Robotics and Openmoko

Charles Pax charles.pax at
Wed Jul 9 05:12:49 CEST 2008

On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 10:25 PM, Peter Harrison <cheetah100 at>

> I've been doing some robotics with Openmoko; with the Neo 1973. I thought I
> would introduce myself a little.
> Since January this year I have been working on a solar powered autonomous
> boat project. I decided on using a Openmoko as the on board computer as it
> has excellent power requirement characteristics and also has on board GPS
> and GPRS. This deals with several subsystems at once. It is also a capable
> computer compared to other low power CPU's such as PIC chips.
> In this first video I show my boat on the water for the first time. At this
> point it is remote controlled.
> In the next video I show the Neo 1973 after purchasing it off eBay. At this
> point I have managed to install the python based control software.
> My first test of the Neo on the water involved returning telemtry about the
> position. This involved gathering data from the GPS and sending it via GPRS,
> but not yet actually controlling the boat.
> Finally I complete the power supply and control aspects required for the
> Neo to perform autonomous navigation and test it on the water. Sadly not all
> goes to plan.
> In my most recent video I once again try to test the OpenBoat, but even
> with software refinements all does not go to plan.
> The key to my robotic work has been made possible with Phidget controllers
> which allow me to control servos and motor controller via USB. I have
> compiled the Phidgets library for the Neo, and am using the Python bindings
> provided by Phidget.
> Future:
> I intend to resolve the existing navigation issues by introducing a solid
> state magnetic compass. At the same time I will introduce better power
> management by measuring power use over time, along with heat and light
> conditions. I would also like to add video via a external USB webcam.
> However, this won't be video; just stills. If anyone has done this with a
> Neo I would like to hear about it. I will keep everyone up to date with my
> progress.
> Open Source:
> I intend to make all the software I've written open source. Its not exactly
> working right now, so I've been reluctant to release it. That said if there
> are people out there wanting to collaborate I'm only to happy to make it
> available.
> I've seen your stuff on YouTube about a week ago. It's pretty cool. With
the GPS and some sensors connected through USB you could do some pretty neat
stuff with automated sounding of depth and water content measurements.

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