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It’s been a while October 21, 2008

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Sorry for the delays in posting, we’ve been busy shifting to our own domain

Society of Robotics and Automation, VJTI

It’s a great website, compliments to the admin!

Look around and comment too. We’re uncertain what happens to this page, it might just stay as a standby for now, but we’ll link to our site too, so that you can keep upto date with the calender and everything there.
About our ongoing membership drive for the year 2008-09, it goes on until Thursday, 23rd October. You can register for the workshop at the same time, the details of both are given on the website above.

We have a new SRA Lab, located in MLR 11, second floor, Mechanical Department, feel free to drop by during breaks and after college and ask what we’re working on!

Best of luck for the submissions, see you after the exams at the workshop!


:) September 24, 2008

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An Introduction to Robotics Technology

This is a fairly comprehensive article for someone who likes the kind of robotics I do. But I’m starting to feel the feeds are a little one sided, and we’ll probably have some guest writers with different tastes next week on.

Robotics for Dummies

PS : There is a great Exhibition happening at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon called Automation 2008.

Try and visit, I’m certain there will be a lot worth seeing, and spread the word!

SRA Admin

An Overview of Prices September 22, 2008

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1. Simple multimeter – between 85 and 325, depending on the brand/functionality. Get a basic one that measures voltage, current, resistance, gain, continuity. Don’t bother with the flux meters unless you’re planning on doing some heavy current related work. Don’t even consider it unless you’re in electrical. Even if you are in electrical, you’ll be fine without one.

2. 25W soldering iron – Soldron, Rs120. Get a good one. Don’t compromise. Don’t buy the imitation ones the are priced at around 80. You DO NOT want to get burned/lived with a bad soldering iron. Figuratively and literally. You could get an extra tip when you buy your soldering iron. Get the pointed copper ones.

3. Pre fluxed solder wire, Rs30. Get some de-soldering wick as well- Rs8 I think.

4. Wire stripper/cutter/crimper (Rs10-20)

5. Smooth file (Rs 10). You might get this in an old nail cutter.

6. Wire – single strand hookup wire (Rs3 per m) for use on solderless bread boards, and multistrand cable( Rs6-10 per m)- usually in sets of 10 wires. You could get some ribbon cable as well for autonomous bots.

7. Breadboards – solderless at 50-70, and stripboards at between 10-40

8. A few resistors, capacitors, molex connectors (you can get these from old computers), pots (potentiometers) diodes and transistors – depends on the quantity you buy. If you can buy in bulk, (you and a few friends together, and then share) these things are ridiculously cheap. In retail, most of this stuff is between .5 to 1.5 Rs.

9. Some LEDs (Re1 each) and push buttons (Rs2 each). You might find DPDT switches for about Rs5

10. A variable power supply. You could get one from Visha/Gala for I think 100-150, but you could make your own if you have the right parts to salvage from. 1.2 to 18V should see you through most circumstances. If you’re recycling your computer’s power supply, do note that they use switched mode DC. It might be filtered as well, so you should be careful of which points you tap the supply from.

11. A microcontroller- ATMega or PIC- begins at about 50 for the most basic chips and goes up depending on the size of the address bus(16bit, 32bit, etc.) and the bells and whistles you add. Dont use microcontrollers until you have some familiarity with the other electronic components. Hang around with someone who knows how to use them before using them yourself. It’s really easy for you to blow them up.

The Atmega Series of Microcontrollers are easy to use and cost about Rs. 120 a pop. They come with a lot of features embedded and are great for beginners as well as advanced  users. But the advice for not working with controllers without prior experience of discrete components need not hold true, since you can always buy kits from one of the sites on the right (I’d recommend Robokits) and work on them as opposed to sitting and figuring out how stuff works.

12. A 16×2 character LCD based terminal for Rs100-150. (Same advice as above)

13. Motors- Rs125 (12V dc- 300rpm) onwards. Depends on the power output, size and type. DC Motors are useful everywhere. Stepper motors can be useful for certain functions if you know how to wire them up. You can find stepper motors in your old printers. Low power/low voltage DC motors can be found in old stereo cassette systems- take those apart, it’s not like anyone uses cassettes anymore.

14. Crocodile clips- Rs3 to 5.

15. Analogue ICs- Motor drivers, amplifiers, comparators, regulators, (IR/light) detectors, etc- Prices vary. Bargain for these. Don’t ask me for advice on bargaining. I’m no good at it. Take someone who’s good along. You could save a lot.

A lot of this stuff can be found in old hardware/electronic items. Don’t chuck off everything. Open them up and see what you might need. You could also get some of this stuff from seniors when they’re leaving college. All the prices are Lamington road standard rates. They vary from shop to shop. So go early and go often- Not two days before the competition/due date.

Thanks to Aditya Sengupta (B.Tech – Electrical) for the list. I’ve added some stuff to his original in the undelined parts

Lamington Road September 20, 2008

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A brief idea about Lamington Road

Lamington Road is that place everyone has heard about but no one has been to. Everyone’s uncle buys computers from there, but it is relatively unknown that it is actually a hub of electronic items, and due to demand, robotics for Bombay’s thousands of engineers.

Step out of Grant Road Station (East) facing Merwaans and Co., a fine Irani with brilliant mawa cakes, and walk right under the bridge. Go left and immediately right, till you come to Servo Electronics, the house of all kinds of motors, propellors and wheels, and a very entertaining owner. Walk out of servo to the left and at the end of the lane turn right. Continue walking along this road as it curves left, till you cross a bank on the left and see Chip Components. Chip components has all the ICs you’ll need initially atleast, and at a fairly good price. Walk straight and you’ll come across Bombay Electronics (Motors/Wheels), Music Masters (Switches), Toyo Connectors (WIre Connectors). At the end of the lane, you’ll reach the real Lamington Road. Taking a left here will make you reach Lamington Road Police Station, just across the road from which is Visha Electronics and Gala Electronics, two shops perfect for beginners, but they’re out for your money. Be vary about both and prefer to buy stuff from a host of other shops I haven’t mentioned but are a dime a dozen in the Chip Components lane. Visha Electronics can be visited for basic stuff like PCBs, Discrete electronics components and some ICs and sensors which are hard to find elsewhere.

Some stuff you’ll need to start off with Electronics:

Multimeter (Buy a good one for about Rs. 150)
Soldering Iron (Soldron, again buy a good one unless you’re okay with getting electric shocks all the time)
Soldering Wire

But first figure out what you want to do. Perhaps a good idea is to look at a competition to take part in, maybe our own Technovanza or IITB’s Techfest/Nexus. Plenty of resources are given on their website as well, so have a look to understand more. Otherwise look out for other festivals that happen around Bombay under the IEEE.

Happy Botting


Basic Autonomous Robotics September 6, 2008

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This series of books by Bibin John will provide a good base for anyone interested in learning autonomous robotics, starting from the very grassroots level. Perhaps far too simplistic, but necessary for people without any background of electronics. Remember, if you find it hard to do, spend more time on it.

PS : Join the group after logging in with your yahoo ID and click on the “Files” link on the left. Download all 3 files.



Update! September 2, 2008

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A Tutorial on Floating Machines

Line Follower Tricks

Motors and Other Actuators


Basic Electronic Components


I’ve provided some good files (in no particular order) which can be read to understand some basics of robotics and design. Go through them to understand.

Participation in Competitions is indeed the best way to learn things. VESIT has Praxis where there is a competition on the Computer Controlled Robot, so get running.

Also if you are interested, you can make the Solar Controlled Robot, as per the challenge given by Nexus.

This is a fairly simple challenge, as you will see if you look at the link “Resources” on the Nexus Website.

PS: Our apologies to the Society of Robots, the Above doc files are from their website and you can refer to the same for the tutorials directly. The mistake was completely unintentional and it was not intended to take any credit from the author. The links have been updated. Thanks, John.

GEEK PARADISE, AHOY…!! September 2, 2008

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The seminar held on 29th Aug gave a sneak peek into what VJTI’s SOCIETY OF ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION (SRA) has in-store for its members. In the future you can expect a ‘hands-on’ experience in some of our workshops and opportunities to get down and dirty (i mean work with…ahem) with the projects that you witnessed in the presentation. Here are the presentations that were talked about during the seminar:

parallel-port:computer controlled robots using the parallel port.

final: preview of the project activities of the society both, past and present.

Don’t forget to checkout the links on variety of topics ranging from sound mechanical design to programming using the atmega controller. The parallel port tutorial can be found on the site Machine Grid, while Robotics India’s Forums can be searched for common doubts in case you want to try out something fancy.

If you are looking forward to something we haven’t covered yet ,you can always wait for the next seminar or contact us and let us know what you are expecting. While you’re on the site take out time and give us feedback on your impression of the society so far.

……and guys thanks for your enthusiasm, excellent turnout and well timed laughs during the seminar……!!

Hello world! August 29, 2008

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