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Unread 04-30-2012, 12:15 AM
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Robot Lighting

Our team is looking into putting some lighting on our robot next year. If any teams that have previously done so would like to offer some advice, it would be much appreciated.

I know team 118's robot had some nice lighting this year, and team 148 always has underglow on their robot.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 12:48 AM
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Re: Robot Lighting

It all depends how in depth you want the lighting to be. I know 118 used their lighting to signal their and other drivers of various things. This year we toyed with using our LED lighting to alert our drive team when we had balls in our elevator. You can use Audrino boards to make some pretty cool custom features. I'm not an expert on that stuff, but if you're really interested I'm sure someone on here can charm in.

As far as the lights themselves go, you have three choices, a static color and strip, RGB LEDS, and Addressable RGB LEDS. This year we stuck with a static white color just to give a little extra aesthetic appeal to our bot. In previous years, we've used RGB LEDS with success.

Purchasing and installing the lights after choosing which lights and features you're shooting for is the easy part. Many cheap LED strips, static, RGB, and Addressable can be found here.

From there the sky is the limit, here's a picture of GUS' 2012 competition robot.


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Unread 04-30-2012, 02:38 AM
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Re: Robot Lighting

This year, our team used LED lights to:
- indicate whether the target is to the left, to the right or just right. This is so that the drivers don't have to look at the laptop screen for the video stream.
- indicate the shooter speed is within tolerance of the target speed, so the drivers can shoot consistently.
- indicate various teleop modes (e.g. fully automatic, semi automatic and full manual).

Our LED lights strips are connected to the solenoid module and we have written a generic light control module that allows the caller to either turn the light solid ON or OFF, or specifies any blinking patterns (e.g. 3 long blinks, 2 short blinks and repeat the pattern etc.). The module even supports RGB so it can specify what color combinations in the blinking pattern. In theory, we could even do pulse width modulation on the RGB lights to get many colors but we haven't tested if it actually works.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 04:15 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Thank you for the information! Is electroluminescent wire at all feasible?

Regarding the Arduino, would the Arduino just be powered out of the PD board? Is that legal?

What is the benefit of using the solenoid module as opposed to the relay outputs on the digital sidecar?
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Unread 04-30-2012, 04:37 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshbeard View Post
Thank you for the information! Is electroluminescent wire at all feasible?
I am not familiar with the power interface of electroluminescent wire but it seems it is powered by high AC voltage (90-120V 1000Hz) so it needs a power controller. If you manage to interface 12V DC to this power controller, it may be feasible. Searching the Internet, it looks like they sell these with a power controller that can take AAA batteries. So in theory, you could DC-DC convert 12V to whatever battery voltage the power controller uses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshbeard View Post
What is the benefit of using the solenoid module as opposed to the relay outputs on the digital sidecar?
Relay is mechanical, since we are trying to play with pulse width modulation on the RGB lights, relay has a limit of how fast you can turn the light on and off. BTW, in case you worry about whether the solenoid channel can power the LED lights, each solenoid channel can source up to 0.75A current, an LED light strip generally consumes about 100mA.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 06:18 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Also, this exists.
http://www.lighttape.com/
It's what they used in Tron Legacy.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 06:59 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

We've had good luck with using Arduinos and RGB addressable LED tape like this stuff:

http://www.adafruit.com/products/306

The Arduino can only source 40ma on one digital out. So, you'll likely have to create your own power transistor circuit if you want to trigger more than a simple LED.

Good luck and enjoy the lights!
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Unread 04-30-2012, 07:07 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

I have a little too much fun with lighting. We typically use cold cathodes, they're easy to attach and are great for underglow. They're REALLY bright. I didn't get to during competition, but I put some in our conveyor system and they look great!!! (I'll see if I can find a picture) This year, as a new thing we used el wire. That also worked really well. It's not quite as obviously bright as cathodes, though I'm sure it would be more noticeable if you bunched it up. We used it to trace designs on the shielding for the electrical board. It was also very easy to attach and wire.
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Unread 04-30-2012, 09:55 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Team 2016 used lighting in the shape of the FIRST logo elements last year. They were separately illuminated, allowing the human player to know which tube to feed, and all of them lit up when the robot acquired a tube.

We've also had some blue lighting on our robot since Breakaway. Must say... our robot's blue glow looked really nice next to 148's red at the 2010 Dallas Regional.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 03:37 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by taichichuan View Post
We've had good luck with using Arduinos and RGB addressable LED tape like this stuff:

http://www.adafruit.com/products/306

The Arduino can only source 40ma on one digital out. So, you'll likely have to create your own power transistor circuit if you want to trigger more than a simple LED.

Good luck and enjoy the lights!
In regards to this addressable strip, I saw that you must use a micro controller to use the lights. Instead of using an Arduino board couldn't you use a DIO off of the sidercar?
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Unread 05-03-2012, 04:11 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny_5 View Post
In regards to this addressable strip, I saw that you must use a micro controller to use the lights. Instead of using an Arduino board couldn't you use a DIO off of the sidercar?
Yes, you can use a DIO off of the sidecar. However, we frequently find ourselves in the situation where we're maxing out our sidecar with limit switches and the like. So, if you've got the pins, use 'em ;-).
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Unread 05-03-2012, 04:31 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

We added our lighting very late this year at Championship due to making sure we had weight for it.

We used the addressable LED strip from Adafruit, as we did last year. This was controlled by an Arduino Uno R3, which was sent commands to change mode from our robot software through I2C. We were in danger of maxing out the available digital I/O ports early in the season, but had planned to use an Arduino anyway. I2C is available and keeps other robot-useful ports open, and has built in SPI support which is the fastest method of communicating with the LED strip.

Once we had the I2C figured out, it was easy after that.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 04:45 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

this year, we went to the local auto shop and grabbed some lights meant to "pimp out" cars.

It u put lights on it, judges seem to like fancy lights that also have practical purpose. one practical use we had this year was lighting up the path the ball went through so we could see the number of balls in the hopper through the smoked polycarb we used for our sides.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 07:07 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshbeard View Post
I know team 118's robot had some nice lighting this year
Appreciated!

The lights were first put on the robot to look cool for the video, but it wasn't until we found an actual use for them that we were able to get the momentum to actually integrate them electrically.

We used an Arduino Uno to talk to this LED strip (mentioned above). The interface between the cRio and the arduino was some of the relay outputs on the sidecar. Specifically, there was one relay output (two bits) to run the lights for our co-op assist feature, and another for the fancy lights that fired when we picked up or shot a ball.

At championship, we added a switch to tell when the stinger was touching the ground, and wired that directly into the Arduino, which was simpler and makes a lot of sense, because we weren't doing anything else with that data.

Cheap additional processors like the Arduino hold a lot of promise for enhancing the possibilities for sensors on these robots that might have been limited by the number of inputs in a sidecar. I know that we explored some redundancy in our sensing this year, and that can exhaust the digital and analog input ports very quickly. A good off season project might be to explore interfacing something like the Ethernet Arduino with the cRio in order to fully exploit these possibilities.
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Last edited by Kris Verdeyen : 05-03-2012 at 08:41 PM.
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Unread 05-03-2012, 07:41 PM
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Re: Robot Lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meshbeard View Post
Thank you for the information! Is electroluminescent wire at all feasible?
That depends, some products actually need a high voltage module to turn them on. This would come under the custom circuit rules and for obvious reasons would be looked at very carefully from a safety standpoint.

Some of yo on Newton may have noticed that WildStang finally mounted it's LED strings at Champs again this year. What you may not know is that several different feedback schemes were programmed into the string. In addition to sound controlled lighting, there were other driver feedback patterns included as well. Mentors and students are in the process of writing up the system to provide to the First community. Please be patient, they are shooting for IRI at the latest.
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