tips for securing a laptop on a mobile platform?

I'm working on a laptop bot based on a chassis from an old RAD robot. I can pretty easily attach a foot-square piece of expanded PVC sheet (from
Budget Robotics) to this chassis... but then how do I attach my Powerbook G4 to this sheet?
The laptop is about 14 by 10 inches, and I'm looking for a method that doesn't involve any permanent modifications to the laptop itself. Any ideas are welcome.
Thanks, - Joe
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Joe Strout wrote:

You want to visit Home Depot and look for something you can use as an L- or U-bracket, with an opening large enough for the laptop. Line it it with some rubber (weatherstripping is nice) to prevent marring the chassis of the laptop. Look in the bathroom fixtures department for mirror brackets and other assorted hardware that you can use as hold-downs. BR has some lightweight plastic brackets you can use to make your own L or U, but you can use the zinc-plated metal ones at the hardware store.
The better approach, of course, is to just screw the thing to the plastic panel and go out and buy a Mac with an Intel chip in it. Then you can run Windows like the rest of us! <g>
-- Gordon
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I am also thinking about attaching a laptop to my Roomba floor sweeper. However, I am concerned about the hard drive getting jolted around as the wheels go over irregularities in the floor and door thresholds. Another concern is that I don't want the display to have to take all the forces on its hinge.
The pictures I've seen of other robots with laptops don't seem to have any shock-absorbing mounts for the laptops. So, perhaps I am just overly concerned.
At https://www.zagrosrobotics.com they have a few different bases designed for Laptops. But, I don't see anything special to hold the laptop down, or for shock absorbing.
It may be that just the bolts for the wheels help to trap the laptop to keep it from sliding off, and that the mass of the robot and its battery provide enough "inertial dampening" to reduce the shock load on the laptop.
Joe Dunfee
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I don't worry too much about the hinge -- it's made of titanium, and the floor in my house is pretty smooth even where it transitions from carpet to hardwood. The hard drive is another issue, though. I may try to write my code in such a way that it doesn't need to be using the hard drive in normal operation. Though with Unix, it's hard to prevent that completely, as there are always a number of other processes going on in the background.
I think I've decided that I'm comfortable putting self-adhesive velcro strips on the bottom side of this laptop. I'll put the soft side on the laptop, of course, with the prickly side on the robot base. These will actually provide a small bit of shock absorption too, though admittedly not very much.
Long-term, I'll probably end up asking myself why I'm using a laptop at all, and may replace it with a combination of embedded controllers (e.g. Gumstix) and dedicated I/O boards (e.g. for speech recognition and synthesis). But short-term, this is definitely the easiest way for me to go, and I'm excited to see what we can do with it.
Cheers, - Joe
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I've decided to go with a Wifi module on the robot, and my laptop sitting safely on a desk running the brains.
Later, Jon
-------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Hylands snipped-for-privacy@huv.com http://www.huv.com/jon
Project: Micro Seeker (Micro Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) http://www.huv.com
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Yeah, I thought about that, but I'd be giving up my Firewire video camera (which I have no desire to replace with a wireless one), speech recognition and synthesis (on the bot of course, not on the desk in the next room), and the interesting things I can do with a display (such as giving my robot an animated face).
Not that I couldn't eventually provide all those same functions in other ways -- but it'd be both harder and more expensive, given the equipment I have to work with at the moment.
I'll try to do a better job of documenting this bot as I go, so the curious can follow its progress.
Best, - Joe
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I've started a blog for mine: http://www.huv.com/blog
Later, Jon
-------------------------------------------------------------- Jon Hylands snipped-for-privacy@huv.com http://www.huv.com/jon
Project: Micro Raptor (Small Biped Velociraptor Robot) http://www.huv.com/blog
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I really like your "Giant House Eyes" idea! I'll have to try something similar next Halloween!
--
Curt Welch http://CurtWelch.Com /
snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com http://NewsReader.Com /
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Joe Strout wrote:

First off, regards the other msg, I would bet the roombavac doesn't have enough motor power to lug around a 6# notebook PC. BTW, you will notice a new book was just released in Nov 2006 about Hacking Roomba, by Tod Kurt. For my part, I would put zigbee on the roomba and command it from my desktop PC. The roomba platform will also no doubt be limited regards how much weight in general, sensors, etc, you can add to it and still maintain adequate drive.
Regards mounting your notebook on the RAD, that platform should have plenty of motor power, so long as you remove the upper body - like I did with my RAD hack.
http://www.oricomtech.com/projects/rad-hack.htm
However, the hard tracked-treads on the RAD base mean the base bounces quite a bit on hard floors, like kitchen linoleum. I would only even think about mounting my notebook PC on the RAD base via using 2" thick foam as a shock absorber. Save the hard disk.
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Right, and in fact I'm going further and removing the upper shell on the lower body as well. (I'll try to post some pictures soon.)

Hmm... an interesting point. I'm planning to keep it in low gear, which may help some. I might also try putting on some acceleration sensors, and having it slow down when it starts to bounce around. (Unfortunately this is not one of those newer Powerbooks with acceleration sensors built in.) I'll also look a little harder for some way to reliably park the hard drive. Meanwhile, I can keep it on carpeted areas. Thanks for the warning!
Best, - Joe
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Joe Strout wrote:

The RAD base actually bounces more when in low gear. I think because the torque is much greater that the treads dig in harder. Try starting your car moving off in 4th gear instead of 1st gear.
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