamps.  Should I still use consider using one, or is there a better way?

Offline mklrobo

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Re: hobbyist for hire?
« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2015, 07:14:16 AM »
 :) Hello!
Very interesting question!!!!!!
I would still pursue the capacitance direction, as you have indicated.
Capacitance is created, in a capacitor, with aluminum foil and an insulator, like
mylar. Having said this, it would seem that a corrigated tab, which was energized,
could be used to trigger the screen. Example, - if you take apart a cheap calculator,
looking at the keyboard, there are metal traces that "make" when you press the
key, introducing a resistance across the metal tab.
Using this as a guide, this type of "tab" could be put on the touch screen and
energized. Any material between the metal "fingers", would be considered a
insulator, and thus, may yield the results you are looking for. The question is
how much capacitance is needed to trigger the screen?
Since you will be using a very small amount of current, perhaps a( PWM) Pulse Width Modulation
form the MCU will provide a bigger capacitance footprint. If I get a chance in the
near future, I will try this on my computer, assuming I have a capacitance activated screen.
Let's keep on it......... ;D ;D ;D