Recently in hobby Category

An Oddwerx Visit

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crosspost from

The folks from Oddwerx came to Willow Garage for a visit recently.  For those who aren't already familiar with Oddwerx, it is a very cool initiative to turn an iPhone or Android phone into an autonomous robot.    In the first video you can see how Ted Larson, Bob Allen and Brandon Blodget from Oddwerx took a PS3 Game Controller and plumbed it together to send its ROS messages to an Oddwerx Robot running its own ROS node for controlling the motors and legs.  They took advantage of the existing ROS packages which support interacting with the PS3 joystick, which is in use on many robots including the PR2.   

Fashion was front and center in this second video when the Oddwerx robot "grew" purple hair.  In addition to responding to PS3 ROS messages, the robot was programmed to send audio/video to enable teleoperation.  Since ROS employs publish/subscribe, multiple subscribers can just listen into the live video feed.

Oddwerx is now a Kickstarter project.   If you share their vision to turn smartphones into mobile robotic ROS platforms, then support this effort on Kickstarter.

It looks like the TurtleBots at ClearPath Robotics are having some springtime fun. I wonder if there are any TurtleBot easter eggs you can find.

Michael Ferguson, prolific contributor to albany-ros-pkg and vanadium-ros-pkg, has put together his own low-cost mobile manipulator using a Kinect, ArbotiX RoboController, Dynamixel servos, and a custom diff-drive base.

Maxwell is my latest attempt at a lowcost, human-scale mobile manipulator using an ArbotiX and ROS. The design guidelines were pretty straight forward: it needed an arm that could manipulate things on a table top, a Kinect for primary sensor on the head, and a mobile base that kept all that stuff upright. Additionally, I wanted the robot to be easy to transport and/or ship.

You can find out more at Show Us Your Sensors as well as the Trossen Robotics Forums.


Taylor Veltrop has announced veltrop-ros-pkg as well as tools for Roboard-based humanoids

I am pleased to announce the Veltrop ROS Repository!

If any of you out there are using using small servo based robots, especially humanoid, then then check this out!

The Veltrop ROS Repository leverages ROS to get hobbyists and researchers quickly up and running with the Roboard operating a humanoid robot.

The Roboard is a small 1Ghz 486 platform that has built in PWM control, and many IO ports:

Info on KHR style humanoid

The repository consists of a stack suitable for the Roboard, and another stack specialized for small joint based robots.

The hobby community seems to be reinventing the wheel with each person that combines an embedded PC with one of these humanoid robots. When the beginner tries to do this it's too daunting, and for others it is very time consuming. So I hope to alleviate this, and get some help back too.

Here's a summary of some of the features:

  • Pose the robot based on definitions in an XML file
  • Execute motions by running a series of timed poses (XML)
  • Stabilization via gyro data
  • Definition of a KHR style robot linkage for 3D virtual modeling and servo control (URDF)
  • Calibrate trim of robot with GUI
  • Calibrate gyro stabilization with GUI
  • Import poses and trim (not motions) from Kondo's Heart2Heart RCB files
  • Control robot remotely over network with keyboard
  • Control robot with PS3 controller over bluetooth
  • Support for HMC6343 compass/tilt sensor
  • Support for Kondo gyro sensors
  • Stereo video capture and processing into point cloud
  • CPU heavy tasks (such as stereo processing) can be executed on remote computer
  • Controls Kondo PWM servos

Here's some missing parts (maybe others would like to contribute here?)

  • Control Kondo serial servos
  • GUI for editing and running poses/motions
  • Tool to capture poses
  • More sophisticated motion scripting
  • GUI for calibration of A/D inputs

My next goals for this project are to incorporate navigation, and arm/gripper trajectory planning.

The documentation is here: There's a lot of other relevant information to the robot throughout the site.

The repository is hosted on sourceforge:

I hope someone out there has a chance to try this out and contribute!


Robots Using ROS: Kitemas LV1

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We first covered Takashi Ogura's (aka OTL) robot projects back in March when he got the ROS PS3 joystick driver working with an i-Sobot. He has many more fun projects that are too numerous to cover: White Bear Robot (Roomba + Navigation stack), Arduino board for the i-Sobot, Twitter control for humanoid robot, and an all-time classic, humanoid robot with iPhone 3GS head.

Along the way, OTL has been putting together tutorials and previews of ROS libraries for his Japanese audience on, such as a Japanese speech node, Twitter for ROS using OAuth, URDF tutorial, Euslisp demos, and many more.

Many of those tutorials and projects came together in the video above: Kitemas LV1. Kitemas LV1 is a fun drink ordering robot that lets you order a drink and then pours it for you. Judging from previous posts, it looks like Kitemas is using a Roomba with Hokuyo laser range finder for autonomous navigation, as well as a USB web camera. Drink selection can be done either through colored coasters or a Twitter API, and the robot can be driven manually with a PS3 joystick.

Here's a software diagram that shows the various ROS nodes working together:

OTL has also created otl-ros-pkg, so readers of his blog can get code samples for his various tutorials and even see code for robots like Kitemas above. You can watch a video with a more dressed up version of Kitemas LV1 here.

Robots Using ROS: Lego NXT

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Lego Mindstorms NXT is a low-cost programmable robotics kit that is used in education and by hobbyits throughout the world. One of the most visible NXT events is First Lego League. The developers of foote-ros-pkg have developed a bridge that connects NXT with ROS, allowing NXT users to leverage all the ROS tools and capabilities.

The NXT-ROS software stack provides many useful tools to interface NXT robots with ROS. Currently NXT users can take robot models created with Lego Digital Designer, and automatically convert them into robot models compatible with ROS. The converted robot model can be visualized in rviz, and in the future we hope to add simulation capabilities in Gazebo, our 3D simulator. The bridge between NXT and ROS creates a ROS topic for each motor and sensor of the NXT robot.

Once a robot is connected to ROS, you can start running applications such as the base controller, wheel odometry, keyboard/joystick teleoperation, and even assisted teleoperation using the ROS navigation stack. The NXT-ROS software stack includes a number of example robot models for users to play with and to get a feel for using NXT with ROS.

This new NXT-ROS software stack provides NXT users access to the open-source ROS community. NXT users now have access to state of the art open source robotics libraries available on

Please see the nxt page on the ROS wiki for documentation, demos, and more. The developers would like to thank the nxt-python project for support and development.

Rovio driver for ROS

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rovio.jpgI Heart Robotics has released a rovio stack for ROS, which contains a controller, a joystick teleop node, and associated launch files for the WowWee Rovio. There are also instructions and configuration for using the probe package from brown-ros-pkg to connect to Rovio's camera.

You can download the rovio stack from iheart-ros-pkg:

As the announcement notes, this is still a work in progress, but this release should help other Rovio hackers participate in adding new capabilities.

Robots Using ROS: i-Sobot

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ROS is starting to gain traction in Japan thanks to some dedicated early adopters and community-based translation efforts. Last year, the ROS Navigation stack was ported to Tokyo University's Kawada HRP2-V robot, and now it's finding use with hobby robots as well.

ROS libraries are designed to be small and easily broken apart. In this case, a small use of ROS has led to the claim of "smallest humanoid robot controlled by ROS." As the video explains, ROS isn't running on the robot. The i-Sobot is hooked up to an Arduino, which talks to a PC, which uses the ROS PS3 joystick driver. We're always thrilled to see code being reused, whether it's something as big as the ROS navigation stack, or something as small as a PS3 joystick driver.

The video and demo was put together by "Ogutti", who has been maintaining a Japanese blog on ROS at Most recently, he has been blogging about using the Care-O-bot 3 simulation libraries.

In addition to Ogutti's Japanese ROS blog, you can go to to follow the progress of the Japanese translation efforts for the ROS documentation.

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