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Automatic Battery Charger Docking

Anyone made a robot that finds its own charger and docks with it? What would be a good way to do this?


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I see RICH answer my queston on getting PWM values using a script,and looking at the script manual can send PWM values

So making a low cost beacon circuit the same at the pololou IR beacon,can be done fairly cheap without the need of the pololu ir beacon boards using only a EZB and 5 digital ports
4 for N,S,E,W and one for the IR driver (transceiver)

Looking at about $20 or less,now can use 2 pairs of IR'S but tracking wont be as good,360 deg scan is better then -45 and +45 deg scan using only 2 pairs

I can easy make a circuit to explain it better
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So I guess it would be pretty simple to make it even cheaper and only use 2 ports, 1 for N and one for the transceiver?

I realise this would reduce the effectiveness greatly but I'm thinking about say that the beacon emits a 360 degree IR signal, the robot has a receiver front and centre, if it spins on the spot in the room with the beacon, provided there are no objects in the way it'll know the general direction of the dock. That could be useful and a cheaper alternative, plus use less ports for those with nearly full EZBs and don't want to run two in the robot.
Using simple chip ,can have a lot more digital ports on EZB or onther chip that has digital in and I2C out
Its called multiplexing ,ITS the easy way of getting more digital or analog ports from one output without losing speed,and cost of another EZB

Lot of the members here like to use 1 to 3 EZB'S thats up to $210 total if getting at about $70 each
on the multiplex idea onle $70 plus under $2 for the chip
speed stays the same because it digital its not using another EZB

ON the IR beacon since i have a scxope,plus digital counter and signal generator will do some testing on the design to pick the right PWM values and more

Will start friday and post my data,waveforms if needed is hard now,since my company made return my digital storage scope that had print outs of waveforms (rats)

ON the way the 360 deg works it spins until it finds the right beacon signal,doesnt matter if anything blocks it,can hacve the robot move a little if needed and scans again

WITH using only one or 2 RECEIVERS and transceivers IF there is a object in the way or if the robot is turned around it cant detect home base

Now there are simple other ways to use only one beacon ,one is use a SPINNING mirror to get 360 deg
like the LIDAR design or A OMNICONE or parabolic mirror
HERE is a site i use alot for very good info on docking logic ,finding home base and charging
it alot of different ideas

docking logic

there are over 50 pages just to let you know,i did print all of it about 2 years ago

When i was really into the finding home base designs and testing all types
another edit was about 5 years ago on my date on the bottom of the pages i printed ,wow
Recking the site read chafter 3 it talks about using IR TO LOCATE AND DOCK WITH THE CHARGER

it talks alot on why a OMNI CONE IS NEEDED
Yeah part of my plan for the docking station is to build and use an omni-cone as described on the Docking Logic website..

Also saw on another site someone using a Christmas tree ornament so they could have a 360 deg. camera view and/or also use it with IR detection.
yes ,i kmnow that site very well,i tried it,it is fraigle only and will break

only item works very well is one from the roomba docking station ,whats good about this one it has IR receiver same as the common panasonic or the replacement now
rentron ir receiver tsop4840
also there many other companies sell it much lower

BUT on the roomba docking station ,since it comes with and selling on ebay around $4 its cheap
also virtual wall has the some omnicone,i just sold some for $5 while back on ebay
Now as much as I enjoyed that site, and how they delt with their charging, that would literally be impossible to do with animals in your house.
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The introduction of multi-colour tracking on the Camera Control in today's update should be a great addition to the whole navigation problem.

If like me you have strayed away from the boring white or magnolia walls in your house and opted for something a little brighter you can use that to identify which room the robot is in.
Rich, I had the same thought. Also, earlier in this thread I had mentioned seeing an ar------o project that used different colored markers on each side of a charging station and used them to line up with the charging port. I think we could do something similar here (much like using the Glyph to line up, but possibly use the colors on each side to line up from a further distance (sees orange, turn a few degrees left, sees green, turn a few degrees right. less degrees the larger the object appears. Something like that...).

United Kingdom
I'll need to play with the new function first and presume there may be difficulty if both colours are in the field of view but we will see. Hopefully the new batteries turn up today so I can play:)
Hi Team,

Here is yet another item I am trying to find out more information on. Not sure it is available yet though. I intend to contact them about it. This could also be handy for a number of other robot applications as well. Hope it won't be to expensive. (They also have one that is for 180 degree detection.)

IR Control Freak 360

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REX it looks very good,cant wait to get my hands on it,cost to me doesnt matter

AS i buy every type of sensor made to test and compare to my others,mostly do it for my projects

BUT i can share my results to others
Also REX did you do any other work on your beacon circuit,i got all my parts in and collected data off the pololu ir beacon ,but wont be able to make it till i get back from my work trip
I am still collecting parts. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of extra cash at the moment. Everything is going into getting the rental house ready for the new tenants to move in. Having to maintain my home plus two rental homes and also working at a power plant, I don't get much "me" time. *tired*

But I refuse to give up on my robot! I will find a way...
WIH my work in china keeps me from working on robots ,but good news NO MORE WORK after 3 weeks i cant wait to only work on robot

In 3 weeks there will be so my photos up of my designs and more
money i have more then i will ever need,so i just have to wait
I loved the discussion between Rich and Robotmaker about cost efficiency : two different philosophies at stake here, between the British (and so European) way to look at things and the US way. Both ways were capable to build empires and both lead to results. One way, though, brings more grey matter in the equation for the same individual, while the other way needs to compile more logistic, which allows to more individuals to reach the same goal. I'm just considering setting up a self docking process of my own... but in this story, I'm the French guy : both ways (using pre-set expensive devices or working on a script with QR and basic sensors) I failed so far... As a famous French writer, Voltaire, said once, (sorry for the Google Translate) : The French arrive late to everything, but they finally arrive!
United Kingdom
You are probably the only person to have ever used the word loved along with the phrase discussion between Rich and Robotmaker... Let's not go there again though:)

I'm glad you posted on this topic though, this item has made it's way back up my never ending list and I will be hitting it again soon. You saved me the trouble of searching for it:)
RICH and me will never fight any more and doing a lot better now.
AT least with my posts we are getting better.

RICH here is a idea for you instead of searching for a post save as a link on your desktop like i do.
this one works as soon as the robot is not too far from the glyph hanging above the charging station, which is a docking station from Neato XV 21.

I'm however facing a lot of obstacles regarding doing anything more complex than this and any help would be appreciated. For example I can hardly move then check for the presence of another glyph arround (so I could move from room to room) because the variable $cameratrackingtype="glyph" and all other variables regarding this such as $cameraistracking send always the value "true" while not in view of the glyph anymore.

I posted about this issue and many others here :


if someone could at least tell me how to make my robot capable to "forget" the previous object, that would be just awesome : the ControlCommand() ControlCommand("Camera", CameraClearLastGyph) doesn't seem to work.

Thanks in advance.