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Friday, 4 September 2009

Big Chunk of My Summer

My 4-month summer holiday is almost over now.

Yes, four months. For many of you that may sound extremely long. But for me, I have to say, I haven't actually started enjoying my holidays yet. This is because I dedicated myself to doing something interesting (at least to me) during the summer - I took up a 3-month internship position in my university, teaching a robot to stand up by itself without support.

If you don't understand "standing up", don't worry, a video is provided.

Let me take a look at my log.

3rd June - started internship. I received my microcontroller unit (MCU). For those who don't know, MCU is the "brain" of electronics, something like your Intel chip for your computer. It took me two whole weeks to compile and download the demonstration program to the MCU.

The MCU, the brain of all embedded computers.

The MCU runs at 18.432MHz.

The MCU development board. Click to see a high resolution image.

22nd June - received my inertia measurement unit (IMU). Used to measure acceleration and tilt. The small thing costs RM400.

2nd July - received robot body. Got physical with electronic circuits and all.

Robot body, side view. Click to see high resolution image.

Robot body, top view. Click to see high resolution image.

23rd July - realised that the IMU is harder to use than first expected.

28th July - setup LCD display for debugging purposes.

Wires, wires. LCD at top left corner.

11th August - developed PID controller. PID controller is one way to control output of computerised systems, such as speed of electric cars.

14th August - burnt an optocoupler and two motor drivers worth RM50.

25th August - gave up totally on the IMU. Made a controversial change to the system.

27th August - second last day. The controversial change paid off. The robot balanced for the first time. Just for 7 seconds, but it balanced for sure.

28th August - final day. Indefinite balancing achieved. Mission accomplished.

The balancing robot in action. See it toppling down after the switch is turned off?

4th September - handed in report. Official end of internship.

And just like that, 3 months has passed by. It was my busiest holiday (I should really stop calling it the summer holidays) ever, but also the most well spent. Thanks a million to my lecturer.


  1. While I might not understand all the techy jargon ... congrats on having accomplished your mission :D

    And er ....finally.. Happy Holidays !

  2. thanks haha. actually i have tried to avoid using the jargons. i normally would have used more if i were to aim this post at my peers. but should i have used none, i would have nothing to write about. so i used a selected few.

  3. woo!! nice :D

    it has been awhile since i was in contact with a robot.

    now busy doing 8951 assignment >:(

    good job nonetheless. :)
    enjoy your hols before flying off :)

  4. Clarence:

    8951? is that like a newer version of 8051? is the programming more or less the same? PIC16F and PIC18F's programming is like 98% similar XD

  5. yea 8951 is ~100% similar
    we are using 8951 cuz 8051 is too rare.. haha..

  6. oh i see i see. good for you, we learnt that ages ago! enjoy =D

  7. hi, may i have a look at ur settings and coding for the current project?

  8. hi czlee

    i'm sorry but i'm currently not in possession of the code right now. it's been quite some time since i worked on this project, and since then, i had reformatted my laptop several times and even changed to a newer i7 machine. the code is now with my then-supervisor in the CD seen above.

    the code's not that awesome anyway. it's just a simple implementation of a PID controller, which takes an ADC input, and controls a PWM. i'm sure there are better examples somewhere online ;-)


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