Where do I start?

I think that I have had the idea of building a robot for quite some time. Lately robotos seem to be everywhere and I’m sure that is related to the decreased costs associated with electronics.

I had heard about a year ago (maybe 2) that people were turning their NSLU2 hardware into mini Linux boxes. When I heard it had a network interface, low power consumption and 2 USB slots, I thought that it would be a great brain for a robot. And so it began…

Since then I have spent many hours wrestling with the unit (I think I have had to use RedBoot at least 5 times; luckily you can’t brick these things, or at least I haven’t been able to.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I ran UnSlung for a long time and managed to get a Logitech web camera working (at 160×120). I also purchased a very tiny access point network adapter that allowed me wireless access to the unit.

My plan is to take the video into the unit, and have that video fed to my PC through a wireless connection. Then manipulate the image and send control signals back to the robot to determine what to do next. The obvious issues surrounding this would be the ability to control motors and output/input devices.

I am a programmer by trade and have a fair amount of network and graphics programming experience, so the graphics manipulation would not be that difficult. The electronics would be my battle (and the fun part of this equation).

Last night I managed to get Samba running on the NSLU and I also managed to get a cross compile environment set up on my Fedora 6 laptop. I have to admit that I really dislike Linux. I think that what it represents is good, but no matter what you try to do it usually turns into a multitude of issues that generates often too many questions. While trying to setup the cross compile environment I think I ended up re-installing the whole OS at least 2 or 3 times.

I can understand why I’ve taken so long to get to where I am now, and sort of the reason that I brought this blog online. It’s been an exercise in frustration and a huge time drain. But I recently made HUGE progress and I wanted to make sure I kept a record (BLOG?) of how I got here.

My huge success? I managed to read the k8055 USB inputs from the NSLU using a program compiled on my Fedora PC. Hmmm… I think that statement alone would create a “deer in the headlights” look from almost everyone I know. ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyways, I see this as the next big step towards me creating an autonomous robot. My next few posts with be other assorted things related to this recent success. I think that I am actually subconsciously focussing on this blog to avoid touching anything (and screwing it up)…