2000 Engineering Open House Competition
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Winner of Most Impressive Arsenal Award
Type: Search/Combat Robot
Weight: 100 lbs
Body: Aluminum Frame
Power: 100 in-lbs of torque
Control: 900 MHz RC
Speed: 6-10 mph
Weapons: Battle Axe, Saw Blades
Other:Robot Arm

Competition:UIUC Engineering Open House
Year: 2000
Results: Winner of Most Impressive Arsenal

Participants and History
The 00-Astro team is comprised of Aaron Trask and Mariusz Zaczek. The name of the vehicle is Live and Let Die which is the name of a James Bond (007) movie. Since our team name is a sort of take on the 007 theme, we decided to name our car after a cool Bond movie title.

Competition Description
     The actual competition took place on March 3th and 4th, 2000. This design competition is open to many schools from around the midwest area and typically involves over 30 different teams. While many teams simply use slightly modified RC cars, there are a few completely designed and built vehicles. The design competition is sponsored by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and typically draws the largest crowds during the Engineering Open House.

     For this year's competition the field was a race through an obstacle course. The theme was "Mission: 2000 - Save the Engineers", where each robot was to capture 3 small figures (engineers) along the route. The first stage of the course was a field of mines followed by a slippery 15 degree incline upon which three curtains of steady water came down...this required that the vehicle be waterproof.
     After the incline was a three foot drop off into a pit of foam blocks. Next came some flat ground before the robot vehicle was to enter an area "corn stalks" ... represented by overhaning wooden dowels. The final challange was to reach the peak of a mountain. This could be done in one of two ways: either climbin five 1 foot steps or simply drive up a series of small inclines.
     Unfortunately, the layout of this course was too much in favor of small RC cars rather than self-built robot vehicles.

3D Course Drawing

Vehicle Description
     This vehicle is composed of a machined aluminum body. The wheels are 20 inches in diameter and are fixed - tank steering is the control method. With all equipment attached the vehicle weighed in excess of 100 lbs and was able to move at a brisk speed of 6 mph. Each wheel had it's own motor giving it over 100 in-lbs of torque. In addition, this robot had interchangable parts that included a robotic arm and offensive weapons.
     A final touch included a color tv camera mounted on the vehicle which was connected to an RF transmitter and sent to a remote television where the live feed was recorded.

Demolition Mode

Robotic Arm
     During the regular round the vehicle had an attached 2 link robotic arm attached to a rotating base. At the end of the second link was a home-made gripper. The arm was able to swivel around at the base and raise/lower both links of the arm. The base and links are actuated by 12 VCD Pittman motors while gripper was actuated by a high torque server.
     For the demolition rounds the arm was replaced with some offensive weapons. These included a set of 3 vertically placed rear saw blades, 1 front horizontal saw blade, and a side mounted battle axe. The saw blades were all actuated by 9.7 VDC portable drills which were modified with gears and chains to rotate the blades. The blades were turned on only when the joystick button was depressed otherwise they were off. The battle axe was fixed but the ability of the vehicle to rotate in place allowed for this battle axe to be used like a swinging bat ... i.e. to slap other cars around.

Battle Axe

Control System

M68332 BCC
     The control system for this vehicle was designed and built from scratch. The main components were two Motorola 68332 microcontrollers, graciously donated by the Motorola Corporation. One controller was placed on the robot and the other was connected to the main Saitek's Cyborg 2000 joystick. The communication was done through RF using Linx Technologies HP-II series RF modules with a frequency of ~900MHz.
     The two microcontroller were programmed in assembly language and circuits were built to interface the controllers with the joystick and motors. The assembly language programs required the use of the Serial Communications Interface (SCI) and Timer Processing Unit (TPU) modules. The SCI was used to generate a serial stream of data that was sent through the RF chips to the receiver SCI. The vehicle code used the TPU to generate the necessary Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) waveforms for controlling the Pittmans and servos. In addition, a 24 VDC speed control circuit was designed with the aid of Prof. Uribe. (Code available below)

Speed Control Circuit

Saitek Cyborg 2000
     The Cyborg 2000 joystick was connected to the Motorola 68332 microcontroller by using the ADC0808 Analog-to-Digital converter. This converted the potentiometers inside the joystick into digital values from 0V to 5V DC. There were a total of three potentiometers: two on the joystick for the forward/reverse and left/right motion and a third on the front of the joystick used to adjust the gripper.
     The hat button on top of the joystick controlled the base of the robot arm - rotating the base and raising/lowering the first link. Two of the big buttons were for moving the 2nd link while the third button was not active for the robotic arm. The trigger was to be used for opening/closing a container device which was never finished.

Linx Technologies - HP-II RF

Competition Results
     The competition went pretty well for us in the beginning. We were one of only a few vehicles that could make it up the wet incline and reach as far as the mountain - during the regular rounds. Unfortunately, our design was too big for the course, which most suited small RC cars. In fact, we had so much power that one time we actually flew over the back barrier (and partially into a small crowd) after taking off from the slippery ramp. No one was injured but our color camera was able to capture the entire flight. The stairs posed a big challenge for our vehicle. Because of our extreme weight we could only make it up the first step. During some minor pre-competition tests we noticed that we could make it up only a first step but we thought our batteries were limiting us. We had so much torque that we litterally flipped ourselves over when we ran into a wall - the vehicle gripped the wall and climbed it until it flipped over. Unfortunately, our design flaw was discovered much too late.
     We expected the demolition rounds to bring us much better success. Based on the strength of our recent "Most Impressive Arsenal" award, we felt that the demolition rounds were ours. Unfortunately, one major problem occurred at the start of a demolition round that resulted in our vehicle breaking all of it's weaponry and causing interal circuit damage. A RF video camera of the Competition Committe caused severe interference with our control system...litteraly taking over our car and smashing it into a wall. This was not discovered in time even though a RF spectrum analyzer was present for the competition to monitor interference. We were still able to compete but we were "weaponless". It was truly a dissappointment to work so hard on this project and then be destroyed by outside interference rather than during an actual competition.

     This robotic vehicle was completely designed and built by Aaron Trask and Mariusz Zaczek.
     Aaron was in charge of the mechanical systems which included the design and construction of the vehicle body, mounting the motors, building the arm and gripper, mounting the weaponry. He also made suggestions for the control system and helped with making several circuits.
     The control system was the designed, built and programmed by Mariusz Zaczek. Mario made the various circuits for the motors, servos, joystick, RF modules. He also wrote the receiver and transmitter codes from scratch. The codes are available below. In addition, he helped assemble parts of the vehicle and made some design suggestions.
     The design of this vehicle started in September of 1999. In late December 1999 and early January 2000 the car was beginning to take form and the control system code was being written. The base of the car was completed in early February while the weapons and robotic arm was finished by late March. The circuits were finished by early February but the control code was fully completed by late February.

We'd like to express our deepest thanks to the following people and organizations

Click pictures on side

The control system for the 00-Astro robot was all written in M68332 assembly. The transmitter and receiver codes and circuits are listed below.
  • Motorola 68332 Micro-Controller Utilities/Datasheets/Manuals/Etc
  • equ332.asm - equates file for M68332 microcontroller
  • as32.exe - M68332 Compiler (Windows)
  • Transmitter Files:
    • load_tr.s - Transmitter using Serial Communication Code (SCI) (Version of code Loaded via RS232 port)
    • board_tr.s - Transmitter using Serial Communication Code (SCI) (Version of code that was written to two EEPROMs)
  • Receiver Files:
    • load_re.s - Transmitter using Serial Communication Code (SCI) (Version of code Loaded via RS232 port)
    • board_re.s - Transmitter using Serial Communication Code (SCI) (Version of code that was written to two EEPROMs)
  • Speed Control Code for Tank Steering
    • speed_control.txt - Speed control portion of code for using a single joystick to do "Tank Steering". This code would nominally be within a receiver code to control two motors (or sides). This code has limited comments but you can contact me to get an explanation and instructions.