Category Archives: Robotics

One Project – A Robot Building DVD

I think that this year I am going to try and limit myself to one project at a time, rather than starting three or four and doing them all partially and then getting frustrated at the results.

The whole multi-tasking concept is dead for now. My thinking today is that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well with focus. I use to think that doing more was being more productive, but as I look back, I did more things, but was not more productive, I was just busier, and more stressed.

Currently I am going to do some market research in a Robot Building DVD. The initial concept is to have a how-to DVD and manual that would allow for someone to with a short supply list acquired from the local hobby shop or online robotics shop, to build a robot that does something cool. It’s just an introduction, but I find in all of my robot meetings, there’s a lot of people interested in robotics, but very few have robots to bring in and most just have a desire to learn about robotics.

Java Media Framework on Ubuntu Linux

It’s been years bug I have finally figured out how to solve my Java Media Framework issues on Linux/Ubuntu.

Basically it requires an X11 environment/framebuffer to work. To get things to work I installed the following:

sudo apt-get install xvfb
Xvfb :1 -screen 0 800x600x24&
export DISPLAY=localhost:1.0

run your java program.

So if you want to run this headless, you need to do this, then you should have no problems capturing frames, etc.

Linux Webcam Success and A Shop

I have managed to scrap JMF (Java Media Framework) and instead created a roll-my-own JNI web cam capture with C and Java. So far so good, but it only works with a few older web cameras and performance is not optimized.

I also have a new shop. Now I have a place where I can build my robots, have meetings for the Columbus Robotics Society, and run my business.

Creating a Pause Method in Java

I use this often in my robotics code. The reason is simple, it takes the robots time to do things and I need to wait for a microcontroller to perform some action, like get a sensor reading, or move a certain distance, or change heading. It’s very simple, but I will add more robotics code later this week-end, this is just the start.

public static void pause(long ms) {
        try {
        } catch (InterruptedException e) {

Text To Speech (TTS) with Ruby and PHP

I was working with some scripts for having my PC talk. The first one is in Ruby:

require "win32/sapi5"
include Win32
v =
v.Speak("this is the easiest thing to do since I have started working with ruby..")

Now this one in PHP:

$tts = new COM("SAPI.SpVoice");
$tts->speak("this is a test");