Build your own Flower Robot!


Now you can build your own robot! Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, USA, has released its recipes to build robots as home.

Using TeRK (Telepresence Robot Kit), you can find all pieces you need and even adapt others parts to do your own robot.

Right now, they have 4 recipes:

Qwerkbot Classic (The Qwerkbot Classic is the simplest mobile robot that you can build using a Qwerk processor. Utilizing the holes in the Qwerk enclosure as mount points for two motors and a caster the Qwerkbot recipe literally turns your Qwerk into a robot.)

Qwerkbot+ (The Qwerkbot+ adds a pan-tilt head to allow independent motion of the camera and robot base. This version is somewhat more challenging to build than the Qwerkbot Classic.)

AC Power (The AC power Adapter allows you to power a QweRK from an ordinary AC wall outlet.)

Flower (The Flower is a stationary robot with seven degrees of freedom. Once you have built the Flower, you can use TeRK’s Robot Universal Remote and Flower Power software to program its movements. You can program your Flower to rise or wilt and program the motions of its petals. Because the Flower is equipped with IR sensors on three of its petals, it can track objects moving in front of it. It can even catch a lightweight ball.)

While all others bots are for beginners, the Flowers is quite more complex and you can spend 10 hours building it.

But, how cute is that!

Flower Robot

They also have softwares for controlling your TeRK robot, like this Flower Plower to program your Flower Robot.

Flower Power Software

Actually, the robot’s secret is the internal electronic controller Qwerk, a microcomputer using Linux to control all cameras, USB devices, engines and sensors. The robot’s sftware is Open Source and you can use virtually any computer language.

Oh, yes! There are bad news… Now, they are selling the kit just in US. By the way, the Flower Robot Total cost of parts is $725,00.

Middle Earth: Proxy

When updating the nodes I have to download several times (N for N nodes) the same packages, so a good idea is to have a proxy that would do it for me once and all nodes get from the local copy. For that we have the good old squid.

On the Master node:

$ sudo apt-get install squid

Than edit the config file. It’s rather huge but search for acl localhost and add the line below:

acl cluster src
http_access allow cluster

assuming your cluster is on that subnet.

Now, on each node (also on Master) set the environment variable (on .bashrc):

export http_proxy="http://master-node:3128/"
export ftp_proxy="http://master-node:3128/"

Also, a good idea is to increase the max cache object from 4Mb to, say 400M because the idea is to cache deb packages and not webpages. You can also limit the global size of the cache (like 1Gb) so old packages will be deleted.

# Per object (400MB)
maximum_object_size 409600 KB
minimum_object_size 64 KB
# Global (1GB)
cache_dir ufs /var/spool/squid 1000 16 256

Restart squid and you’re ready to go:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/squid restart