another linux robot platform

I was inspired by some of the "linux robot" posts on here, and as I have worked on some pc-based robots before, I decided to give it
another shot. The result is the Seris Project, in which the goal is to make a useful, social personal robot for under $100. I built my own, the Seris II, using all open-source software and cheap hardware. I will be uploading instructions soon, but if you're interested you may want to download the code ahead of time. It uses the Festival Speech Synthesizer, the CMU Sphinx2 speech-to-text program, and includes a modified version of the OpenCyc knowledge base/reasoning engine. It also has a command shell for giving the robot commands for speech and movement, and runs as a daemon with a user-supplied "main" script that governs the robot's actions. I plan on building up some Seris-specific code in the OpenCyc knowledge base, with reference to navigation and task completion, and I still need to get the CV working for my dual webcams, which I will interface somehow with the daemon pipes, but generally it works (I still need to upload my bugfixes for today, but they're just a couple small changes, so one can probably find them expediently on one's own).
If anyone is interested, the project is housed at: http://sf.net/projects/seris-bot .
~John Ohno
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unknown user wrote:

How does one make a Linux PC for under $100?
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mlw wrote:

If he's really scavenging, he could run linux on an old 386/486, etc), the mboard of which he could probably pick up for free (or the whole system, for that matter). Hell, I have pentiums I'd give away to whomever would come by and pick them up. Actually, now that I think of it, I have a LOT of crap I'd give away to anybody who'd come pick it up.
He'd have to power them, of course, but this can be done. There are (or were) people around here who just ran a pc-based robot directly from the PS using an inverter. The trick would be getting the inverter cheaply enough.
It's been a few years since I ran linux on a 386, but it can still be done -- if not with the current kernel, then certainly 2.2, although I'd guess the 386 is still supported as of 2.6 (dunno for sure, though).
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ebay. You can find them cheap.
Rich
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the Artist Formerly Known as Kap'n Salty wrote:

Or...
I never play with my robot when I am also using my laptop. As I'm not fond of trying to power an AT-style '386 off a 12 volt battery, I think it just makes sense to use ye olde laptop for the robot. If you're addressing the hobby market, and not trying to sell someone a stand-alone robot -- and assuming your robot isn't teleoperated at all hours of the day -- I don't see a burning need for the thing to have its own dedicated motherboard.
Besides, since I buy mp laptops for business use, the whole thing is deductible.
-- Gordon
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the Artist Formerly Known as Kap'n Salty wrote:

Well, almost any computer project is free (or unreasonably inexpensive) if you don't have to pay for the parts. It's like the "stone soup" super computer. Total cost: $0.00, but it has hundreds if not thousands of computers.
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I have laptops that will run linux, about 20 of them. If anyone is interested in one, let me know.
14" LCD, stereo sound, video capture port, ntsc video out port, parallel, 2 usb, serial, audio INPUT port, joystick port.
Rich
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mlw wrote:

Used. I challenge anyone to get Linux (or DOS!) to boot on newly purchased hardware that I can but and which that costs less than $100 USD total.
In fact, I will send $20 via PayPal to anyone who can do it, payment to be sent the day that my newly-purchased system boots.
I won't count any shipping/handling costs, or the cost of a keyboard or monitor as long as the system boots without them.
Hints if you wish to go for the prize:
[1] Pick a Linux or DOS that boots from a floppy. Cheaper than a HDD.
[2] Consider a system with no video hardware, and pick a Linux or DOS that can do everything over a serial port. (I won't count the cost of the terminal or PC running a terminal program as long as the system boots without it).
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Guy Macon wrote:

The 200 mhz gumstix run $109 in single unit quantities. I imagine in multi-unit quantities they can be had for well under 100. Of course, I'm sure you meant single unit quantities, but give it a couple of years and imagine that price point will be hit:
http://www.gumstix.com/spexboards.html
Cheers -- m
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The Artist Formerly Known as Kap'n Salty wrote:

That *is* close! It looks like it requires a $10 Wall adapter and a $20 waysmall-STUART to run, unless there is a battery to 60 pin Hirose connector accessory that I missed.
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Guy Macon wrote:

They should run off of any 5v supply -- assuming we're still talking a robotics application, this would just be your power bus. The connectors look like a bit of a hassle, but I may have to pick one of these puppies up anyway.
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Guy Macon wrote:

Make it $120, $100 to purchase the hardware, and $20 for the reward, and I'll take that challenge.

Or, "network boot" if the system has a built in network card.

If the system has a network card, netboot and use SSH.
Actually, you owe me $20 as it is. One can buy a Linksys wireless router and install their own version of Linux on it. I've seen these routers for as low as $29 after rebates.
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20040527.html
Or, I've seen EPIA motherboard for less than $99.
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mlw wrote:

That looks like it meets the requirements. $54.99 with free shipping the first place I looked (amazon.com). Right now you are ahead.

I looked at a bunch of motherboards, and couldn't find one that leaves enough $$$ left over for the CPU, RAM, and power supply.
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"Guy Macon" wrote:

How about this: http://www.linuxda.com/store/ppvsinfo.html <$100 including a display
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Anthony Fremont wrote:

$99.99 USD, Nothing else needed to get it to boot...
I will be sending you $20 via PayPal unless someone else comes up with a cheaper device that meets the requirements.
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Guy Macon wrote:

Technically speaking, you said "anyone who can do it" and not "the first." :-)
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mlw wrote:

Technically speaking, he also didn't limit the offer to a single person. Doh!
Then again -- technically speaking -- he didn't specify that the payout would be in *US* dollars.
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The Artist Formerly Known as Kap'n Salty wrote:

AHA! You, my friend, are a genius! Monopoly dollars! Hell money!
All kidding aside, I do want to do what is fair. So far I have seen Linux solutions at $55 and $99 (with a display included.) If nobody beats those I am inclined to send $20 to each person. I will wait until I see if anyone else does better, though.
I am surprised at the results. I am a huge Linux fan, but I really thought that someone would come up with a place to buy 386SX or 486 motherboards, add a meg of RAM and a really cheap power supply, and have it boot DOS.
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Guy Macon wrote:

The economies of scale make a parabola curve around price. At the middle is the best price/performance. Towards the right, as performance increases and you are heading to more cutting edge technology, price/performace ratio declines. As you move to the left, older technology that was once cheap is now more expensive because it has a much reduced market, thus the price/performace declines. As long as Moore's law is in effect, the parabola is moving toward the right.
Your best bet for the cheapest computer technology is always just on the left side of the center of the parabola where the "newer" "faster" technologies are becoming the center, and the previous top performer needs to be cleared away at a reduced profit to make way for the newer technology.
I really like the idea of PC104 devices, but because the volume is so low, it is hard to get the price/performance ratio of something like an EPIA board.
As for Linux, I think it was official that in 1999 Linux had been ported to more platforms than NetBSD, and NetBSD's claim to fame that it would run on anything.
Anyway, I don't need the $20, I was just calling you on a challenge.
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Guy Macon wrote:

It would have to be real currency -- but I and I sez there are 62 Jamaican Dollars to 1 US Dollar, mon.

If you're just looking to boot DOS, there's a ton of used stuff available for free. If you're looking for new stuff that boots DOS, there are a variety of SBCs that do this:
http://www.jkmicro.com/products/flashlite186.html
is an 80186-based product. No need to install anything -- just boot it up. You can run DOS, or (I think) uC-OS will run on this as well if you need pre-emptive multitasking. $69.00, quantity 1. This assumes you make your own serial cable and supply your own wall-wart. The devkit is 109 with this stuff included, but these ancillary items are simple to make.
This may be more useful than the router option, as it has a good bit of I/O other than ethernet/wlan, but I don't really know what your application is. If you need networking (and nothing else) the router is probably a better option.
Really -- there are a lot of options. Occasionally surplus SBCs pop up on the market as well. Use google and ebay -> search for "Single Board Computer".
Otherwise, old laptops are practically free these days -- even pentiums.
Cheers - m
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