Jon's Place

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big Changes

Well, a lot has changed over the last six months... For the past two years, I've been working at IBM on a large telecommunications monitoring system (PROVISO). A few weeks ago, IBM decided it needed to downsize significantly, and I was laid off, along with about half the people working on the project.

However, it turns out that this has been a blessing in disguise. The same day I found out about it, I was on the phone with my contact (hi Andrew!) in the Brain Engineering Lab at Dartmouth College, and within a couple weeks we had come to an agreement where I would work full time under contract (as I have, strictly spare time, for the past couple years) doing some major enhancements to BrainBot.

So, now I find myself in the position I've wanted for the past twelve years - working full time on robotics work. Its pretty amazing to be in the right place at the right time for something like this to fall into place.

A lot of the work I'm doing over the next six months will involve making BrainBot more robust, reliable, and usable, from both a hardware and software perspective. This includes:
  • switching from gumstix to pico-itx
  • replace all battery packs with a single 12 volt battery
  • replace motors with 12 volt versions
  • add encoders to the motors
  • add sonar and a laser pointer
  • replace cameras with USB webcams
  • replace shoulder AX-12 servos with RX-64 servos
  • redesign printed chest to be more modular
  • redo all PCB's to use better cables & connectors
This is all pretty exciting, and I'm going to start posting here a little more often now with status updates and such.

Right now, my plans for Mech Wars are on hold, since I'm too busy in my spare time working on my house and doing gardening and stuff like that.