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CProgrammer

roboics, special kit

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CProgrammer    303
I'm looking for a special robotics kit. Basically I want to have some sort of system that I can plug into my laptop(USB, parallel port or anything standard). That system shoudl function somewhat like a micrcontroller, basically have pins... Then I want the system to come with an SDK so that I can write a C++ app that communicaes directly with the system in order to controll devices attached to the pins. My goal is to have a robot with the laptop as brain. Any ideas if theres such a starter kit out there? If so what and where can I order it to germany? Thanks in advance -CProgrammer

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Im not 100% sure but couldn't Lego Mindstorms quite easily fit into that description, sure they use some odd programming language but I would be very surprised if it hadn't been "hacked" by enthusiasts by now.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I can recommend a piece of hardware we use here at work, not sure what the cost of the compiler is (the chip is about $60).

Z World
http://www.zworld.com/

Then check out their rabbit processors, alot of them come with ethernet jack, many I/O ports, and hardware PWM.

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Drath    138
You could get a mini-itx board for around 100$. The downside to it is that it takes up 17x17cm of space but it is a computer in its own right making it rather easier to handle than most embeded solutions. I believe you can stick a small distro of Linux on a ROM card which would stop boot times. Applications are then easily compiled and tested on a main machine and upload it through a network connection. The processor is way faster than any reasonably priced embeded alternative. As it is a PC you can simply plug in a monitor so you can check up on it.

This kind of project is one I am considering doing in the future.

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Drath    138
Couple of projects with mini-itx:

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/devilcat/
http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/robotica/

One problem is the power consumption.

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CProgrammer    303
Hey guys thanks.
Lego mindstorm is not an option(doesnt have the power im looking for).
The other two options(mini-itx; zworld) seem very interesting. I'll look into them as soon as I can.
Oh and concerning the power supply. If worse comes to worse I could maybe use a car battery.
Thanks for the feedback

-CProgrammer

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CProgrammer    303
I had a look at the sites. Very interesting.
However I have one problem with mini-itx.
The reason I wanted the laptop to complitely run as the brain is that I wanted full power. Enough to have 3d real time DirectX/Opengl apps that display data on the laptops screen.
Is it easily possible to attach a geforce 4 or the likes and run a linux ditro on the system?
If so than this solution would be perfect.
Another question: Do you know a website where I can order varios objects to attach, like powerful wheals, cam, distance measuring systems, LEDS etc.?

-CProgrammer

[Edited by - CProgrammer on July 7, 2004 9:31:24 AM]

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Drath    138
Well it only has one PCI slot. You could look into ways of attaching a laptop graphics card to it. It could well be possible. Software rendering should be fine for most of your purposes and alternativly you could transmit data to another machine and remotely render it there.

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T2k    220
germany you say? how about some stuff from conrad electronics(edit: bah link doesnt work, under Elektronik, Bausätze & Module, Lern- & Experimentierbaukästen, Roboter-Baukästen you can find some nice stuff) if you live in a bigger city you should be able to visit a conrad shop... i think they had usb-kits and stuff like that but cant find them atm. For most kits they provide online blueprints etc, but you wont get all parts cheaper than what they offer (in most cases).

ohh and by using a mini-itx you dont solve the problem on how to communicate to your motors/sensors/etc you still need some sort of usb/parallel/serial controllers (AFAIK)


T2k

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CProgrammer    303
Should be possible. How exactly does the sstem work concerning proramm and OS? Does it have like linux on it and I just programm a c++ application using an SDK for output to the devices or special hex commands or how?
Plus with what servos... is it compatible?

Sorry for the tons of questions i'm just very interested:)

-CProgrammer

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CProgrammer    303
t2k: Yeah I know Conrad electronics althouh I haven't bought anything yet. I've even been to a station(not sure if this was conrad) sadly the people there had no idea about the subject eventhough there were microcontrollers in their catalog. It's just not something for the masses. Online ordering is no problem as i've heard from a friend.
My problem however is that I didn't find exactly what I wanted on their website. As mentioned I need power thats why mini-itx sounds good.
Basically mini-itx or a laptop will probably do.
So mini-itx doesnt have any way to communicate with the motors, leds etc?
If the USB-controller you're refering to directly controls the motors from the computer then thats exactly what I need(be it in conjunction with mini-itx or laptop).
If you know any way I can BUY A DESCENT one PLEASE TELL ME. Thanks.
I'll look in conrads site again but I don't think I'll find it.

-CProgrammer

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Certain VIA mini-itx motherboard have I2C bus heads on the motherboard. This will allow you to connect some interesting electronics. The different models have different varieties of serial, parallel, usb and firewire - so it depends how you want to control your motors (etc).

You can run linux on them, check out the VIA forums to see the amount of sucess people are having. (see the Miniitx.com FAQ for a link).

They already have 3d graphics hardware. Check out the review of the Epia II M12000 for a 3D benchmark. 50fps on Quake3 (but you can add your own PCI 3d card if you need better performance).

More food for thought: http://oap.sourceforge.net/



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raevin    142
One other choice is a PBASIC stamp ( http://www.parallax.com/ ). For programming the robot, they have an IDE on there which is very good. The language is BASIC (but it has a lot of C-like things in it too).

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CProgrammer    303
raevin: Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think a Basic Stamp can do wha I need.

AP: http://oap.sourceforge.net/ is very interesting. I2C seems very good as well although I would still need a motor mdule which I don't know where to get, i'll look into that.
If I can get the components for I2C then this definetely sounds like a great set to begin developing on.
I would still be interested just in case. Where can I get a module to just plug into my USB or parallel or firewire hat can bthen be attached to motors leds and controlled via computer(SDK or direct commands).

-CProgrammer

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T2k    220
ok there are several usb-kits on conrad, do a search with the keyword 'usb' and in the cathegory 'Elektronik', scroll a bit down and you will see them

i think this one is rather cool:
USB EXPERIMENT INTERFACE BOARD - K8055
Artikel-Nr.: 191003 - 14

Preis nur 29,95 EUR

you will get 5 digital inputs, 8 digital outputs, they mean binary on/off channels and it has 2 analog in and 2 analog out channels, each 8bit stepsize from 0 to 5V. The maximum will be 4 of these modules (120EUR) with
20digital inputs
32digital outputs
8analog inputs
8analog outputs

far enought for an robot isnt it? and the best is: you dont have to write any sort of drivers for the hardware, you get a dll you can use in your apps...
but one problem could be the slow reaction, 20ms per command and another the price...

how fast is the parallel port?

edit: someone has some links on how to use a soundcard in/out to build some sort of radar?? [grin] i want my selmade radar [grin]

T2k

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CProgrammer    303
T2k: sounds great.
This in conjunction with itx or laptop would be it.
Now I have one question remaining:

What about power? Can I connect 2 servos turning wheels with a size of about 10-20cm carrying lets say around 20kg.
Probably not but are there servos that are powered by an external power supply but controlled by the small power charges of the usb-microcontroller?

-CProgrammer

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Drath    138
// T2k
A parallel port is pretty slow. My old printer used it and for its speed I would guess the transfer rate would be at max 10kb/s? This is a lot more suitable than usb though if you can cram your data into that. A parallel system should be cheaper than its usb equivilent.

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T2k    220
Quote:
Original post by CProgrammer
T2k: sounds great.
This in conjunction with itx or laptop would be it.
Now I have one question remaining:

What about power? Can I connect 2 servos turning wheels with a size of about 10-20cm carrying lets say around 20kg.
Probably not but are there servos that are powered by an external power supply but controlled by the small power charges of the usb-microcontroller?

-CProgrammer


iam not sure if the controller can power all the stuff you connect to it, but it doesnt have to, you can use electric-switches which are controlled by the current of the controller. These switches then control a connection from your motors/servos/whatever directly to a powerfull powersource. I think you can make them yourself... has something todo with transistors but my electric engineering skillz are to crappy to tell you how this is done... you could also build your own controller with a powerfull powersource, write drivers for it, and get full usb2.0 480mbit/s...


T2k

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