All posts by CRBarnett

Space Jam

In 2015,  the rest of the FACTUR robotics team and I decided to simultaneously gamify and prototype a DARPA project that had recently been published through  Two robots:  one sits at the edge of a dark crater on the north side of the moon, the other is a solar powered rover in the dark shadow of the middle of the crater.  The first robot reflects light into the crater in order to power the second robot wirelessly!

It seems like fun; a cool control panel for the player to control two space robots to  cooperate… or die.  Can you move the rover around to gather the accumulated water from the constant shadow of the crater, for your spacefarers, using only the power from the sun provided by your buddy robot lifeline? AND do it with only two camera views and one light sensor?  Yep you can. The amount of light collected in the given time-frame signifies the winner/survivor.

It’s a lot easier now (2018) but, in 2015, a $400 consumer-robotics solution was challenging.

  • two RPI B+’s (wheezy et al)
  •  Arduino Duemilanove
  • DFRduino Romeo V.1 and some wheels,
  •  Adafruit motorhat.

Why? Beacuse, we already had them in our lab!

The hard part was getting them both to operate, through the same Xbox KINEX interface, on the same network at the same time! We had to put all our brains together for this.

At the time, the openGimbal project was just my lil RPI/Arduino open-source code base that does a lot of wireless robot IP socketing in-and-out from Python thru Tornado and PySerial libraries.

My buddy, Terrence Andrews, was refining a Unity Toolbox of Libraries for operating game environments and application events.

Once he coded a patch to my sockets we were halfway there. 

That’s when our buddy, Richard, did some Linux network admin magic that made everything operate on the same wireless network, porting all of our sockets appropriately. You could see through both of the robots and control them both thru browser windows on my phone!  

Terrence set up the KINEX handles and coded the whole thing to work on an XBOX through one contiguous interface that you could toggle the viewpoint and control both robots with simultaneously.

We tallied a light sensor on the rover-bot to keep score.

A great set of graphics and a great NASA style logo were created and linked in by our bud, Leon, like the cherry on a sundae.

One of the NASA engineers did the voice-over for our Countdown. “Liftoff of the NASA DARPA water gathering mission!” 

We had an launch sequence and then a beautiful landing (loading…) game, then… you were dropped into our gamified robotic interface experience to learn about space science and perform a real world cutting edge task of space-life drudgery or die of thirst trying.

Thanks and kudos to the Staff of Orlando Public Library Melrose Facility, IGSJams, Kunal Patel, NASA and all the rest who helped inspire us to complete this challenge successfully!


-CRBIII  proj head




OGP System Mated to DFRduino Romeo V.1

We recently competed in the NASA Indie Galactic Space Jam in Orlando Florida, Sponsored by Microsoft as well as Space Florida. One of our Challenges was implementing the Kinect v2.   We used it to control multiple units including this cute little guy to the left.  We operate out of which gives us the facilities to be able to complete projects of this caliber.

2015 NASA Indie Galactic Space Jam




Special Thanks to Richard and Leon for Game Jamming with us!