Recomendation for robot controller

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Aarnat
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Recomendation for robot controller

Post by Aarnat » Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:26 pm

Hello everyone,

I am thinking on making my own little autonomous robot with several sensors and I would like a recommendation of robot controller boards. I have had my eye on the New Orangutan LV-168 from Pololu (http://www.pololu.com/products/pololu/0225/). It has 2 motor controllers, 8 I/O pins, LCD screen, and more. While I was on Pololu’s website, I also saw a sensor that helps two robots locate each other (http://web.mit.edu/6.270/www/). Well, that got me thinking; why not create two small robots to play tag or hide-and-go-seek. Maybe those two robots could also bring up another project in the long run: autonomously and cooperatively mapping an area.

In any case, I’d like recommendation for a robot controller.

Aarnat

Aarnat
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Re:Recomendation for robot controller

Post by Aarnat » Fri Nov 16, 2007 4:53 am

Hello everyone,
I must be asking the wrong question.

What is your favorite "robot brain" for your robot projects? By "robot brains" I mean what is the board that runs code, handles all the sensor input, motor output, and such.

I have also read in SERVO about people who build their "robot brains" on bread boards with a PIC and other electronic components around that (Example: M-Bot, and PROTObot). That is not exactly what I want to do, least not right now anyway.

I just want to know what people use as their "robot brain".

Aarnat

Colinr
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Post by Colinr » Fri Nov 16, 2007 5:18 am

in general most people select a processor that they are happy with in your suggested board if you are happy with the processor and beleve it is up to the job you wish your robot to do then go with it.


From looking at the web site it is not clear what software is supplied and as you are expected to obtain the compiler yourself i do knot know how much support you may get.

I ahve been looking at the armmite board
http://www.coridiumcorp.com/
this by defaut is programed in a compiled basic but has an option to re program in C while this card may not have the performance of your suggested card thire is a lot of support available and regular firmware updated.


Colin

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slamer
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Robot controller

Post by slamer » Mon Nov 19, 2007 7:29 am

Mostly I've been playing with the BASIC Stamp 2 from Parallax. They provide a great little controller that is well supported and documented. The BOE Bot kit for example is an excellent way to learn easy mobile robot programing with resonable cost's and effort.

At this point I have just started learning how to program and use the Propeller Chip from Parallax. Eventually this 8 processor IC should do some amazing things. Once you smarter programming folk's figure it out and make it easier for the rest of us Gearhead types. Parallax products can be found here. It's good stuff...

http://www.parallax.com/

Another technology that has caught my attension is the POB vision system. I haven't had a chance to see it in action. But this company has addressed one of the hardest things to do, Vision and Pattern Recognition.
Wow! If that could be plug and play, that would be cool..

http://www.robotshop.ca/home/suppliers/ ... combo.html

tymtravlr
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Robot Controllers

Post by tymtravlr » Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:24 am

If you want simple and reasonably priced controllers, (vison, motor control, etc.) you have to check out this site, http://www.trossenrobotics.com/robot-parts.aspx.
They have everything you need to build a great robot and the customer and tech support is fantastic. Good luck.

Tymtravlr

Aarnat
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Robot Controllers

Post by Aarnat » Tue Nov 20, 2007 7:10 am

Thanks for the input so far,
I have had my eye on several controllers from several websites including http://www.parallax.com/.
I think I might be climbing too many "stair steps" at once and the BASIC stamp 2 kit would be more logical to buy and expiriment on than going headfirst into building something almost from scratch.

http://www.parallax.com/Store/Microcont ... fault.aspx

Besides once I do all the projects in its book I can build a robot with it.

Still I'd like to keep the post going and find out what most people use as a controllerboard/ microcontroller.

Aarnat

jm
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Post by jm » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:15 pm

Aarnat,

I may be entering this conversation a little late, hopefully you see this comment.

The key question centers on your prior experience. What programming languages are you confortable with? Have you used microcontrollers before?

I have a Pololu Orangutan. They expect you to use the GNU C tool chain interfaced to WinAVR. If you did not understand that last sentence then maybe you should be cautious.

The Basic Stamp from Parallax is a very simple, underpowered offering. BUT the tutorials are outstanding! Parallax Stamp is aimed at the educational market and they do a very good job. Their website is full of example code, lessons, etc, etc.

If you start with a Stamp you can upgrade later to a pin compatible powerful chip BasicX-24p at http://www.basicx.com/ or
the Z24 at http://www.zbasic.net/. I have used and like very much the Z24. It uses a more advanced version of Basic, runs 10 times faster, supports multitasking (very valuable in robotics)

If you decide to buy Parallax, check out E-bay. Basic Stamp kits are sometimes available at steep discounts.

There is no question that programming in C is the best choice, but the learning curve is very steep for many people. If you are comfortable with C programming, you may want to consider the 'Butterfly' as a starting point. Check out http://www.smileymicros.com for an explanation.

I have used all the stuff I've mentioned. I started where you are 2 years ago. I used the Basic Stamp as 'training wheels' and do not regret it.
Good luck to you. Robotics is a great hobby for us Geeks, but brother it consumes a lot of time :)

jm

Aarnat
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Robot Controller

Post by Aarnat » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:30 pm

jm,
You have not entered the question too late, but you did give great advice.

Let me explain my thought process during this entire thread:

I am part of a FIRST robotics team (competition site: http://www.usfirst.org). We are Team 2199 the Robo-Lions (our site: http://robolions.org). Last year was our rookie year. I was more or less roped into being one of the programmers and the senior programmer didn't teach me well. I bought a VEX kit to practice programming on. Both our main robot and the VEX controller are coded in C.

After experimenting for quite some time with the VEX kit I decide I wanted to build my own robot from scratch because there is no feeling like seeing your own robot that you built scurry across the floor. While no robot has been created yet, I made this thread to get recomendations for robot controllers. I am quite used to three pin PWM cables plugging into the robot for motors and such. I wanted to have a controller with that feature because I didn't want to build my own H- Bridge. (An H-bridge can do PWM signals right?) As it turns out, very few controllers have a built in motor controller including, the Orangutan LV-168 from Pololu.

After awhile, I reevaluated my skills and thought that maybe I was taking too many steps. I should probably step back and learn about how things work, actually build things nearly from scratch, wire electronic components together (including H-Bridges), and such. I had known about the Basic Stamp 2 (BS2) for awhile and it started to appeal to me more because I had never actually programmed a microcontroller before. Over Thanksgiving break I bought the book Robot Builders Bonanza (which many people, including myself, recommend) and read a good chunk of it. The third edition of the book that I got claims to have replaced the microcontroller projects from previous editions with the BS2. Obviously this reaffirmed my latest decision. Jm’s post also has convinced me to go for the BS2 as well. If I understand jm correctly, the BS2 is slow, but great for learning through tutorials. To save money in the long run, would it be wise to get the BS2 carrier board, acquire the electronic pieces for the tutorial experiments myself, and upgrade to a better BS2?

Anyway, keeps this post going. Tell the world what controller board you’ve used, liked, disliked, etc.

Aarnat

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