Sticky Notes

This blog is officially closed. Do check out the new blog at

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Practical PID Controller

Many of you out there sure heard of the PID controller or the three terms controller (Ibrahim, 2006). With the application in more than 90% of industrial process and control, surely it attracts mostly everyone to use it in robotics application. I know this because I am one of them who tried to use it on my robots.

After searching for algorithm to program the PID, I found out that it is quite simple per se. You just need to have an integrator, a derivation and a proportional value of the error in the desired and actual value.

By the time I saw this, I kept wondering how should I have integrator and derivative in my programming. Only after sometimes that I realize that numerical methods are needed. Numerical methods is actually converts known mathematics to discrete form. Anything can be transformed, integrator, derivative, ordinary differential equation, partial differential equation, matrixs, anything you can name.

Moving on, with the discrete form PID, I put it to test. I was doing a DC motor position control using a simple DC motor and a potentiometer. Turns out, it did not worked out as miraculous as the great PID claimed. The motor was shaky like some earthquake is happening.

The ideal version of PID does not seems to convert well to practical usage. In fact, anything that is ideal or theoretical never can convert well to practical or real world usage. There are more stuff to consider before implementing the PID in a real  system. Two of the most common problems are saturation windup and derivative kick.

Stay tuned for the next part.

Inspiring Creative and Innovative Minds

Ng Khin Hooi
Faculty of Electrical Engineering
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Friday, November 5, 2010

SolidWorks Wonders - DC Brushed Motor

What a Solid Works Wonder, to draw and render a motor from scratch. Kudos to Fazzlil for the picture. Some notes on DC motor here.

Some say that DC motor is very good and robust but the performance does not last long. That is why it is necessary to purchase new motor each year (provided there is money). The speed and torque can be very high. On the other hand, DC Brushless Motor performs less than DC Brushed Motor but it can last much longer. Give and take, I guess the DC brushless motor is better in terms of price.

Some times, DC Brushed Motor can be a dangerous object to play with. That is why a good motor driver is needed to run a motor. Companies have tried for years researching the best motor driver. That is why a good motor driver is very expensive, ranging from hundreds to thousands.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Be the Best of Them All

Being in the ROBOCON team of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia is not an easy task. As one of the strong teams in Malaysia, we are struggling everyday to be the top team in Malaysia. It all started from the introduction to the Cairo 2010 games. Ideas have been poured out from each members of the team, keep improving the speed and stability in the competition. Versions after versions of robots have been made and altered to make sure we will win the national competition.

On the national competition day itself, we were more than prepared, physically and mentally. Being in the competition is not easy because of numerous of teams from other institute were strong too. There are a total of 55 teams from 37 institutes in the competition. After series of matches through preliminary rounds and tournaments, we were finally at the end of the competition emerging as champions of Malaysia with UTM A versus UTM B.

Designing and realizing the robots were never easy. The Cairo 2010 games is challenging because of the high accuracy needed. Compared to previous year’s games, the accuracy is not really high and for the Cairo 2010 game, we need to design robots and navigate up to 25mm tolerance. Difficulties are in the placement of blocks. Bringing the blocks to the pyramids and arranging the blocks each poses different types of challenges.

Usually to achieve high accuracy and speed, a lot of expensive sensors are needed. Even with expensive sensors, effective and proper control algorithms are needed. Lacking of both, we always try our best to solve these problems by trial and errors; each members cooperate to achieve the impossible. We work through day and night, using most of our energy and effort putting the best to create our robots. Eventually, our robots are ready for the competition.

Spending most of our time in ROBOCON whole year round does not seems to be a good thing. With a lot of assignments and examinations, we kept struggling to perform in both, ROBOCON and study. Despite this struggle, being in ROBOCON is probably the best thing in our life. Exposed to building and controlling robots, we are buffed with a lot of experience which prepared us in the career world. Most of our seniors never find it hard looking for jobs in elite company outside.

Of course the biggest advantage in joining ROBOCON is to be able to compete with teams from other countries. We were really excited to be selected as the representative of Malaysia in the international game. We feel that being able to meet teams from other country is a privilege because there is so much knowledge to share. We always see the competition as second priority, while the first being able to share knowledge and experience with other teams.

Many methods to construct the pyramids that we though impossible were realized by the other teams. For instance, China and Vietnam used pneumatics system in their robots and Indonesia and Mongolia who used rack and pinion, never came to our mind. These are the experiences that are priceless, being able to learn from other teams. Of course there are many other teams where we can share the mechanisms, electronics and algorithms with.

Despite the fact that we lost in the competition, we have earned a lot of experience and knowledge. This does not bring down hope for the next game in Thailand. We knew the challenge is always there and we knew it is not easy to beat the champion of the international competition.

After the competition, it is important the newcomers to learn what have learned in the international competition. It is also important for them to learn as much methods from the seniors so that the legacy of being the best team in Malaysia stays. As a note to the juniors, the journey is not an easy one but as long as we persevere, we are sure to be the best of them all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

News - Congratulations Juniors

I was quite a while since the Autocar competition but the past is past. Now we are facing the next year's game with new challenge in mind and a goal in our heart, to be the CHAMPION of ABU ROBOCON 2011.

Not forgetting to mention, welcome to our junior for the team. Congratulation for being in one of the most powerful team in Malaysia and one of the most influential team in UTM. 

Here are the members:

Kah Meng
Ren Sin

Kiong Bui
Hong Chirt
Kok Long
Weng Kit
Thol Yong
Liang Xuan
Shin Yee
Kuan Chuan

Bear in mind, the success is not a destination but rather a journey and a thousand step journey will not start if the first step is not taken. Success is not easy but as a team, nothing is impossible. For full list, please visit the Our Team Members page.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Real Loy Krathong for Abu Robocon 2011 Bangkok !!!

Having difficulty in building game field ??

Let's take a look at the real LOY KRATHONG by Thailand organizer...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Experience the FANTASTIC journey to Egypt with us!!!

Are you interested with Egypt which is one of the most famous ancient civilization land on earth?

Please log on to:

Loy Krathong

This is an interesting game. Just by looking at the live feed at the international games gives me the chills. We were complaining on the 2010 game for being hard because of the accuracy needed. But now the 2011 game needs even higher accuracy with the dynamic state of the game field. First of all this might be impossible to score. But who knows, time will tell. No one can be sure of the future. It takes a lot of determination and hardwork to reach to a level of Loy Krathong.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

News - ROBOCON 2011 Games

After the finals of the ROBOCON 2010 game, the new game is out

Check out the YOUTUBE for the game rule animation.

Check out the RULE book here

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

News - Lab Opening

For your information, ROBOCON Team Members will be away for the Egypt game.

But P10 Lab will be open by our senior

Day: Monday to Friday
Time: 8.00 p.m. till 10.00 p.m.

Please contact Ng Xiao Qin (0125122429) if there is any problem.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Coding Standard

Programming is a very flexible language to use. But in an organization, sometimes it is bound to a standard. It is a good start to practise the ROBOCON Coding Standard starting with your Auto Car programming.

This is a copy of the standard (Updated). Link

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Robocon Workshop- Mechanical (first day--14/08/2010)

Senior was explaining the system of extension and slider used in robot UTM.

Robot demonstration ( Manual robot UTM B- champion 2010)

Chapter 6 was about the actuator used in robot.

Robocon member are explaining the function of the machine.


it is a nice phrase which is used by my department leader all the way long doing robot’s mechanism.

He is a creative person that I look up to,

who inspired me a lot in Robocon…

It is true that the "thing" will not be the "thing" that you think…

Most of the times when we talk about the theoretical concept by logical thinking we cannot really predict what are we going to get at the end, unless we carry out it into PRACTICAL.

The truth is always weird, there are a lot of thing that we cannot really predict what we are going to get until the end.
Most of the time, we are limited by the cultural thinking of our own thought.

Everything is possible, just the way how you think.
As there is million kind of ways in doing a task. You are the one who will decide how you complete it.
There is no task that cannot be done; just the way that how you want it to be done.

“… that is impossible!!!”
Sometimes, people are keeping telling themselves that the thing is impossible to be done.
They are actually limiting themselves into a tiny box when they said the words.
Try to think out of the box, as we should believe ourselves that, we can do it better and better.

Just do it before you say:” it is impossible!”
Everything is possible in our life; we should push our limit beyond the limit that we set for ourselves.

And do not scare of the problem that you will face, because you should know that ……….
You can solve it!!!

Here, I would like to thanks all my seniors, especially those who are from the mechanism department giving me the opportunity in exploring in the world of mechanism, it is tough…..but it is really nice when we create something that we want to…

By kkx (August 20, 2010)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Your Path?

It is not to say that joining ROBOCON is not tiring, exhausting, sometimes stressful and it does affect our study. Sometimes humans in ROBOCON is seen as a robots creating another robot. But is the view fair? Do we really need that kind of credit?

Obviously if seen from our side of the mirror, we don't really mind those thinking and view. Being a ROBOCON member has its own advantage and privilege. We know that it is time go grow up and think for OURSELVES.

Thus the path is laid there. We are the one who have chosen the path. The path of a member of ROBOCON. We know that we are no longer kids who play around. We know that we are not teenagers that linger around. We are now a fully grown adult.

Some might say it is a waste for not enjoying the time while you are in your youth. Of course we beg to differ. Humans have different thinking and choice of life. Probably the joy is there to have your own creating and see your work comes into a success. Joy is not all about shopping and gaming and lingering.

Therefore, the path is laid. You are at a cross road now.

Have you chosen your path?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Step in the Workshop

by K.H. Ng

The first time I heard about ROBOCON is from my friend explaining the 2009 game. He mentioned about an autonomous robot with another manual controlled robot carrying another robot through coursing through some "maze" and lastly to hit some drum.

I was thinking, "Oh, can it actually been done?" Of course I do not know a thing about ROBOCON and building robots. When the competition time came, our campus organized a trip to the venue of the competition in Shah Alam. I am actually from UTM International Campus, in Kuala Lumpur.

Being the first experience in watching a ROBOCON match, I was thrilled to see the robots actually moved like what my friend explained to me. Of course being a UTM member sawing another UTM member, I was proud to see our university scored.

The best thing about the competition being other university used some sensors to detect the line on the floor and navigate their robot but UTM is one of a few university with robot that do not follow line. I was surprised seeing this kind of method. This is when the excitation came to me. ROBOCON is one of the priority during degree program.

After ending my diploma in Kuala Lumpur, I was eager to enter UTM Skudai to pursue my program. If you ask me why UTM, I would probably answered, "Because the ROBOCON there is strong". There was news about the ROBOCON workshop and I quickly signed up.

Of course the first step is not easy. The workshop was boring like hell. Being a diploma student, what they taught is piece of cake to me. Probably the STPM students might think otherwise, but not me. Nevertheless, I got to know few other friends and colleagues.

It was then the Autocar assignment came up. I was blurred. What I learned in diploma cannot even help me create an Autocar. It was then this fact struck me. The knowledge that we learn in class is totally different when we apply it.

But through senior guidance, self learning, sharing from friends and some hardwork, my Autocar came to life. I can never put the feeling in words. The feeling of seeing your hard made product actually came to life. It is like having a child of my own.

Of course being a child, sometimes it just disobeys orders. Some of the time, the Autocar just cannot follow the line and sometimes it goes crazy. But in the end of the day, it was the experience that counts because it is a precious elements that no one can obtain easily.

After a year in ROBOCON team, much have been learned. And of course there is much more to explore. The possibility is endless. Up till now, I have never regretted I have submitted the form to join the workshop.

Friday, July 16, 2010

News - Workshops Content

Our workshops is divided into two parts namely Mechanical Workshop and Electronics Workshop. This initiative is to encourage more student from various faculty to join in ROBOCON and experience the meaning of becoming a member of ROBOCON team.

ROBOCON Mechanical Workshop

Latching and Milling
A crucial part of mechanical where raw material is used to form usable parts in robotic by scrapping of excess material. Two available methods are used namely latching and milling where latching uses rotational movement while milling uses lateral and vertical movement of the cutter.

SolidWork 3D Software
Before going into the construction of the robots, designs should be made. One of the 3D software that was chosen is SolidWorks because of the user friendly provided. Using our own ROBOCON library for constructing the 3D object, the software too provide simulation for our robots movement.

ROBOCON Electronics Workshop

Circuit Design
Electronics circuits is like the blood stream of a robots, without them, a robot would be functionless. From basic function circuitry to the microcontroller circuitry, the design is very important to make sure there is no bug and less noise in our circuit.

Robotics Programming in C
For a robot to move, it would need to have an instruction or sequence from a human. Therefore, C programming is used to create this instruction and compiled into the robot to execute it's purpose. Robotics programming could be hard but it is the most fun part of robotics.

Introduction to Control System Engineering
Control is an important part in robotics to make sure the movement of robot suits it's purpose. It is to make sure a movement from a robot is not too fast or not too slow. Therefore, proper control method could be implemented in robotics programming to make sure the robot move in a desirable movement.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What actually Mechatronics Is?

This Venn Diagram or I would like to call it the Mechatronics Circles, shows the components of Mechatronics. It is actually the diagram taken from Wikipedia, only an improved version.

Maybe you have heard of mechanical engineering or electronic engineering, but you will seldom find people say mechatronic engineering. A name, by a senior engineer of Japan Company Yaskawa, Mr. Etsuro Mori was introduced in 1969. The term was so special by then, it was patented in 1971. After 11 years, the trademark was removed for general use. This field of engineering is new if compared to other engineering field in example mechanical engineering and electronic engineering as mentioned above.

As it was started in Japan, this field is slow to gain industrial and academic acceptance in Great Britain and the United States but it is growing fast as this field is offered in various educational institution for instance our proud University Teknologi Malaysia. With all kinds of alternatives names, ranging from electromechanical systems to control and automation engineering, it is now known as ‘mechanical engineering for the twenty-first century’.

‘The synergistic combination of precision mechanical engineering, electronic control and systems thinking in the design of products and process’ (Bradley, Dawson et. Al, Mechatronics, Electronics in products and processes, Chapman and Hall Verlag, London 1991). With this definition, you can presume the field consists of many components. Well, it does! This field related to controlling and regulating systems with control theory (control engineering), as well as controlling robots (servo technology). With the latter subject been compacted, it is put under microprocessors.

Communication technology also connected to mechatronics for instance remote operations of robotics arm from a distance place. Nowadays, leading researches in mechatronics (to name a few) are intelligent control (the ability of a system to respond to uncertainty and determine the best solution to it, which is a scientific and technical field, based of artificial intelligent and automation control) and biomechatronics (integrating human body and robotics mechanism to support movement.

Most technologies out there at the present time are application of mechatronic. For an instance, control architecture with the usage of control algorithm will produce ‘spinning’ devices such as CD player, VCD player, hard disks in computers, auto focus cameras, washing machines et cetera. Biomedical devices such as CT scan machine is an example of sensors and control in mechatronics. Mechatronic also applies to transport and travel which includes computer-controlled light railway transit (PutraLine, Kuala Lumpur), aircraft without pilot and so forth. Robotics can be operated for manufacturing, exploration, medical and so on.

After some brief information on mechatronics, let us discover information relevant to those interested in mechatronics engineering studies. Basic studies of this field include fundamental mathematics and sciences such as engineering mathematics, engineering statistics, algorithm, thermodynamics, physics, chemistry, and so on. Studies also include computer skills for instance computer systems, C Programming Technique, CAD program and so on. Mechanics field including machine component designs, mechanical design, servo mechanism, and such. Electric and electronics fields which include electric technology, electronic devices, circuit systems, programmable logic controller. Networking, for example signal and network theory. Specialized studies include control engineering, robotics systems, artificial intelligent, microprocessor, microcontroller and such. Studies stated above varied from institution to institution globally.

Of course, to achieve a successful engineer, one should have special characteristics. They must have interest in designing and computer with strong usage of language. Besides they should have the curiosity on how things work and how to improve it (creative and critical thinking). In addition, the ability to produce intelligent solution to problems faced by people will make a successful engineer. Job careers are diverse in the world out there. Studies in mechatronic field will earn job in example automation engineer, professional engineer, control engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer and much more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

News - Registration for Workshop

For those interested, do visit our booth at
FKE: P05 Level 1
FKM: C24 Beside the faculty office
From July 26th until August 12th, 2010.

We would need you to fill out a registration form.

For more enquiry and participation, contact
Chua Tau Shen
014-910 1186

013-711 6630

Low Yee Ling
017-443 1880

Tam Lih Ting
017-309 4785

* Please note that the Workshop is open to ALL students from UTM.

Friday, July 9, 2010

News - Welcome

- Welcome to the visitors of this weblog. To new members of the university, a hearty congratulations for entering upon UTM, a pioneer university in engineering.

- ROBOCON UTM has always been a great team and we always strive for the best in the present and future.

- The Workshop for new members is up on the web now and we are waiting for registration from you. Might you be new students or seniors in the university, from Mechanical Faculty or Civil Faculty, ALL are welcomed to join the Workshop. Check out the special page for it in this link.
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