PARTS Swarm Design

  • This page is to collect design details for various swarm components.

BrushBot Comm Board — a quick and cheap board to get us going on testing out some comm protocols


RF (Nordic, Zigbee, Wifi, Bluetooth…)

IR Consumer Remote Control

The world-wide consumer electronics industry has settled on modulated IR signals as the defacto method of remote control, which meet the requirements of noise immunity, long battery life, unique addressability, and short message size.  Hobby robot builders have used this technology very successfully over the years for robot-to-robot communication as well as obstacle detection, and so this is a good base to work from.

When using these for swarms, we must be mindful that one of their features that make them great for consumer use could make them less than ideal for swarm robots: long range reception.  We can compensate for this through a number of proven techniques to limit range:

  • detune the transmitter so that it is not at the center frequency of the receiver
  • limit the power of the transmitter by using a larger than normal current limiting resistance in series with the LED(s)
  • reduce the signal strength received through optical filtering or obfuscation
  • reduce power received by using less than a 50% duty cycle on the carrier modulation

Another feature of this technology that may limit its usefulness is the relatively low data rate it is capable of.  Baud rates of perhaps 300 to 1000 bits per second are the upper limit.

The Vishay TSOP362x IR receiver module is available in an SMT package and is fairly small: 7.5mm x 5.3mm x 4mm.

IR Other (IrDA… custom….)


  • vibrating brush
  • legs
  • wheels
  • whegs
  • flight (blimp, helicopter, flapping wing, etc.)


Swarm management

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