Electronic Devices: How Rumble Robots Work

Rumble robots work by using an infrared remote control that transmits messages to the robot.

Rumble Robots work much the same way that television remote controls work. They use an infrared remote control that transmits messages via a small light-emitting diode or LED that uses a distinct pattern of long flashes and short flashes.

The inside of the plastic controller housing contains three batteries, the LED and two printed circuit boards. These circuit boards are thin pieces of fiberglass that have thin copper wires etched to their surface. These copper wires are responsible for connecting electrical components together. The circuit boards located in the Rumble Robots controller have an integrated circuit or microchip, transistors, resistors, diodes, capacitors and buttons. These buttons are actually pieces of rubber that hold small conductive plates and pushing the conductive metal piece up against a contact point on the circuit board when plastic pads on the controller are moved. Each contact point is an open section of the circuit between the battery and the integrated circuit. What this means is that the etched wires do not connect and the electric current does not flow to the microchip. The circuit closes when the conductive plate is pressed down on the wires and the current will flow across the plate from one wire to the next then moves to the microchip. All of this happens when the integrated circuit, generates an appropriate command signal that corresponds to the buttons that have been pushed, then passes the signal on to the transistor. The transistor then amplifies the signal and activates the infrared light The signal will continue being sent until the buttons are depressed.

Each controller has an A setting and a B setting and the robot also has an A setting and a B setting. When the A and B setting are switched on the controller, the flash pattern of the infrared signal is changed by the microchip. If the robot is switched from A to B, the A-pattern signals are ignored, while the B-pattern signals are registered. If there are two robots that are the same model they should be set differently, one on A and the other on B, or the controller will activate them both.



The robots each contain an infrared receiver that has a small photocell, which is the central element. This photocell is an electrical component that responds to light and consists of a light-sensitive semiconductor layer that is sandwiched between two electrodes. A constant electrical current is sent across these two electrodes by the battery, even if the photocell is exposed to light or not. When the photocell is exposed to the right type of light, the electron boost amplifies the electrical current that flows across the electrons. The photocell will translate the light signal into an electrical signal by the increase and decrease of the pattern of the current when the light flashes on and off. This electrical signal is passed on to the central integrated circuit found in the robot. The integrated circuit will carry out actions such as punching, based on the digital pattern of the electrical signal.

Rumble Robots have wheels powered by two electric motors located in the bottom half of the robot that move the robot's wheels. This movement is occurs when the integrated circuit receives the signal telling it to move the wheel, then the circuit sends an electrical current to the appropriate motor or both motors according to the signal sent. The robots direction is changed by reversing the current flow to either motor. If a positive current is sent to both motors, all wheels spin the same direction, moving the robot forward. If a negative charge is sent the robot move backward. If two different currents are sent, one positive and one negative, each motor receives one of the currents and the wheels on each side will spin in opposite directions causing the robot to turn.

There is a third motor located in the robots head that is responsible for moving the robot's arms back and forth. This mechanism consists of two rack and pinion gears, one central gear that is turned by the motor and turns the connected gear, moving the racks that are attached to the arms. With this design, there is a nothing on two sides on the base of the gear, meaning that there are two sections with teeth separated by two smooth sections. Punching movement occurs when sections with teeth engage the teeth of the racks attached to the arms. Engaging the teeth causes the gear to slide the rack and the arm backward. The rack is released when the gear revolves to the smooth section. The racks create a punch forward on release because they are spring loaded.

The main objective in a Rumble Robot match is scoring hits on the opposing robots. These hits are scored three ways, when the opposing robot's terminate switch is hit, when the opposing robot is turned over or when the opposing robot's power points are drained. To hit the terminate switch, the switch must be located on the robot. This switch is behind the head and will be pushed if the robot hits a wall or is hit from behind by another robot and the circuit will be completed, thus scoring a hit. Tipping the robot over also scores a hit and occurs when the pendulum element found in the robot closes an electrical connection to a gravity switch and a hit is registered. Draining the robot's power point with a laser involves a laser that is actually a LED. When the fire trigger is pulled, the integrated circuit activates the LED. Each robot has a photocell on its base calibrated to the frequency that the laser uses.

Power cards set Rumble robots apart from other remote control toys. These cards are slid in the right sequence through a slot in the robot's head and activate the robot's laser defense, punching mechanism, speed and power points. Each card reader has a tiny light positioned next to a tiny light sensor and each card has a distinctive pattern of black and white lines. When the card is slid through the slot, a beam of light passes over the line pattern. The scanner sensor translates the light pattern into an electrical signal read by the Robot's integrated circuit, enabling the new move or boosts the robot's power level. The move or power level lasts until the robot is defeated or it is turned off.

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