If you’re a tinkerer, maker, engineer, roboticist, or worse, we totally understand.
Since 2002, the purpose of Charmed Labs has been to “bring advanced technologies to new audiences by making the technologies easy to use and affordable. And to have fun in the process.” We especially enjoy connecting with the educational, hobbyist and maker communities. They have used our products in innovative and interesting ways and have inspired us with their cool ideas. We’re interested in your suggestions and hearing what you’re working on, so send us a note!
Policy of sharing
We’ve always believed that everyone benefits when ideas are shared, so we’ve always offered free and open source software, firmware, and drivers. We’ve recently adopted the Open Source Hardware principles.
A brief product history
Our first product, the Xport, plugged into the back of the GameBoy Advance where the game cartridge normally plugged in. It gave the GameBoy unique I/O capabilities, and led to the first known GameBoy Advance robot and camera. We braved threats from Nintendo and kept it shipping for several years (power to the people!)
The Xport Robot Kit added 16 sensor ports and closed-loop motor control to the Xport. The XRC stepped in to help address a widely held opinion at the time (2003) — namely that the LEGO RCX 1.0 brick from Mindstorms was getting old and tired. A Bluetooth module was later added giving your GameBoy robot creation wireless communication with a PC or smartphone.
A color vision system and fast battery charger was added to the XRC and further customized to meet the needs of Botball.org, making it the Xport Botball Controller (XBC). The XBC has been used by tens of thousands of middle school and high school students. (Botball is a nonprofit that promotes STEM activities, including an amazing robot competition for middle school and high school students.)
Qwerk was a Linux-based robot controller and the main component in the Telepresence Robotics Kit (TeRK). It was partnership between Charmed Labs and the CMU Create lab and funded by Intel and Google. Its purpose was to help more students consider a career in computer science. “Plug in some motors, a webcam, and a battery. Turn it on, and fire up a web browser, then become ‘telepresent’ through your robot from anywhere.”
Working closely with Innovation First Inc., the creators of the VEX line of robot products, we helped design the Linux-based VEXpro robot controller for advanced robotics projects. The VEXpro was based on the Qwerk design and added more I/O and an LCD display.
The GigaPan robotic camera mount is still being sold, but we designed and manufactured the first units in partnership with the CMU Create Lab and NASA Ames IRG. GigaPan makes it easy to take gigapixel panoramas, and it introduced gigapixel photography to a wide audience. GigaPan Systems was later formed to support the growing GigaPan community. The unit pictured above was the design that photographed the widely-publicized gigapixel image of Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Working with GigaPan Systems, we helped design the GigaPan Epic line of robotic camera mounts. The Epic Pro won the 2010 Popular Photography Editor’s Choice Award. The Gigapan Epic camera mounts are being sold through GigaPan Systems.
Pixy (CMUcam5) is another partnership with CMU and the latest version of the CMUcam line of color vision systems. Pixy is faster, smaller, easier to use, and costs less than previous CMUcams. We’re super excited to see what you’ll do with it!