| PPRK Overview |
Last Modified: 2008-02-06
The BrainStem PPRK
The Palm Pilot Robot Kit (PPRK) was originally designed by the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute with the intent of making a robot kit that was easy to use and easy to program. The PPRK design is very similar in approach to Acroname's Rover which was designed to carry a Palm Pilot on its back. Perhaps the most unique thing about the PPRK design is the use of three 4cm omni-directional roller wheels in a triangular orientation. This orientation allows Holonomic Motion Control and distinguishes this robot design from most common mobile robots.
The sections below provide an introduction to the hardware and controller used in the PPRK. Additionally, you can visit the PPRK product page , which includes more details about the kit contents as well as links to assembly instructions, a movie of the PPRK in action, PPRK articles and related products. You can also purchase a PPRK from this page.
The BrainStem PPRK, with several previous incarnations
The PPRK is easily assembled with a phillips and a flathead screwdriver; we have already done all the soldering for you. We have included step-by-step installation instruction so that even someone without any prior robotics experience can feel the satisfaction of creating their own robot. Typically, the installation takes under an hour.
The PPRK comes with 3 omni-directional wheels controlled by 3 servo motors, allowing rotation and movement in any direction simultaneously. Three infrared rangefinders allow the PPRK to track and chase objects, follow walls, and avoid obstacles in 360 degrees. Fully assembled, the PPRK weighs less than three pounds and is well protected by its acrylic and aluminium shell.
A table listing the full kit contents is available from the product page .
The BrainStem GP module is our signature general purpose controller. The GP can be run in up to three modes concurrently. The first is the slave mode, which allows a host computer to manipulate or read from the PPRK's sensors and servos directly through a serial or I2C bus. The second is the reflex mode where the PPRK responds to inputs with prescribed outputs. Finally, the TEA mode is where the GP can run several TEA programs (a language very similar to C) to accomplish tasks such as following a wall or running away from a person.
The PPRK BrainStem GP has additional analog, digital, servo, serial, and I2C ports, allowing you to connect to a PC or handheld device. In addition, the GP 2.0 controller has an infrared transmit/receive for talking between PPRKs or using an infrared remote to control the PPRK, and contains an onboard prototyping area for upgrading your PPRK with additional detectors, chips, memory, and controllers. Possible examples include infrared and ultrasonic sensors, an LCD display, magnetic compass, camera, EEPROM, or a clock chip.
More information on the BrainStem GP controller can be found on the BrainStem Product page by searching for the product number, 'S25-GP2-BRD'. Additionally, several getting started guides are available that introduce the functionality of the GP 1.0 and 2.0 controllers. These are available through the BrainStem Resources center, which can be found from the main acroname.com page by clicking on 'BrainStem' under 'Learn'.
History of the PPRK
The PPRK kits have varied over the years since their conception at Carnegie Mellon. Many of the early kits used the Pontech SV203 controller. These kits required a Palm or some other PDA for programming the robot. The latest kit uses the BrainStem controller which can run its own programs or be used with a PDA.
The kits have required different amounts of assembly. The "Barebones" kits were intended for the hacker-type who is comfortable pulling apart servos for modification, soldering a cable assembly, downloading the instructions, plugging together a cable assembly, and gluing wheels and connectors. The "Easy" kits were intended for younger builders or people without the tools, time, or desire to perform the initial assembly steps.
The Deluxe BrainStem PPRK uses the BrainStem Controller in place of the SV203. This allows a user to interface to handheld and WinCE devices as well as a Windows or Mac machine. This kit also comes with the polyurethane omni-wheels for better traction. This kit is very easy to assemble, requiring only a small Phillips screwdriver. It typically takes under an hour to complete.
Acroname would like to formally thank the many people at the Toy Robots Initiative and The Manipulation Lab for allowing us to license this design and put together this great kit that helps us promote Easier Robotics!
Bottom view of one of the earliest kits.
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