Panda is my friend. yes i am building my own friend. Panda will have tons of sensors and also have WiFi capability so i can access the information he publishes to a website. this will allow me to know if things are happening in my home when i am not there. he will be tied into the security system (of which i am also building). if there is a fire he would be able to unlock and open all the doors in the house. He does talk through a emic2 device. He will play music based on the mood of the room. He will get sad, happy, surprised ect. He has 6 servos in his face, 2 mega Arduino's. every senors for the environment i could find (within a reasonable price). The only real issue is he is not mobile. He is attached to a computer power supply currently. I am working on making him a lipo back pack but he is pretty heavy. but that's okay i like that he is always where i left him. i originally made him to fight raccoon on my front porch.
I am using the Emic2 tts module. its pretty cool and gives you tons of options. However read the instructions very carefully. you have to send commands to the module before you send a serial statement. but the advantages far outweigh the learning curve. you can slow down, speed up, change 9 different voices and even make all statements come out in spanish. its really cool. $60 i found it at fry's but sparkfun has it too and they have code for it also.
I will be adding a Galileo to panda to replace the mega. however i am concerned that the lack of digital pins may be an issue. I am basing my communications system on i2c so that i can keep panda from becoming a spaghetti mess inside. I may have to use a multiplexer to get more digital pins.
I have recieved my Galileo Gen 2. I have decided for now that since the 2 mega's are communicating great i am going to keep using them in panda until i reach thier limits. The galileo will be used in an upcoming biosphere project i am making. i will document the build, research and results in about 2 weeks i start.
So i am using an arduino mega for the brain or master controller. I am using several arduino Pro Mini's as slaves so i can get multi-tasking capabilities. people tend to have a hard time connecting more than 2 arduino's together. However i will only have one master and several slave MC's. so this should not be an issue. Basically the mega takes in information from various sensors (touch, temp, humidity, ect) anaylizes that info and sends commands to the motor drivers MC's each one commands 2 motors. it sends commands to the text to speech module and the servo shield to talk, make facial expressions and move the panda's body in a fun life like way. This is the nervous system of panda.
Due to getting some bad micro pro's on ebay i cannot make each h-bridge have thier own MC. so i have switched to using a second mega. it has worked out pretty good. with all the built in serial lines i was able to have alot of independant comunication to the text to speech module (emic2) the motors while not having to disconect anything to upload sketches.
I have added 11 touch points to panda. 2 on the head, 2 on each arm , 2 on the chest, 1 on the tummy, 2 on the back. This will give panda some interactivity. i used a mpr121 capacitive touch breakout. it allows 12 connections to 1 wire touch pads. i can now touch the outside of panda and the touch pad inside registers the touch. I will add more later after i get it all programmed. I am using a arduino pro mini on an i2c connection to send the data to the Mega in the brain. The library was difficult for me to get installed. for some reason it just had problems. i tried several different sample codes and libraries. finnally i deleted the whole library and reinstalled then it worked great. Wierd oh well no time to figure out exactly why. just keep chugging forward.
Last week i added some lights that shine through the chest. these are neo-pixel rgb addressable lights. which gives me a ton of options to be creative. currently i wrote a program to just act as a stand alone system on a arduino micro. There are 5 lights arranged in an x pattern. the lights glow red and dime and brighten over a 3 second period and then repeats. it really does give the feel that panda is breathing and has a human quality to him. i would like to make a heart beat program.
I do most of my shopping at sparkfun.com I found some h-bridge boards. these are well labeled and can drive 1 amp. this week i am installing 5 boards to run 10 motors for movement. hopefully i will get some programming done on it too. I will at least get a diagnostic program written so i can test all the motors.