Ideas for 'return to base' feature

Hi all
I have my mini-itx based robot working wirelessly in my home. It has simple navigation and a basic webcam. All works well on its 7.2ah
battery and I'm using phidget USB devices.
However, I get a few hours max from the battery and am considering a mechanism for 'return to charger'
I have an idea that I can construct a wall based 'plug and socket' type scenario, but the only problems I can forsee are getting to the base in the first place. (I'll worry about the plugging in part next!)
I expect there needs to some kind of 'beacon'? or maybe some other kind of feature?
Anyone have any experience or advice they can give?
Thanks all
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Could you describe your robot? I am making similar one. mini-atx board: total weight: number of motors and type: power of battery:
Thanks
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Ek wrote:

I'd look into Zagros Robotics for a base.
Of you could do what I did for my Mini-ITX board:
A 1/6th scale M5 Stuart tank from Walmart. The suspension and motors are fine - just toss the electronics.
I keep the Zagros Robotics (http://www.zagrosrobotics.com /) base for my iBase Pentium M board. :) -- D. Jay Newman
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Jay,
How did the M5 Stuart tank conversion turn out? How would you improve it?
Thanks
TMT
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Too_Many_Tools wrote:

Stuart is fine. I control this bot with Phidgets, and I have everything except for wheel encoders for it.
I'm currently working on a bot built on a Zagros Robotics 14" circular base called Groucho. This one uses a Pentium M Mini-ITX board as its brain. -- D. Jay Newman
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Hi,
Would you use the Stuart tank again for a robot?
Any problems with it? I am thinking about trying to buy one.
Thanks
TMT
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Dr. Brian Huff bought like 5 of them, and I've been working with him and his grad students making the tank autonomous.
We took two rotary 128 count (iirc) hand encoders and drilled and tapped them axially on center line, and also drilled and tapped the output shaft. Brian had a sheet metal bracket made that holds the encoders stationary in line with the motor shaft. Then we used a common set screw between the two shafts and loctite-ed them together. Wallah!
We're getting about a count every millimeter, so even though I'd rather encode closer to the motor, we're doing okay on the output shaft.
We're controlling it with a prototype module New Micros is making. It does the PID, Profiling, Odometry, Navigation, Steering and Drive-to-a-point software and is ~1.5 on a side.
--
Randy M. Dumse
www.newmicros.com
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Randy M. Dumse wrote:

I'm impressed. I hope you'll be announcing it here. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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