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Author Topic: Robotics sound module  (Read 3234 times)

Tug Captain

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Robotics sound module
« on: December 07, 2016, 09:35:02 AM »

hi,


found a clip on youtube where a mr Alan Bond presents his upgraded diesel sound module. As far as I can see this product in now marketed by a company named Technobots.


Anyone has tried this unit in a model boat? It seems it is primarily aimed for toy motor vehicles...


The pricing is rather competitive compared to most other sound modules like beier, harbor models etc


Any input is most welcome
cheers
Claes
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steamboat66

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2016, 06:28:16 PM »

having just trawled through the manual, i'm initially impressed. the sound is not produced in the normal way of "clicks" as the simpler ones are, and not just samples, which sometimes don't respond smoothly. the "voicing" seems to be produce its sound in the way an actual engine does, so there should not be the strange pitch shift that can be heard from simpler sample types. try one, it's not that much.
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2016, 11:46:27 PM »

Claes,

The Technobots/Alan Bond sound unit is definitely recommended! I have an original (i.e. not upgraded) one.

The diesel sound was the most realistic I came across when I was choosing a sound unit, plus it
has an additional feature - if you leave the the throttle control set at neutral, after a short pause the
sound unit goes quiet (like an engine being turned off) and then produces a lifelike sound of the
engine re-starting when the throttle control is moved.

By the way you will need to add a loudspeaker

Richard
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Tug Captain

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2016, 12:20:34 PM »

Hi guys, appreciate your input.
One very attractive thing with the Alan Bond product is the pricing _ abt a third of the digitally sampled sound modules. And I guess it will preform good enough diesel sounds for the rather infrequent times my boats are in active duty.


Yes - I do understand I have to fit a loudspeaker but there is no problem in the present project - a MMM Portgarth - plenty of space in the hull.


Claes
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 01:22:50 PM »

Tug Captain's comment that my unit is aimed at "toy motor vehicles" is slightly off beam - I think he's referring to my "Programmable" unit (as Technobots chose to call it). This does ten different engine sounds of 'diesel' and 'petrol' character. Like the previous single voice units this WAS aimed at boats, but a guy wanted to use it in a Toylander 1/2 scale Land Rover (kids ride-in model) and after difficulties with adapting a servo tester driven by the throttle pedal to produce the requisite RC input signal, he appealed to me for help. So I did a MKII version with the user option to accept a potentiometer input as well. In announcing the MKII, Technobots obviously made play of this new feature, hence the confusion for those not aware of the previous MKI version.

Reading this thread, it seems the replies are talking about the single voice 'diesel' unit so those interested should carefully check all the units on offer at the Technobots site to be sure you are all talking about the same thing.

Fundamentally the single voice 'diesel' and 'petrol' engine sounds are repeated (plus 8 new ones) in the Programmable unit but the latter has the facility to adjust neutral, span, idling timeout, tickover, topspeed as well as having twin throttle inputs (sound follows whichever of the two is faster), an adjustable pitch horn and RC remote start/stop plus a (manual) volume control.

Currently I'm working on an improved version of the Technobots 'Combo' unit based on the Arduino Nano microcontroller which does everything the Programmable unit does except the twin throttle option (that requirement is neatly circumvented by a 'throttle out' connector on my rudder mixer which performs the same 'high auctioneer' function). However a new feature is a dynamic volume function - users can set one volume for tickover and another for top speed and subsequently the volume will change proportionally with speed between these two limits.

I've just designed a PCB for it and at this very moment am wondering how many to buy (they are NOT cheap in small quantity) so I wonder if I have any volunteer guinea pigs to swell the numbers to drive down the cost. Should the software change the Arduino Nano can be reprogrammed via its USB port - either a hex upload in your own workshop if you're a geek or f.o.c by me though you pay the postage. When I have some idea of the level of interest I can figure out a price.  The PCB dimensions are 67x48mm and it's unhoused (fixing holes in corners)

Alan








 
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2016, 01:29:21 PM »

PS - I forgot to say how it's adjusted. Press the 'select' button N times to select the Nth option and then use 'up' and 'down' for more or less cylinders, topspeed, volume etc. Oh, and it doesn't do steam - I feel I need to do a better purpose designed unit for that, but don't hold your breath!
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Tug Captain

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2016, 02:36:38 PM »

Alan,
my comment abt toy motor vehicles was solely based on the fact that in the FAQ the great majority of questions were related to Toylander applications.  I did not have the intention to "down grade" the sound module.


If the new version you are currently working on will be priced somewhere at the level of the present MkII version and if it will be avialable sometime during the spring I am quite interested to get one.
Regards
Claes Wahlund
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2016, 03:13:50 PM »

Hi Claes - no problem, I didn't take your comment as suggesting a "down-grade", but merely as a misunderstanding as to its suitability for use in boats. Yes indeed, Toylander builders need far more help in the FAQs than boat builders, the latter usually already having some experience of wiring radios, ESCs and servos.


In production I hope to beat the price of the Programmable unit by a significant margin. However in small numbers the PCBs cost in the region of £15 to £20 each so I would anticipate charging prototype units at cost for any guinea pigs - but that would be in the early new year rather than the spring timeframe.








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Tug Captain

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2016, 06:09:34 PM »

Decided to push the "buy" button only to find that the Technobots Mk 2 sound modulepresently  is out of stock. Guess a lot of model ship yards are waiting for delivery towards Dec 25....
Claes
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2016, 06:20:13 PM »

I sent them half a dozen not long ago - I'm guessing the out of stock means they haven't milled the cut-out in the cases so hopefully it will just be a short term problem
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steamboat66

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2016, 07:38:28 PM »

it would be nice to have 12 cylinders as an option. many tugs use 12 cylinder engines.
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2016, 11:23:02 PM »

@steamboat66 - I've tried adding more cylinders but found it difficult to distinguish much of a change in the sound beyond 5 or 6. I acknowledge that this is my problem rather than a problem with real life as v8's and v12's have a quite distinctive sound. I've studied articles about how the unevenly-spaced firing patterns within each cylinder bank of  cross-plane v8's produce that distinctive burble sound and tried altering the spacing accordingly to emulate it but all to no avail.

Out of interest, some years ago I stripped out various bells and whistles from the program and shared my source code with a guy who wanted to make a v12 for his Miss England speedboat and in the code space I'd liberated he added 6 more cylinders to make a 12. You can just about hear it in this video he published - keep the volume well up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jnftZB97Xg
 
With the upgrade of the PICAXE 08 chip to the 08M2 currently used, finding more memory space is not a problem, but it will require someone smarter than me to get a recognisable V12 sound - but he's out there somewhere!
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2016, 11:51:43 PM »

Just for a bit of light relief, here's my working prototype - without doubt I'd have won this year's Turner Prize were it not limited to artists under 50!
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steamboat66

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2016, 06:58:06 PM »

that V12 voicing is VERY nice, spot on for an aero engine.
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2016, 07:05:54 PM »

@steamboat 66 - I *might* still have a copy of the code he sent me at the time , if so I'll load it up and make a clear recording for you - with these worn out old ears I could hardly make it out in the video.
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2016, 02:02:14 PM »

@steamboat66 - I've now found the code for the V12. I'll adapt a 'petrol' sound unit accordingly and do you a sound file (in my copious spare time HAH!)

But forgive me for being more interested in my new engine sound unit  at present - the PCB just arrived this morning - so here is the smart version of the breadboard you saw in the earlier post.
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2017, 06:08:06 PM »

Very good news! :-))

When is the new sound module ready to be ordered?

is there an optional amplifier to get a little bit more dB out of the speaker?
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2017, 10:09:26 PM »

Hi Danielle

I'm afraid that since that post I've been diverted onto other projects (aircraft modellers have been shouting louder than you boat modellers!) so have not made any further progress with completing the software - it was already functional but I still need to make the software user configurable for throttle only, throttle + horn, throttle + start/stop, or throttle+horn+start/stop - rather than the first 'full-house' version I did for development expediency. However I still have two new aircraft timer products to launch so I guess it's a couple of months away still.     

A separate amplifier will not be necessary - it uses the same output stage as the engine sound units I supply to Technobots and if I may quote Dave Milbourn ('Inertia' on this forum) who tested one of them  "and is incredibly loud with one of your 4" mylar speakers! I had to turn the speaker supply down to 5v to avoid damaging my ears"

Best regards



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missyd

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2017, 07:33:48 PM »

Thanks a lot for your informations.
OK I will order the same one I have at home that is on stock!
I have one in my Cornelia Marie and Volume is full open but the sound is not loud enough. Too muffled .... should be much louder. Fishtrawlers are really loud when going full trottle. This loud noise is what I need....
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2017, 11:57:40 PM »

Hi Danielle

The volume with a decent size speaker *properly mounted* with a direct path to fresh air ought to be plenty loud enough. A weedy speaker sealed inside the hull will be muffled and disappointingly quiet  In my tug I use a 5" sub-woofer with roll surround and mount it in a hole in the deck so the whole hull space below acts as a speaker cabinet. In my tug I place it beneath the cabin which has no floor (obviously), open windows and an open cabin door.  I also get better bass by making a 3"x1" (approx) slot in the deck near the stern which I cover with a mesh grille. Best volume is with a 12v supply - if you use 6v then the volume will only be a quarter of that attainable with 12v as power is proportional to voltage squared. Close to shore it is embarrassingly loud and can still be heard from the far end of the pond (Google images of "Setley Pond").

The next step to increase volume is to use a separate "bridge" amplifier - here the speaker is wired between the outputs of two amplifiers which are driven in antiphase so (on a 12v supply) the peak to peak voltage swing on the speaker is 24v - thereby producing 4x more power than the standard 12v system. However, the engine sound module output is incompatible with the bridge amplifier input and would have to be adapted accordingly.

Let's see photos of the speaker installation in your Cornelia Marie and see if we can spot a problem.

Best regards

Alan



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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2017, 12:58:59 AM »

Whoops - I've just spotted your links to the Cornelia Marie build - fabulous - but scaling from the rudder servo in one of your photos the speaker would appear to be about 3" diameter at best. With hindsight, given the overall size of your vessel a much larger speaker could have been accomodated but your rudder installation rather precludes this option now. A 5" speaker would move over 2.5x the volume of air and a 6" unit 4x. You might be able to accomodate two of those 3" speakers across the hull - get two 4 ohm ones and wire them in series to keep to the 8ohm minimum limit specified for the sound unit. Be sure to wire them such that the cones move in phase - otherwise you will reduce the volume instead!  The windows appear to be unglazed but due to the scale of the boat are not particularly large even though there are a lot of them. Again, this is something you are stuck with. 

Another option that I am aware of but have no experience of how effective they are is a "surface transducer" which could turn your large deck into a speaker cone. To quote Sparkfun - Surface transducers give you the awesome power to turn almost any surface into a speaker. They’re essentially just a speaker except instead of a cone, the coil is attached to a pad that conducts the vibration into whatever you press it against. Hook it up to an audio source and press it against the nearest table, wall or cardboard box. You can even put it against your head and play music directly into your skull (the ultimate surround sound)



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missyd

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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2017, 05:46:42 AM »

Thanks a lot for all the very useful informations!!! The loudspeaker is the one recommenden by the Technobot page .... anyway ... my net boat is much bigger and I will buy a loudspeaker with no less than 5 inches!!!!  :-))
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2017, 03:50:44 PM »

Bigger the better - in your next video I want to see ripples pulsing from the hull with the beat of the engine !
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Re: Robotics sound module
« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2017, 05:40:57 PM »

Yes!!! I will buy the biggest possible loudspeaker that goes into the boat!  ok2
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