The Arduino Dalek Master Plan

All has been quiet on the Arduino Dalek front for a while now, as I’ve stopped all work on it pending the release of the Raspberry Pi credit card sized sub-£20 computer

For those not in the know, the Raspberry Pi will be an ARM11 700Mhz based computer running Debian Linux and capable of operating from 4 AA batteries. The “Model B” will have 2 USB ports and on-board ethernet.

There will be plenty of space inside the Dalek to accommodate one of these, along with the extra battery packs required.

So, assuming that they start shipping these things soon, the Master Plan (oh just guess where the title of this post is derived from) is:

  • Strip down the existing code for the Arduino version so that it just accepts commands to drive the motors and read the sensor data (pretty much like version 0.1 did).
  • Work up a protocol for the Raspberry and Arduino to communicate with. Then implement it.
  • Fit the Dalek with all the connectors for the Raspberry (RCA, HDMI, Ethernet, USB via an unpowered hub, Audio jack and micro-USB power)
  • Recode the current “free-roaming” software to run on the Raspberry.
  • Source a suitable USB WiFi dongle and camera to install.
  • Jig up a web based “Control Panel” for the beastie.

The above list includes “USB via an unpowered hub”, as I currently envision needing more than 2 USB ports:

  • USB connection to the Arduino (direct)
  • USB WiFi dongle (via hub)
  • USB Keyboard (via hub on case exterior)
  • USB Mouse (via hub on case exterior)
  • USB Memory stick/Disk interface (via hub on case exterior)

Now why, you may be thinking, would I be needing the keyboard, mouse and storage (and video outputs)?

Well, the objectives are now two-fold. Primarily I still want to build the original free-roaming robot idea, but I also want it to double as a cool set-top box to connect to our stupidly large television which has been gathering dust since the Digital Switchover (our TV aerial is really shite and Freeview is UNWATCHABLE).

I could do that using a second Raspberry as a dedicated set-top box, but that would not be as cool.

Imagine: The Dalek is connected to the TV, playing a copy of an old Doctor Who episode featuring Daleks. The on-board camera is pointing at the TV, relaying the images to a web server. So a Dalek is watching a Dalek on a Dalek (not in that way). Open up another window and the Dalek is also watching itself. Thats the kind of thing that Christopher H. Bidmead could only dream about.

I’ll be buying a second one anyway, to it inside one of these keyboards.

But as I said, it is all on hold until the Raspberry Pi ships (and I remember how to program in C again).

Then maybe I can actually make use of the contrived acronyms DAVROS (Dalek Automatic Roving Vehicle Operating System), and SKARO (Stupid Kludged Arduino Remote Operation).

Leave a Reply