After a harrowing but somewhat successful first day of racing at the SparkFun VC 2017 I needed to regroup and literally do some hacking. I spent the afternoon cannibalizing some aluminum angle from one of the people working on the manned AVC car. I hacksawed off a chunk, drilled and tapped here and there, added some strategic zip-ties and repaired the broken bracket that was badly damaged in a collision earlier that day on the white car. In general, the build and wiring quality of the white car was better than for the black Car (I built the black car first). This left me feeling pretty good about Sunday and I went out for a pre-race dinner with my wife and my sisters-in-law. (One flew out with us, and the other lives near Denver).

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As with any side-project, especially with a hard and fast deadline, loose-ends were just an inevitability. When I left for Denver on Thursday afternoon I had three software bits unfinished. I’d done testing and analysis on all three, but these were still incomplete:

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It’s amazing what can be done with a NetBurner Embedded Core Module, creativity, and some ingenuity. The digital and analog world can ALL be yours… or at least you can do something super cool! At NetBurner we feel the annual SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Challenge (AVC) is a perfect opportunity to do something we as a team love – making robotic vehicles and putting the NetBurner products through some punishing field testing! A big shout out to SparkFun for making this their 9th annual event – its concentrated awesome on many levels.

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This is the second part of the two part blog post; It will cover the more technical details of the robotic arm. If you have not read Part 1, you can find that post here. Part 1 gives a general overview of the project and contains a video of the arm in action.

The Duck Shepard robotic arm is designed to pick up objects. It can do this in an autonomous mode and a manual mode. In the autonomous mode, the robotic arm scans its surroundings looking for specific objects. Once it finds them, the arm will pick them up, place them to the side, and continue looking for other objects.

If a user connects to the Wifi access point and uses an Android phone app, they can override the autonomous mode and control the robotic arm manually. In this manual mode, the user can use the smartphone’s gyroscope and the app’s on-screen joystick to control the location of the arm.

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*This is the first of two posts about the Duck Shepard robotic arm. This post will be an overview of the project and the second post will contain more technical information.

Recently there have been a stream of interesting robotic innovations. How could someone not get excited at a giant piloted American robot challenging an equally imposing Japanese one?

How can anyone resist the desire to have a robotic chef capable of imitating Michelin cooks?

In an effort to develop the knowledge and skills to recreate one of these, I decided to make a robot of my own. What came out is the Duck Shepard robotic arm. This robotic arm has been programmed to find and retrieve nearby objects. Over this project, I have ordered the robotic arm to herd a wild pack of rubber ducks.

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