Friday, October 30, 2009

Hexbug + MSP430 = Robotrophic Parasitism

It's been almost 2 years since I wrote about my interest in Biotrophic Parasitism in robotics...

In Biotrophic Parasitism, the parasite and host co-exist with (potentially) mutual benefits.
In what I am calling Robotrophic Parasitism, the parasite (in this case a MSP430 based $3 EZ430-T2102), and the host (an original $10 Hexbug) live happily together.

In this case, the parasite was minimally invasive: the EZ430 lives between the battery switch and the Hexbug circuit, controlling the power. It also has a bi-directional line tapped to the antenna sensors so it can detect a "bump" or steer (the original hexbug only turns clockwise).

The parasite seeks light and steers the bug in that direction. When you first apply power, the parasite turns the hexbug clockwise (up to 6 times) looking for any light bearing direction. It then drives the hexbug in that direction. If the light wanes, it will then do another set of clockwise searches looking for a stronger light source.

I've got some fine tuning to do...

The parts list:
  1. 1 EZ430-T2102 board.
  2. 1 Hexbug.
  3. 1 photoresistor and 1 voltage dividing 1/8 watt resistor (from my parts bin).
  4. 1 TS5A3127DBVRG4 analog switch (free sample from TI).
Total Cost: ~ $15

This is the first of (hopefully) many Hexbug Robotrophic Parasites!

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