In the robotics category of 800-series projects are autonomous robots and remote-control systems.

TLS801 Remote Controller

The TLS801 remote-control system consists of an encoder and decoder pair, for control of up to 14 channels of PCM servos, 2 step motors  and 5 digital (on/off) channels.

The PCM channels can be set in the field for either position or rate control. Position channels can be trimmed so that a neutral control position corresponds to its front-panel setting. Rates are  calibrated by setting the duration of movement of the controlled device from neutral to one end position while at the full-scale rate. PCM channel  controls can be reversed.  The step-motor channels are rate-controlled by  the encoder.

Both encoder and decoder consist of two stacked 3 ´ 4 inch boards, one of which is  a microcontroller, and both have diagnostic modes for PCM pulse calibration  and computer control and display of telemetry data via RS232 serial ports.

     14 PCM channels
2 step-motor rate channels
5 digital (on/off) 300mA, 80V relay drivers
Low battery power usage 
12V battery-operated switching converter supplies system power 
Decoder & encoder size: 3 x 4 x 1.5 inch 
Trim and rate calibration from front-panel 
Hand-held joystick and position controls 
PCM pulse neutral and span adjustments 
RS232 serial ports 
Diagnostic mode displays control data 
Diagnostic mode HELP command 
Encoder PCM channels reversal switches 

 RP841 Forager Robot  


A Tamiya radio-controlled model tank was stripped down and converted into a mobile robotic base, powered by a common size of motorcycle battery and operated by a single-board computer with data acquisition capability. The present state of development is not quite up to Innovatia designware standards, yet the electronics is reproducible. The main drawback is that the microprocessor is a 6502 and thus somewhat dated. To change to an AVR or ARM Cortex microcontroller will require a code port. Much code is working and written in  Forth-83 and its assembly code.

If you are an Innovatia Assistant interested in designware for the Forager robot, please inquire. If you improve it sufficiently, you might have created your own designware - or robotic product.

Designware for this project is in the prototype stage, undergoing design extension and refinement. Some designware, including detailed circuit diagrams and source or object code is available; contact Innovatia.

The Forager mobile robot monitors, surveys or remotely acquires data at locations within a given area. The Forager learns locations of objects in the area, associates sensory patterns with their location, and acts based on the resulting map. It can operate autonomously or be remotely controlled.

The Forager not only processes sensor readings into useable data, it learns the usual sensory patterns at each location and can respond to abnormal deviations. Mission instructions can be refined in the field while the RP1 is in service. Sensor readings are used to form a world-map of the area by which the RP1 learns to navigate and “know” its domain. Optional sensor modules configure the RP1 for required capabilities.  

Dual-track vehicle 45 cm (18 inches) long by 30 cm (12 inches) wide and typically 45 cm (18 inches) high. It can traverse obstacles up to 5 cm (2 inches) high. Travel distance between charges is typically 1 km (0.6 mile) and maximum speed is 0.1 m/s (18 in/s). Movement is commanded as speed (forward or reverse) and turn radius. The RP841 can rotate on a point (0 turn radius) to maneuver in tight spaces.  

The RP841 can be commanded at several levels of detail. High-level commands include menu-driven sensor scanning and logging, sensor-data processing, route itinerary, and reporting. Sensor-pattern learning can be activated, learning parameters selected and options chosen for response to new patterns. At a more detailed level, the automated capabilities can be turned off and the RP1 remotely controlled to acquire meter readings and environmental or probe-station data. Automated modes can be set to acquire data under specified circumstances, with subsequent actions.

Sensor Modules

Basic sensors:

Front and rear collision

Pitch and roll tilt

Battery energy  & charger connection

Track odometer & (x,y,q) location

Time of day & calendar

Standard Subsystems

Power source: 30 A-h sealed lead-acid battery supplies 20 W power converter.

Homeostasis, communication & motion module: power supply voltages and currents monitor, battery energy manager & charger, ambient temperature sensor, roll & pitch sensors, dual track-motor drive controllers, infrared wireless serial port.



45 cm (18 in) long, 30 cm (12 in) wide and high


15 kg (33 lbf)

Ground clearance

5 cm (2 inches)

Track obstacle climbing height

5 cm (2 inches)


0.1 m/s max, horizontal plane


Infrared serial port; range: 5 m

Robot Range

0.8 km (1/2 mile) total travel  per trip

Object position precision

± 25 cm

Position accuracy

5 % of full-scale range

Sonar & 1D vision range

3 m (10 ft)

Motion system

direct-drive field-oriented step-motors

Turn radius

0 (point pivot) to ±¥ (straight motion)

Module expansion

up to at least 4 optional modules

Power supply

30 A-h SLA battery, 100 W converter

Operating temperature

20 °C ± 30 °C

A newer, more powerful robot design (RP842) is in development based on the Radio Shack Sand Viper four-wheel vehicle with front-wheel steering. No designware is available for it at this time.

Back Home