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Entries for the 'Robotics' Category

Cooking Up New Ideas (and BBQ) at DMC's FedEx Day
Molly Graham

Cooking Up New Ideas (and BBQ) at DMC's FedEx Day

DMC recently held another one of our favorite company-wide traditions... FedEx Day! On FedEx Day, everyone in the company takes a break from their day-to-day tasks and works on a project that they think will improve DMC. It's a great opportunity to collaborate with people we don't normally work with, develop new skills, and have fun. It's called a FedEx Day because the planned project must be delivered by the end of the day. With five offices and more employees than ever, the...

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How to Use FANUC PC Developer's Kit (PCDK)
Frank May

How to Use FANUC PC Developer's Kit (PCDK)

FANUC offers an easy way to command and configure a robot from a PC using their PC Developer's Kit (PCDK).The kit allows a PC to access variables, registers, IO, programs, positions, and alarms on the robot. Most of the help documentation already covers Visual Basic, so I'll explain how to get started with C#. Installation First step is to install Visual Studio. Visual Studio Community is free and works perfectly for this application. After installing Visual Studio, go...

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The Robot Operating System: What is ROS?
Ji-hoon Kim

The Robot Operating System: What is ROS?

It’s a tool for robotics research collaboration. It’s a communication protocol, an open source library of interesting robotics software, and a useful prototyping tool. Depending on who you ask, ROS can be a lot of things. Literally, it stands for Robot Operating System. It’s one the hottest topics in the field of robotics, and if you ask, “What is ROS?” to five different people, you may get five different answers! Robots are complex systems with a lot of differen...

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How to Create Fanuc HMI Panels Using the Panel Wizard
Frank May

How to Create Fanuc HMI Panels Using the Panel Wizard

Even though you want Fanuc robots to be as autonomous as possible, you sometimes need operators to interact with your robots and need a simple interface for that. Using third party HMIs to communicate with Fanuc Robots is certainly an option, but there is a bunch of setup needed, and accessing all the variables on the robot is difficult. Instead, you can create the interface using the built-in "Panel Wizard" to create up to four different operator screens. This blog will show you ho...

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DMC's Certified Vision Professionals
Eric West

DMC's Certified Vision Professionals

In January, Ken Brey and I passed the AIA’s “Certified Vision Professional – Advanced” exam. Passing the exam proved that we have a high level of knowledge about developing and integrating machine vision systems, and added our names to the list of CVP-Advanced members. This certification is also one of the requirements to be listed as one National Instrument’s Alliance Partners, with a specialty in Vision. Prior to the exam, I attended the AIA’s week-l...

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DMC Hosts Future Engineers of After School Matters
Courtney Mitchell

DMC Hosts Future Engineers of After School Matters

DMC recently partnered with After School Matters to host a group of future engineers at our Chicago office. After School Matters is a non-profit organization whose mission is, “to provide Chicago public high school teens opportunities to explore and develop their talents, while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond.” The group of students who visited our office was particularly interested in robotics so we were eager to show them around. We won the group of about tw...

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Getting Young Kids Interested in Technology
Frank Riordan

Getting Young Kids Interested in Technology

I'm always trying to get my daughters, ages 8 & 5, interested in what we do here at DMC. It's a challenge because I have a hard enough time explaining what DMC does to someone I meet at a cocktail party, never mind a couple of young kids. However, I recently had two great experiences with them that actually piqued their interest. The first was a trip to Legoland in Carlsbad, California. In addition to Miniland USA, Land of Adventure and other fun rides, there also is a Lego Factory T...

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NI Week 2012 - Robot Summit
Danny Budzinski

NI Week 2012 - Robot Summit

It’s already day 2 of NI Week 2012, and it feels like things are really moving fast. In the same way I broke out my goals for NI Week, I’ve been trying to focus each of the 4 days more or less on a specific theme. In light of that I took day 2 to treat myself to a predominately robot themed day, favoring a number of the sessions on this years “Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles Summit.” It seems like maybe that little bird at NI reads my blog, because the first thing they d...

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NI Week 2012 Quick Update
Danny Budzinski

NI Week 2012 Quick Update

I know it might be hard to believe given my LabVIEW Architect status and 5+ years’ experience, but I arrived in muggy-but-nice Austin, TX this afternoon for my very first NI Week. No matter what the weather has been like in Chicago this summer, and even if Ken thinks the rooms inside are too cold to bear, it is pretty intensely HOT. Despite the fact that my cab from the airport didn’t have A/C, I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and soak in as much of the experience as I ca...

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Northwestern Robot Design Competition
Eric West

Northwestern Robot Design Competition

For the fifth year, DMC was one of the sponsors for Northwestern University’s annual Design Competition.  The Design Competition (a.k.a “DC”) challenges students to design, build, and program an autonomous robot that competes against other robots in a simple task or game.  DC provides students with excellent hands-on experience in all the aspects that are required to make a successful robot, such as: designing electromechanical systems, working with various sensors an...

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Office Autonomous Robot: Part 2
Alex Krejcie

Office Autonomous Robot: Part 2

To continue the ongoing plan to conquer the world via our autonomous robot, several enhancements were made to the robotic platform and a new path finding algorithm was tested. Hardware Changes After deploying the robot around the office, it became clear that the Bluetooth wireless module used for communication would not provide sufficient range and coverage to give the robot full mobility about DMC’s office. With this in mind a new wireless communication method was sought. After rese...

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Robot Dancing - Teaching Robots to Heal
Danny Budzinski

Robot Dancing - Teaching Robots to Heal

When, besides in children’s cartoons (and my Christmas blogs), do you ever get to see robots dancing? At the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry! This past week I had another opportunity to check out cutting edge robotics at the museum. This event was showcasing Aldebaran Robotics’ Nao (pronounced “Now”) Robot, a top notch humanoid robot companion. Not only is this robot the star of the international Robocup Challenge, it also is used in research around the w...

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Robots vs. Humans Soccer - Teaching Robots to Learn
Danny Budzinski

Robots vs. Humans Soccer - Teaching Robots to Learn

Anyone who has frequented my blog entries knows that I am one of the biggest robot-enthusiasts at DMC. That's why I was so excited to get a chance to attend a lecture at the Museum of Science and Industry given recently by Dr. Minoru Asada, a top researcher in modern robotics and one of the driving forces behind Robocup, and Mr. Ken Nagasaka, of Panasonic Factory Solutions of America. Aside from getting to see human vs. robot soccer, presented by Dr. Asada, both presentations were great a...

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Robots, High Schools, and Goodwill
Darren Jones

Robots, High Schools, and Goodwill

DMC was happy again to volunteer for a good cause with the FIRST Tech Challenge Robot competition here in Chicago. This FTC event is the state/regional championship, where High School students bring their best ingenuity, collaboration, and teamwork for competition on the game field. In the spirit of collaboration, two teams will form an alliance on the game field, where they will compete against two other teams of another alliance. This year’s game is “Get Over It!”. Alli...

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A Roomba Christmas
Danny Budzinski

A Roomba Christmas

Well, it's here. The moment you've all waited for. Thanks to the holiday season, I have finally been able to follow up on my Roomba work! Using the ROI 500 protocol from iRobot, I decided it would be a nice gesture to have Roomba do a little Christmas performance for everyone. I created a serial tether to connect the Roomba directly to my PC and controlled it in real time with a LabVIEW 8.5 program. I programmed Roomba to play notes as he dances back and forth and to blink i...

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Mobile Volume Measurement Device on Fork Truck a Success
David Simmons

Mobile Volume Measurement Device on Fork Truck a Success

Recently one of DMC's customers, LTS Scale, issued a press release describing the first fork-truck-mounted dimensional weighing system. DMC worked closely with this customer from the first stages of research through the development of the system and into product production, successfully delivering a flexible and robust system that met numerous design challenges along the way. The system uses a laser and camera to reconstruct a 3D environment, identifies the object being measured and returns ...

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Siemens S7 PLC Troubleshooting
Jon Carson

Siemens S7 PLC Troubleshooting

Once you are familiar with their capabilities and methodologies, Siemens PLCs have the potential to make controls programming quicker and easier than ever. With support for function blocks, text-based programming, libraries, and user defined types, Siemens lets developers attack problems with a much more object-oriented approach than traditional ladder logic programming. But for programmers and technicians less experienced with the Siemens line of PLCs, The S7 and S5 product lines often seem ove...

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DMC at NIWeek 2009
Darren Jones

DMC at NIWeek 2009

Every summer, National Instruments holds the NIWeek conference in their home town of Austin TX. This year, DMC has three of us attending: Jesse Batsche, Eric Nielsen, and myself. Monday was “Alliance Day”, tailored to NI Alliance Members, as well as the day for various closed sessions, such as the Big Physics conference to address technologies and trends related to large scale physics applications (particle accelerators, extremely large telescopes). Tuesday through Thursday is ...

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Robotic Vehicle Driver - Success!
Leon Grossman

Robotic Vehicle Driver - Success!

Some time ago, the staff of the Advanced Powertrain Research Facility at Argonne National Laboratory asked me if we could create a robotic driver to control speed of a vehicle on their dynamometer. There are off-the-shelf solutions for this task but it would be difficult to get the level of configurability and integration needed with these systems. We used LabVIEW to develop a relatively sophisticated PID control system to handle the significant non-linearities found in the control of most ve...

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Teaching Robots to Love - Programming a Roomba
Danny Budzinski

Teaching Robots to Love - Programming a Roomba

This is the first entry in a multi-part blog about a home project programming a Roomba robot. A few weeks ago, I was coerced by my girlfriend into buying one of those silly "floor cleaning robots". Yes, I mean a Roomba. I was skeptical, but I sat down and did some research.  Little did I know that while I had been slaving away religiously vacuuming my own floors (ok, occasionally vacuuming my own floors…) since the first Roomba came out in 2002, the makers at iRobot h...

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