The Ultimate Palm Robot - Kevin Mukhar and Dave Johnson

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The Ultimate
Palm Robot
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Bots / The Ultimate Palm Robot/ Mukhar & Johnson / 222880-6/ Blind Folio ii
About the Authors
Kevin Mukhar is a programmer and writer. He has been programming as
a hobbyist since the early days of the Commodore 64. He learned COBOL
in high school and FORTRAN in college and has dabbled in everything
from programming HP calculators to programming Java on the Palm OS.
He is currently a software developer for Lockheed Martin in Denver.
Kevin has written numerous articles and is the co-author of several
books, including Beginning Java Databases and Beginning J2EE 1.4 (both
published by Wrox Press). He served as Technical Editor for Dave Johnson’s recent book Robot Invasion: 7 Cool and Easy Robot Projects. When not
programming or writing, Kevin is working on a Masters degree in Computer Science, playing guitar, and trying to learn how to play saxophone.
Dave Johnson has a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
from Rutgers University, and he’s been writing about technology for the
past 15 years. He’s the editor of Mobility Magazine and contributes to a
number of magazines, including PC World, Handheld Computing, Wired,
and Tech Edge. He’s the author of more than two dozen books, including
How to Do Everything with Your Digital Camera, and he recently wrote Robot
Invasion: 7 Cool and Easy Robot Projects. Mostly, though, he’s waiting for a
call from Roger Waters to join him in a new rock band.
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Bots / The Ultimate Palm Robot/ Mukhar & Johnson / 222880-6/ Blind Folio iii
The Ultimate
Palm Robot
Kevin Mukhar
Dave Johnson
McGraw-Hill/Osborne
New York Chicago San Francisco
Lisbon London Madrid Mexico City Milan
New Delhi San Juan Seoul Singapore Sydney Toronto
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Bots / The Ultimate Palm Robot/ Mukhar & Johnson / 222880-6 / Chapter 1 Blind folio iv
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The Ultimate Palm Robot
Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved. Printed in the United
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with the exception that the program listings may be entered, stored, and executed in a
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Bots / The Ultimate Palm Robot/ Mukhar & Johnson / 222880-6/ Blind Folio v
For my wife, Anne.
—Kevin
For the two greatest kids on the planet, Evan and Marin.
—Dave
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Contents
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii
Chapter 1
Meeting the Palm Robot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
What Is a Robot, Exactly? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
The Essence of a Robot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
The Wide, Wide Worlds of Robots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
BEAM Robotics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Stiquito . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Project Timber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
The Palm Pilot Robot Kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
The PPRK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The Rise (but Not Fall) of the Palm Empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
The Palm: A Good Robot Brain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
CPU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Communication. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Easy to Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Palm OS Devices from A to Z (or 1000 to VIIx) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
The Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
PalmPilot Personal/Professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Palm III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Palm V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Palm VII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Other Palm Models. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Handspring Visor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
The Other Guys: Pocket PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Where to Find New and Used PDAs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Your Friend the Gadget Freak. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
The Local Recycled Electronics Store. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Pawnshops. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Online Sellers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Stuff to Come . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
2
Getting the Parts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Getting the Kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Getting Parts from Other Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
vii
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The Ultimate Palm Robot
If You Only Had a Brain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
See Me, Feel Me. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Motor City Madhouse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Under My Wheels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Talk to Me. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Odd Ones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Carry On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Where in the World… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
3
Building the Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Building the PPRK with the Pontech Controller. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
The Batteries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Wiring the Battery Pack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Modifying the Servos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Assembling the Wheels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Attaching the Palm Connector to the Deck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Building the Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
The Controller and the Deck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Attaching the Deck to the Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Completing the Wiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Attaching the Palm Connector and the Wheels . . . . . . . . . . . 58
What’s Next? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Building the PPRK with the BrainStem Controller. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
The Batteries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Building the Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
The Controller and the Deck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Completing the Wiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Attaching the Deck to the Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Attaching the Wheels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
Attaching the Palm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
What’s Next? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
4
Using Palm VIIs and Handspring Visors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Using a Handspring Visor with the BrainStem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Parts List. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
Soldering the Connector and Printed Circuit Board . . . . . . . 75
Connecting the Cable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
Assembling the Visor’s Connector. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Using a Handspring Visor with the PPRK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
Parts List. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Building a Cable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Modifying the Pontech SV203. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
Using a Palm VII with the PPRK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Changing the Baud Rate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Restoring the Default Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
Finishing Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
5
Checking Out the Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Software for the PPRK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
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Contents
Software from Carnegie Mellon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Other Software from Carnegie Mellon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Using a BASIC Program with the Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
Using a PocketC Program with the Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Software for the BrainStem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
Working with the Robot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
Config . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
GP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
The Console . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Now What? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
6
The Palm Robot Programmer (PRP). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Installing the Palm Robot Programmer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Using the PRP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
The PRP Window. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
Making Your First Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
The PRP in Detail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Adding a Component . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Deleting and Pasting Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Creating a Subroutine, Function, or Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
Saving and Loading Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
Saving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
Loading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Converting the Program to Source Code . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Loading Source Code to the Host . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
Advanced Topic: Adding New Languages. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
How the PRP Converts a Program
to Source Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
How to Write Your Own Converter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Updates to the PRP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
Where to Go from Here . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
7
Essential Robot Programming Strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
Programming the PPRK in BASIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
HotPaw Basic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
PPRK Programming with HotPaw Basic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
NS Basic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
PPRK Programming with NS Basic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Other Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Programming the PPRK with C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
PocketC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
PPRK Programming with PocketC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
8
Taking Control of the BrainStem Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
Programming the BrainStem Using TEA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
BrainStem Modes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
Installing Acroname Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Writing TEA Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Steeping a Steaming Cup of TEA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210
Downloading and Launching Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212
Program the BrainStem Using Reflexes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
How Reflexes Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
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The Ultimate Palm Robot
A Simple Reflex Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Programming the BrainStem Using Java. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
Getting the Java Communications API . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
Java and the BrainStem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
9
Sensors and Enhancements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
Adding Sensors or Input Devices to the PPRK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
Adding Sensors to the Pontech SV203 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 236
Adding Sensors to the BrainStem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
Using a Line Detecting Sensor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
Using a Temperature Sensor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
Other Sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
Adding Output Devices to the PPRK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246
Adding Output Devices to the Pontech SV203 . . . . . . . . . . . 246
Adding Sensors to the BrainStem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247
LEDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
Making Noise with Sound Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
Other Output Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
Using Digital Components with the BrainStem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
Where to Go From Here. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
10
Having Fun with Your Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
Installing Palm Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
Mindstorms from Your Palm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254
FIRST Scoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 256
Play a Few Games. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
Flying Robots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
Welded Warriors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
Botz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
Nanobots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
YADaleks+ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260
Minebot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261
Iron Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
On the PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
AT-Robots3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
MindRover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
Where To Go From Here . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
Appendix
About the CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
What’s on the CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272
How to Use the CD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272
The Palm Robot Programmer Folder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273
Inside the Other Applications Folder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 273
Working with the BrainStem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275
Installing Palm Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275
Inside the PPRK Folder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 276
Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277
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Acknowledgments
Any time you write a book that is equal parts research, construction, writing, and tech editing, you know you have a long and arduous road ahead.
Trust us: there’s a special place in hell for anyone who says, “Turn a Palm
into a robot? Then write a book about it? How hard could that be?” That
said, the stellar folks at McGraw-Hill/Osborne made it as painless as possible, and we thank them heartily for that. We’d like to thank Margie,
Monika, and Tana from the bottom of our hearts for keeping this book on
track and making it look as good as it does.
We also want to thank the Manipulation Lab, of the Robotics Institute at
Carnegie Mellon University, for the original vision, design, and construction of the Palm Pilot Robot Kit. Thanks to the folks at Acroname who took
the next step in creating a Palm Pilot Robot suitable for hobbyists. Special
thanks to Steve at Acroname for the help he provided in understanding
some of the idiosyncrasies of the robot. Finally, thanks to all the hobbyists
and programmers who let us use their software in this book.
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Kevin would like to thank Dave, who has been more than a just co-author. Thanks, Dave, for asking me to write this book with you, and thanks
for being there when I needed your help. Thanks also to my family for letting me disappear from their lives for the last four months.
Dave would like to add that Kevin is a great friend and co-author.
Thanks, Kevin, for teaming up with me and losing four months of your life
to this project. I know you shouldered the majority of this book, and it’s
something to be proud of. Also, thanks to my wonderful family and, as always, my cat Hobbes, without whom I would have had significantly
greater mobility throughout the writing process.
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Introduction
As kids who grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, we were excited by the prospect
of robotics. Shows like The Jetsons and movies like Forbidden Planet were
hints of the fantastic possibilities of a world filled with robots.
Unfortunately, the 21st century has arrived and robots are still, in many
ways, distant dreams. Upon hearing that the army was using robots in Afghanistan last year to root out mines, we were a bit disappointed to see
that they were little more than Battle Bot–like remote controlled cars.
Sheesh.
On the bright side, consumer technology is converging with bleeding
edge technology in ways unimaginable a decade ago. If real robots look
like soup cans with wheels and antennas, then it stands to reason that ordinary folk can make their own robots that are almost as sophisticated,
right?
Right! That’s the motivation for this book, which we hope will excite
and inspire you to launch your own career in robotics, even if it’s only in
your basement. Equipped with a Palm OS PDA and some inexpensive
parts, almost anyone can create a fully functional robot. Heck, we did it.
And so can you.
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While we intend this book to be a resource for beginners as well as experienced hobbyists, it is geared more toward the beginner. For that reason,
we begin in Chapter 1, Meeting the Palm Robot, with a gentle introduction to
the world of robots. We’ll look at what makes a robot, some of the various
types of robots, and why the Palm Pilot Robot is ideal for beginners.
Using a kit to build something is always easier than doing it yourself. In
Chapter 2, Getting the Parts, we’ll show you where to get a Palm Pilot Robot
Kit, or, if you want the challenge, which parts you need to get to do it yourself. In Chapter 3, Building the Robot, we’ll show you how to put it all together. There are two versions of the robot; we’ll show you how to build
the original PPRK using the Pontech SV203 controller, and how to build
the newer model that uses the Acroname BrainStem controller. For a few
Palm OS devices, you’ll need to do some additional work on your robot for
it to function with the Palm OS device. Chapter 4, Using Palm VIIs and
Handspring Visors, shows you what you need to do to get the robot to work
with Palm VIIs and Handspring Visors.
After you’ve built the robot, you need to get software to make it do
something, such as chase objects, follow patterns, or conquer the world. In
Chapter 5, Checking Out the Robot, we’ll show you where to get software
developed by other hobbyists, and how to use that software to test the operation of your robot. The real fun starts when you can develop your own
software and watch your robot do what you want it to do. In Chapter 6, The
Palm Robot Programmer (PRP), we introduce an application that we developed specifically for this book. Using the Palm Robot Programmer, you
click icons and use those icons to create a program for your robot. When
the program is complete, the Palm Robot Programmer will convert the
program into computer source code for you. Chapter 6 will also provide a
brief introduction to how to use the code with your robot. While the Palm
Robot Programmer is meant for those new to programming, experienced
programmers will want to check it out as well. The Palm Robot Programmer is designed so that experienced programmers can extend it for new
programming languages.
Experienced programmers will also want to check out Chapter 7, Essential Robot Programming Strategies, and Chapter 8, Taking Control of the
BrainStem Robot. In Chapter 7 we show you how to write your own programs for the Pontech SV203 controller. We look at programming in
BASIC and C, and write a simple program in both languages that will
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show you the basics of how to control the robot. In Chapter 8, we look at
how to write programs for the other robot controller, the BrainStem. In
this chapter, we’ll look at writing programs in a language named TEA
and in Java.
In Chapter 9, Sensors and Enhancements, we turn back to the hardware
side with a look at other sensors and devices that you can attach to your
robot. We’ll show you how to connect them and how to use them.
As you probably know, you can do a million and one things with your
Palm OS PDA. In Chapter 10, Having Fun with Your Robot, we turn away
from the Palm Pilot Robot and look at a few other robot-related activities
that you can do with your Palm OS PDA.
Finally, several of the chapters in this book use software tools to write
programs for the robot. We’ve gathered all the software that we used or
developed in the book, including the Palm Robot Programmer, and put it
all on a CD-ROM.
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T
here’s nothing quite like robotics. Sure, there are all sorts of cool, fun, and
exciting technologies out there, but only robots can so thoroughly ignite
the imagination. Maybe it’s because robots mimic life. Making a robot is
like breathing life into a collection of metal parts and circuit boards. Perhaps we
desperately want mechanized slaves to do our bidding, like Robbie from the
movie Forbidden Planet. Maybe robots have simply been associated with “the
future” since the 19th century, and they represent our possible utopian world.
Whatever the reason, people have been tinkering with home-grown robots
for as long as scientists and engineers have been making them in the laboratory. In this book, we’ll help you turn a common PDA—your old Palm OS
handheld—into a simple robot. Ready? Before we begin, let’s take a quick
look at the world of robotics.
What Is a Robot, Exactly?
With so many sorts of robots—in movies, working with emergency crews, in
our living rooms, and on drawing boards—you might begin to wonder what,
exactly, the definition of a robot is. After all, it seems that radically different
devices all go by the same name. Do robots have to be autonomous? Can
you build a radio-controlled device and call it a robot? Where do you draw
the line?
For an answer, let’s turn to the dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary defines a robot this way:
An externally manlike mechanical device capable of performing human tasks
or behaving in a human manner.
Okay, that’ll work, but it’s hardly a complete definition. If we go strictly by
this definition, then in order to be a robot, a device would essentially have to
look or act like a human. We’ve all seen robots that look like cars, planes, bugs,
trash compactors, and dogs. In the 1970s, the Robot Institute of America
established a far more complete definition of a robot:
A robot is a reprogrammable, multifunction manipulator designed to move
material, parts, tools, or specialized devices through various programmed
motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.
That definition works a lot better, since it covers almost all of the robots you
commonly (and don’t commonly) see or hear about.
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Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
Most sci-fi fans are familiar with Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics.
Designed as a simple narrative device to help tell the story of a robot on
trial for killing a human, the three laws have become an essential part of
the science fiction landscape, co-opted by dozens of writers, television
shows, and movies.
The laws made their first appearance in Asimov’s classic 1942 story
Runaround, and were later incorporated into a series of robot-centric
stories and novels. Here are the three laws as Asimov first wrote them:
1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction,
allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except
where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such
protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
The Essence of a Robot
Even though robots vary dramatically in appearance, you can generally characterize them as being made of four key components:
❏ Base The base is the body of the robot. In our Palm Robot, the
base is a simple metal chassis on which the wheels, motors, and
Palm PDA itself are mounted. Not all robot bodies need to support
motion, but ours will.
❏ Processor Our processor will be a Palm OS PDA. Most
Palm-powered PDAs use a Motorola DragonBall processor,
so that’s the heart of our bot.
❏ Actuators Actuators are the muscles that make your robot
interact with its environment. We’ll use a trio of motors to
power the wheels that make the Palm Robot roll.
❏ Sensors Sensors are the eyes, ears, and nose of the robot.
Not all robots have sensors; if a robot is sufficiently simple, it
doesn’t need to measure its environment in order to carry out
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its programming. A simple moving robot might sense edges, colors,
shapes, or paths in order to stay on the right track, though, and
some robots can use temperature, light, motion, or odor sensors in
order to carry out their job. We’ll talk in Chapter 8 about possible
sensor enhancements you can add to your Palm Robot.
The Wide, Wide Worlds of Robots
For the last 20 years or so, researchers and hobbyists have been developing
robots and pushing forward the boundaries of this fledgling science. At the
university level, small-scale research projects abound. Here we’ll tell you
about some of the most interesting robots.
BEAM Robotics
BEAM stands for biology, electronics, aesthetics, and mechanics. The behavior of BEAM robots is driven by their electronic circuitry, with no programming required. They’re intended to be autonomous; that is, once activated,
they should be able to operate for relatively long periods of time without outside intervention. For that reason, they are usually solar-powered devices.
Some of the earliest work in BEAM robotics was done at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. You can read more about these robots at www.ai.mit
.edu/people/brooks/projects.shtml.
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Stiquito
The Stiquito is a great example of simplified robotics. The Stiquito is not programmed. Like BEAM bots, its behavior is driven by the electronic circuitry
that the robot is constructed from. (The Stiquito is not a BEAM robot because it
is battery powered, and thus not able to act autonomously for long.) With the
Stiquito, the electronic circuit passes current through the legs of the robot;
the wire legs are made of a special material called Nitinol, also known commonly as a “muscle wire.” Nitinol contracts when current heats the wire,
and expands when cooled, thus simulating the way a muscle works in a living
creature. Stiquito was originally developed at Indiana University
(www.cs.indiana.edu/robotics/stiquito.html), and you can buy inexpensive
Stiquito kits to make your own.
Project Timber
The majority of robots rely on programming, not prewired circuits, to drive
behavior. Project Timber is a research program of the Computer Science and
Engineering department at the Oregon Health and Science University. The robot in this project is known as Timbot, which is short for Timber Robot. The
brain of the robot is a Pentium III CPU that is mounted in a radio-controlled
monster truck model. The Timbot is an example of a robot that puts all the intelligence of the robot into a computer that controls the robot’s behavior. Unfortunately, for hobbyists like us, the programming aspect is rather formidable.
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Not only does it need to be programmed, its designers developed their own
unique programming language for the robot. Read more at www.cse.ogi.edu/
PacSoft/projects/Timber.
The Palm Pilot Robot Kit
The Palm Pilot Robot Kit (PPRK) was developed at Carnegie Mellon University (www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~pprk). One of the design goals was to create a robot that anyone could build. The body of the robot is made of easily obtained
materials, and construction requires just tape, glue, and a little soldering. For
its brain, the original PPRK used a first-generation Palm Pilot. Why? PDAs
like the Palm are small, have a very long battery life, use a graphical display,
and are relatively easy to program. This makes the PPRK ideal for hobbyists
who want to experiment with more complex robots. The PPRK design relies
on three wheels rather than four. Because of the unique design of the wheels,
the robot can rotate in place and can move in a straight line.
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The PPRK
So, we’re guessing that unless you bought this book by mistake, you are reading it to build your own Palm Pilot Robot Kit. The PPRK is easy to complete,
but the online instructions leave a lot to be desired—thus, this books fills in
the gaps.
Like the Blair Witch Project, Memento, and Pauly Shore’s acting career, PPRK
was something of an unexpected success. It proved so successful, in fact, that
Carnegie Mellon licensed the design to a company called Acroname, Inc., for
marketing purposes. The end result? If you’re a casual hobbyist, you can get
all the parts you need to build a Palm OS robot from one location. No need to
scour the bins of your local electronics store looking for the right servo, or the
correct wheels. Acroname has even developed a model that does not require a
Palm OS PDA to be attached to the robot. Of course, you can still go bin scouring if you want to; most of the parts for the PPRK can be easily obtained from
hardware and electronics stores.
While the kit to re-create complicated robots may be easily accessible to
the casual hobbyist, the programming probably is not. For example, with the
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Timbot that we mentioned earlier in the chapter, you need to learn a new programming language to be able to use the robot. If you’re not a programmer,
you need to learn how to program as well. We’re willing to bet that you are
more interested in building a robot that does interesting things, rather than
learning how to program.
But doesn’t the Palm need to be programmed?
Well, yes. But if you’re the hobbyist who wants to spend time building and
playing with the robot rather than learning how to program, this book will
come in handy. We’ll show you where to go on the web to get programs you
can use with your robot. We’ll also provide you with a simple application that
that you can use to create your own programs; it does most of the programming work for you.
And if you want to do your own programming, you’ll get the chance to
sling code to your heart’s content. Programming for the Palm uses existing
languages like C or BASIC that many programmers already know. So if you
already know how to program in C, C++, BASIC, or Java, this book will get
you started.
Before we get to the robot itself, let’s take a quick look at the Palm PDA.
The Rise (but Not Fall) of the Palm Empire
The Palm was not the first PDA to hit the streets, but it certainly was the
first successful one. One of the first PDAs was the Apple Newton. Dave,
gadget freak that he is, owned a Newton. Okay, he owned several of them.
But we digress.
The Newton was an extremely capable device, but it had a few fatal flaws,
the most important of which was its size. Unlike today’s PDAs, you couldn’t
fit a Newton into your pocket. Well, not unless you had really big pockets.
And it was relatively heavy, so if you did put it into your pants pocket, your
pants would sag halfway down to your knees. And thus the Newton led to
that great fashion statement for young men of the nineties: droopy oversized
pants with big pockets.
The world of PDAs changed drastically in 1994, when Jeff Hawkins, a developer of software for the Newton and other fledgling handheld devices,
founded a company called Palm Computing and decided that he could make
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a better PDA. Hawkins envisioned a pocket-size computer that would organize calendars and contacts, and perhaps let travelers retrieve email while on
the road.
Hawkins knew he’d have a tough time selling his device, so he decided to
convince himself before trying to convince investors. His device would be
roughly the size of a deck of cards—much smaller and lighter than the Newton—and would therefore fit in a shirt pocket. But would it be practical even
at that size? Would it be comfortable to carry around? Hawkins decided to
find out. Before a single piece of plastic was molded, before a single circuit
board was designed, the Palm Computing Pilot existed solely as a block
of wood.
Hawkins cut a piece of balsa wood to the size he’d envisioned for his
handheld device, put it in his shirt pocket, and left it there—for several
months. He even took it out from time to time and pretended to take notes,
just to see if the size and shape felt right. Though he quickly came to realize
that such a form factor made perfect sense, doors slammed whenever he
showed the “product” to potential investors. “The handheld market is dead,”
was the mantra at the time.
Fortunately, modem-maker U.S. Robotics liked the idea of the Pilot so
much that it bought Palm Computing outright. In March 1996, the company
unveiled the Pilot 1000, and the rest is history.
Flash forward seven years. The Pilot—which would go through a number
of name changes, first to PalmPilot and then just Palm—had become the fastest-growing computer platform in history, reaching the million-sold mark
faster than the IBM PC or Apple Macintosh. In the interim, U.S. Robotics had
been assimilated into networking giant 3Com, and Palm along with it. The
Palm line had grown to include a variety of models, and companies like
Handspring, IBM, and Sony had adopted the Palm operating system for their
own handheld devices. Recently, Palm announced that it had sold its 20 millionth PDA—not bad for a company that started out based on a little block
of wood.
And thus, the first Palm devices, the Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000, were born.
These were followed by the PalmPilot Personal and Professional. Due to a dispute with the Pilot company, models that followed the Professional were just
called Palms.
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The Palm: A Good Robot Brain
At the end of The Wizard of Oz, the wizard gives the Scarecrow a degree, and
suddenly the Scarecrow begins thinking great thoughts. It’s a nice idea, but of
course that won’t work for our robot. No matter how many degrees we buy
from those late-night TV infomercials, our robot still needs a brain. (But wait
folks, there’s more. If you buy your degree today, we’ll throw in, absolutely
free, a fabulous set of kitchen knives!)
So, since the degree idea won’t work, we need to find a good brain for our
Palm Robot. There are lots of digital devices to choose from: personal organizers, mobile phones, cameras, digital toothbrushes, and the list goes on. Okay,
digital toothbrushes don’t exist, but if they did, Dave would have one, but we
still wouldn’t be able to use it as the brains for a robot.
Our robot brain must meet certain requirements.
❏ It must be small enough to fit into the PPRK.
❏ It must be able to store and execute a program that controls
the robot.
❏ It must be able to communicate with the robot.
❏ It must be easy to program.
Does the Palm fit that criteria? Absolutely. Let’s break it down, item by item.
Size
PDAs are the perfect size for our robot. There are smaller robots, where the
size of even a PDA would be too large, and there are bigger robots in which
size wouldn’t matter (although it is still easier to mount a PDA than a PC on a
robot). But the electronics used by the PPRK, and the size of the servos and
wheels, make the PPRK just a little larger than the Palm itself. Unlike aliens in
science fiction whose brains are larger than their bodies, most living things on
earth have bodies that are larger than their brains. The same is the case for our
robot. Trying to put a PC on the chassis of the PPRK would be too difficult, but
the Palm fits just right.
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CPU
We keep saying that the Palm is the brain of the robot, but really, the brain is
the CPU that powers the Palm. As we mentioned earlier, the CPU inside the
vast majority of Palm OS devices is Motorola’s DragonBall processor. It’s not
particularly fast or otherwise advanced, but the DragonBall is a CPU very
much like the one that powers your desktop computer. It does all the same
functions, input, processing, and output, just like a desktop computer.
This is important for us because the computer programs that drive the robot will need to be processed by this CPU. Dave’s digital toothbrush wouldn’t
work well because it doesn’t need a full-featured CPU. The Palm, on the other
hand, does. While embedded processors inside most digital devices tend to
have very little functionality (to save cost), or are quite specialized to cater to
the limited needs of the device, the Palm’s DragonBall is a general-purpose
processor, thus more suited for use in a robot that needs to be programmed for
many different tasks. As an added bonus, most Palms come with plenty of
memory for the programs we will put onto the PDA.
Communication
The brain of our robot needs some way to communicate with the electronics
and motors that power the robot. PDAs are perfect for this. Although PDAs
can function without a PC (and certainly, some people own PDAs without
owning a PC), they are designed to be able to connect to a PC. Why? Most
PDAs are considered to be companion products to the PC, sharing and synchronizing data with the programs you already have on the desktop. Plus, the
PC is a convenient conduit for installing new programs on your PDA. This
communication for the Palm originally occurred with a standard serial cable
(although it had a special connection on the Palm end). The communication
protocol was well documented so that developers could write their own programs that transferred data to and from the PC.
It is this communication channel that makes the Palm perfect for controlling our robot. As we will see in later chapters, the controller for the robot
communicates with the PDA through a serial cable, which attaches to the
PDA’s standard synchronization port (see Figure 1-1). Readings from the
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sensors attached to the robot are sent to the controller, which passes them over
the serial cable to the PDA; likewise, the PDA can determine which servos to
actuate and send the command to the controller, which routes the command
to the correct servo.
Figure 1-1
The Palm’s
serial
connector
is a logical
way for
the CPU to
interact with
the sensors
and actuators
on our robot.
Easy to Program
The programming for the Palm was originally done in the C language, though
there are now several less complex alternatives available, including a BASIC
interpreter and a Java Virtual Machine. Thus, you don’t need to learn a special
language to program the Palm. If you know C or C++, BASIC, or Java, you can
program the Palm PDA.
And, as we mentioned earlier, if you don’t know any of those languages,
this book will give you a tool that you can use to create programs without
needing to know how to program. The application is included on the CD for
this book (along with other programming tools if you want to program the
Palm directly). When you’re ready, be sure to flip over to Chapter 6 for all the
details on this.
Palm OS Devices from A to Z (or 1000 to VIIx)
The PPRK from Acroname can be run with almost any Palm OS PDA ever created. It’s possible that you may even have one of these devices hanging
around. The list of Palm PDAs that follows is by no means complete; primarily we’ll look at the Palm OS PDAs that are compatible with the PPRK. So join
us as we take a trip down memory lane, looking at some Palm OS PDAs past
and present.
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The Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000
The very first Palm OS devices, released in 1996, were the Pilot 1000 and
Pilot 5000 (see Figure 1-2). If you had one of these devices, you had either
128KB (the Pilot 1000) or 512KB (the Pilot 5000) of memory. These devices included early versions of the Palm Address Book and Date Book, a To Do list,
and a Memo Pad. You might be able to find one of these around, and you may
even be able to use it with the PPRK, but since the first PPRK used a later Palm
model, we won’t talk much more about these.
Figure 1-2
The Pilot 1000
and Pilot 5000
are a piece of
PDA history;
they were
the first
models sold.
PalmPilot Personal/Professional
The PalmPilot Personal and the PalmPilot Professional, shown in Figure 1-3,
were released in 1997. The Personal featured 512KB of memory, and the Professional had a whopping 1MB of memory. Even more useful, though, is that
both introduced backlighting, which made them usable in low light situations. The other important feature introduced by the Professional was a mail
application. Initially, you had to download mail to your PC first, and then
transfer it to your PDA during a HotSync. Later, Palm offered a modem that
let you connect to the email server and download directly to the PDA.
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Figure 1-3
The PalmPilot
Personal and
PalmPilot
Professional
were even
more popular
than their
predecessors.
Palm III
In 1998, the Palm III was released. This model became one of the most popular
and longest-lived PDAs of all time. One reason for its popularity is that Palm
released four variations on the same basic platform—including the first Palm
with a color screen. (See Figure 1-4 for a look at the color Palm.) The Palm’s infrared port also made exchanging data between devices very easy. While no
longer sold, there are millions of Palm III models still in routine use. That
makes this model one of the easiest to find on the used market.
Figure 1-4
The Palm IIIc
was the first
color device
offered by
Palm.
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Palm V
How do you follow up such a runaway hit as the Palm III family? By adding
an integrated, rechargeable battery that tops off whenever the PDA is sitting
in the cradle. The Palm V also sported a sexy, brushed aluminum case design
(check out Figure 1-5) that made it incompatible with earlier docking cradles,
but made it a hit with executives around the world. The Palm V is also quite
easy to find on the used market thanks to its immense popularity.
Figure 1-5
Some believe
the Palm V
was the most
stylish device
ever released
by Palm.
Palm VII
The Palm VII came to the market in 1999. The end result of a long development
program to deliver wireless email and limited web surfing in a handheld device, the Palm VII never proved to be very popular. It was eventually replaced
by the i705 in 2002. In its heyday, though, it was essentially a Palm III with an
integrated wireless modem. See Figure 1-6 for a look at the Palm VII with its antenna extended.
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Figure 1-6
Here you
can see the
Palm VII
with its
antenna
extended.
Other Palm Models
Since the Palm VII, Palm has continued to innovate and introduce a number of
new models. These days, store shelves are only stocked with these newest
models. These include the many models in the m series—from the m105 to the
m515—along with the Zire, the i705, and the Tungsten T and Tungsten W. One
of the most affordable Palm devices to date is the m105, seen in Figure 1-7.
At the time this book was written, the PPRK did not support any of these
latest models in the Palm family, though that may change by the time you read
this. Acroname has assured us that it is working on a cable that is compatible
with the many devices in the m series. The main problem for the m105 and
other m series models is that the current connector cable for the PPRK uses a
Palm III–style connection; this connector can connect to the m105, but does
not stay firmly attached. As a result, you need to glue or otherwise attach it to
the m105, which is problematic if you want to use your m105 for things other
than robotics.
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Figure 1-7
The m105
almost kinda
sorta works
with the
PPRK—you
may have to
add some
glue to get it
all working
properly.
Handspring Visor
A few pages back, we told you the once-upon-a-time story of Jeff Hawkins
and his bid to make the perfect PDA. A few years after Palm launched its
first few devices, Hawkins left Palm and started a new company called
Handspring. Hawkins’ goal in creating Handspring was to create
smartphones—PDAs that doubled as mobile phones. It took a few years for the
first Handspring smartphone to materialize—you may know it now as the
Treo—but the company’s first few devices were Palm OS devices that went by
the name Visor (see Figure 1-8).
The Visor was similar to the Palm III, but it featured a key innovation: an
expansion slot in back called Springboard. Although not important for the
PPRK, Springboard proved to be important to Handspring for several years,
since it allowed dozens of independent developers to create add-on modules
for the Visor. These gadgets turned the simple Visor into GPS receivers, FM
radios, cell phones, digital cameras, and more.
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Figure 1-8
The
Handspring
Visor looks
much like a
Palm III, but
features the
Springboard
expansion
slot in back.
The Robot Geek Says
The Visor and the PPRK
✖
If you are planning to use a Visor with the PPRK, we strongly
recommend you get the BrainStem model from Acroname
(www.acroname.com).
✖
You can use the Visor with the original PPRK, but it involves a lot
more effort and requires you to modify the controller circuit board.
✖
Using a Visor with the original PPRK is definitely not a project for
the casual hobbyist.
The Other Guys: Pocket PC
Those of you readers who are Palm fanatics should probably move on to the
next section right now. That’s right… move along… nothing to see here.
Okay, for those of you who are left, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention
the other major class of handhelds—Pocket PCs. Let’s be clear: the PPRK kits
and this book only cover making a robot with a Palm OS PDA, or running
stand-alone without any PDA. However, there’s no technical reason you couldn’t use a Pocket PC device—running Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system—instead. As we’ll see later, Acroname, the company that sells the PPRK,
provides lots of software and tools for using a Pocket PC with the PPRK.
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We use the term “Pocket PC” for any device that runs the Windows Pocket
PC operating system. Pocket PCs are sold by a number of companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Dell, ViewSonic, and others (see Figure 1-9).
Figure 1-9
Pocket PCs,
regardless of
how they’re
branded,
can all run
the same
software and,
in fact, all
work more
or less the
same way.
Since Pocket PC devices run a version of Windows, you may be familiar
with many of the programs for these devices. Many Pocket PC programs are
smaller scale, “pocket” versions of the same programs that run on a full-sized
PC running a Windows OS.
Where to Find New and Used PDAs
So, you’ve decided to build the Palm Robot. (If you’re still reading this in the
aisle of your local bookstore, now’s the time to decide. Stop procrastinating,
take this book to the checkout, and buy it.)
Obviously, you will need to get yourself the parts for the robot. We’ll talk
about robot parts in Chapters 2 and 3. But the other important ingredient is a
Palm OS PDA. How can you find a cheap PDA that will be no great loss if it
gets banged up a bit as part of a robot? Let us show you.
The most obvious place to get a PDA is to reach down to your belt and grab
your Palm out of its carrying case. If you already own a PDA, and you don’t
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mind devoting it to your robot—at least part of the time—then there’s nothing
else you need to do. Move on to the next chapter.
If, on the other hand, you don’t own a PDA and your hand comes up empty
when you reach down to your belt, you’ll need to get one (a PDA that is, not
a belt).
You can obviously run down to your local electronics store and buy a brand
new PDA. That, however, may set you back hundreds of dollars for the very
latest PDA gadget. If you want to take a more economical approach, there are
various ways to get your hands on pre-owned PDAs. We present a few of
them here.
Should You Buy Used?
Just how reliable are those used PDAs? Should you invest in a PDA that’s
been used and possibly abused for years before you got your own hands
on it?
Consider this: any time you buy something secondhand, it has undergone a certain amount of wear and tear. That means any used PDA may
have certain defects, such as buttons that don’t respond as well, components that are closer to their end of life, and rechargeable batteries that
have measurably less capacity than when the device was new. A particular concern with used PDAs is the state of the screen and Graffiti area.
Since people interact directly with those parts of the PDA, they can get
scratched and sometimes even damaged. A few scuffs is no big deal, but
an abusive owner can really do some damage to a PDA touch screen.
One thing is for sure: with 10–15 million PDAs sold each year, there’s a
big secondhand market. If you can get a PDA inexpensively enough,
a little wear is no big deal.
Your Friend the Gadget Freak
Do you have any friends who are gadget freaks? (Not sure? You can identify
them by the way their clothes sag due to all the gadgets they carry.) These
folks were first to get a cell phone, first to get the latest gaming console, and
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right now they’re standing in line at the theater so they can be first to see the
Matrix sequel. That’s probably where Dave is right now.
If your friend bought a PalmPilot Professional when it first came out, upgraded to the Palm III, followed by the Palm V, and then the m515 as soon as
they were available, this person might still have his older Palm devices lying
around. Ask if you can borrow, or even have, one of the older PDAs for use
with a cool robot project. Who knows, your friend may even want to help
build the robot.
The Local Recycled Electronics Store
If you live in a fairly large city, chances are good that there’s an electronics
store that recycles computer parts. This store will have old computer cases,
motherboards, hard drives, 5 ¼-inch floppy drives, 8-inch floppies (try telling
a teenager today that there used to be 8-inch floppies; they won’t believe you),
cables, wires, resistors, diodes, and, if you’re lucky, old PalmPilots. While
you’re at it, you may also find parts for your robot.
Pawnshops
Pawnshops do tend to have a less than stellar reputation, but they have their
uses—Dave bought a guitar at one many years ago, though Kevin refuses to
go near any such establishment. However, they are one place that tends to
have used electronic items. If there’s a pawnshop in your area, you may want
to consider checking for any used PDAs.
Online Sellers
Various online retailers sell digital devices. You can, of course, find current
devices at retail prices. There are also places online to find older, cheaper devices. Here are a few places where you can find PDAs online.
eBay and Yahoo Auctions
One insanely popular place you can look for used Palm OS devices is an online marketplace like eBay or Yahoo auctions. eBay is a treasure trove of used
electronic gadgets. When we recently checked for PDAs, we performed a simple search for “Palm pilot” and got over 1000 hits. When searching for
“handspring visor,” over 1300 listings matched the search. Not all of these are
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the PDAs themselves; a lot of the listings were for accessories such as cables,
keyboards, cases, and other gadgets. But a lot of those hits were PDAs, and
that means you can get them at good prices.
Other Online Sources
There are many other online sources for PDAs. You can perform a search for
PDA resellers, but a better option is to surf news and message boards dedicated to PDAs. Try these:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
www.pdabuzz.com
www.brighthand.com
www.palminfocenter.com
www.cliesource.com
www.the-gadgeteer.com
www.bargainpda.com
The folks at any of those sites can probably suggest good places to get used
PDAs.
Stuff to Come
By now you’re probably ready to move on to the real stuff—like how to build
your robot, how to program your robot, how to do cool stuff with your robot,
and how to conquer the universe with your robot.
We can’t help with that last one, and frankly we don’t think you’ll get very
far. People who try to conquer the universe with robots are usually stopped by
Dr. Who, occasionally by Jim Kirk, and sometimes by the Interstellar Alliance
created by the former commander of Babylon 5.
We can help with the first three.
In Chapters 2 through 4, we’ll look at all the hardware you need to build the
Palm Robot. As we’ve mentioned, Acroname sells some kits that have everything you need to build the robot. If you’re a hard-core hobbyist, you may
want to do it more from scratch. We’ll show you the parts you need and tell
you some places where you can get the parts.
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In Chapters 5 through 8, we’ll cover the programming aspects of the Palm
Robot. In Chapter 6 we show you the Palm Robot Development Environment.
This is the software we developed that allows you to program the Palm Robot
without knowing any programming. If you want to sling code, we show you
how to do that in Chapter 7.
In the final chapter, Chapter 9, we’ll look at some other cool robotic applications for Palm PDAs.
So grab your soldering irons and screwdrivers, it’s time to start building
your Palm Robot.
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T
here are two approaches to building the robot—the right way and the
wrong way.
Just kidding: you can build your Palm Robot from a kit or build it from
scratch, and either approach is fine. Consider this: if you are more interested
in playing with your robot than in dealing with all the nuts and bolts, or if you
are a beginner when it comes to electronics, then you will probably want to
build the robot from a kit.
On the other hand, if you’re an adventurous beginner or an experienced
hobbyist, then you may want to do more of the work yourself. In that case, you
will want to get the parts yourself rather than relying on a kit.
In this chapter, we’ll talk about the kit approach for the more casual
robotocists out there. And if you’re more hard-core hobbyist, stick around this
chapter as well, since we will identify the needed parts and where you can get
them. We will also take a very brief look in this chapter at alternate and additional parts that can be used with your robot.
Getting the Kit
As we mentioned in the previous chapter, Carnegie Mellon licensed the PPRK
to Acroname, Inc. Acroname redesigned the original kit to make it easier to assemble, take apart, and ensure proper alignment of the various components.
This makes it extremely easy for you to get all the parts you need to build your
own robot. Acroname (check out Figure 2-1) has done all the work of getting
the parts from the different suppliers and packaging them together for you.
This is convenient for those of you who are just getting into the hobby of robotics and may not have a lot of spare parts lying around. On the other hand, if
you happen to have a controller board, roller wheels, or death ray lasers just
lying around the house, you can get the other individual components you
need from various retailers. Later in this chapter we’ll show you what parts
you need and how to get those parts.
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Figure 2-1
The front page to Acroname’s web site. Not only can you get information about the PPRK, but Acroname also
has information on the Sony AIBO and a new robot they’ve named Garcia.
In the About Robotics box on the main Acroname page are links to the
BrainStem, Downloads, and the PPRK. The BrainStem is the controller that is
used in the newest versions of the PPRK. (It is a different controller from the
one originally used in the PPRK.) The Downloads link will lead you to a section of the web site where you can download software to use with the PPRK.
We will be exploring the downloads area later in the book when we start
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programming the robot. The PPRK link leads to general information about
the robot. Near the top of the page is a row of links including a link labeled
Kits (see Figure 2-1).
Figure 2-2
The Acroname shopping page for various robot kits. You can see the five PPRK kits in addition to a few
other kits.
Clicking on the Kits link will take you to a page that lists all the kits that
Acroname sells (see Figure 2-2). There are five different PPRKs available:
❏ Palm III PPRK Barebones The original PPRK with a connector
for the Palm III. This kit includes all of the necessary parts, but
no instructions. The instructions are available as a download from
the Acroname web site. Constructing this kit includes modifying
the servos (the motors) and wiring a serial cable. This kit is not for
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the beginner, but is really intended for someone who has past
experience with building electronics models or robots.
❏ Palm III PPRK Easy This is the same kit as the barebones one
we just mentioned, but it includes printed instructions. In addition,
the servo modification and serial cable wiring have already been
performed for you, so you only need a screwdriver to put it all
together. This kit is designed for those who are new to robotics.
❏ Palm V PPRK Barebones This is the same as the Palm III
barebones kit, but it features a Palm V connector—it works
with the Palm V and Palm Vx PDAs.
❏ Palm V PPRK Easy This kit is essentially the same as the Palm
III Easy—it’s a screwdriver-only assembly—but with a Palm V
connector.
❏ BrainStem PPRK Here’s an easy-to-build PPRK that uses a
different controller board than the other kits. The only tool you
need to assemble this kit is a screwdriver. The BrainStem PPRK
kit can be programmed from MacOS X, Windows, WinCE, and
PalmOS, and it can operate independently of the host computer.
Want to order a kit? That part is pretty simple. You can order kits and parts
online or by fax, mail, or phone. New to robotics? Then we recommend that
you buy the BrainStem PPRK. It’s easy to build and easy to program. Indeed,
this is the kit that we will primarily be using as our example throughout this
book. If you are more adventurous, you might want to consider the Palm III or
Palm V PPRK. If you are really a techno geek (like Kevin), then you probably
want to try one of the barebones kits—it gives you the most to do.
Getting Parts from Other Sources
If you are a robotics hobbyist, you may already have a lot of spare parts lying
around the house. Having a well-stocked parts drawer is invaluable when
you suddenly need a spare cross-coupling quantum magnetic capacitor at
11:00 P.M., and the local hardware stores are closed.
So open up that parts drawer and let’s see what you have… pens, pencils,
transistors, paper clips, magnetic capacitor, string, servos, twist ties, memory
chips, glue, nickels, wire, wheels, notepad, toggle switch, heat shrink tubing,
batteries, small pebbles, electrical connectors, an old 386 motherboard, an ISA
sound card, and some modeling clay.
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Well, that’s a pretty good collection, and perhaps McGuyver could make a
robot out of it. You, however, are a few microcontrollers short of an iron giant.
Since you still need to collect a few parts for your PPRK, let’s look at the various parts you’ll need and some of the places you can get them.
If You Only Had a Brain
The original PPRK was based on the Pontech SV203 controller board (you can
see a picture of it in Figure 2-3). This is the same board that you can still get in
the Acroname Palm III and Palm V kits.
Figure 2-3
This is Pontech’s web site showing the SV203.
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The original SV203 controller acted as an interface between the Palm and
the robot. It accepted serial data (commands) from the Palm, and converted
those commands into digital signals that directed the robot’s servos (more
commonly known to us as motors) to rotate in one direction or the other. It
also read analog data from the sensor input ports, converted that to a digital
value, and sent the sensor reading to the Palm. The SV203 has eight servo output ports and five sensor input ports. With the SV203, the Palm had to be connected to the controller at all times.
The newest version of the PPRK from Acroname runs on Acroname’s
BrainStem controller board (see Figure 2-4). This board is similar in function
to the SV203. It can provide an interface between the Palm and the sensors and
motors, or it can store a program downloaded from a PC or Palm, and run the
robot autonomously. The BrainStem has five analog input ports, five digital
input ports, and four servo controller output ports.
Figure 2-4
The
BrainStem
controller
from
Acroname
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For the BrainStem controller, Acroname is the one and only source. If, instead, you want to experiment with the SV203 controller, you can get it from
Acroname, from the manufacturer (that’s Pontech, at www.pontech.com), or
from Jameco Electronics at www.jameco.com.
See Me, Feel Me
To get information about its environment and the objects around it, the PPRK
uses sensors. To be precise, the original PPRK used infrared rangers. These
rangers transmit an infrared signal from one sensor; if an object reflects the
signal, the return signal is received at another sensor. Using the reflected signal, the distance to a nearby object can be calculated.
The PPRK uses Sharp GP2D12 infrared rangers, seen in Figure 2-5. This
ranger can detect objects that are between 10 cm and 80 cm (approximately 4
inches to 31.5 inches) away from the sensor. Sharp Microelectronics makes a
number of different IR rangers. You can find detailed information about the
rangers at www.sharpsma.com/sma/products/opto/optical_systems.htm.
Figure 2-5
The Sharp GP2D12 sensor transmits signals from an infrared LED and receives the return signal on the receiver.
When the sensor is positioned so that the white connector is toward the bottom, the transmitter is the LED on
the left and the receiver is the sensor on the right.
The Sharp GP2D12 ranger determines distance to objects by a technique
known as triangulation. If you examine Figure 2-5, you’ll see that a small distance separates the transmitter and receiver. By measuring the transmit- and
receive- angles of the reflected IR signal, the ranger can calculate the distance
to the object that reflected the signal.
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Enough theory. Need to get your hands on some sensors? Some of the
online retailers that we found carrying Sharp sensors include
❏ www.digikey.com/DigiHome.html
❏ www.arrow.com
❏ www.nuhorizons.com
Motor City Madhouse
As we’ve already mentioned, the servos are the motors that drive the wheels
based on a set of commands sent by the controller. Usually, servos are built so
that they rotate some set amount and then stop. This makes them well suited
to moving robotic appendages that have a limited range of motion, but it
makes them unsuitable for driving the wheels of a robot that need to be able to
rotate continuously in one direction. To deal with this problem, you can modify a normal servo so that it can rotate continuously.
On the other hand, you can let someone else do the modification for you,
and buy the servo from them (like the ones in Figure 2-6).
Figure 2-6
Here, you can
see the servos
that come
with the
BrainStem
kit. These
servos have
already been
modified so
that they
will rotate
continuously.
Your best source for the servos is Acroname. Another excellent source: Mr.
Robot (www.mrrobot.com). Both Acroname and Mr. Robot also have directions for modifying servos for continuous rotation.
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Under My Wheels
By this time you may have noticed that the PPRK only has three wheels.
(If you haven’t noticed yet, congratulations! You have the observational skills
of Dave.) That’s not such a big deal, right? Tricycles, bicycles, and three-wheel
all terrain vehicles do just fine with three wheels. The difference is that the
PPRK’s wheels are not aligned linearly; they are oriented in a triangular pattern such that no single wheel lines up with either of the other two wheels!
Don’t believe us? Check out Figure 2-7.
Figure 2-7
The PPRK’s
wheels are
spaced
around the
frame of the
robot in a
triangular
pattern.
This is the point where, if you have an alter ego, it is no doubt asking you,
“Self, how does the robot travel in a straight line if none of the wheels are
aligned?” We’d like to say the answer involves ten-dimensional string theory
and quantum electrodynamics, but in truth, the answer is much more mundane.
The secret lies in the type of wheels that are used. These wheels are
designed so that they can roll along two perpendicular dimensions. When the
axle is rotating, the wheel rotates like a normal wheel, and the wheel moves,
more or less, in the direction of rotation. However, at other times, the robot
may be pushing or pulling the wheel in line with the axle. When this happens,
rollers that are embedded along the radius of the wheel allow the wheel to
move in line with the axle. In other words, the wheels can actually move
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perpendicular to their normal direction of travel. There’s a close-up of this
unique wheel system in Figure 2-8.
Figure 2-8
One of the
omni-directional roller
wheels used
for the robot.
When rotating
around the
axle, the
wheel rolls
like a normal
wheel. But the
embedded
rollers also
allow the
wheel to pull
off a clever
trick: it can
roll in line
with the axle.
These wheels are produced by North American Roller Products
(www.narp-trapo.com). Unfortunately, these folks don’t sell their products
directly to consumers. To purchase these wheels, you will need to go to a retailer that carries them.
In addition to Acroname, the other location we have found for these wheels
is Mr. Robot (www.mrrobot.com).
Be sure you buy the right ones. The wheels you will need for the PPRK are 4
cm omni-directional wheels. Are you a monster truck fan? Cool. You’ll be
happy to know that both Acroname and Mr. Robot sell larger omni-directional wheels. Be sure to email us some pictures of your Monster PPRK with
oversized wheels.
How Do the Wheels Work?
The ability of the PPRK to travel in a straight line relies on the physics of
motion. Any force applied to an object can be resolved into component
forces in any arbitrary coordinate system. Alternately, any two or more
forces can be summed into a single resulting force. For example, in the
normal X-Y (Cartesian) coordinate system, every force has an X component and a Y component.
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That simple principle applies to the PPRK and its wheels. Each wheel
can supply a force to the robot, and the sum of the different forces resolves into a single composite force that moves the robot in any direction
desired.
Talk to Me
Connecting the Palm III or Palm V to the SV203 controller board so that the
two can talk to each other requires a special cable with a Palm connector on
one end, and a DB9 serial connector on the other end. You can get a prebuilt
connector for this purpose from www.syncablesolutions.com. You can also
get these connectors from Acroname, but they are not prebuilt. With the connector from Acroname, you will still need to solder the wires in the Palm cable
to the DB9 serial connector.
The BrainStem controller uses a different kind of connector. For the
BrainStem, Acroname carries a number of different cables to connect many
different devices to the controller. There are cables for Palms, Handspring
Visors, PCs, and even Pocket PCs.
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Odd Ones
Finally, there are a number of smaller parts that you will need when building
the PPRK. Many of these parts can be obtained from local stores or Kevin’s garage. If you need an essential part when you’re working on your Palm Robot
at 3:00 A.M., don’t hesitate to give him a call. He’ll drive the parts right over.
Batteries
Your robot will need a power source. We initially toyed around with incorporating a small fusion power source, but had trouble containing free neutrons
in the heavy water reservoir. As a result, we recommend that you stick with
regular batteries.
The BrainStem kit uses four AA NiMH rechargeable batteries (although
any AA battery will work) to power the servos, and a 9-volt battery to power
the controller board and IR rangers. If you are using the SV203 kit, you’ll need
four alkaline AA batteries. Obviously, you can find these batteries just about
anywhere. You’ll also need to get a battery holder for the batteries. Any local
hobby store should carry these.
Acrylic Platform
The frame, controller board, and batteries are mounted on a single piece of
clear acrylic. These can be obtained from any hardware store and cut to size.
The original PPRK used a circular platform, cut to six inches in diameter. You
can purchase a precut acrylic disc at www.mcmaster.com. (Don’t be intimidated by the sheer number of parts sold there; just search for part number
8581K26, and it’ll pop up in a heartbeat.) If you’re taking the kit approach,
you’ll find that the PPRK kits from Acroname use a slightly larger platform
that’s cut into a triangular shape with rounded corners. If you are going to duplicate the platform provided by Acroname, you’ll want to get a piece of
acrylic (between 8 and 12 inches) that you can cut to the size you prefer.
Toggle Switch
The robot can be turned on and off using a toggle switch. These can be found
at various electronics or hardware stores. You can find them online at Jameco
Electronics (www.jameco.com: look for Jameco part 105814). You can also
substitute similar switches from other sources, like Radio Shack, which
sells more varieties of toggle switches than you could ever possibly need.
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Connector Housing
Connecting the various sensors, servos, and battery packs to the controller
uses wires with simple connectors so that no soldering or special wiring is
needed. Simply plug the wires into the connector housing, connect the housing to the appropriate pins, and the connection is complete.
All of the connectors mentioned here can be found at www.mouser.com.
All you need to do is simply search for the part number. Another source is
www.acroname.com, where you can find a grab bag of various connectors for
your robot.
For the PPRK that uses the Pontech controller, you will need five Molex
connectors, part number 50-57-9002.
For the BrainStem controller, you’ll need two pieces of Molex 50-57-9002
and six pieces of Molex 50-57-9003.
For all the Molex connectors, you’ll need crimp terminals. These crimp
around the wire and slide into the housing. This mates the wire to the housing. For the Molex 50-57-900x connectors, you can use Molex 70058 or 71851
crimp terminals.
To connect to the sensor, you’ll need three pieces of Molex 87369-0300. You
will need Molex 50212 crimp terminals with this connector housing.
Aluminum Frame and Miscellaneous Hardware
The aluminum frame connects to the acrylic deck, and is used to support the
servos and IR rangers. The miscellaneous hardware consists of nuts, bolts,
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washers, and nylon spacers to assemble the PPRK. Not surprisingly, the best
place to get the frame and the hardware is Acroname. The Acroname frame
comes in three pieces and is already cut and drilled to the correct size; the
hardware is already selected to fit the holes drilled into the frame.
Miscellaneous Parts
This stuff is available at any hardware store:
❏ Double stick foam tape This is for attaching the battery holder
to the acrylic disk.
❏ 24 AWG wire You’ll use this stuff for connecting various
components. We recommend getting at least three different colors
for identification purposes.
Carry On
At some point, you will want to go beyond the servos and IR rangers that
come with the basic PPRK. Later in this book, in fact, we will do just that. You
can find a number of other sensors, including a flame detector, a compass, and
a line detector, all of which you can integrate into your Palm Robot.
A great web site for learning how to interface your PPRK to other sensors
and devices is Robert’s Gadgets and Gizmos: www.bpesolutions.com/gadgets.ws/gproject4.html.
A few of the alternate sensors mentioned at Robert’s Gadgets and Gizmos
include a light sensor, a temperature sensor, and a touch sensor. Both Robert’s
and the Acroname web sites also include information on how to interface
your robot with other output devices (as in Figure 2-9). In addition to operating the servos, for instance, the controller board from Acroname can be fitted
with a voice module. Robert’s Gadgets and Gizmos shows you how to use
the controller to turn light emitting diodes (LEDs) on and off. This barely
scratches the surface, of course, of what you can find at Robert’s Gadgets and
Gizmos, so be sure to spend some time exploring that site (see Figure 2-10).
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The Ultimate Palm Robot
Figure 2-9
The
Acroname
web site
showing the
line detector
sensor
Figure 2-10
Robert’s
Gadgets
and Gizmos
shows how to
connect LEDs
to the output
ports of
the SV203
controller.
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Where in the World…
In this chapter, we’ve listed numerous online resources for finding parts for
your robot. So that you don’t need to go skimming through the chapter to find
every reference, we’ll list them all again here.
Remember that because of the dynamic nature of the Web, some of these
sites may not still be accessible using the exact URLs we’ve listed here—if you
can’t find the page you’re looking for, search for it, since the information may
have moved. Also, keep in mind that we haven’t personally tried all of the retailers listed here in this book, so purchase stuff with caution (always good advice when dealing with web-based stores). We did use several criteria when
listing these retailers, though. Each retailer is either the manufacturer of a
part, an authorized dealer for the manufacturer, or a retailer that we know has
a stable business.
All parts needed for PPRK:
www.acroname.com
Controller boards
www.pontech.com/cgi/pricelist.pl
www.jameco.com
Cables
www.syncablesolutions.com/
Connectors
www.mouser.com
Sensors
www.digikey.com/DigiHome.html
www.arrow.com/
www.nuhorizons.com/
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Wheels
www.mrrobot.com
Miscellaneous
www.allelectronics.com/
www.jameco.com/
www.bpesolutions.com/gadgets.ws/gproject4.html
Finally, you may want to check out Robot Builder’s Sourcebook : Over 2,500
Sources for Robot Parts, by Gordon McComb (ISBN: 0071406859) for a general
purpose listing of sources.
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B
y now, you’ve gotten a kit, or the parts you need, and are ready to start
building the robot. If you have one of the barebones kits from Acroname,
or you collected the parts yourself, you’ll want to start at the beginning of
this chapter—”Building the PPRK with the Pontech Controller.”
If you have one of the easy kits, you can skip ahead to the section “Building
the Frame.” If you have the BrainStem kit from Acroname, you’ll want to skip
ahead to the section “Building the PPRK with the BrainStem Controller.”
Finally, if your kit has many different little colored plastic pieces that look
like Legos, you have the wrong book. May we recommend that you check out
Robot Invasion, which Dave wrote; it has three different projects that build fun
robots out of Legos.
Building the PPRK with the Pontech Controller
Before attempting to put anything together, you should examine everything
in the kit and compare it to the shipping list to ensure that you have everything you are supposed to have. Here is a list of all the parts that should be
in the kit:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
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Three omni-directional wheels
Three IR sensors
Four rechargeable batteries and a battery charger
One Pontech SV203 controller
One DB9 male connector
One Palm connector
Three servos
Three aluminum frame pieces
One toggle switch
One acrylic deck
Three white connector housings
Five black connector housings
One red connector housing
Nine wires—three each red, yellow, and black
Nuts, washers, and screws
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If you are building the barebones kit, you will also need a soldering iron,
solder, heat shrink tubing, epoxy, a standard screwdriver, and a Phillips
screwdriver.
Did you take the easy way, and buy the easy kit? If so, grab a standard
screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver, and jump ahead in this chapter to the
section “Building the Frame.” If you have the barebones kit, you have a little
more work to do first.
The Batteries
The kit contains rechargeable batteries to power the robot. Since you can’t do
much with uncharged batteries, start by putting the batteries into the charger
and plugging the charger into an electrical socket. This will ensure that the
batteries are ready for you when the robot is complete.
The Safety Geek Says
This next step involves a process called soldering. If you’ve built
electronic circuits before, you’re probably already familiar with how
to do this and how to do it safely. If you’ve never soldered a connection
before—STOP! Find someone who knows what they are doing and ask
them to give you a quick lesson in how to solder connections. Here
are some further tips:
✖
Solder contains lead, and lead can be poisonous. Take care to wash
your hands after using lead solder.
✖
Don’t inhale the fumes from the soldering process.
✖
The soldering iron, hot enough to melt solder, is hot enough to
give you a nasty burn. Treat the iron with care. Unplug it when
you are finished.
✖
The connection you just soldered is as hot as the iron. Give it
a chance to cool before you touch it.
Wiring the Battery Pack
Your battery pack should have a black wire and a red wire extending from it.
Start by soldering the red wire to the middle post of the switch.
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Your kit should have another red wire with a crimp on one end, and exposed wire at the other end. Solder the exposed wire to one of the outer terminals of the switch—it doesn’t matter which.
The black wire from the battery pack, like the red wire from the previous
step, has a crimp on the end. These crimps are inserted into the red connector
housing. The connector housing fits onto the power pins on the SV203 controller, and it only fits in a particular orientation. With the housing oriented to
match the board, insert the red crimp into the side of the housing that will fit
into the + pin of the controller. Insert the black crimp into the other side.
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Modifying the Servos
Next, we need to modify the servos. Start by removing the white wheel from
each servo.
Carefully remove the screws from the bottom of the servo housing.
Carefully remove the lid from the servo.
Remove the topmost gear and the output gear. The topmost gear is the
center gear. The ouput gear is the gear with the white shaft that extends out
of the servo lid. Underneath the output gear is a small rectangular brass pin.
In a moment you will use this pin to adjust the servo.
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Attach the servo to the controller board at pin S1. The black wire in the connector plugs into the pin closest to the edge of the board. Put batteries into the
battery pack and plug it into the controller.
The servo may start rotating at this point. If it does not, toggle the power
switch so that the servo starts rotating. Now turn the brass pin until the servo
stops rotating. The servo is now centered. Detach the servo from the controller
and turn the power switch off.
Find the large gear that you removed earlier. It has a tab on it that stops the
servo from rotating fully. Clip this tab off the gear.
The tab prevents the gear from rotating continuously, so you need to ensure
that it is completely removed. We used a diagonal-cutting plier to cut most of
the tab and an exacto knife to trim the remainder. Also, use caution when cutting the tab, so that you don’t cut yourself.
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If you bought the kit from Acroname, the kit came with six ball bearing assemblies. The assemblies are small ring-shaped pieces that hold the ball bearings. Place one over the brass pin. Place another on the horn of the output gear.
Reassemble the gears and put the lid back onto the servo. Carefully reattach
the servo to the controller and turn the power switch on to test that the servo is
still centered. If it is not, you will need to disassemble and recenter the servo.
Reinsert the long screws so that the lid is reattached to the servo body. Put this
servo aside and perform the same procedure for each of the other servos.
Assembling the Wheels
Take the white plastic wheel you removed from each servo and the three
omni-directional wheels. You are going to glue one white wheel to the axle
hole of each omni-directional wheel. Orient the white wheel so that it can be
screwed onto the servo in its original orientation. (The ridged hole in the
white wheel faces away from the omni-directional wheel and fits over the
servo horn.) Use sandpaper to roughen the two surfaces that will be glued together. Place a small amount of epoxy on the white wheel and put the two
wheels together. Before the glue sets, center the white wheel in the axle hole;
you can check the alignment by looking through the other end of the axle hole.
Repeat the previous step for each wheel.
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Attaching the Palm Connector to the Deck
There are two 1/4-inch holes drilled along one side of the deck. (There are
smaller holes drilled along the other two sides.) Alternately, your acrylic deck
might have a 1/4-inch hole and a slot along one side of the deck. You want the
side with the 1/4-inch holes (or the hole and the slot). Peel back the paper
from the acrylic, and position the Palm connector so that it is centered between the two holes.
Mark the position of the connector. Now slightly roughen the surface of the
acrylic with some sandpaper. Using double-sided foam tape, attach the Palm
connector to the deck. When the connector is secure, thread the Palm cable
through the hole or slot to the left.
Cut the Palm cable to 14 inches. Remove approximately 2 inches of the
outer insulation from the cable. Remove all the string, shielding, and paper so
that you have clear access to all six wires in the cable. Based on the following
table, select the three wires you need, and clip the other three wires back.
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DB9
Pin
Building the Robot
51
Acroname Palm III
Cable Kit
Acroname Palm V
Cable Kit
Palm III Hotsync
Cable
2
brown
green
brown
3
yellow
purple
black
5
blue
black
red
Strip enough insulation from the three wires so that you can solder them to
the DB9 male connector. If you are using heat shrink tubing for insulation, slip
a small piece onto each wire. Solder the wires to the DB9 connector as shown
in the table. Shrink the tubing around the soldered connection.
Building the Frame
Start by finding the IR rangers, and the parts to connect the ranger to the aluminum frame. For each ranger you will need two 5/8-inch screws, two nylon
washers, two nylon spacers, two lock washers, and two nuts. These parts will
be in bag one of the kit. Attach one ranger to each aluminum frame piece as
shown next. Start by threading both screws through the frame, then adding
the nylon washers and spacers. Place the sensor onto the screws and fasten it
with the lock washers and nuts. Be careful not to overtighten the nuts.
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Now you will attach the three frame pieces together to make a single frame.
Notice in the next illustration that each piece has a long arm and a short arm.
When the pieces are oriented correctly, the long arm on one piece will line up
with the short arm on an adjacent piece. Align the holes in each arm with the
long arm to the inside of the frame, and connect the pieces using a screw,
washer, and a nut from bag two of the kit. The washer and nut will be to the inside of the frame. Tighten the nuts just enough to hold everything together;
we will tighten them completely in a later step.
The next step is to attach the servos to the frame. Each of the three servos
will be attached to the frame through the rectangular hole that is on each side
of the frame where the frame pieces connect. You can see that the hole is offset
from the center of the side; when the servo is placed correctly in the hole, the
white knob extending from the servo will be centered in the frame. Place a
servo into the frame and attach it to the frame using the 1/4-inch screws, the
nuts, and the washers from bag two of the kit. Note that the servo flanges are
mounted inside the frame.
When each servo is securely attached to the frame, tighten all the nuts on
the frame and the servos. You will want to perform this on a flat surface so that
you ensure the frame remains flat when all the screws and nuts are tightened.
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The Controller and the Deck
Start by peeling the paper off the acrylic. The acrylic deck has holes predrilled
into it. These holes will be used to attach the controller and a few other parts.
Since the acrylic deck is designed to support several different controllers, you
will not use all the holes.
The Robot Geek Says
The Acrylic Deck
If you are building the robot from scratch, and you bought an acrylic
deck that was not predrilled, you will need to drill your own holes in
the deck. Here is what you need:
✖
Three countersunk holes for the BrainStem controller
✖
One 1/4-inch hole for the switch
✖
One hole (or slot) for the controller cable
✖
Holes for attaching the deck to the frame (if needed)
As you read through the chapter, make note of the general location of
these holes, and use that as a guide for positioning and drilling the holes
for your robot.
From bag two, find the three nylon spacers that have a threaded end, three
nylon screws, and three nylon washers. Insert a screw through one of the
countersunk holes in the deck, add a nylon washer, and then screw the nylon
spacer onto the screw. Repeat for the other two spacers.
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Each spacer has a threaded post. Position the Pontech controller on top of
the posts, so that each post goes through a mounting hole on the controller
board. Attach the board to the spacers using a lock washer and hex nut.
Attaching the Deck to the Frame
There are six metal tabs spaced around the top of the frame. These tabs should
line up with holes drilled into the acrylic deck. Line up the deck with the tabs,
and attach them with screws, washers, and nuts.
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Completing the Wiring
Find the wires that came in bag three of the kit. You will find three red wires,
three yellow wires, and three black wires. The primary reason for having
three colors is to keep track of which wire is which when you are inserting the
wires into the Molex housing. These wires already have crimps on each end.
The short crimps fit into the white housing that connects to the IR sensors; the
long crimps fit into the black housing that connects to the controller board.
Looking at the following illustration, you will see that each crimp has a small
tab that extends up from the crimp. This tab will lock into a slot on the housing
and prevent the wire from being easily removed from the housing.
Start with the short crimps and the white Molex housing. Insert the wires
into the housing as shown next. With the housing oriented as shown in the
illustration, the wires from left to right are red, black, and yellow. The middle
wire on this connector is the ground wire.
Now take each pair of black and red wires, and insert them into a black
Molex housing. This will leave all the yellow wires loose; we will get to them
soon.
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Connect one white Molex housing to each sensor. There is a tab on the wire
housing that fits into a slot on the sensor housing.
Now you will connect the other end of each wiring assembly to the SV203.
If you look at the component side of the SV203 controller, with the DB9 connector toward the bottom, you will see a block of pins on the right side of the
board labeled S1 through S8. The wire assembly from Sensor 1 should be
plugged into S8, with the black wire closest to the edge of the board. Likewise,
Sensor 2 plugs into S7, and Sensor 3 plugs into S6.
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Take the yellow wires from IR Rangers 1 and 2, and insert them into a Molex
housing. Take the final yellow wire from Ranger 3, and plug it into the remaining housing. On the left side of the controller board is a block of pins labeled
J3. Attach the first housing to the topmost set of pins, with the wire from sensor 1 closest to the edge of the board. Plug the final controller into the next set
of pins, with wire three plugging into the pin closest to the edge of the board.
Now you will perform a similar operation with the servos. The wire assembly from Servo 1 plugs into S1; Servo 2 plugs into S2; Servo 3 plugs into S3.
In each case, the black wire should plug into the pin closest to the edge of
the board.
The next step is to mount is the switch. The switch will have two washers
and two nuts. Remove the topmost nut and washer. Spin the bottom nut so
that it is about two-thirds of the way down the threads on the switch as shown
in the following illustration. The washer on top of this nut should have a small
tab that fits into a slot in the threads. Now insert the switch into the deck so
that the toggle extends above the deck. Use the other washer and nut to fasten
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the switch to the deck. You may need to adjust the vertical position of the bottom nut to ensure that the switch fits well.
Finally, position the battery pack into the frame. When you have it positioned so that it fits correctly, secure it in place with the foam tape. Take the
battery wire assembly, route it to the controller board, and plug it into
the power pins on the left side of the SV203. The black wire will plug into the
pin closer to the center of the board. It should fit only when it is positioned
correctly.
Attaching the Palm Connector and the Wheels
Take the DB9 end of the Palm connector and plug it into the DB9 connector on
the SV203 controller. Use a cable tie to bundle the Palm cable and the other
wires underneath the deck. The cable tie loops through two holes in the
acrylic. Leave a small piece of the cable tie protruding above the deck. Attach
another cable tie to the other side of the deck. The two cable ties help to keep
the Palm in place.
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With the deck attached to the frame, you’re ready for the wheels. Each
wheel has a white disk on one side. This disk will fit over the white horn extending from the servo. The hole in the disk has small teeth that fit into similar
teeth on the horn. With the teeth lined up properly, the wheel will slide onto
the horn with just a little pressure. Use the small black screws from bag three
to attach the wheels. Be careful to get the screw lined up properly, and don’t
strip the screw hole.
The robot is now complete. If your batteries are charged up, insert them
into the battery holder. If the wheels move or twitch when the batteries are inserted, the switch is in the On position, so move it to the other position.
What’s Next?
If you are using the Palm III or Palm V kits, you are ready to start playing
with your robot. You can skip Chapter 4 and move straight to Chapter 5. In
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Chapter 5, we’ll show you where to get software for your robot, and how to
use the software with your robot. If you want to do your own programming,
go to Chapter 6 to see how to use the Palm Robot Programmer, or Chapter 7 to
see how to program the Robot using C/C++, BASIC, or Java (Chapter 8).
If you are using the PPRK with a Palm VII, you still have some work to do.
Proceed to Chapter 4 to see how to do this.
Building the PPRK with the BrainStem Controller
Like the PPRK easy kit, all you need to build the BrainStem kit is some patience and a couple of screwdrivers—one standard and one Phillips. Before
attempting to put anything together, you should examine everything in the
kit and compare it to the shipping list to ensure that you have everything you
are supposed to have. Here is a list of all the parts that should be in the kit:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
Battery charger, four rechargeable AA batteries, one 9-volt battery
Three poly roller wheels
Three servos
One acrylic chassis plate
One BrainStem controller
One bag of parts containing the aluminum frame, the sensors,
and the various screws, washers, and nuts to connect the sensors
to the frame
❏ One bag of parts containing the screws, nuts, and washers for
holding everything else together
❏ One bag of parts containing the wires, crimps, and battery
holders
Additionally, you should have purchased an interface cable of some kind.
Since the BrainStem can interface to many different platforms, the interface
cable is sold separately from the kit.
The Batteries
The BrainStem kit contains rechargeable batteries to power the robot. Since
you can’t do much with uncharged batteries, start by putting the batteries into
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the charger and plugging the charger into an electrical socket. This will ensure
that the batteries are ready for you when the robot is complete.
Building the Frame
Start by finding the IR rangers, and the parts to connect the ranger to the aluminum frame. For each ranger you will need two 5/8-inch screws, two nylon
washers, two nylon spacers, two lock washers, and two nuts. These parts will
be in bag one of the kit. Attach one ranger to each aluminum frame piece. Start
by inserting both screws through the frame, then adding the washers and
spacers. Place the sensor onto the screws and fasten it with the lock washers
and nuts.
Now you will attach the three frame pieces together to make a single frame.
Notice that each piece has a long arm and a short arm. When the pieces are oriented correctly, the long arm on one piece will line up with the short arm on an
adjacent piece. Align the holes in each arm, and connect the pieces using a
screw, washer, and a nut from bag two of the kit. Tighten the nuts just enough
to hold everything together; we will tighten them completely in a later step.
The next step is to attach the servos to the frame. Each of the three servos
will be attached to the frame through the rectangular hole that is on each side
of the frame where the frame pieces connect. You can see that the hole is offset
from the center of the side; when the servo is placed correctly in the hole, the
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white knob extending from the servo will be centered in the frame. Place a
servo into the frame and attach it to the frame using screws, nuts, and washers
from bag two of the kit. You will need four of each to attach the servo.
When each servo is securely attached to the frame, tighten all the nuts on
the frame and the servos. You will want to perform this on a flat surface so that
you ensure the frame remains flat when all the screws and nuts are tightened.
The Controller and the Deck
Start by peeling the paper off the acrylic. The acrylic deck has holes predrilled
into it. These holes will be used to attach the controller and a few other parts.
Since the acrylic is designed to support several different controllers, you will
not use all the holes.
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When we built our BrainStem PPRK, we found that the hole for the switch
was not in the best location for us. We subsequently moved the switch to
a new location. Because it’s better to drill new holes before you attach any
components to the deck, this would be the best time to drill a new hole for the
switch. Drill a 1/4-inch hole as shown in the illustration.
From bag two, find the three nylon spacers that have a threaded end, three
nylon screws, and three nylon washers. Insert a screw through one of the
countersunk holes in the deck, add a nylon washer, and then screw the nylon
spacer onto the screw. Repeat for the other two spacers.
Each spacer has a threaded post. Position the BrainStem controller on
top of the posts, so that each post goes through a mounting hole on the
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controller board. If you’re confident that everything is correct, attach the
board to the spacers using a lock washer and hex nut.
If you’re not so sure, don’t attach the board until you connect the sensors
and servos and test the connections.
Completing the Wiring
Find the wires that came in bag three of the kit. You will find three red wires,
three yellow wires, and three black wires. The primary reason for having
three colors is to keep track of which wire is which when you are inserting the
wires into the Molex housing. These wires already have crimps on each end.
The short crimps fit into the white housing that connects to the IR sensors; the
long crimps fit into the black housing that connects to the controller board.
Looking at each crimp, you will see that it has a small tab that extends up from
the crimp. This tab will lock into a slot on the housing and prevent the wire
from being easily removed from the housing.
Start with the short crimps and the white Molex housing. Insert the wire
into the housing. The middle wire on this connector is the ground wire.
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Now, you may want to wrap or braid the wires so that they are easier to
manage. Acroname recommends braiding the wires. You could also wrap
them with electrical tape or heat shrink tubing.
Now you will need to insert the long crimps into the black Molex housing.
You must ensure that the wires are inserted in the correct order. If you examine the housing, you will see a small arrowhead imprinted on the housing.
The wire that was the middle wire for the white connector should be inserted
into the slot that lines up with the arrowhead. The other two wires should be
inserted as shown next. The red wire goes into the center slot, and the yellow
wire into the other outside slot.
Repeat until you have three wire assemblies.
The Robot Geek Says
Wiring
You must ensure that the connector housings are wired correctly.
If you attach the wires incorrectly, your robot will certainly not work;
at worst, you might damage the controller board.
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✖
In the sensor housing, the ground wire must be the center wire.
✖
In the controller board housing, the ground wire will be the wire
that lines up with the small arrowhead imprinted on the housing.
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✖
On the controller board, the ground wire is the pin closest to the board.
The connectors from the sensors will plug into the analog ports on the controller board. These ports are on the top left side of the board and are labeled
H1. There are five ports, numbered 0 to 4; port 0 is the leftmost port, and you
should be able to see the number 0 printed on the controller board under the
pins for port 0.
The Robot Geek Says
Port Numbering
If you are not a programmer, you might wonder why the ports are
numbered from 0 to 4 and not 1 to 5. That’s because of the way digital
computers address and use memory locations. To put it simply, each
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memory location has an address. When a block of memory is used, the
first location has a particular address, the next location is at address+1,
the next location is address+2, etc. Thus, the first location is address+0.
And that’s why computer geeks who go to football games can be heard
to yell, “We’re number zero!”
Using the three wire assemblies, connect Sensor 1 to Port 0, Sensor 2 to Port
1, and (can you guess what’s coming?) Sensor 3 to Port 2. Note that the white
connector can only be inserted one way: there is a small tab on the housing
that fits into a slot on the sensor connector. On the controller board, there are
no tabs and slots to help you get lined up. So, ensure the ground wire (the
black wire, if you’re using color coding), is closest to the board, and attach the
connector to the posts.
Now, you’ll attach the servos to the controller. The digital ports for the servos are the four sets of pins at the top right of the controller board labeled H4.
Again, the ground pin is the pin closest to the board. Attach Servo 1 to Port 0,
Servo 2 to Port 1, Servo 3 to Port 2.
The last connections to be made are from the AA battery pack and the 9-volt
connector. The battery connectors should be attached to the controller board
as shown in the following illustration. The black wire of each connector is the
ground wire; it should be attached to the ground pins on the controller board.
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The ground pins are labeled GND on the board (although this might be partially obscured by the nylon spacer).
AA power
9v power
The next part to mount is the switch. On our kit, the switch was actually
cramped by the servo next to it, so we later moved the switch. If you already
drilled a new hole as explained earlier in this chapter, you can mount the
switch in the new location. The switch will have two washers and two nuts.
Remove the topmost nut and washer. Spin the bottom nut so that it is about
two-thirds of the way down the threads on the switch. The washer on top of
this nut should have a small tab that fits into a slot in the threads.
Now insert the switch into the deck so that the toggle extends above the
deck. Use the other washer and nut to fasten the switch to the deck. You may
need to adjust the vertical position of the bottom nut to ensure that the switch
fits well.
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Position the battery holder in the robot. There should be room for the battery holder between the BrainStem controller and sensor 1. Attach the battery
holder using double-sided foam tape.
Position the 9-volt battery clip in the robot. You will want to insert the battery into the clip when you position it. The battery clip will fit opposite the
power connections of the BrainStem controller. When the battery is positioned so that it fits, use double-sided foam tape to attach it.
Attaching the Deck to the Frame
Before attaching the deck to the frame, you may want to test your connections.
To do this you will need the Config program from Acroname. We show you
how to download and install this program in Chapter 5. So, go download, install, and run Config. Use it to verify that the servos and sensors are wired correctly and are working. If they are not, check your wiring and power
connections and fix any problems you find. Once everything is working, attach the BrainStem to the deck, if needed. There are six metal tabs spaced
around the top of the frame. These tabs should line up with holes drilled into
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the acrylic deck. Line up the deck with the tabs, and attach them with the remaining screws, washers, and nuts.
Attaching the Wheels
With the deck attached to the frame, you’re ready for the wheels. Each wheel
has a white disk on one side. This disk will fit over the white horn extending
from the servo. The hole in the disk has small teeth that fit into similar teeth on
the horn. With the teeth lined up properly, the wheel will slide onto the horn
with just a little pressure. Use the small black screws from bag three to attach
the wheels. Be careful to get the screw lined up properly and don’t strip the
screw hole.
Attaching the Palm
The connector from the Palm device (or any other device you might be using)
uses another Molex connector to attach to the BrainStem controller. The cable
runs through a slot in the deck, between the servos and the deck, to the BrainStem controller. The cable plugs into the serial connectors on the right side of
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the board. Ensure that you plug the housing into the pins so that the ground
wire (the wire with the red stripe) plugs into the ground pin. Most of the cables from Acroname come preassembled. One exception is the cable for the
Handspring Visor. Instructions on how to assemble this connector are in
Chapter 4.
What’s Next?
Your robot may not be complete, depending on which model you have and
what you are using as the brains of the robot.
If you are using the Palm III or Palm V kits, or the BrainStem kit with anything other than a Handspring Visor, you are ready to start playing with your
robot. You can skip Chapter 4 and move straight to Chapter 5. In Chapter 5,
we’ll show you where to get software for your robot, and how to use the software with your robot. If you want to do your own programming, go to Chapter 6 to see how to use the Palm Robot Programmer, or Chapters 5, 7, or 8 to see
how to program the Robot using C/C++, BASIC, or Java.
If you are using the BrainStem kit and a Handspring Visor, or the PPRK
with a Palm VII, you still have some work to do. Proceed to Chapter 4 to see
how to do this, then Chapter 5 to get software for your robot; Chapter 6 to
learn how to use the Palm Robot Programmer; or Chapters 5, 7, or 8 to learn
how to program the Robot using C/C++, BASIC, or Java.
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H
as this ever happened to you? You buy some cool gadget, take it home,
open the box, and are then confronted by those three dreaded words:
“Batteries not included.” What a bummer.
If you were planning to use a Handspring Visor with your PPRK (Palm Pilot
Robot Kit) or BrainStem robot, you probably feel just that way. Even though
the Visor runs the Palm OS, it is easier to use a Palm III or a Palm V with your
PPRK or BrainStem than to use the Handspring Visor. The Pontech SV203
won’t work with the Visor at all, unless you modify the controller board. And
with the BrainStem, every other style of connector cable comes preassembled,
except for the Visor cable.
If you have a Palm VII, the situation is a little better. Because the Palm VII
uses the same connector as the Palm III, you can use any of the PPRK Palm III kits
or the BrainStem kit with the Palm III connector with your Palm VII. Almost.
When using the Palm VII with the Pontech controller, you may need to do a
software mod to the controller to get the Palm VII and the controller to communicate correctly.
In this chapter, we’ll start by looking at how to construct the BrainStem
connector for the Handspring Visor. Next we’ll look at how to modify the
Pontech SV203 to work with a Handspring Visor and how to build a connector
for the SV203 and Visor. Finally, we’ll look at how to use a Palm VII with the
PPRK and Pontech controller.
Using a Handspring Visor with the BrainStem
The BrainStem kit from Acroname is designed to be connected to any one of
many different computing devices. For this reason, the connector is sold separately from the kit. Acroname sells connectors for connecting the BrainStem to
a Mac PC, a Windows PC, a Linux PC, a Palm III, a Palm V, and a Handspring
Visor. For most of those devices, the cable comes already built and ready to attach
the BrainStem to the device.
Unfortunately, if you have a Handspring Visor, you’ve probably already
discovered that the cable is not already built and that you’ve got some soldering
to do.
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Parts List
These parts should come in the cable kit from Acroname. If, however, you are
trying to roll your own, you’ll need to find these parts to build a Visor cable:
❏ Three conductor flat cables with crimps (available from
www.mouser.com; cable and crimps separate).
❏ Molex three conductor housing (available from www.mouser.com).
❏ Visor hot sync connector kit (www.atlconnect.com/thirdparty/
handspring/pricing/connectors.htm, part #500835).
❏ Sonic screwdriver for putting it all together. If you don’t have
a sonic screwdriver, you’ll need a soldering iron and solder.
Soldering the Connector and Printed Circuit Board
The kit contains a black connector, shown here, that provides the connection to
the Visor. The connector has eight metal connector pins. On each side of the metal
pins are plastic pins that will be used to align the connector to the circuit board.
The Visor connector contains a printed circuit board with a small notch cut
into each of the short sides, as shown next. Also, each connection on the board
shows a printed number just to the left of the connection. These numbers will
come in handy later when we solder the connector pins to the circuit board.
(They also come in handy when you are trying to remember how many
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dwarves there are in the story of Snow White. Yes, there was an eighth dwarf;
his name was Geeky.)
Position the black connector onto the circuit board. The black pins on the
connector should fit into the notches on the circuit board. The connection
should be just snug enough to keep the two parts together, as shown here:
Solder pins 1, 4, and 8 to the circuit board, as shown next. (Thinking about
soldering the other connections? Don’t. They won’t be used, and soldering
them simply increases the chances of creating a short circuit among the pins
that are used.)
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The Safety Geek Says
Both the previous and next steps involve some soldering. If you’ve
built electronic circuits or dabbled in hobbies like radio control models,
you’re probably already familiar with how to solder—more importantly,
how to do it safely. If you’ve never soldered a connection before, then
STOP! Find someone who knows how to solder and ask for a quick
lesson on soldering connections.
When soldering circuit boards, follow these tips:
✖
The pins are close together, and pins 1 and 8 are close to the plastic of
the connector. Be careful to heat only the connection you are trying to
solder, and don’t melt the plastic.
✖
Use as little solder as possible. After soldering the three pins, examine
the board carefully to ensure you have not created a short circuit with
any of the other connectors.
✖
Cool your new connection as soon as you complete the solder. We keep
a damp rag nearby to dab the solder right away. If you let it sit too long,
the extreme heat of the solder can damage nearby circuits or connections.
✖
Solder contains lead, and lead is toxic to humans like us. Take care to
wash your hands after using lead solder, and avoid eating the circuits.
✖
Don’t inhale the fumes from the soldering process.
✖
The soldering iron, hot enough to melt solder, is also hot enough to give
you a nasty burn. Treat the iron with care. Unplug it when you are finished.
✖
The connection you just soldered is as hot as the iron. Give it a chance
to cool before you touch it.
Connecting the Cable
Now it’s time to solder the cable to the connector. The cable that comes with
the kit has crimps on one end and bare wire on the other end, as shown next. If the
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other end is not stripped, separate a short section of the strands and use a wire
stripper to strip a short (1/8 inch or less) section of each wire.
The wire on one side of the cable will have a red stripe painted on it. Solder
this wire to circuit board connector 4. Solder the wire on the other side of the
cable to the circuit board connector 8. Finally, take the middle wire and solder
it to the circuit board connector 1. If you have a four-wire cable, you can do it
the hard way like we did and solder the wire next to the red wire to connector
1 and the outside wire to connector 8; then clip the other middle wire and
leave it unsoldered. Or you can simplify things by pulling the outside wire off
the cable, leaving a three-wire cable.
The Safety Geek Says
A short circuit can turn your world-conquering robot into just another
pile of electronic junk. Carefully check the solder connections you just
made to ensure that no adjacent connectors are soldered together.
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The black Molex connector will have four slots. It will also have a small arrowhead imprinted on the connector. Find that arrowhead and insert the red
wire into the slot that lines up with the arrowhead. Insert the middle wire into
the slot next to the red wire. Skip the third slot and insert the final wire into the
slot on the right side of the Molex connector.
If you still have a four-wire connector, insert the wire next to the red wire
into the slot next to the red wire and insert the third wire into the third slot.
When connected correctly, each wire in the cable will be inserted in order into
the connector with no wires crossing over, as shown here:
Assembling the Visor’s Connector
The connector housing kit has two metal clips, shown next, and two black
plastic buttons. Each button has slots that slide over the metal clip. Slide each
button over one of the clips.
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Take one of the connector housing sides. Insert both clips into the connector
housing. The metal clips fit into L-shaped slots in the housing. Also, when positioned correctly, the black buttons will extend through a small hole in the
side of the housing.
Insert the circuit board and connector into the housing. The metal clips will
help hold it in place.
Snap the other housing piece into place.
Your Visor BrainStem connector cable is now complete. You can skip the
rest of the chapter and go on to the next chapter.
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Using a Handspring Visor with the PPRK
Famous quotes that got it wrong:
❏ “The world is round, and we’ll be in China in just a few months.”
❏ “They’re just a few colonists with no army, so we’ll have no problem
quelling that revolution.”
❏ “…any handheld computer (such as Palm, Visor, etc.) that supports
serial communication should be usable for PPRK.”
To be fair, that last quote, from the Carnegie Mellon PPRK web page, starts
with the phrase, “We tested only Palm III, but…”
The folks at Carnegie Mellon knew that the PPRK might not work with
other PDAs. As it turns out, the Handspring Visor doesn’t work quite as well
as the Palm III or Palm V. To use the Visor with the Pontech controller you’ll
need to make a connector cable as well as a nontrivial modification to the controller board.
The Robot Geek Says
Top Ten Reasons You Should Buy a BrainStem PPRK
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✖
We really, really, really (really!) recommend that if you have a
Handspring Visor, you get the BrainStem kit. Really.
✖
You can modify your SV203 controller to work with the Visor, but this
is definitely a task for a hardcore roboticist.
✖
You will need to build your own connector cable.
✖
Did we mention that we recommend the BrainStem controller for
the Visor?
✖
You can use the Visor with a BrainStem without any modification to
the BrainStem.
✖
If you choose to modify the SV203, you do so at your own risk.
✖
Modifying the SV203 could possibly lead to a reconfiguration of the
galactic dimensional matrix, resulting in a universe where jazz is still the
most popular genre of music in the world. Dave thinks that situation is
akin to the end of the world.
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✖
You can also damage your SV203, making it unusable.
✖
We cannot be responsible for damage you cause to the controller,
to other components, or to the universe, as a result of attempting
this modification.
✖
Really, if you have a Visor, consider using the BrainStem kit.
Parts List
Pressing on? Here’s what you’ll need:
❏ Visor hot sync serial cable, or Visor hot sync connector
kit (www.atlconnect.com/thirdparty/handspring/pricing/
connectors.htm, part #500835, and three-wire cable)
❏ DB9 male connector (www.mouser.com or Radio Shack,
or other electronic supplier)
❏ Ohmmeter or other circuit checking device (Radio Shack
or other electronic supplier)
❏ Pontech SV203 controller (www.pontech.com, or
www.acroname.com)
❏ Soldering iron or sonic screwdriver
❏ Solder wick or other solder removal tool (Radio Shack
or other electronic supplier)
If you have a Visor serial cable with a DB9 female connector, skip ahead to
the section “Connecting the Cable to a DB9 Male Connector.” If you are building
your own cable, start with the next section, “Building a Cable.”
Building a Cable
If you are using the Visor hot sync connector kit to create the cable, follow the
directions in the previous section for soldering the connector and the cable
and putting the connector together (but not the part about inserting the
crimps into the Molex connector). In a nutshell, those steps go like this:
1. Position the connector on the circuit board and solder pins 1, 4, and 8.
2. Solder the three wires in the cable to the circuit board—the red wire
to connector 4, the middle wire to connector 1, and the remaining
wire to connector 8.
3. Slide the buttons over the metal clips.
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4. Insert the metal clips into the housing.
5. Insert the circuit board into the housing.
6. Assemble the connector.
If all goes well, at this point, you will have a cable with a Visor connector at
one end and unattached wire at the other end, as shown here.
Connecting the Cable to a DB9 Male Connector
Start by cutting the cable approximately 18 inches from the Visor connector. If
you have an actual Visor serial cable that you are modifying, you will need to
find the wires in the cable that correspond to pins 1, 4, and 8 in the Visor connector. If you built your own connector, you may already know which wire is
which, so you can go on to the next step. Otherwise, set your ohmmeter
(shown next) to check for resistance, and by touching the ohmmeter probe to
pin 1 and to each of the wires at the other end of the cable, determine which
wire is connected to pin 1 of the connector. Label wire 1. The pins of the connector are numbered from right to left. Follow the same procedure to identify
the wires connected to pins 4 and 8 of the Visor connector.
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pin 1
pin 4
pin 8
The Robot Geek Says
A Cheap Connection Tester (Based on Evan Johnson’s
Sixth Grade Science Project)
If you don’t have an ohmmeter, you can easily create a simple
continuity checker to determine which wire is connected to which
connector pin. Try this:
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✖
Create a simple electric circuit with probes or clips that can be attached
to each end of a conductor. The circuit consists of a simple serial connection
between batteries and a light bulb with some break in the circuit. Each end
of the break is a “probe” that can be used to check for circuit continuity.
✖
By touching one probe to a connector pin, each wire can be tested for
conductivity. When the two probes touch the correct pin and wire, the
electric circuit is completed and the light bulb will light.
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Next, solder (or otherwise attach) each of the three wires to the DB9 connector as shown in the table. Looking at the back of a DB9 male connector, the
pins are numbered from right to left on the top row. The rightmost pin is number 1, and the leftmost is number 5.
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Visor Pin
DB9 Pin
1
2
8
3
4
5
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If necessary, reassemble the DB9 connector. You may want to use the ohmmeter to double check that pins 1, 4, and 8 are connected to pins 2, 3, and 5 of
the DB9 connector.
Modifying the Pontech SV203
Now it’s time to modify the Pontech SV203 controller to work with the Visor.
This requires that you remove one of the chips from the controller and make
some new connections on the board. This is not a trivial task. We don’t mean to
scare you away from trying it, but just be advised that it’s a project that is best
left for the more advanced hobbyist. Dave, for instance, shouldn’t try this.
Kevin, on the other hand, is actually salivating at the thought of prying this
puppy open.
The Robot Geek Says
Reasons Not to Modify the Pontech SV203
✖
Modifying the Pontech SV203 controller board will almost certainly
void your warranty, could damage the controller, and might, as we’ve
mentioned, lead to a reconfiguration of the galactic dimensional matrix.
✖
Did we mention that we recommend you use the BrainStem controller
with a Visor?
If you examine the SV203, you’ll find one side with connector pins and various components. This is the front side. The back side consists of the electrical
connections between the components and a single IC (integrated circuit) chip
labeled “MAX 489.” The labeling is hard to see, but trust us, it’s there; you can
see it if you hold the board at just the right angle. Also, you’ll see a small,
round dimple in the chip. That dimple marks the location of pin 1. Remember
the location of pin 1, because later you’ll need to know where it is.
Heat up the soldering iron: that chip needs to go. Carefully melt and remove the solder from the pins of the chip. Be careful not to overheat or damage the circuit board while you do this, which can happen if you continue to
apply more and more heat to the board. We recommend that you melt one pin
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at a time and immediately cool the board after each pin is melted. Then reapply the soldering iron to work on the next pin, cooling it immediately as soon
as the pin is gone. Work your way around the chip this way.
The Robot Geek Says
Methods for Removing Solder
You can use a number of tools for removing solder from a connection.
We recommend these:
✖
Suction This involves using a device that sucks up melted solder. Use a
tool designed for that, not a straw and your lips (Dave learned this the hard
way). Radio Shack #64-2098 “Vacuum Desoldering Tool” is one choice.
✖
Solder wick This consists of a braid of wire that wicks up molten
solder from a connection.
Gently remove the chip from the board. You may need to use a small Exacto
knife or a similar sharp instrument to remove the chip. Again, take care not to
damage the board. After the chip is removed, examine the circuit board to ensure that no stray solder has short circuited any of the connections. If you see
any stray solder, carefully clean it off the board with your Exacto knife or with
the soldering iron and solder removal device.
Using fine-gauge wires, create jumper connections between pins 2 and 11,
and between pins 5 and 10. To find these pins, count the pins moving in a
counterclockwise direction from pin 1. Moving right to left from pin 1 are pins
2 through 7. Immediately below pin 7 is pin 8; the bottom row of pins are numbered from left (pin 8) to right (pin 14). Again, check for short circuits when
you are finished, removing any that you find.
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The Pontech controller is now ready to use with your Visor. You can skip
the remainder of the chapter and go on to the next chapter.
Using a Palm VII with the PPRK
As we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the Palm VII has the same
style of hot sync connector as the Palm III, so it will work with either the
Pontech or BrainStem controllers—at least, it should work just fine in most
cases. Consequently, before proceeding with this section, you should skip
ahead to Chapter 5, download some of the sample programs, and attempt to
use them with your Palm VII. If, after attempting to run a program, your Palm
VII does not seem to be communicating with the SV203, you should come
back to this section and use the troubleshooting information here.
If your robot does not seem to be working, first check that all the connections are correct. Check the wiring between the servos and the controller and
the sensors and the controller. Ensure that each Molex connector is plugged in
the board in the correct orientation. If the robot appears to be constructed correctly, you may need to check the communication link between the Palm VII
and the SV203.
Some Palm VII devices will have problems communicating with the Pontech
controller because the speed at which the Palm device is talking does not match
the speed with which the SV203 is listening. You can fix that problem by adjusting the communication speed of the Pontech controller.
The Robot Geek Says
Communicating at Nearly the Speed of Light
When two electronic devices are communicating, they need to speak
the same “language.” The Pontech accepts commands over an RS232
serial connection. When the Palm VII sends a message to the SV203, or
the SV203 sends a sensor reading to the Palm VII, the message needs to
be formatted according to the RS232 format. Part of that format includes
the speed, or baud rate, at which data is sent over the wire. If the two
devices are communicating at different speeds, they won’t be able to
understand each other.
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The baud rate at which the SV203 operates is set by a memory location in
the EEPROM of the SV203. The controller can be set to any baud rate between
2400 to 19200 baud. The default setting is 9600 baud, which is the same rate as
the Palm VII. However, if either device is slightly off 9600 precisely, the Palm
VII will not be able to communicate with the SV203. Symptoms of this problem include these: the Palm sends commands that the SV203 does not seem to
receive, or the Palm VII does not receive sensor readings from the SV203.
To solve the communication problem, you will need to change the baud
rate of the SV203. And that leads us to the joke of the day:
Q: How many roboticists does it take to change the baud rate?
A: None; it’s a software problem!
This, of course, means you’ll need to take a look at Chapter 7 to learn how to
write a program for the Palm VII and the PPRK, and you’ll use that program to
adjust the baud rate of the SV203. If you’re not that ambitious, we provide a
program for you in the next section. (This is starting to feel like one of those interactive, reader-directed stories. If you choose to open the chest, go to page
395. If you choose to go through the door marked “Danger! Here be dragons.”
go to page 277.)
If you need to change the baud rate, you will need to start at Chapter 7, where
you can see how to write and use programs for the Pontech controller. Read the
section about using BASIC programs. Go ahead. We’ll wait here patiently.
Back already? Okay, let’s go.
Changing the Baud Rate
If you check the SV203 technical manual that came with the controller board,
you’ll see a section on commands you can send to the SV203 to change its configuration, to read a sensor, or to send a command to a servo. The command
we are interested in is the command to change the EEPROM setting for the
baud rate. Here’s the command to write to the EEPROM memory:
WEm n
You can find this command detailed on page 20 of the SV203 technical manual.
The m is an integer that can range from 0 to 11. The EEPROM register for the
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baud rate is register 9. The n is an integer that can range from 24 (19200 baud)
to 200 (2400 baud). The default setting is 50, which sets the baud rate to 9600.
So, the command to set the baud to 9600 is
WE9 50
To change the SV203 register, you send this command as a string to the controller board. Now, all we need is a simple program to do that. The following
program is written for the HotPaw Basic interpreter. The HotPaw interpreter
is on the CD-ROM for this book in the \Other Applications directory. If you
haven’t yet done so, install HotPaw Basic to your Palm VII. (You can find more
information on how to do this in Chapter 7.) Here is the program to change the
baud rate of the SV203:
#chbaud.bas
15 open "com1:", 9600 as #5
20 draw -1
25 draw "Set SV203 baud rate
30 form btn 75,95,70,20, "Send Command ",1
35 form fld 80,55,40,12, "50",1
40 draw "command value (24 to 200) = ",5,42
45 x=asc(input$(1))
50 sd$= "WE9 " + s$(0)
55 print #5,sd$;
60 sound 1800,100,64
65 sound 1500,30,64
70 close #5 :
75 goto 15 : end
In line 15, the program opens a communication channel through COM1, at
9600 baud. In lines 25–40, the program draws the form controls.
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The program then waits for you to enter a value in the form field. The default value is already set for you (50). Enter a new value to be set in the
EEPROM and click the Send Command button. The program constructs the
command in line 50, and then it sends the command to the SV203. It finishes
by playing a little beep and closing the communication channel.
HotPaw programs are saved as memos for the interpreter to run. The easiest way to enter the program is to find it on the CD-ROM with this book, save
it as a memo in the Palm Desktop, and then hot sync your PDA. Hot syncing
will transfer the memo to the PDA.
Enter and save this program to your Palm VII and attach the Palm VII to the
SV203. If needed, connect the power supply to the SV203 and turn the switch
to the on position. You can now use the program to set the baud rate of the
SV203.
Start by entering values close to 50, such as 49 or 51. After changing the baud
rate, try one of the sample programs from Chapter 5 again. If the robot can send
and receive from the Palm VII okay, you are done. Otherwise, you will need to
try a new value. If you tried 49 the first time, try 51; if you tried 51, use 49 the second time. After each new value, test one of the sample programs. If you need to
try additional values, move by increments of 1 away from the default value
of 50. Eventually, you should find a baud rate that allows the Palm VII to
communicate with the SV203.
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Restoring the Default Value
There is a chance that before you find a baud rate that works, you could set
the SV203 to a baud rate that prevents the Palm VII from communicating
with the SV203 at all. That means, of course, that the BASIC program above
will stop communicating with the SV203. At this point, you will need to reset
the SV203 manually to the default baud rate setting.
To reset the Pontech SV203 to its default setting, you will need to create a
circuit between two pins on the SV203 controller. Start by turning the power
switch to the off position. The SV203 has a block of pins marked J3. These are
the same pins into which the yellow wires from the sensors are plugged. If pins
7 and 8 in block J3 are connected while the board is powered on, the baud rate
of the board will be set to its default value. Connect each end of a single wire to
pins 7 and 8 as shown in the following illustration. Switch the power on, and
leave the SV203 on for at least 3 seconds.
This will reset the baud rate to 9600 and allow the Palm to communicate
with the SV203 once again.
Finishing Up
Once you’ve found a baud rate that works, write down the EEPROM value
you used and keep it in a safe place. You may need it in the future. You are now
ready to start playing with your robot.
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C
ongratulations! By this point, you should have a completely assembled
robot. If you’re like Dave, you’ll also have a small collection of spare
parts that actually outnumber the original components you started
with, an incinerated tablecloth from the soldering, and a cat that now needs a
considerable amount of therapy. That may not sound good, but you should
have seen him try to build his own PC.
So far, so good. Insert the batteries into the battery holder, flip the switch to
the on position, and watch that robot go! All hail the mighty robot! Robot, go!
Go, robot, go!
Oops, sorry … not quite yet. You’re still missing one vital piece of the puzzle: the robot’s software. The software tells your hardware what to do, how to
do it, and how frequently it should do it. Without a little programming, your
bot simply isn’t going to do much. That’s why, in this chapter, we’ll show
you some places where you can get some software that will allow you to start
playing with your PPRK (Palm Pilot Robot Kit).
Software for the PPRK
Because of the great interest in the PPRK, a number of web sites have posted
sample software for the robot. The two obvious places are the original PPRK
web site and Acroname, but a few other sites are out there as well. In this section, we’ll look at some places where you can get sample code for the PPRK.
Then we’ll use some of this sample code to test the PPRK. Although you can
download all the code from the web, don’t bother; you’ll find all the software
on the CD-ROM that’s attached to the back of this book.
TIP: If you built a robot using the BrainStem controller, you’ll want to jump
to the next major section of this chapter, “Software for the BrainStem.”
Software from Carnegie Mellon
The Carnegie Mellon PPRK web site (www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~pprk) contains a
small but useful section of software to get your PPRK up and running. Click
the Software link in the left column to get to the software page.
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The main software page contains three programs you can download and
use with your PPRK. They are ServoTest.prc, PenFollow.prc, and Robot1.prc.
❏ ServoTest.prc This program does exactly what the title implies:
it tests the servos. This is a good program to install and run when
you’re verifying the operation of your new robot.
❏ PenFollow.prc This program moves the robot in response to
your moving the stylus across the PDA screen. In other words, the
robot follows the direction of pen movement on the Palm screen.
❏ Robot1.prc This program has several routines to control the
robot, including following a wall or a target, moving and spinning
simultaneously, and displaying the readings from the infrared (IR)
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sensors. Unfortunately, Robot1.prc has a bug, and it doesn’t report
the correct ranger reading for the third ranger. If you really want
to verify all three rangers and the servos, check out the Config
program, which we discuss later in the section “Software for the
BrainStem.” Despite its location in the BrainStem section, Config
works with the SV203 also.
Since these programs are already compiled into Palm OS applications,
using them is as easy as downloading them from the web and performing a
hot sync operation to load them to your PDA. Take a moment to do that now
with Robot1 and one of the other two programs—we’ll wait for you.
NOTE: ServoTest and PenFollow conflict with each other. If you try to
install both of them on the Palm at the same time, only one will show up in the
Application Launcher.
ServoTest
ServoTest appears on your PDA as a Robot Test icon. Tap the icon and you will
see a simple interface that consists of a number of sliders that can be used to
control up to six servos. With the PDA attached to the robot, move sliders 1, 2,
or 3 (shown next), and the corresponding servo on the robot will rotate.
PenFollow
The PenFollow application (which appears rather conveniently as a Pen Follow icon on the PDA) also has a simple interface. It consists of a blank screen
with two buttons on the bottom. Tap the Start button, and move your stylus
across the screen. A line is drawn from the center of the screen to the current
stylus location, and the robot will start moving in the direction of this line.
Move the stylus, and the robot will follow it.
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Robot1
This program appears as a Palm Robot icon on your PDA. Tap the icon to run
the program and a number of buttons will appear on the screen. To test the target following capabilities of your robot, for example, tap the Target Follow
button. Tap that button and see if you can get the PPRK to follow you around
the room.
Tapping the other buttons will cause the robot to execute a number of other
behaviors:
❏ Tap Move & Spin to see a demonstration of the robot’s ability
to move in a line and spin simultaneously.
❏ Choose Wall Follow and, not surprisingly, the robot will attempt
to follow a nearby wall (located using the infrared sensors).
❏ Tap the Wandering button to put the robot into a mode in which
it wanders around the room, avoiding any obstacles it finds.
Other Software from Carnegie Mellon
The designers of the PPRK used the C++ language to write programs for the
PPRK, but C++ is not the only coding option. The Palm device controls the
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robot by sending simple text commands to the SV203 controller. For example,
if you look on page 10 of your SV203 technical manual, the command to select
a servo is
SVn
where n is the servo number. The command to move the servo (found on page
11 of the manual) is
Mn
where n is a number from 0 to 255.
Any software that can connect and send strings of data over a serial line can
be used to control the robot. A number of ingenious people have used other
languages to write sample programs for the PPRK. The Carnegie Mellon
PPRK software page has a link that will take you to some of these sample
programs. Look for the sentence that reads Programs Written By The PPRK
Community! Click Here. Click the link to go to the Community Programs
page. Alternatively, go directly to this web page: www-2.cs.cmu.edu/
~pprk/programs.html.
When we last visited it, the page included a few BASIC programs and a C
program to fiddle with; more may be offered by the time you read this.
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On this screen, three programs are written in the BASIC programming language for HotPaw Basic, and one C language program is written for PocketC.
The three BASIC programs are sequence_motors_test.bas, triangle3.bas, and
square2.bas. As you might guess, these programs test the servos, move the
robot in a triangle pattern, and move the robot in a square pattern. The C
Program is PocketPPRK and it demonstrates a number of different features of
the robot.
Using a BASIC Program with the Robot
Let’s use one of the BASIC programs to test out the PPRK. Before you can do
that, though, you’ll need to get a BASIC interpreter for your PDA. After
you’ve loaded an interpreter to the PDA, you can load and run BASIC programs on your PDA. So let’s start with the interpreter.
Loading HotPaw Basic
Several BASIC interpreters are available for the Palm OS. The three programs
on the Community Programs page were written for HotPaw Basic. We’ve included a copy of this application on the CD-ROM to make it easy for you to get
started. Find the ybas138b0.zip file in the \Other Applications\HotPaw directory of the CD-ROM and unpack it to your PC. You need to load two files to
your PDA: ybasic.prc and mathlib.prc.
The Robot Geek Says
Basic and Palm OS Devices
✖
✖
Even though we used HotPaw Basic to run the sample program here,
you can write programs for your robot using any BASIC interpreter that
runs on a Palm OS device. In addition to HotPaw Basic, we’ve included
NS Basic on the CD-ROM.
For now, you don’t need to worry about how to write a BASIC program
or how it executes. If you’re really interested, we cover that topic in
Chapter 7.
HotPaw Basic looks for program files in the Palm’s Memo Pad. Program
filenames begin with a pound (#) sign, are followed by the name of the program, and end with a .bas extension. Here’s how to prepare your PDA to run
the program:
❏ Download the triangle3.bas program (available at www-2.cs
.cmu.edu/~pprk/programs.html or on the CD-ROM.)
❏ Open triangle3.bas in a text editor and copy it into a memo in
the Palm Desktop on your PC. If you synchronize with Microsoft
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Outlook—not Palm Desktop—copy the program into an Outlook
Note instead.
❏ Perform a hot sync operation; the memo will be transferred to
the PDA.
With the program now stored as a memo on your PDA, you can run the
program using HotPaw Basic. Find and launch HotPaw Basic from the Application Launcher (it will be listed as ybasic). This brings up a screen that
lists the programs that HotPaw Basic found in the memo pad.
If triangle3.bas does not appear in the list, check to make sure that
❏ The program did indeed get loaded to the PDA.
❏ The first line of the program begins with a # symbol.
❏ The first line of the program then contains the name of the
program, which ends with the .bas extension.
Tap the program name, #triangle3.bas, and then tap the Run button. The
robot should now move in a triangular pattern.
Using a PocketC Program with the Robot
The C program, PocketPPRK, is probably the most extensive program available on the Carnegie Mellon web site. But to use it, you will need to download and install the PocketC runtime for your PDA. Here’s what you need to
do to run the program:
1.
Find the ZIP file PocketC_rt.zip on the CD-ROM in the PocketC
directory (the program is also available in a number of places on
the web, including www.orbworks.com and www.PalmGear.com).
2.
Unzip the archive and install PocketC.prc and mathlib.prc to
your PDA.
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3. Find the PocketPPRK.zip file on the CD-ROM (or at www-2.cs
.cmu.edu/~pprk/programs.html) Unzip the archive
and install pprk.pdb and PToolboxLib.prc on your PDA.
4. Find the PocketC icon in the Application Launcher and run it.
5. Select pprk from the list of compiled programs and tap the Execute
button.
You will see buttons for seven robot programs. Tapping a button will cause
the robot to execute the related program. Here’s what the programs do:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
Wanderer
The robot wanders around, avoiding obstacles.
Wall Follow
The robot follows a nearby wall.
Spin Follow
The robot follows a wall—while spinning.
Leap Frog
The robot follows a wall in a leap frog fashion.
Holonomic The robot demonstrates its ability to move in any
direction without turning, using three wheels that are not aligned.
❏ Memo The robot executes a pattern stored as text commands in
the memo pad. A number of sample patterns are included in the
PocketPPRK.zip file.
❏ Scribble The robot follows a pattern that is doodled on the
PDA’s screen.
Software for the BrainStem
Your BrainStem controller will not use the same software files as the Pontech
SV203. BrainStem is an Acroname product, so most of the software that is
available will be from Acroname. Also, because the BrainStem supports many
different platforms, you can find software for Windows, Mac, and Palm OS
devices, just to name a few.
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To make your life easier, all the files from Acroname are already included
on the CD-ROM with this book. Simply locate the file you need and unpack it
to your hard drive. In the event you’ve lost the CD, or you want to check for
the latest versions of the files, we’ll show you how to do that next.
Acroname is continuously updating its software. During the time this book
was written, the software was updated from version 14 to version 15. If you
want to get the latest BrainStem software, start by going to Acroname’s web
site at www.acroname.com. Click the Downloads link in the About Robotics
set of links, as shown here:
Before you can download any software, Acroname requires that you create a
login account. After entering the required information, as shown next, you will
be able to navigate to the actual downloads page. (To the best of our knowledge,
Acroname doesn’t do anything nefarious with your login information. If you
are concerned, you can read the privacy statement on the web site.)
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For this chapter, the only file you need is the PPRK SDK file for your platform. For example, if you are using a Palm OS device and a Windows PC, you
will download the BrainStem PPRK SDK for the target platform Palm OS and
the download platform Win32. This is important! Getting the two platforms
correct is vital. For example, if you download the Palm OS PPRK SDK for the
Mac OS X and you have a Windows machine, the software will not work.
Some computers have even been known to go on strike if you try to give them
the wrong software.
The PPRK SDK contains most of the files you need to work with the robot.
However, we will be using some of the other files later in the book, so you can
download and install those programs now if you wish. The other files you
may want are listed here:
❏ BrainStem Java Access This is used for programming the robot
using the Java programming language.
❏ BrainStem C Development This is used for programming the
robot using the C programming language.
❏ BrainStem Reference Here is documentation for using and
programming the BrainStem controller.
❏ BrainStem SDK This contains everything except the BrainStem
Java Access files and the BrainStem reference files.
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Working with the Robot
After unpacking the software, you can start trying out some of the applications. Acroname supplies several applications for working with the
BrainStem controller and the robot. The Config program provides a way to
test the analog sensors and servos of the PPRK. The GP program is similar to
the Config program, but it’s a more general purpose program. Finally, the
Console program provides a way to load and launch programs with the
BrainStem. All three of these programs are located in the \aBinary directory
of the Win and Mac distributions. If you have the Palm OS versions, the files
you need will be in the \brainstem directory.
If you simply want to test that your robot is operating correctly, you should
run the Config or GP application. To execute a program for the robot, run the
Console application. Note that because all three applications communicate
with the BrainStem using the same connection, they cannot be run at the same
time; only one of the three applications can be running at any given time.
Config
The PPRK Config program is closely tied to the PPRK. The Config application
allows you easily to check the function and orientation of the servos and rangers on the SV203 and Brainstem PPRK robots.
To install the Config application to your Palm OS device, all of these five
files need to be loaded to the PDA:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
Config.prc
aIO.pdb
aPPRK.pdb
aStem.pdb
aUI.pdb
Once all five files have been transferred, start the Config application by
tapping the Config icon on the Palm’s Application Launcher screen. For the
Windows or Mac version of the application, launch the Config executable
from the \aBinary directory.
NOTE: It is entirely possible that later versions of the Acroname software
will have different or more .pdb files. If you download Config from Acroname,
and it does come with different .pdb files, load them all to your PDA.
You can see that the PPRK Config displays a graphical representation of the
PPRK in Figure 5-1 for the Palm OS version of the program and Figure 5-2 for
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the PC version. Radio buttons appear for each of the servos, and a colored triangle represents the field of view of the sensors.
Figure 5-1
The Config
program
running
on a PDA
Figure 5-2
The Config
program
running on a
Windows PC
If you select one of the radio buttons for the servos, the corresponding
servo on the robot should start rotating.
If you place an object in front of one of the sensors, you should see the corresponding triangle in the graphical display change shape to illustrate that it is
sensing an object.
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Obviously, if the servos don’t rotate when you select a radio button, or if the
graphical display doesn’t change when an object is in front of a sensor, you
have a problem with your robot. Here are some troubleshooting tips for your
robot:
❏ Check that you have wired the connections between the sensors
and the BrainStem correctly.
❏ Check that you have wired the connections between the servos
and the BrainStem correctly.
❏ Check that the cable between the BrainStem and the host PDA
or PC is securely connected.
❏ Check that the power connections are correct.
❏ Ensure the switch is in the on position.
❏ Ensure the batteries are good.
GP
GP is a general purpose program for testing the BrainStem controller. Using
the GP application, you can see the output from each of the five analog ports,
test the input and output from each of the five digital ports, and test and configure any of four servos that could be attached to the BrainStem. Since the
PPRK has only three servos, you will use only three of the four in the GP application.
To install the GP application to your Palm OS device, locate the following
files. All four of these files need to be loaded to the PDA:
❏
❏
❏
❏
GP.prc
aIO.pdb
aStem.pdb
aUI.pdb
NOTE: These .pdb files are the same files used by other BrainStem
applications. If you’ve already installed the .pdb files for the Config
application, you do not need to install them again.
Once all four files have been loaded, start the GP application by tapping the
GP icon on the Palm’s Application Launcher screen (see Figure 5-3). For the
Windows or Mac version of the application, launch the GP executable from
the \aBinary directory (see Figure 5-4). While the GP application is running,
neither of the other applications, Config or Console, can be running.
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Figure 5-3
The GP
application
running on
a PDA
Figure 5-4
The GP
application
running on a
Windows PC
The application needs to make a connection to the BrainStem controller to
work properly. For the two devices to connect properly, you must start the GP
application first. After it is running, turn on the PPRK. The two LEDs on the
BrainStem controller will light up, and within a few seconds, the green light
on the BrainStem will start a rhythmic beat, known as the heartbeat. The GP application has a similar icon that will flash in sync with the heartbeat. This indicates that the application and the BrainStem are communicating.
Checking the Analog Ports
When you start the application, you will see four tabbed panes labeled Analog, Digital, GP2D02, and Servo. The application starts at the first tab. If you
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previously started the GP application and changed tabs, select the Analog tab
now. You will see five horizontal bars labeled A/D 0 to A/D 4. With the PPRK
turned on and connected to your Palm or PC, place your hand in front of one
of the sensors. You should see the corresponding horizontal bar change size,
depending on how far your hand is from the sensor. Now check the other two
sensors. If everything is working properly, the application should show a response from each of the sensors.
You should also make sure that the sensors are connected in the correct configuration. Recall from Chapter 3 that sensor 1 is opposite the BrainStem controller and closest to the battery pack. Looking at the PPRK from above,
sensor 2 is the next sensor clockwise (to the left of the controller), and sensor 3
is the remaining sensor.
Checking the Digital Ports
The PPRK we built in Chapter 3 does not have anything attached to the digital
ports of the BrainStem controller. If you did have any digital devices attached
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to those ports, you can check them with the GP application. Select the Digital
tab now. You will see five rows of controls labeled Digital 0 to Digital 4.
Select Input, Output, or Pulse using the drop-down combo box. With Input
selected, the radio buttons will show what value a digital device is sending to
the port. With Output selected, you can select one of the radio buttons to send
a 0 or 1 value to the digital device attached to the port. The digital device attached to the port should respond to the value you send. The Pulse setting
shows the rate that pulses are received from the port.
GP2D02
The GP2D02 is another type of Sharp sensor. Since the PPRK does not use this
sensor, you will not make use of this tab of the GP application—you can safely
ignore it.
Servo
This tab includes two important functions. First, it allows you to check the operation of the servos. Four horizontal sliders correspond to each of four possible servos. Since the PPRK uses only three servos, only three of the four sliders
will be used. The slider starts with the control centered. By moving the slider
to one side of center, the corresponding servo will rotate in one direction. By
moving the slider to the other side, the servo should rotate in the opposite direction. You can also use this tab to check whether the servos are connected to
the correct port. Recall that servo 0 is closest to the BrainStem controller (opposite sensor 0). Servo 2 is the next servo clockwise when looking at the PPRK
from above, and servo 3 is the remaining servo.
The second use for this tab is to recenter your servos if they become
uncentered. The servo should operate only when a program is commanding it
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to operate. If the servo rotates when you first turn on the robot and no program is running, the servo is no longer centered. Click the Config button to
display the Servo Configuration dialog box shown here. By moving the Offset
slider, you can adjust the servo so that it is centered.
The Console
Unique versions of the Acroname Console program can be used for a number
of different platforms. This program lets you compile, load, and launch programs for the BrainStem. The programs are written in a special language
called TEA, which stands for Tiny Embedded Applications. If you want to
write programs in C/C++, Java, or BASIC, you will not need the Console program. We will look at programming in those languages in Chapter 7.
To install the Console application to your Palm OS device, locate these files,
which need to be loaded to the PDA:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
console.prc
aIO.pdb
aLeaf.pdb
aSteep.pdb
aSteepGen.pdb
aSteepOpt.pdb
aStem.pdb
aTEAvm.pdb
aUI.pdb
NOTE: Some of these .pdb files are used by other applications. If you’ve
already installed one of the .pdb files for the Config or GP applications, you do
not need to reinstall it. Also, if you download a later version of Console from
Acroname, install all the .pdb files that come with it regardless of whether or
not they are listed here.
After all the files have been loaded, start the Console application by tapping the Console icon in the Application Launcher. For the Windows or Mac
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version of the application, launch the Console executable from the \aBinary
directory.
Like the GP application, launch Console first, and then turn on the robot.
When the BrainStem connects to the application, you will see a heartbeat light
on the controller and the Console application, shown next. One other thing to
keep in mind when running the Console application on a PC: The Console application runs a mini web server. If you already have a web server running on
your PC, the two programs might interfere with each other. If that happens,
you will need to shut down the other web server temporarily while you use
the Console application.
Sample TEA Programs for BrainStem
A number of sample programs are provided by Acroname for running the
BrainStem PPRK. These sample programs are written using the TEA language. The Console program is used to compile, download, and launch TEA
programs.
The Console program operates on files in the file system, so you don’t have
to worry about loading or opening any files. Also, if you keep the default directory structure used by Acroname, the Console program automatically
knows where to find the files it needs. On a PC, it looks for TEA files in the
\aUser and \aSystem directories; on a Palm OS device, it looks for TEA files
as memos in the Palm Memo Pad.
Acroname provides four sample programs for you to try out with the
BrainStem. The four programs are simple.tea, chase.tea, runAway.tea, and
wallHug.tea. On a PC, they are located in the \aUser directory. For the Palm
distribution, they are located in the \brainstem directory on your PC. TEA
source code files use the filename extension .tea.
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The Robot Geek Says
Fun Facts to Know and Tell About Programming
For the most part, we assume that if you want to program the robot,
you already know how to write software—at least a little. If you are not
a programmer, here are some fun facts to know about software
programming:
✖
You usually write a program using human-readable words. The code you
write is known as source code. Many different languages for writing code
are available, including C, C++, BASIC, and Java.
✖
The computer doesn’t understand human-readable words—at least not
yet—so the program is converted into a machine-readable form, also
known as binary code or executable code.
✖
The process of converting the source code to binary code is generally
known as compiling.
Load TEA Files to the PDA If you are running the Console program on
your PC, skip ahead to the “Compile a TEA File” section. Before you can
compile any programs on your PDA, you need to load them to the PDA. TEA
files are stored as memos on your PDA. The first line of the memo must
contain only the name of the program. The easiest way to do this is to create
the memo on your Palm Desktop (or in Outlook, if that’s the program you use
to synchronize with your PDA) and then perform a hot sync operation to load
it to the PDA.
Find the simple.tea program in the \brainstem or \aSystem directory and
copy it into a memo or an Outlook note. Add the line simple.tea as the first line
of the memo:
simple.tea
/* simple.tea
/* BrainStem PPRK program
/* Wait till back sensor is approached, then do a
/* little jig.
*/
*/
*/
*/
Note that even though the original first line (the second line in this listing) did
contain the name, it was part of a comment (everything between /* and */ is
a comment) and so would not be recognized as the program name.
If you look at the next few lines of the memo, you’ll see some statements
that look like this:
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#include <aCore.tea>
#include <aPPRK.tea>
#include <aA2D.tea>
These are TEA files used by the program simple.tea. These files will also need
to be added to the PDA as memos.
Find these files in the \brainstem or \aSystem directory and perform the
same steps to create memos or notes of each of these files. aCore.tea and
aA2D.tea also include aIOPorts.tea, so you will need to create a memo or note
for that file. Here is a list of all the files you need for simple.tea:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
simple.tea
aCore.tea
aPPRK.tea
aA2D.tea
aIOPorts.tea
When you have created memos for all these files and loaded them to your
Palm OS device, you are ready to compile the program.
Compile a TEA File You prepare a TEA source file for the BrainStem by
compiling it. The command for compiling a program is steep. Enter this
command
steep "simple.tea"
in the Console command line. Press ENTER to execute the command. For a
PDA, place the cursor at the end of the line, and perform the Graffiti stroke
for Enter (make a diagonal stroke from upper right to lower left in the Graffiti area).
Assuming you created the memos correctly, or you kept the directory structure provided by Acroname for the PC, the Console application should find
the TEA file and compile the source code into binary code. This binary code is
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stored as a new memo on your PDA or in a file in the \aObject directory of
your PC, using the same filename, but with the extension .cup. Thus you now
have a simple.cup memo on your PDA or a simple.cup file on your PC.
You are now ready to load the program to the BrainStem. If you are using a
PDA, you can find simple.cup as a memo. The cup files on a PC are located in
the \aObject directory. Do not attempt to edit the cup files in any way! They are binary files, so they won’t make any sense to you anyway, and modifying them
will certainly cause the program to fail.
Download a cup File to the BrainStem Here is the general form of the
command to download a program from the Console application to the
BrainStem:
load "file_name" module_id slot
The first parameter in the command is the quoted name of the compiled
TEA file, including the .cup extension. The second parameter is the module
number. For the BrainStem GP 1.0, 2 is the default value for the module number. Since we haven’t shown you how to change it, we’ll assume that 2 is the
correct parameter for the module number. The final parameter is the slot number. The BrainStem module has 10 slots numbered from 0 to 9. This allows the
BrainStem to store 10 programs at any one time. You can switch between the
programs with the launch command that we will see in the Launching a CUP
File section. So, here is the command to load simple.cup to slot 0 of the
BrainStem:
load "simple.cup" 2 0
If the load command is successful, the Console will print a message that
says the file was loaded.
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If there is a problem, you will see an error message.
Launch a cup file
After a cup file has been downloaded to the BrainsStem, you will send a
launch command to start the program:
launch module_id slot
The first parameter in the command is the module number. Again, for the
BrainStem GP 1.0, 2 is the default module number. The second parameter is
the same slot number to which the program was loaded. The command to
launch the program in slot 0 is shown here:
launch 2 0
And, the entire sequence of commands to compile, load, and launch the
simple.tea program using slot 0 on the BrainStem module will look like this:
steep "simple.tea"
load "simple.cup" 2 0
launch 2 0
If everything works correctly, the program will start executing and the robot may begin to spin its wheels. If you are using a PDA, simply place the robot on the floor. If you are using a PC, detach the robot from the serial cable
and place it on the floor. Try placing an obstacle in front of sensor 0 and see
what the robot does.
Examining a TEA File
When we compiled, loaded, and launched the simple.tea program on the
PPRK for the first time, it didn’t work the way we expected it to. The documentation in the manual states
Wait until the robot stops moving and then wave your hand in front of each
ranger slowly. One of the rangers will initiate a simple movement program….
We interpreted that to mean that if any sensor detected an object, the robot
would perform the movement program. But when we launched the program,
two of the three sensors did not appear to be detecting anything, because when
those two sensors should have detected something, the robot did nothing.
Next, we checked all the connections and used the GP and Config programs to check the sensors. Everything seemed to be okay, so why didn’t it
work the way we thought it should?
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That’s when we decided to look at the program itself to see what it was really
supposed to do, rather than assuming it was supposed to work a certain way.
Let’s take a quick look at that TEA file, simple.tea. We will cover the TEA
language in more depth later in the book in Chapter 8, so we’ll take just a
quick sip of the program for now. The first clue to whack us right between the
eyes was a comment line at the top of the file:
/* Wait till back sensor is approached, then do a little jig.
*/
Obviously, the comment refers only to one sensor. Perhaps the robot was
working exactly the way the program told it to work.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that the comment line uses C-style comments. As we look at this program further, you will see other signs that the
TEA language syntax is partly based on the C language. Another similarity to
C is the ability to include other source files in your TEA file and use the functions defined in those files. The source file simple.tea includes three other
source files. Here is one of the #include lines from simple.tea:
#include <aCore.tea>
The aCore.tea file has methods for pausing the robot and reading and writing the BrainStem ports. The software from Acroname includes several other
TEA files in the \aSystem directory. These files contain lots of different functions that you can call from your TEA code, which simplifies developing new
code.
Within your TEA source files, you can define functions that can be called.
The simple.tea programs includes two functions: jig( ) and main( ).
The Robot Geek Says
The Rain in Spain Stays Plainly in the main( )
✖
The main( ) function is a special function that is called by the system
code to start the program.
✖
C, C++, and Java also start programs with a main( ) function (although
in Java, it is referred to as the main( ) method).
✖
The main( ) function can appear anywhere inside the source code.
So, back to our little story. We guessed that the jig( ) function was used to
move and turn the PPRK when a sensor detected an object. If you look at the
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jig( ) function, you can see that it uses several functions from the other TEA
files, namely aPPRK_Go( ) and aCore_Sleep( ), to do its work:
void jig()
{
aPPRK_Go(0, -100, 100, 0);
aCore_Sleep(20000);
aPPRK_Go(0, 0, 0, 100);
aCore_Sleep(30000);
aPPRK_Go(0, -100, 100, 0);
aCore_Sleep(20000);
aPPRK_Go(0, 0, 0, -100);
aCore_Sleep(30000);
aPPRK_Go(0, 0, 0, 0);
}
The other function in the source code is the main( ) function. This is where
we found the answer. If you look at the following source code, you’ll see only
one line of code that appears to read a sensor, and it appears to read IR1. That
would explain why only one sensor caused the robot to do its little jig:
void main()
{
int b;
int range;
/* five second wait before starting
aCore_Sleep(25000);
aCore_Sleep(25000);
/* loop continuously
while (1) {
/* take a reading
range = aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR1);
/* see if something was present and do
/* the jig if so
if (range > 100)
jig();
/* stall for 1 second
aCore_Sleep(10000);
} /* while */
} /* main */
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*/
*/
*/
*/
*/
*/
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Now What?
Now that you’ve had the chance to try some sample programs with your
PPRK, you’re probably ready to write some programs of your own.
In Chapter 6, we introduce the Palm Robot Programmer, an application
written specifically for this book. You can use the Palm Robot Programmer to
create PPRK programs in a visual style by adding icons onto a workspace.
If you are already a programmer and want to get your hands on some code,
you should check out Chapters 7 and 8. In those chapters, we show you how to
use various tools for writing programs for the PPRK. You’ve already seen
some of those tools in this chapter. We’ll look at those and other tools and get
into some more in-depth programming for the original PPRK using the
Pontech SV203 controller in Chapter 7. In Chapter 8, we’ll look at tools for programming the BrainStem PPRK. See you there!
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I
n the beginning, scientists programmed their computers by flipping
switches. The position of the switch corresponded to a bit, either 0 or 1, and
the computer stored each bit. After entering all the bits that made up the
program, the scientist told the computer to execute the program. One of the first
computers, called the ENIAC, could execute 5000 operations per second and
used 1000 square feet of floor space. Scientists predicted that soon computers
would be able to program themselves.
Next came punch cards and Teletype terminals. Engineers could enter programs using simple languages that were converted into machine language
and executed by the computer. Computers were built using solid-state circuits rather than vacuum tubes, and thus they began to shrink in size. Soon,
they said, computers would be able to program themselves.
Not long afterward, more powerful languages were developed, such as
Algol, FORTRAN, Smalltalk, Lisp, and C—to name a few. Engineers had remote terminals, while the software ran on a mainframe computer. Gone were
the punch cards and batch runs of the old days. A program could be entered at
any time, and the engineer would be able to compile and run the program immediately. Scientists were using the new languages to create expert systems
and experiment with artificial intelligence. We were finally within reach of
creating computers that could think and program themselves.
The PC revolution began in the 1970s with computers made by companies
such as Commodore and Apple. At this point, anyone could learn to program
using BASIC, the Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. In the
30 years since, computers have become more powerful; the ENIAC computer
can now fit on a chip barely 1/4-inch per side, and handheld computers like
the Palm offer dramatically more processing power than those early
room-sized computers. New languages, such as C++ and Java, have entered
the scene. And scientists continue to predict that computers will soon be able
to program themselves. Don’t we wish it were so.
Unfortunately, neither your computer, nor your robot, can program itself.
As you saw in the last chapter, your robot needs a program to tell it how to
move and react. The programs in the previous chapter offer a starting point
that lets you immediately see your robot in action. But the real fun comes
when you are able to tell your robot how to behave by writing your own
program.
Don’t get scared off if you aren’t a programmer.
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As we’ve hinted at several times in the book, we are going to make it a little
easier for you to write programs if you’re not a programmer. We’ve developed
a software application that we’ve named the Palm Robot Programmer, or PRP
for short, which does two important things for you: it makes programming
your robot easy and flexible.
Using the PRP is easy because all you need to do is click icons to create a
program visually (Figure 6-1). It’s also flexible because you can use the PRP
to create programs in several different languages. This chapter will show
you how to use the Palm Robot Programmer to create your own Palm Robot
programs.
Figure 6-1
The PRP allows you to create programs using icons that represent parts of the program.
If you already know how to program, this chapter is for you, too. We provide the PRP tool to make it easier for nonprogrammers to program their
robots, but nothing stops you experts from using this tool as well. And if
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you’re a real hacker, and you want to write the code yourself, we offer two
things: The PRP can create source code in several different languages. At the
end of the chapter we’ll show you how to create a plug-in to the PRP so that it
can create source code in any language of your choosing. Second, later chapters in this book show you how to use your programming skills to create programs for the Palm Pilot Robot Kit (PPRK) using Basic, C, TEA, and Java.
Installing the Palm Robot Programmer
We think you’ll find the installation process pretty painless. The installer is
located on the CD-ROM in the folder\Palm Robot Programmer. If you’re
using Windows, you’ll find the installer in \Palm Robot Programmer\
Windows\VM\ or \Palm Robot Programmer\Windows\NOVM\; the installer
is named PRP_install.exe. For Mac OS X users, look for \Palm Robot Programmer\MacOSX; the installer is named PRP_install.zip. Last, but not least,
we haven’t forgotten about you Linux folks. Your installer is in the directory\
Palm Robot Programmer\Linux\VM or \Palm Robot Programmer\
Linux\NOVM; the installer is called PRP_Install.bin.
You may have noticed that the Windows and Linux directories listed in the
previous paragraph have a VM and NOVM subdirectory. Because the PRP application is written using Java, you must have Java Runtime Environment
version 1.4 or later installed on your computer.
❏ If you don’t already have a Java environment, you’ll want to use
the version of the installer in the VM directory of the CD-ROM.
VM stands for virtual machine, and it refers to whether the installer
has the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) with it (not whether your
computer has the JVM).
❏ If you know that you do have the Java 1.4 runtime already on
your computer, you can use the installer that does not come with
its own VM; you will find that installer in the NOVM directory.
(NOVM means the installer does not have the JVM.)
❏ If you don’t know whether or not you have Java on your
computer, we recommend trying the NOVM installer first;
most computers already have Java, so this option will work
for most people.
❏ If you use the NOVM installer and the program doesn’t work,
you’ll need to use the VM installer.
❏ If you’re a Mac OS X user, you can get a Java 1.4 version from
www.apple.com/java.
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By and large, installing PRP is essentially the same whether you are using
Windows, a Mac, or a Unix/Linux system. If you’re not using Windows, the
main difference in the installation process will be in the directory structure
used on each system and the look and feel of the actual dialog boxes.
1. Start by copying the installation file to your hard drive. (Yes, you can
run the installer from the CD-ROM, but it runs more efficiently from
the hard drive.)
TIP: We suggest creating a special directory on your hard drive named
“Install,” in which you can save the installation programs for various
applications you’ve downloaded. Kevin’s PC, for instance, has a directory for
the PRP installer called C:\Install\PRP. This makes it easier to find the install
files in the future if you ever need them again.
2. Double-click the installation program to launch it. You should see the
Install Wizard’s first screen, as shown in Figure 6-2.
Figure 6-2
The introduction screen of the installer provides an overview of the installation process.
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3. Click the Next button. The installer then shows a screen that
asks you where you want to install the program, as shown
in Figure 6-3.
Figure 6-3
This screen allows you to choose the installation folder for the PRP.
4. For Windows, the default folder is C:\Program Files\prp.
If you’re using a Mac, it’ll be the /prp folder in the normal
programs directory. Unix/Linux users, you’ll see /prp in your
normal programs directory. Want to select a different folder?
No problem—you won’t even hurt our feelings.
5. After selecting the appropriate directory, click Next. The
Installer now asks you where to create program icons, as
shown in Figure 6-4.
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Figure 6-4
You can create program icons in any one of various locations.
6. This will create program shortcuts in the given location. Because
these options are offered as radio buttons, you can choose only
a single location. However, if you really want program icons
in several locations, it is easy to copy the shortcuts after the
installation is complete.
7. Click Next to see a summary of your installation options (which
you can see in Figure 6-5). Of course, you can go back at any
time and change any of these options by clicking the Previous
button.
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Figure 6-5
The Installer presents a summary of the installation options before completing the installation.
8. If you are satisfied with your choices, click the Install button and
the installer will install the PRP application to your computer.
When the installation is complete, click Done.
Using the PRP
Now that we’ve installed the PRP, let’s create our first program. We’ll whip up
something simple so you can see how all this works before we bore you … er,
that is, before we review the program in loving detail.
NOTE: This is for the techie sticklers out there. We’ve already referred to
the “programs” you create with the PRP, and we will continue to do so in this
chapter. To be accurate, the PRP creates only a representation of a program.
When programmers write a program, this usually means they type source
code into an editor. The programs you create with the PRP are not source code;
they’re an abstraction of source code that is later translated into source code.
However, it’s a little awkward to write, “the program representation you
create with the PRP,” so we’ll continue to refer to what you create with the PRP
as a program. If you want to see what the PRP program looks like before it gets
translated into source code, we’ll show you that later in the chapter in the
section “How the PRP Converts a Program to Source Language.”
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The PRP Window
Find the program icon that was created by the installer and launch the program. Alternatively, if you are using a command line, navigate to the installation directory and type the program name on the command line to launch it.
When the program launches, you will see the PRP window.
The PRP window contains three main areas: the menu bar and toolbar, the
component palette, and the workspace (as shown in Figure 6-6). The menu
bar and toolbar are at the top of the window, similar to their placement in most
windowed programs. The component palette runs along the left side of the
window and contains the various program components you can use to build
programs. Finally, the biggest pane in the window is the workspace. You will
add program components to the workspace to build a program.
Figure 6-6
The PRP window: components are added from the palette to the workspace to create programs, while major
program functions are accessed through the menus or toolbar.
Toolbar
Menu
Palette
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Making Your First Program
Ready? Let’s get started!
1. When you start a new program, the PRP automatically adds one
block to the program. This is the Main block, as seen in the following
illustration. The Main block has a corresponding EndMain block.
These two blocks mark the start and end of your program. The
Main component provides a means for the PRP to know where your
program starts and stops; it also allows the PRP to differentiate the
core of the program from subroutines (which we will look at soon,
so stop getting so antsy).
2. In the palette, find the component named Servo Start and click it.
3. Position the mouse over the Main block in the workspace and click
the mouse. The PRP will add the Servo Start component to the Main
component and draw the ServoStart block in the workspace. Notice
that you don’t drag the component onto the workspace as you might
do in other drawing programs. You simply click the component in
the palette and then click a component in the workspace.
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4. Repeat this three more times, so that you have a total of four Servo
Start components in the workspace. Notice that the program is
drawn visually from top to bottom of the workspace.
In the next few steps, we’ll refer to component one, component
two, and so on. We’re actually referring to the order of the
components starting from the top of the program—not the order
in which the components were placed onto the workspace. You are
able to add components to any position within the program, so the
one-hundredth component to be added could easily be the topmost,
or first, component in the program
5. Displayed within each block are the properties for the block.
The properties allow you to change the way a particular program
component works. For the ServoStart block, we can set two
properties: the ServoNumber, and the ServoDirection. For the PPRK,
the ServoNumber will be 0, 1, or 2. The ServoDirection should be 1
for forward or –1 for reverse.
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6. Set the ServoDirection to 1 (duration can be either 1 for forward or
-–1 for backward), and set the ServoNumber to 1. This will cause
servo one to rotate in the forward direction.
7. In the next ServoStart Block, set the ServoDirection to –1, and the
ServoNumber to 2.
8. Set the properties of the third and fourth components as follows:
❏ ServoDirection –1, ServoNumber 1
❏ ServoDirection 1, ServoNumber 2
9. Now look in the palette for the component that has the picture of a
string of Zs. This is the Sleep, or pause program, block. Click on this
icon and add a Sleep block after the second ServoStart Block; add
another Sleep block after the last ServoStart Block.
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10. Set the SleepSeconds property of each block to 2.
11. Finally, add two ServoStop components. To do that, click the
ServoStop component in the palette, position the cursor over the last
Sleep component in the program, and click the mouse. Do this again
to add a second ServoStop component.
12. Set the servo number for one of the ServoStop Blocks to 1 and for the
other ServoStop Block to 2.
13. At this point, it’s a good idea to save your program. Choose File |
Save and save the program to your hard drive.
14. Choose Tools | Convert. If you have the SV203 PPRK, convert the
program to Basic and store the source code any place you want. If
you have the BrainStem PPRK, convert the program to TEA and store
the source code in the \aUser directory of your Acroname software.
The last step is to transfer the source code to the Palm or to the BrainStem
controller and watch as your robot executes a fancy maneuver: it moves forward for two seconds, and then it moves backward for two seconds. We’ll
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show you how to transfer your code later in the chapter, in the section
“Loading Source Code to the Host.”
The PRP in Detail
Wasn’t that easy? In fact, Kevin is pretty sure that even Dave can handle that
particular program. You probably don’t need a detailed explanation of each
button, menu option, and program component. Nonetheless, we’ve outlined
all the major program elements here for easy reference. If you get snagged trying to figure out the program, this is the place to come for the straight scoop on
how it all works.
Menus and Toolbars
Like all windowed applications, some of your interaction with the PRP will
occur through the menus or toolbar. At the top of the PRP window is the menu
that contains all the options for interacting with the PRP. Below the menu is
the toolbar that has buttons for many of the functions you will most often use.
The menu is simple and contains only a few major entries: File, Edit, Tools,
and About.
The File menu contains the following options:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
New
Closes any open program and starts a new program
Open
Opens an existing program from the file system
Close
Closes the current program
Save
Saves the current program
Save As
Exit
Saves the current program with a new name
Exits the PRP
The Edit menu contains the following options (there are no surprises here,
guys …):
❏ Cut Deletes the currently selected component from the
workspace, and the deleted component is saved in a copy buffer
❏ Copy Copies the selected component into a copy buffer
❏ Paste Pastes the contents of the copy buffer onto the workspace
following the currently selected component
❏ Delete Deletes the currently selected component from the
workspace, and the deleted component is not saved in a copy
buffer
❏ Add Subroutine Adds a Subroutine block to the program
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❏ Delete Subroutine Deletes a Subroutine block, and all the
blocks within the Subroutine from the program
The Tools menu contains the Convert To option:
❏ Convert To Converts a PRP program into source code. There are
three submenu choices for Convert: Basic, Java, and TEA. Each
option translates the program to the named language.
The About menu contains the single item, About, which displays the version number of the program. The toolbar contains quick-access buttons for
many of the menu options you’ve just seen.
Cut
New
Open
Save
Copy
Paste
Delete
Convert
The Component Palette
On the left side of the main window is the component palette. This contains
icons for all the programming components you can use within your programs. It includes components for loops, logical decisions, variables, subroutines, and a few components that are uniquely specific to the PPRK.
The Variable Component This block allows you to create variables in your
program. Variables are like aliases for values. They represent values and can
be used to store values that can be used later. This component has a property
for variable name, variable type (more on that coming up) and initial value
(which is an optional property). For example, if we take a reading from a
sensor, we would store the value in a variable. Later we can access that
particular reading by using the variable in the code.
Some languages use the variable type property to identify what data
is stored in a variable. For example, in the Java programming language, a
variable that stores a number cannot be used to store a string of characters.
Although the PRP does not restrict what you enter into the Type box, if you
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enter a type that is not supported by the language, the program you create will
not work.
If you are using the PRP to write a TEA program, you can use one of five
kinds of variables: char, unsigned char, int, unsigned int, and string. Here’s
what they mean:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
Any value from –128 to 127
char
unsigned char
int
Any value from 0 to 255
Any value from –32768 to 32767
unsigned int
string
Any value from 0 to 65535
A fixed series of characters
If you are writing a program for Java, you can use any legal Java data types.
However, we recommend you limit yourself to the following:
❏ char Any value from –128 to 127
❏ int Any value from –32768 to 32767 (Java ints can actually
have larger magnitudes, but to ensure compatibility with the
BrainStem, you should limit ints to the values shown)
❏ String A fixed series of characters
Finally, limit your Basic programs to these three data types:
❏ char Any value from –128 to 127
❏ int Any value from –32768 to 32767
❏ String A fixed series of characters
The Constant Component Constants are like variables, except that they
usually do not change within a program. Properties for this component are
name, type, and value, and these properties have the same meaning as they do
for variables. Why would you use a constant? Well, imagine that you are
writing a program that reads data from Sensor 0. All through your code you
use the number 0. You know that this number is being used to refer to Sensor 0.
The problem is that someone reading your program doesn’t know what that 0
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means. However, if you create a constant named Servo0 and set its value to 0,
you can use the constant Servo0 in the code every time you want to use the
value 0. Anyone reading your program has a better chance of understanding
what Servo0 refers to in comparison to just 0. Java and TEA support constants.
These languages will not allow you to change the value of a constant.
The If Component The If component allows your code to make a decision
based on some condition. The property for this component is the logical
condition to test for. When you add an If block to your program, the PRP
automatically adds an End If block. Program blocks between the If and End If
blocks are executed when the condition is true. The condition can use values,
variables, constants, and any number of operators.
Some of the operators are listed here:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
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equals (TEA or Java)
==
=
equals (Basic)
!=
not equals
<
less than
less than or equal to
<=
>
greater than
>=
&&
||
greater than or equal to
and
or
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Want an example? If you have a variable (let’s call it x), you can test it for
various conditions. The program might need to make a decision based on criteria: if x is greater than some value (x > 5), less than some value (x < 10), or
equal to some value (x == 13), for instance. Using the and or or operators, you
can further test for multiple conditions. For example, you can test if x lies between two values (the condition x > 5 && x < 10 is read as “x greater than 5 and
x less than 10.” It is true if x is between 5 and 10); or whether x meets any one
of several conditions (the condition x == 2 || x == 4 is read as “x equals 2 or x
equals 4” and means the condition is true if either x equals 2 or x equals 4).
In addition to the If component, the Else component is used when you want
some code to execute when the condition is false. The Else block must be
added somewhere between the If and EndIf blocks. When you add an Else
block, the PRP automatically adds an EndElse block. Every program component between Else and EndElse will be executed if the condition property of
the If block is false.
NOTE: The PRP will not stop you from adding an Else block anywhere
within a program. However, if you place an Else block where it is not between
an If and End If block, your program will not work.
The While Component A While component allows you to perform a loop
until some condition is met. The single property for the While component is
the condition. This condition meets the same parameters as the condition for
the If component. When you add a While block to your program, the PRP
automatically adds an EndWhile block. You can add components between the
While and EndWhile blocks. When the While component is encountered, the
condition is tested. If the condition is true, the components between the While
and EndWhile blocks are executed. The program then goes back to the start of
the While component. If the condition is false, the program goes to the next
component after the EndWhile component; if true, it executes the
components contained in the While component again.
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The For Component A For component allows you to perform a loop some
set number of times. The For block contains a counter that is set by properties.
The properties are the start value, the number of loops, and the step size. The
step size is optional; if you don’t specify one, it is assumed to be 1. When you
add a For block to the program, the PRP automatically adds an EndFor block.
You can add components to the program between the For and EndFor blocks.
When the program encounters the For block, the counter is set to the start
value. Then the program components between For and EndFor are executed.
When the EndFor is reached, the counter is increased by the step size. If the
number of loops has been reached, the program jumps to the next block after
EndFor; otherwise, it goes back to the start of the loop and executes the blocks
again.
NOTE: Currently, the PRP supports only counting up. For example, if you
set the start value to 1 and the number of loops to 10, the counter will count
from 1 to 10 and then stop. However, if you try to set the start value to 10 and
the step size to –1 in an attempt to count 10, 9, 8, …, the program will not work.
The Continue Component If you are inside a While or For component,
Continue will stop executing the loop immediately and jump back to the
beginning of the For or While component. This component has no properties.
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The Break Component If you are inside a While or For component, Break
will stop executing the loop immediately and jump to the next component
following the For or While component. This component has no properties.
The Call Component Call allows you to call subroutines by name. After the
subroutine completes, control of the program passes to whatever component
comes after the Call. The properties of this component are the name of the
subroutine and a variable in which you can store any return value. If there is a
return value, you also need to add a Variable block to declare the variable. If
the subroutine does not return a value, the Variable field should be set to
empty. Also, you need to ensure if the Subroutine does return a value, that the
variable has the same type as the return value. We show you how to create a
subroutine in the section “Creating a Subroutine, Function, or Method,” later
in this chapter.
The Include Component This block allows you to include another source
file into the program. This is provided for TEA and Java programs. TEA
allows you to include other source files into a TEA program and call the
subroutines in the other source file by name. The property for this component
is the name of the source file. For example, if you install the BrainStem
software, you will have a directory named \aSystem. This directory contains
source code files that you can include. One such source file is aPPRK.tea. If
you add an Include block and set the filename property to aPPRK.tea, the
source file created for your program will have a statement to include the
aPPRK.tea file and you can use aPPRK.tea functions in your program.
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NOTE: If you convert your program to TEA, the PRP, will automatically
include three source files for you: aCore.tea, aA2D.tea, and aPPRK.tea. You
need to use Include only for other BrainStem TEA files.
Within Java programs, the Include block is used to tell the Java compiler
which other classes your program uses. Classes are the binary form of Java
code. You tell the compiler which other classes you are using in an import
statement. The Include block is translated into an import statement in Java
source files.
The Servo Start Component This component starts a given servo. Using
properties, you can set the servo number from 0 to 4, the direction of the servo
between forward (1) and backward (–1).
The Servo Stop Component This component stops a given servo. The servo
number is set with a property and can range from 0 to 4.
The Read Sensor Component This component reads a sensor. The properties are the sensor number (0 to 4) and the variable to store the sensor
reading into.
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The Code Component The Code component is used when you need to add
a line of code that is not provided by any of the existing code blocks. For
example, suppose you use the Variable block to create a variable named x.
Later in your code, you want to change the value of x by adding some number
to it or just setting its value directly. You could do that with the Code block.
The property for the Code block is the line of code that you want in your
program at that point. So, with the example just stated, you could change the
value of x with a line of code like this:
x = x + 1
This line of code takes the value of x, adds 1 to it, and finally assigns the new
value to the variable x. If you add a Code block and set its property to that line
of code, that line of code will appear in the translated source file.
The Sleep Component The button for the Sleep block is labeled with a
string of Zzzzzs. The Sleep block is used to pause the program for some
number of seconds. After the number of seconds has elapsed, the program
continues executing. The property for this block is the number of seconds to
sleep.
NOTE: If you are translating a program into TEA, you must be careful to set
the seconds to a value no greater than 3.2767 seconds. This is because the TEA
sleep function uses an int to count in ten-thousandths of a second, and 32,767
is the limit of an int variable. If you need to sleep for more than 3.2767 seconds,
you will need to add multiple Sleep blocks.
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The Workspace
The biggest piece of the PRP interface is taken up by the workspace, which is
used to build up your program block by block. As you saw earlier, you build
programs by selecting components from the palette and adding them to the
workspace.
Adding a Component
We showed you how to add components to a program when we built the sample program earlier in the chapter. In this section, let’s see some of the finer
points of this action.
As we saw earlier, adding a component to a program can be as simple as
clicking a component in the palette and then clicking on a component in the
workspace. When you do this, the new component is added to the program in
a position that follows the component you clicked.
Some components, however, can contain other components. These components are the If, Else, While, For, Main, and Subroutine components. When
these blocks are added to the program, the PRP automatically adds an EndIf,
EndElse, EndWhile, EndFor, EndMain, or EndSubroutine block.
When adding a program block, if you click the block that begins one of
those components listed earlier, the new block is added between the component and its corresponding end block. Thus it becomes part of the code section
contained by the component. For example, program blocks added between If
and EndIf will be executed only when the condition of the If block is true.
When the If section also contains an Else block, program components between
Else and EndElse will be executed when the condition of the If block is false.
NOTE: The PRP will not stop you from adding program blocks between the
EndElse and EndIf blocks. However, if you do so, your program may not
work correctly.
If you click the workspace—not an existing component—while adding
a new component, the PRP will usually ignore the mouse click, because it
doesn’t want to guess where you want the component to be located.
Deleting and Pasting Components
To delete a component from a program, simply click the component in the
workspace, and choose Edit | Cut or Edit | Delete, or click the corresponding
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Cut or Delete button from the toolbar. Cut removes a block from the program
but saves a copy so that you can paste it into the program. Delete permanently
removes the block from the program.
NOTE: Be careful when cutting or deleting If, Else, For, and While blocks or
their corresponding End block. You must delete both the block and its
corresponding End block. If you delete one and not the other, your program
cannot be translated.
When you cut a program block, the block is placed into a paste buffer. To
paste the block to a new location, click an existing component in the
workspace to select the block and then choose Edit | Paste or click the corresponding Paste button. The new block will be pasted into the program following the selected block.
You can also copy program blocks and paste copies of them to new locations in the program. A block is copied by selecting a block and then choosing
Edit | Copy or by clicking the Copy toolbar button.
Creating a Subroutine, Function, or Method
When you’re creating programs with the PRP, you may sometimes need to
perform the same sequence of actions, or perform the same calculation, several times within the program. Rather than adding the same components over
and over again to the program, you can create a subroutine to do this for you.
We are using the term subroutine as a generic term to mean any number of
program structures, depending on the software language. Basic does not have
formal subroutines, but we can simulate them using language features. TEA
has subroutines and functions; functions return a value to the caller and subroutines do not. Java uses the term method to mean some code that one can call;
methods may or may not return values.
To add a subroutine to a program, choose Edit | Add Subroutine. The PRP
will add a Subroutine and EndSubroutine block to the workspace. If you
decide later that you want to delete the subroutine, select the Subroutine
block and choose Edit | Delete Subroutine. In Figure 6-7, you can see a version
of the program we created at the start of this chapter, but now it uses subroutines.
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Figure 6-7
In this version of the To-Fro program, the ServoStart and ServoStop blocks have been moved into Subroutines.
Now we can make the robot go back and forth additional times by adding Call blocks to call the subrotuines,
rather than repeating the ServoStart blocks every time we want to add a movement.
Saving and Loading Programs
After creating your program, you will want to save it on your computer for
later use.
Saving
To save any program you’ve created, choose File | Save, or click the Save button on the toolbar.
You’ll see a standard file Save dialog box. Use this dialog box to navigate to
any folder on your PC. Enter a name for your program and click the Save button. The PRP will add the appropriate file extension for you. (The standard extension for PRP programs, in case you’re curious or think it might come in
handy on an episode of Jeopardy, is .prp.)
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Loading
Loading a saved program is also straightforward. To load any program
you’ve created, choose File | Open, or click the Open button on the toolbar.
This displays a standard file Open dialog. Using the dialog, you can navigate
to any folder in your file system and select a file to be loaded. The dialog defaults to looking for files with the standard .prp extension for PRP programs.
NOTE: Do not try to edit the saved program in any other application. If you
do, you will not be able to load the program with the PRP.
Converting the Program to Source Code
Now’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! When you are satisfied that your
program is complete, you need to turn it into source code. This source code
will be compiled as necessary and downloaded to a host where it can be used
to control the robot.
1. Choose Tools | Convert To. You’ll see a submenu with the available
language choices (Figure 6-8).
Figure 6-8
The first step in conversion is selecting the language for the source code.
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The version of the PRP provided with this book allows you to
translate code into BASIC, TEA, or Java. You can use BASIC code
with the Pontech SV203 controller. You will use TEA and Java with
the BrainStem controller. Want other options? You’ll have to be really,
really nice to Kevin, because he slaved over this program for months.
2. After choosing the language for the source code, the PRP will
translate the program into source code. This happens relatively
quickly, and when it’s complete, the program will display a dialog
telling you where it saved the file.
3. You will see a dialog box if the conversion fails.
NOTE: If the conversion fails, it is probably because there is an error in your
program. You will need to check your program for correctness. Check that all
End blocks (If, For, and so on) have a matching beginning block. In other
words, ensure each If has a matching EndIf. Do the same for all the blocks that
have a matching End block.
4. After the source file is created, you may need to transfer it to a PDA
or to the controller, so that it can be executed.
Loading Source Code to the Host
After you have successfully converted your program to source code, you are
ready to transfer it to a host for use with the robot. The host you use depends
on how you constructed your robot and what interface cables you used.
The host for the PPRK using the Pontech SV203 controller will be a Palm OS
device such as a Palm III, Palm V, or Handspring Visor. The host for the PPRK
using the BrainStem controller can be one of the Palm OS devices, but it can
also be a PC connected directly to the robot.
Basic
The BASIC code created by the PRP is tailored for the HotPaw Basic interpreter. This interpreter was introduced in Chapter 5. HotPaw Basic is an interpreter for BASIC source code for your Palm device. The interpreter runs as
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an application on the PDA and can be used to execute BASIC programs stored
as memos in the memo pad.
You can download and install HotPaw Basic from the CD-ROM in the
d i re c t o r y \ O t h e r A p p l i c a t i o n s \ H o t P a w, o r f ro m t h e w e b s i t e
www.hotpaw.com/hotpaw. The HotPaw Basic files come in a zipped archive.
After unzipping the HotPaw Basic archive, you will need to hot sync the
ybasic.prc and mathlib.prc files to your PDA.
Since HotPaw Basic executes programs stored as memos, you will need to
download the translated program file to your PDA. The best way to do this is
to open the Palm Desktop, create a memo, and copy the translated program
from your computer to the memo, as shown in Figure 6-9.
Figure 6-9
BASIC
programs are
easily entered
into a memo
in the Palm
Desktop
and then
transferred
to the PDA
when you
perform a
hot sync
operation.
The next time you perform a hot sync operation, the memo will be transferred to the PDA and ready for you to run.
1. To run your program, launch the HotPaw Basic interpreter from the
Palm’s Application Launcher.
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2. You will be presented with the list of BASIC programs that HotPaw
found in the memo pad. Select a program and tap the Run button to
run a program.
TEA
TEA, Tiny Embedded Applications, is the best language to use for the
BrainStem controller. TEA code must be compiled before it can be downloaded to the BrainStem controller, and this is done with the Console program.
If you have already installed the Acroname software to your computer, you
will find the Console program in the \aBinary directory. Ensure that the TEA
source file you created is in the \aUser directory. You can do this by saving the
source file directly to that directory when you translate the program to TEA,
or you can copy it from wherever you did save it to the \aUser directory.
The TEA program is compiled using the steep command, and then it’s
loaded to the BrainStem using the load command. Finally, you would use the
launch command to launch the program. These three steps are illustrated in
Figure 6-10.
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Figure 6-10
The three
steps needed
to launch a
TEA program
are to steep
the source,
load the code,
and launch
the program.
The syntax of each command follows:
❏ steep “program_name.tea” steep followed by the quoted
program name with .tea extension
❏ load “program_name.cup” module_id slot load followed by the
quoted program name with .cup extension, then the module ID
(the default BrainStem ID is 2), and finally followed by the slot
number for the program (0 to 9)
❏ launch module_id slot launch followed by the module_id (2)
followed by the slot number where the program is loaded (0 to 9)
You can find additional information about TEA programs, the Console, and
Console commands in Chapter 8.
Java
While using BASIC and TEA with the robot are relatively straightforward, using Java is a bit more involved. For this reason, we will not show you how to
use Java with your robot here. Instead, please check Chapter 8, where we’ve
provided detailed instructions on how to get a Java compiler, how to get a Java
runtime for your PDA, and how to compile and use Java programs with your
PDA and robot.
Advanced Topic: Adding New Languages
The PRP converts programs into three languages: BASIC, TEA, or Java. What
do you do if you want to convert into another language? We’ve developed the
PRP so that if you are a Java programmer, you can easily add a new language
converter to the PRP.
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We should emphasize that this section is intended for those of you who are
already programmers and know something about Java, Extensible Markup
Language (XML), and Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations
(XSLT).
How the PRP Converts a Program to Source Language
If you built the example program earlier in this chapter and saved it to your
system, you can navigate to that file now and have a look at it. (If you didn’t
create the sample program earlier, go back and do that now.) When you convert a program to a source file, two files are created. The first file contains the
translated source code for the program. The other file contains an XML representation of the program.
If you have translated a program, navigate to the directory that contains
the source file. In that directory, you should find a file with the same name but
with a .xml extension. Open the XML file in a text editor. Here is the XML file
for the program we created at the beginning of this chapter:
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<PalmRobotProgram>
<Main programName="ToFro">
<ServoStart servoNumber="1" servoDirection="1"/>
<ServoStart servoNumber="2" servoDirection="-1"/>
<Sleep sleepSeconds="2"/>
<ServoStart servoNumber="1" servoDirection="-1"/>
<ServoStart servoNumber="2" servoDirection="1"/>
<Sleep sleepSeconds="2"/>
<ServoStop servoNumber="1"/>
<ServoStop servoNumber="2"/>
</Main>
</PalmRobotProgram>
When the PRP translates a program, it creates an XML representation of the
program. All of the program constructs and icons that you create in the PRP
workspace are stored in this XML file. Next, the PRP uses XSLT to translate the
XML into source code. In simple terms, XSLT provides a standard way to use a
style sheet to transform XML into some other representation.
How to Write Your Own Converter
To create your own converter, you will need to be able to create a relatively
simple Java class and a more complicated XSLT file. After installing these files
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to the PRP installation, they will be recognized the next time you run the PRP,
and they can be used to convert a PRP program to source code.
The Java Class
To add a new converter to the PRP, we write a simple Java class that is recognized by the PRP. Using the Java class, the PRP knows what new language selection to add to the Converter menu and which style sheet to use when
translating the program to source code.
Only a few requirements for the class are necessary. The converter
class must
❏ Extend the com.prp.AbstractTranslator class
❏ Provide a getName( ) method that returns the name of the
language for which the translator is used
❏ Provide a getStyleSheet( ) method that returns the name of the
style sheet to use for the translation
❏ Provide a translate(Program p) method
❏ Provide a getIconName( ) method that returns the name of the
icon for the toolbar (you will also need to create an icon)
Here is a sample class for the mythical language “Cream”:
public class CreamTranslator extends AbstractTranslator {
public String getName() { return "Cream"; }
public String getStyleSheet() { return "cream.xslt"; }
public void translate(Program p) {
String msg = "Additional message";
doTransform(p, ".crm", msg);
}
public String getIconName() {
return "Cream.gif";
}
}
The getName( ) method is used by the PRP to create a menu entry for the
translator. The getStyleSheet( ) method is used during the translation to identify the style sheet to use for the translation. The getIconName( ) method is required, but if you do not have an icon, the method can just return an empty
string. If you do create an icon, it should be 16x16 pixels so that it is the same
size as the existing icons. The PRP will provide a default icon if you do not provide one.
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The translate(Program) method is a little more involved. To perform the
translation, your code will call the doTransform(Program, String, String)
method. This method is implemented in the AbstractTranslator class. The
first string parameter is the extension to add to the translated source code file
(including the leading dot). After a program is translated, the PRP displays a
dialog box in which the name and location of the translated source code file is
displayed. If you want to include an additional message with that dialog box,
you can define that message in the translate(Program) method and pass the
message as the second String parameter of the doTransform(Program, String,
String) method. If you do not have an additional message, pass an empty
string rather than a null as the message.
The XSLT Style Sheet
The second step to providing a new translator is to create an XSLT style sheet
that is used by the translator code to convert the XML file to the source code
file. For every program component in the PRP palette, the style sheet needs to
convert the corresponding XML tags created by the component into the appropriate code in the new language.
To complete this step, you already need to know how to create an XSLT
style sheet—teaching you how to write an XSLT style-sheet is beyond the
scope of this book. In simple terms, an XSLT style sheet provides a translation
for every element in an XML file. For example, here are two entries of the XSLT
style sheet for the TEA language (which you can find in the PRP installation
directory as tea.xslt):
<xsl:template match="ServoStop">
aServo_Stop(<xsl:value-of select="@servoNumber"/>);
</xsl:template>
<xsl:template match="Sleep">
aCore_Sleep(<xsl:value-of select="number(@sleepSeconds) * 10000"/>);
</xsl:template>
The first entry is the template for the ServoStop element. Whenever the tag
<ServoStop> is found in the XML file, the XSLT converter applies the template
to the tag. If you look at the XML listing, you should see a ServoStop tag that
looks like this:
<ServoStop servoNumber="1"/>
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The template tells the translator to replace that tag with the text
aServo_Stop( followed by the value of the servoNumber attribute, and followed by a closing );. So what is written to the source code file is this:
aServoStop(1);
The second template is similar to the first. It takes a <Sleep> tag and converts it into a line of code that calls the aCore_Sleep( ) function, changing seconds to ten-thousandths of a second at the same time. Thus, this tag
<Sleep sleepSeconds="2"/>
becomes this line of code:
aCore_Sleep(20000);
The XSLT style sheet you create for your new language will need to handle
all the program icons used by the PRP. In other words, every icon in the palette
will have a corresponding template in the XSLT style sheet. In addition, you
will need a template for the tags used for the Main and Subroutine blocks.
Finally, as you can see in the XML listing earlier in this section, the root element of the XML is <PalmRobotProgram>, so your style sheet will need a template for that tag.
The Robot Geek Says
If you want to learn how to create and use XSLT style sheets,
numerous books are available for you. We recommend these:
✖
XSLT by Doug Tidwell, from O’Reilly & Associates
✖
XSLT Quickly by Ron DuCharme, from Manning Publications Company
Just a couple of final steps are needed to add the new language translator to
the Palm Robot Programmer. First you need to compile the Java file you created. When the file is successfully compiled into a class file, copy the class file
to the \classes\com\prp\converter directory of the PRP installation. You’ll
know you have the correct directory when you see the existing translator
classes and XSLT style sheets in the directory. If you created a toolbar icon,
copy that file to the same location. Finally, copy the XSLT style sheet to the
same location. The next time you run the PRP, the program will find the new
translator class and add an entry to the menu for the new language.
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Finally, the PRP loads the style sheet every time you translate a program.
That means that if you need to debug your style sheet, you do not need to restart the PRP. Simply make the change to the style sheet, and the PRP will load
the new style sheet when you next translate a program into source code.
Updates to the PRP
We all know that software changes and improves over time. (Sometimes software changes and gets worse, but that’s another story.) We expect the same
thing (improvements, not problems) to happen with the PRP. The CD-ROM
that comes with this book has the version of the PRP as it existed when the
book was published. However, you may be reading this book years later, after
James Cameron has optioned it for a major motion picture and Anne Rice has
written, “A real page turner—you’ve got to read this one for yourself.”
Or, you may have lost the CD-ROM to this book.
You will always be able to find the latest version of the PRP by checking our
web sites:
❏ Dave’s web site is www.bydavejohnson.com.
❏ Kevin’s web page is home.earthlink.net/~kmukhar.
Where to Go from Here
If you’re a code slinger, we’ve been promising that we’d show you how to
write your own code for the PPRK. You actually got a little bit of that here. But
it gets better in the next chapter, where we show you how to write code for the
SV203 controller, which is used in the original PPRK. We’ll show you how to
write code in BASIC and C, how to download that code to a PDA, and how to
use that code to control the robot.
In Chapter 8, we’ll show you how to write code for the BrainStem controller
using the TEA language. In addition, we’ll look at writing Java programs for
the BrainStem. Finally, we’ll show you how to download TEA or Java code to a
PDA and how to use it to control the BrainStem.
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T
his is the chapter that all you hackers and computer geeks have been
waiting for. This is where we show you how to write programs for your
robot. Actually, we’ve divided this information into two chapters. In this
chapter, we show you how to write programs for the PPRK and the Pontech
SV203 controller. In the next chapter, we show you how to write programs for
the PPRK and the BrainStem controller.
We will explore two languages for writing programs for the Pontech controller. We’ll start by looking at writing programs in BASIC. There are a couple
of BASIC interpreters that you can use. The first one we’ll look at is HotPaw
Basic, which runs on the Palm. BASIC programs are stored as memos on the
Palm OS device. We’ll also spend a little time with NS Basic. NS Basic is a
forms-based programming environment for the Palm. You create Palm programs on your desktop PC by creating forms and form controls such as buttons and fields. You then add code to the controls, and the code is executed
when the control is activated. Finally, we’ll look at writing C programs for the
Palm using PocketC. PocketC is similar to HotPaw Basic in that your C programs exist as memos on the PDA that are executed by the PocketC application. We had also wanted to include a section on programming the PPRK in
Klingon, but our Klingon programmer was busy destro … that is to say, debugging some other code.
The Robot Geek Says
In this chapter, we assume that you already know how to program
in at least one computer language. This chapter will not be a tutorial
on how to program, but rather how to use what you already know to
program for the SV203 or BrainStem controller. If you want to learn
how to program, there are many other books you can try:
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✖
Teach Yourself C, and C++: A Beginner’s Guide, both by Herb Schildt,
from McGraw-Hill/Osborne
✖
C How to Program, by Harvey M. Deitel and Paul J. Deitel, from
Prentice Hall
✖
Learn to Program tlhIngan in 24 Hours, by Kev Martok, from Starfleet
Academy Press
✖
Robot Invasion, by Dave Johnson, from McGraw-Hill/Osborne (It has some
robot programming, but it’s not a programming book per se. We thought
that as long as we’re plugging other people’s books, we might as well plug
one of our own.)
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Programming the PPRK in BASIC
Although the developers of the PPRK used C++ to program their robot, it is
much easier to get started using BASIC. With one version of BASIC that we
will look at, you don’t need to know any of the details of Palm OS programming, such as how to create forms and buttons. Your BASIC program does not
need to be compiled, it exists as a simple text file that is easy for you to edit and
store on the PDA. With many C or C++ systems, you can’t edit the program on
your PDA as you can with a BASIC program. It’s also much easier to bail out of
a badly behaving BASIC program; with C code, a bug in the code could result
in a hard reset for the PDA.
So, have we convinced you to give some BASIC code a try? If so, press on. If
not, we’ll have our “editors” Tony and Guido come over to give you a little
more persuasion.
HotPaw Basic
HotPaw Basic is the work of Ron Nicholson. It is a full-featured BASIC programming system that runs on your PDA. Programs are stored as memos in
the MemoPad, and a simple tap of the stylus will run any program. Because
the program is stored as a memo, it is easy to edit the program right on your
PDA. The web site for HotPaw Basic is www.hotpaw.com/hotpaw.
Download HotPaw Basic from the Web or from the CD-ROM and unzip it
onto your hard drive. There are two files that you need to load to the PDA:
ybasic.prc and mathlib.prc. The yBasic application is what runs your BASIC
programs. The file mathlib.prc is a library of double-precision math routines
used by HotPaw Basic.
Find and tap the icon for yBasic in the Applications Launcher.
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This will bring up a program list form that shows all the programs that
HotPaw Basic found in the MemoPad. If you just installed HotPaw Basic, this
list will be empty and the message “No BASIC programs were found in the
MemoPad” will be displayed in the form. Below the form are two buttons.
When programs are listed in the form, you can select the program and use the
buttons to edit or run the selected program.
Hello, World!
Let’s start with a simple example that will show you some of the features of
HotPaw Basic. In this example, we’ll draw a form on the screen and use some
buttons to accept input from the form. For now, don’t worry about understanding every keyword or function in the listing. We just want to get a quick
example working. This program is short enough that you could enter it directly into a memo on your PDA. However, most of the time it will be easier to
type the memo into the Palm Desktop and then hot sync it to the PDA.
What do we want the program to do? First, it will display the phrase
“Hello, World!” on the screen. Next, it will draw a button on the screen.
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Every time the user taps the button, the program will display a message
box that asks the user to enter a name.
If the user enters a non-empty string, the program will change the displayed phrase to “Hello, name.”
To find programs, HotPaw looks for memos in the MemoPad with a first
line that begins with the number character (#), followed by some text that
ends with .bas. So here’s the first line of our program:
#HelloWorld.bas
Note that even though there are no space characters in the line above,
HotPaw Basic doesn’t care how many letters, numbers, or other characters are
in the first line, as long as it begins with # and ends with .bas.
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Next, we’ll create some variables. Since these are string variables, the variable name includes a trailing $. Note that you can put multiple code statements on a single line if they are separated by a colon.
a$ = "Hello, " : b$ = "World!"
Now we’ll create a loop so that the program runs until we tell it to quit. Inside the loop, we’ll draw the phrase to the screen:
while (1) : rem loop forever
draw –1 : rem clear the screen
draw a$ + b$,2,15
There are two commands for printing to the screen, print and draw. With
the draw command, you pass the string, followed by the screen position in x
and y coordinates where the upper-left corner of the screen is 0,0.
The line of code above draws the string “Hello, World!” at screen position
x=2 and y=15, which is just below the application title. Now, let’s create a form
button that will pop up an input box. The command for creating a form button
is form btn x, y, width, height, button_label, 1.
form btn 2,30, 55,15, "Enter Name", 1
This draws a button that is 55 pixels wide and 15 pixels high at screen position x=2, y=30. When the user taps the button, we’ll pop up an input box that
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asks the user for his name. When the program jumps back to the start of the
loop, the program prints “Hello,” with the name that was entered.
x$ = input$(1) : rem wait for button press
i$ = inputbox("What is your name", "Name Entry", 2)
The inputbox( ) function can take three arguments. The first is a query
string displayed in the box, and the second is a form title. The final argument,
2, tells the function to display both OK and Cancel buttons. Finally, the program checks that the user has actually entered something. If the entered string
is not empty, it is saved in variable b$. When the program loops back to the
start, it will draw the phrase using the new value of b$.
if i$ <> "" then b$ = i$ : rem if user entered something, store it in b$
wend : rem end of loop, go back to start
Here is the complete program listing:
#HelloWorld.bas
a$ = "Hello, " : b$ = "World!"
while (1) : rem loop forever
draw –1 : rem clear the screen
draw a$ + b$,2,15
form btn 2,30, 55,15, "Enter Name", 1
x$ = input$(1) : rem wait for button press
i$ = inputbox("What is your name", "Name Entry", 2)
if i$ <> "" then b$ = i$ : rem if user entered something, store it in b$
wend : rem end of loop, go back to start
end
There are a few more things we want to point out about the code above.
First, while BASIC programs are usually line-numbered, the code above is
not. HotPaw Basic will automatically apply line numbers internally. Line
numbers can be useful when you are debugging the code and when you want
to create subroutines. We’ll do that in a later program. Also, comments in the
code start with the keyword rem. Anything that follows rem up to the end of
the line is a comment and is not executed. Finally, the program ends with the
keyword end. The end keyword is not really necessary in this program because it runs in an endless loop. However, it is useful to get in the habit of putting an end at the end of your main program. Later in this chapter, we will write
a HotPaw Basic program that uses subroutines that follow the main program.
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Without the end, a program that does not run in an endless loop could easily
run past the end and start executing the subroutines, which would be a program bug.
When you are finished entering the program onto your PDA (or loading it
from the Palm Desktop), find and tap the yBasic icon in the Application
Launcher. This time the list of programs should show, #HelloWorld.bas. Select
the program and then tap the Run button.
You should see the text “Hello, World!” printed to the screen with a button
that says Enter Name below the text. Notice also that HotPaw automatically
puts a Quit button at the bottom of the screen. This is what allows us to get out
of the infinite loop that is in the code above. When you are finished, tap the
Quit button. You will now be back at the program listing screen. If you select
the #HelloWorld.bas program, you can tap the Edit button to edit the memo.
Some Useful HotPaw Commands and Functions
HotPaw Basic makes programming a Palm easy because you don’t have to
worry about the details of Palm OS programming. One of those details is all
the work in creating forms and form controls such as buttons, message boxes,
labels, and so on. Using simple commands or functions, HotPaw handles all
the details for you. Table 7-1 lists some of the more common and useful form
controls you can use with HotPaw Basic. To find complete details about how
to use all the commands and functions of HotPaw Basic, you’ll want to look at
quickref.txt and yb_tutorial.txt, both of which come with the software. The
file quickref.txt lists all the commands, functions, and keywords you need to
know to write BASIC programs for the Palm OS. The file yb_tutorial.txt contains many sample programs showing how to use HotPaw Basic.
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Command
Description
msgbox(message$)
Displays a message dialog box with a message string and an OK
button. The text message will word-wrap up to two lines. You can
force line wrapping up to three lines by embedding chr$(10) chars
in the message$ string.
msgbox(message$, title$)
Displays a message dialog box with a message string, the given
title, and an OK button.
msgbox(message$, title$, n)
Displays a message box with a message string and title. If n = 2,
display OK and Cancel buttons; otherwise, display an OK button.
print a,b
Display a and b in a message box, similar to the msgbox subroutine.
Provided for backwards compatibility with older versions of
HotPaw Basic. New programs should use msgbox.
?
Same as print command. Provided for backwards compatibility with
older versions of HotPaw Basic. New programs should use msgbox.
print at x,y
Sets print-to-window-mode for all following print statements. To
turn off print-to-window mode (in other words, to print in message
box mode), use print at -1,0.
input$( prompt$ )
Displays an input dialog box with the given prompt.
input$(prompt$, title$)
Displays an input dialog box with the given prompt and title.
input$(prompt$, title$,
default$)
Displays an input dialog box with the given prompt, title, and
default value.
input$(prompt$, title$, n)
Displays an input dialog box with the given prompt and title. If n =
1, only display OK button; if n = 2, display both OK and Cancel.
val(string$)
Converts a string to a number. Thus, you can read a number
entered by a user with n = val(input$(...)).
inputbox(...)
Same as input$(...).
input$(1)
Waits for one graffiti char or button press.
form(9,n,title$)
Displays n line 2 column form. Valid values for n are 2 to 9. HotPaw
has a built-in string array s$. The first column of the form displays
the strings at the even numbered indexes of s$ as labels. That is,
s$(0), s$(2), up to s$(16) can be set with string values, and these
values are the labels displayed in the first column of the form. The
second column of the form accepts values entered by the user. Default
values for each line of the form are held in the odd numbered indexes
of s$. That is, s$(1), s$(3), up to s$(17) hold the default values
displayed in column 2 of the form. The values entered by the user
are also stored in s$(1) through s$(17). The form also has four buttons:
OK, Cancel, A, and B. The return value of the form when the user
taps a button is 1 for OK, 2 for the A button, 3 for the B button.
form(0)
Returns last dialog box button status and clears the button status to 0.
Table 7-1
Some of the More Common or Useful HotPaw Functions
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Command
Description
form btn x,y, width,
height, label$, 1
Creates a form button at the given x,y coordinate and with the
given width and height. The label of the button is given by the
string parameter.
fn formbtn( )
Returns the key code of the last form button that was tapped.
draw -1
Clears the display.
draw t$, x,y
Draws text t$ at given screen position.
fn wait(n)
Delays for n seconds.
Table 7-1
Some of the More Common or Useful HotPaw Functions (continued)
Creating and drawing forms is fun and leads to strong minds and bodies,
but to work with the PPRK, we need to be able to communicate over the serial
port. Some of the commands for sending and receiving data over the serial
port are shown in Table 7-2.
Command
Description
open “com1:”,9600 as #5
Opens the serial port. Note that you must always use the command
as shown. COM1 is the only valid serial port, 9600 baud is the
speed that the Pontech SV203 controller is using, and only
descriptor #5 is valid for serial port communication.
print #5, a$
Prints the string a$ to the serial port.
get$(#5, n)
Returns a string up to n bytes long.
input #5, a$
Waits for one line of text.
close #5
Closes serial port.
fn serial(5)
Returns the number of bytes to be read from descriptor #5.
Table 7-2
HotPaw Basic Commands for Using the Serial Port of the Palm
PPRK Programming with HotPaw Basic
Now that we’ve seen a simple application using HotPaw Basic and some of the
HotPaw Basic commands and functions, let’s actually write some code for the
PPRK. We’ll first discuss what the program is intended to do, and then show
the code.
The Simple Jig Program
This program will be simple in concept, but as you will see, it does involve a
bit more code than we saw earlier. The program will run in a loop. Within the
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loop, it will periodically ask the SV203 if sensor 1 has detected an object. If it
has, the program will command the robot to move away from the object, spin
around in one direction, spin around in the opposite direction, and then move
back to where it was. If you read Chapter 5, you may notice that this program
does the same thing as the simple.tea program we looked at there. By showing
you the same program in a different language, you can compare this program
to the same program written in TEA. Then you can write a 500-word essay
comparing and contrasting the two programs. You must have five paragraphs
at a minimum, consisting of introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion, with topic sentences for each paragraph. Essays are due next Monday. Send them to Dave for grading.
After we show the complete program listing, we will look at its various
parts in a little more detail. This program is a bit more involved than the earlier Hello World program, so you may want to enter it as a memo in the Palm
Desktop and then perform a hot sync operation to load it to your PDA. So,
without further ado, here is the listing for simple jig program .bas. If you don’t
want to type this into your Palm OS device, we’ve included the source code in
the \Other Applications\SimpleJig directory on the CD-ROM.
# simple jig program .bas
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
55
60
65
70
75
80
85
90
95
open "com1:", 9600 as #5
rem draw start button
draw -1
draw "Stopped",40,70
form btn 40,50, 35,15, "Start", 1
rem wait for start button to be clicked
x$=input$(1) : rem Start button returns chr$(14)
if x$ <> chr$(14) then goto 40
draw "Running...",40,70
range = -1
while (1)
gosub 1200 : rem read sensor
draw "Range value: [" + str$(range) + "]
",2,115
if range > 55 then gosub 1000
fn wait(1) : rem wait 1 second
wend
close #5
end
1000 : rem jig function
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rem
1 = full reverse
rem 128 = stop (centered)
rem 255 = full forward
sv1$="128" : sv2$="1" : sv3$="255"
gosub 1100
fn wait(2)
sv1$="255" : sv2$="255" : sv3$="255"
gosub 1100
fn wait(3)
sv1$="128" : sv2$="1" : sv3$="255"
gosub 1100
fn wait(2)
sv1$="1" : sv2$="1" : sv3$="1"
gosub 1100
fn wait(3)
sv1$="128" : sv2$="128" : sv3$="128"
gosub 1100
return
1100 : rem servo control
rem
1 = full reverse
rem 128 = stop (centered)
rem 255 = full forward
print #5, "SV1M" + sv1$
print #5, "SV2M" + sv2$
print #5, "SV3M" + sv3$
return
1200 : rem read sensor 1
range = -1
print #5, "BD1AD1" + chr$(13) : rem tell board sensor 1
s = fn serial(5)
if s > 0 then
r$ = get$(#5, s) : rem read bytes
range = val(r$)
endif
return
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Simple Jig Explained
The program starts at line 10 by opening the serial port. The serial port will be
closed if the program reaches line 90, or if the program is terminated. HotPaw
automatically closes the serial port if a program is terminated. In general, you
will want to open the serial port as the first action your program takes, and
close the serial port only when the program ends. In line 30, the program uses
the form btn command to create a form button with the label Start. In HotPaw
Basic, each button is assigned a key code. The first button to be created is assigned key code 14 by default, the next gets 15, and so on. HotPaw does provide a command to change these key codes within the program, if you need to.
Next, it uses the input$(1) function to wait for the user to tap the Start button.
When the user taps the Start button, the program prints the string “Running…” and begins its main loop. It begins in line 65 by calling the subroutine to
read sensor 1. If the value returned is greater than 55, the program calls the subroutine to do the jig. (The board will return a digital value between 0 and 255 for
the sensor reading. The closer the detected object to the sensor, the higher the
returned value.) The program waits for one second, then starts the loop again.
The first subroutine, which starts at line 1000, moves the robot in its little
jig. It does this by commanding the servos. With the SV203, you send a text
command for each servo. The text command looks like this: SVnMn. The first
n is the servo number; the second is the servo position. The position can be any
number from 1 to 255. The value 128 is center or stop, 1 is full reverse, and 255
is full forward. So to command servo 1 to go forward, the command is
SV1M255. The jig subroutine sets various values for three strings that correspond to the three servos, and calls the subroutine at line 1100 to actually send
the command strings.
The final subroutine, at line 1200, commands the SV203 to read sensor 1,
reads the sensor value if one exists, and stores it in the range variable. The command for reading an analog port is AD1. The program sends the command
BD1 AD1 to tell SV203 board 1 to read analog port 1. (The BD command is
used when one has multiple SV203s connected together, in which case each
board has its own ID number. Thus, it’s not really needed every time we send
the AD1 command.) The fn serial(5) function returns the number of bytes
waiting at the serial port. If the function returns a value greater than zero, the
bytes are read as a string with the get$(#5,n) function, where n is the number
of bytes to read. If the port was read, the bytes are converted into a value and
the function returns.
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Running Simple Jig
When you are finished entering the program onto your PDA (or loading it from
the Palm Desktop), find and tap the yBasic icon in the Application Launcher.
This time the list of programs should show # simple jig program .bas.
Select the program and then tap the Run button. With the PDA attached to
the PPRK, turn the robot on. Then tap the Start button of the program. Place
the robot on the ground and place an object (a foot works well for this) in front
of sensor 1, about a foot away from the sensor. When the sensor detects the object, the robot will perform its little jig.
NS Basic
NS Basic, from NS Basic Corporation, is a visual integrated development environment (IDE) that runs on a Windows PC. In a visual development environment you create Palm applications by dragging controls onto forms, and
then adding code to the form or control. The fact that it is an IDE means that
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you can write, compile, run, and debug your code without needing to switch
between four different applications (editor, compiler, runtime, and debugger).
Editing and compiling is done with the NS Basic application; running and debugging occurs in a Palm OS emulator (POSE). Although the two are separate
applications, NS Basic is integrated with the emulator so that Palm applications can be automatically downloaded to the POSE and launched by NS Basic.
The web site for NS Basic is www.nsbasic.com.
Download NS Basic from the Web or from the CD-ROM and install it onto
your hard drive. The installation program will place an entry in the Start
menu for NS Basic. Launch the program and you are ready to start creating a
project. A project refers to the forms, resources, and code that are part of a
Palm application.
Hello World in NS Basic
Let’s re-create the simple Hello World program from the previous section, using NS Basic so you can see how to add forms, controls, and code to create a
simple application. Launch NS Basic and create a new project by clicking the
Open button as seen in the previous illustration. The new project will open
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with an initial form in the center of the window. To the right is the Project Explorer pane and the Properties pane. To the left is a palette of form controls.
In the Project Explorer pane, click the project and the form and change their
properties in the Properties pane so that the name of the project and the form
is Hello World.
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Start by clicking the Label tool in the control palette and clicking on the
form in the upper-left part of the form. Click the button tool and add a button
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below the label. Don’t worry if the names assigned by NS Basic to your controls are different from those shown in the illustration.
Now click the label on the form to select it. Its properties will be displayed
in the Properties pane to the right. In the Properties pane, change the label to
be “Hello, World!” Click the button to select it, and change its label in the
Properties pane to “Enter Name.”
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Create another label, a field, and two buttons as shown in the next illustration. Change the label text to “Enter Your Name” and the second button to
“Cancel”. Finally, in the Properties pane for each of these controls, set its Visible property to False.
Now we’re going to enter some code to do some actual work. Double-clicking a control on a form will bring up a code window. Code entered into the
window will execute when the control is activated. So, if we add code to a button, the code will execute when the button is clicked. Double-click the Enter
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Name button and enter this code in its code window (note that the Sub and
End Sub lines are already entered into the form):
Modify the code as needed to use the correct names for the controls on the
form you created. For example, if the field on your form is named, field1010,
the correct code for your project would be
Field1010.show
Similarly, enter code for the OK and Cancel buttons as shown in the following illustrations.
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Now we need to do a little configuring of NS Basic. Select Tools | Options
from the menu. Click the Compile/Download tab. Ensure that Compile Into
Fat App is not selected. (This property seems to be reset every time you run NS
Basic, so be sure to check it when you start a new project.) Also, select the option you want in the After Compiling pane. We usually choose Do Nothing so
that we have control over when and how the application is launched. You may
prefer to Send To POSE or hot sync To Device.
Click the OK button. Now select Run | Compile Hello World from the
menu. Alternately, you can press the F5 button to perform the same action. If
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your project compiles successfully, you will see a dialog box that tells you the
size of your program. NS Basic compiles your program into a Palm PRC file
and stores it into the \Download directory of the NS Basic installation.
A few steps previously, we set NS Basic to create a skinny application. With
a skinny application, the PRC file that is created cannot be run on its own. It
needs the NS Basic runtime to be on the PDA to be able to execute. A fat application, on the other hand, is a stand-alone PRC that contains all the NS Basic
runtime code as part of the PRC. To run your skinny application, you need to
download or hot sync the NS Basic runtime and other libraries to the POSE or
your PDA. That can be done in the Run menu.
Loading NS Basic Programs to a Palm OS PDA
Select Run | Hotsync NS Basic Runtime from the menu. This will add the
runtime to the hot sync list for your PDA. If you have multiple user names on
your system, you will need to select the correct PDA user name for hot syncing.
This only needs to be done once, regardless of how many NS Basic programs
you hot sync to the PDA. Similarly, add the Hello World application to the hot
sync list. The next time you hot sync the PDA, the two applications will be
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downloaded to the PDA. Alternately, you can use the Palm Install Tool application to install the NS Basic Runtime and the Hello World application the
same way you would any other Palm application. You will find both of them
in the \Download directory of the NS Basic installation.
After hot syncing the Hello World application to the PDA, find it in the Applications Launcher and tap its icon to launch it. NS Basic automatically adds a
program icon to the PRC file for you, as you can see in the next illustration. (You
can add your own custom icon, but we don’t have room to cover that here.)
After the program launches, your PDAshould look like the next illustration.
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Tapping the Enter Name button will cause the other controls to become
visible.
Enter a name and tap the OK button to change the Hello, World! message to
be Hello, name and to hide the other controls again.
Running the POSE
Normally, you will not want to hot sync your application directly to a PDA
without testing it first. That is what the POSE is for. You will need to do a little
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setup before you can use the POSE. Click Tools | EMULATOR from the menu
to launch the POSE.
After the emulator starts up, right-click anywhere on the POSE to see the
popup menu. About two-thirds of the way down is the Transfer ROM menu
option. Select that option and follow the directions to download a copy of
your PDA’s read-only memory to your PC. After the ROM has been downloaded and saved, bring up the POSE menu again and select New from the
menu. This will display the dialog box shown in the next illustration.
Using the drop-down selection boxes, select the ROM you just saved, select
the appropriate Palm type and memory amount, and click OK to start a new
POSE session.
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At this point, you can use the Run menu to download the NS Basic runtime
and the Hello World application to the POSE. After they are downloaded,
choose Reset from the POSE menu. You should then be able to find and launch
the application on the POSE.
PPRK Programming with NS Basic
Now that you know how to use NS Basic to create simple forms, controls, and
applications, let’s redo the simple jig program in NS Basic. In this section we
will quickly cover building the application using the forms and controls in NS
Basic. Refer back to the “PPRK Programming with HotPaw Basic” section to
see how the simple jig program is supposed to function. If you just want to
load the application into NS Basic, we’ve included the project file in the
\Other Applications\SimpleJig directory on the CD-ROM.
Create a new project in NS Basic and add two buttons named Start and
Stop, and three labels to the main form as shown in the following illustration.
We named the controls as follows:
❏ btnStart
❏ btnStop
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❏ LabelStatus
❏ LabelRange
❏ LabelNumBytes
Next to the labels LabelRange and LabelNumBytes, add two blank labels.
btnStart
btnStop
labelStatus
labelRange
labelRangeValue
labelNumBytes
labelNumBytesValue
These two controls are named:
❏ LabelRangeValue
❏ LabelNumBytesValue
We will use these two labels to output information from the sensor reading
function so you can get a feel for how to read sensor data from NS Basic.
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As a general rule, you will want to open the serial port to the SV203 controller when your program starts up, and close the port when the program ends.
To do this, right-click on the Project1 element in the Project Explorer window.
Select View Startup Code, and enter this code:
Sub Project_Startup()
SerialOpen(0, 9600)
End Sub
This code will, as you might guess, open the serial port for you. Note that
NS Basic automatically enters the Sub and End Sub lines of code, and all you
need to enter is the SerialOpen( ) function call.
Now right-click the Project element again and select View Termination
Code. Enter this code in the window:
Sub Project_Termination()
SerialClose()
End Sub
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Double-click on the Start button. Add the code (shown next) to the code
window that appears. Note that your Sub line will probably use a different object ID, depending on when you added the button to the project.
Sub object1004()
'start button
lblStatus.label = "Running..."
Call LoopMethod
End Sub
Double-click the Stop button and enter this code into the code window for
the Stop button:
Sub object1005()
'stop button
done = 1
lblStatus.label = "Stopped..."
End Sub
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Right-click on the Modules folder in the Project Explorer and select Add
New Module from the popup menu. Add the code shown in the next listing to
the code module. You may need to edit the code so that it refers the correct objects for your project.
Global
Global
Global
Global
Global
range as Integer
sv1 as String
sv2 as String
sv3 as String
done as Integer
Sub LoopMethod()
done = 0
Do while done <> 1
Call ReadRange()
If range > 55
Call DoJig()
End If
Delay 1
If SysEventAvailable()=1 Then
done = 1
End If
Loop
Return
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End Sub
Sub DoJig()
sv1 = "SV1M128"+chr(13)
sv2 = "SV2M1"+chr(13)
sv3 = "SV3M255"+chr(13)
Call ServoControl()
Delay 2
sv1 = "SV1M255"+chr(13)
sv2 = "SV2M255"+chr(13)
sv3 = "SV3M255"+chr(13)
Call ServoControl()
Delay 3
sv1 = "SV1M128"+chr(13)
sv2 = "SV2M1"+chr(13)
sv3 = "SV3M255"+chr(13)
Call ServoControl()
Delay 2
sv1 = "SV1M1"+chr(13)
sv2 = "SV2M1"+chr(13)
sv3 = "SV3M1"+chr(13)
Call ServoControl()
Delay 3
sv1 = "SV1M128"+chr(13)
sv2 = "SV2M128"+chr(13)
sv3 = "SV3M128"+chr(13)
Call ServoControl()
Return
End Sub
Sub ServoControl()
Dim err as Integer
err = serialsend(sv1,len(sv1))
err = serialsend(sv2,len(sv2))
err = serialsend(sv3,len(sv3))
Return
End Sub
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Sub ReadRange()
Dim r as String
Dim numbytes as Integer
Dim readSensorStr as String
Dim err as Integer
range = -1
readSensorStr = "BD1AD1"+chr(13)
err = serialsend(readSensorStr, len(readSensorStr))
numbytes = sysinfo(5)
LabelNumBytesValue.label = str(numbytes)
If (numbytes > 0) Then
SerialReceive(r,numbytes,3.0)
range = val(r)
LabelRangeValue.label = str(range)
EndIf
Return
End Sub
The flow of this program is the same as it was before. When the Start button
is tapped, the application runs a loop that reads the sensor, and does a little jig
if it detects an object with sensor 1. When the Stop button is tapped, the program ends. Notice that while the functions to open, read, and write the serial
port are different in NS Basic than in HotPaw Basic, the concept is still the
same. The program opens the port, and reads and writes data to the SV203 as
simple text strings. You can find more information on the serial port functions
and other functions in the documentation for NS Basic.
Although we will not go through this code line by line, we will point out
some of the functions we used. Within the LoopMethod( ) function, the call
to the SysEventAvailable( ) function tells us whether the user has tapped a
button or control. If this happens, the program assumes that the user wants
to stop. Within the ServoControl( ) function, the serialsend(String, Integer)
function sends a string to the serial port. This is the function that sends our
commands to the SV203. Within the ReadRange( ) function, the sysinfo(5)
function calls and returns the number of bytes waiting to be read from the serial port. The SerialReceive( ) function reads those bytes from the serial port.
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Other Tools
HotPaw Basic and NS Basic are by no means the only tools available to you.
There are several other BASIC systems for your Palm OS. The best place we
know for finding programming tools for your PDA is www.PalmGearHQ.com.
If you go there and search for “basic program,” you will get a listing of additional tools and interpreters that you can play with.
Programming the PPRK with C
At the beginning of the chapter, we said that most C and C++ systems do not
allow you to edit source code on the Palm. You need to edit, compile, and create the PRC file on your PC and then perform a hot sync operation to load the
application to the PDA. In this section, we’ll look at one exception to that.
PocketC
PocketC, available from www.orbworks.com, is a C compiler that allows you
to create and compile C programs directly on your PDA. For the most part,
though, as your C programs get bigger than just a few lines you’ll want to edit
your source code as memos in the Palm Desktop, and hot sync the memo to
the PDA for compiling.
Download PocketC from the Web or from the CD-ROM, and unzip it onto
your hard drive. The compiler is contained in the PocketC.prc file. If you are
going to make use of any floating point math, you’ll also need the mathlib.prc
file. HotSync both of the files to your Palm and you’re ready to go.
Find and tap the icon for PocketC in the Applications Launcher. This will
bring up a program list form that shows all the compiled programs that
PocketC knows about. If you just installed PocketC, this list will be empty. Below the form are three buttons. When programs are listed in the form, you can
select the program and use the Execute button to execute the selected program. The Compile button displays a form that allows you to select and compile
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a program stored as a memo. The middle button, labeled Output, takes you to
a form that displays any output created by a program.
Hello, World!
Let’s start with a simple example that will show you some of the features of
PocketC. In this example, we’ll draw a form on the screen, and use some buttons to accept input from the form. For now, don’t worry about understanding every keyword or function in the listing. We just want to get a quick
example working. This program is short enough that you could enter it directly into a memo on your PDA. However, most of the time it will be easier to
type the memo into the Palm Desktop and then hot sync it to the PDA. (If you
read the HotPaw Basic section above, you probably have a strange feeling of
déjà vu about now.)
What do we want the program to do? First, it will display the phrase “Hello,
World!” to the screen. Next, it will draw a button on the screen.
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Every time the user taps the button, the program will display a message
box that asks the user to enter a name.
If the user enters a non-empty string, the program will change the displayed
phrase to “Hello, name.”
Here’s our program:
//HelloWorld.c
main() {
int x, y, ev;
string mymsg, name;
graph_on();
mymsg="Hello, World!";
title(mymsg);
while(1) {
clearg();
text(2, 15, mymsg);
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frame(1, 2, 30, 55, 45, 2);
text(5, 32, "Enter Name");
waitp(1);
x = penx();
y = peny();
if (x>2 && x<55 && y>30 && y<45) {
name = gets("Enter your name");
if (name != "") {
mymsg = "Hello, " + name;
}
}
}
}
Let’s go over this program quickly. Every PocketC program starts with the
name of the program as a C++ style comment. The name must end in .c or .pc
so that PocketC can recognize it as source code.
Every program must also have a single main( ) function. As with other C
source code, the main( ) function is the starting point for the program. Also,
you can have additional functions in your source code, either before or after
the main( ) function.
Inside the main( ) function, the code declares some variables and then
turns the graphics form on. The title( ) function changes the title of the graphics
form. Then we go into the primary loop. Within the loop, the clearg( ) function
clears the graphics form.
The code draws the message to the form using the text( ) function, and then
creates a pseudo button using the frame( ) and text( ) functions. Don’t worry
that you need to do this for every program. There are several add-on libraries
available at www.orbworks.com that provide functions for creating form controls. We only chose to do it this way for simplicity. If you plan to pursue
PocketC programming, you should definitely check out the add-on libraries
at OrbWorks.
The program waits for a pen event with the waitp( ) function. When this
function returns, the x and y screen coordinates of the pen click can be obtained with the penx( ) and peny( ) functions. If the x and y coordinates are
within the bounds of the pseudo button, the code displays a dialog box that
asks the user to enter a name. If the name is non-empty, the message is changed.
When the loop starts over, the screen is cleared and the current message is displayed.
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Loading and Running Hello World
Start by creating the program as a memo on your Palm OS device. Alternately,
you can create it as a memo in the Palm Desktop or a note in Outlook, and perform a hot sync operation to load the memo to the PDA.
After you have created the memo, launch PocketC on the PDA. Tap the
Compile button to go to the compile screen. You will see a list of memos that
contain programs; unless you’ve already entered other programs, this list will
only show the Hello World program. Select the program and tap the Compile
button to compile the program. If the program has an error, PocketC will display a dialog box telling you which line has a problem. When the program
successfully compiles, PocketC will automatically return to the main screen.
Select the compiled program and tap the Execute button to run the program.
PPRK Programming with PocketC
It’s time to revisit the Simple Jig program again, this time using PocketC. If
you don’t want to type all this into a memo, we’ve included the source code in
the \Other Applications\SimpleJig directory on the CD-ROM.
//SimpleJig.c
char cmd11[6] = {'S','V','1','M','1'};
char cmd1128[8] = {'S','V','1','M','1','2','8'};
char cmd1255[8] = {'S','V','1','M','2','5','5'};
char cmd21[6] = {'S','V','2','M','1'};
char cmd2128[8] = {'S','V','2','M','1','2','8'};
char cmd2255[8] = {'S','V','2','M','2','5','5'};
char cmd31[6] = {'S','V','3','M','1'};
char cmd3128[8] = {'S','V','3','M','1','2','8'};
char cmd3255[8] = {'S','V','3','M','2','5','5'};
char range[10];
int rv;
initCmds() {
cmd11[5] = (char)13;
cmd1128[7] = (char)13;
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cmd1255[7]
cmd21[5] =
cmd2128[7]
cmd2255[7]
cmd31[5] =
cmd3128[7]
cmd3255[7]
= (char)13;
(char)13;
= (char)13;
= (char)13;
(char)13;
= (char)13;
= (char)13;
}
readSensor() {
char c[8];
int x;
strtoc("BD1AD1"+(char)13, c);
c[7] = (char)0;
puts("Entered readSensor\n");
sersenda(c, 7);
rv = 0;
rv = serdata();
puts("rv=" + format(rv,0)+"\n");
if (rv > 0) {
serrecva(range, rv);
range[rv] = (char)0;
x = ctostr(range);
puts("range=[" + format(x,0)+"]\n");
text(40,85,format(x,0));
} else {
puts("No data on serial port\n");
}
}
doJig() {
sersenda(cmd1128,8);
sersenda(cmd21,6);
sersenda(cmd3255,8);
sleep(2000);
sersenda(cmd1255,8);
sersenda(cmd2255,8);
sersenda(cmd3255,8);
sleep(3000);
sersenda(cmd1128,8);
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sersenda(cmd21,6);
sersenda(cmd3255,8);
sleep(2000);
sersenda(cmd11,6);
sersenda(cmd21,6);
sersenda(cmd31,6);
sleep(2000);
sersenda(cmd1128,8);
sersenda(cmd2128,8);
sersenda(cmd3128,8);
}
main() {
int x, y, done, ev, rVal;
string rangeStr;
initCmds();
graph_on();
title("Simple Jig");
clearg();
while(1) {
seropen(9600, "8N1N", 10);
frame(1, 40, 50, 75, 65, 2);
text(43, 52, "Start");
frame(1, 85, 50, 120, 65, 2);
text(88, 52, "Stop");
text(40, 70, "Stopped
");
x = -1;
y = -1;
while(x == -1 && y == -1) {
waitp();
x = penx();
y = peny();
if(x<40 || x>75 || y<50 || y>65) {
x = -1;
y = -1;
}
}
text(40, 70, "Running
");
done = 0;
while(!done) {
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readSensor();
if (rv > 0) {
rangeStr = ctostr(range);
rVal = rangeStr; //converts string to int
if (rVal > 55) doJig();
}
sleep(1000);
ev = event(0);
if (ev == 3) {
x = penx();
y = peny();
if (x>85 && x<120 && y>50 && y<65) done = 1;
}
}
text(40, 70, "Stopping");
serclose();
}
}
Simple Jig Explained
The program starts by declaring a set of character arrays. These character arrays hold the servo commands that will be sent to the BrainStem. We named the
character arrays using the string cmd followed by the servo number and the
servo position. So, looking above, you can see that the arrays that hold the commands to set servo 1 to positions 1, 128, and 255 are cmd11, cmd1128, and
cmd1255. The arrays for the commands for servos 2 and 3 are named similarly.
We also declare two other variables at the top of the program. The variable
range[10] is a character array that will hold the sensor readings from the SV203.
The variable rv will hold the number of characters waiting on the serial port.
You may have noticed that the last character in the command arrays was
not set when the character array was declared. The final character of each
command needs to be the ASCII code 13. We use the initCmds( ) function to
set the final character of the array. This function will be one of the first things
called by the main( ) function.
The next function is the readSensor( ) function. This function contains the
code to get a sensor reading from the SV203 controller. The code starts by declaring an eight-character array named c to hold the command to read a sensor. It also declares a temporary variable named x that will be used for some
debugging output. The code calls the strtoc( ) function to put the sensor reading
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command (BD1AD1) into the character array. The code then sets the last character of the array to be \0. The puts( ) function call sends a string to an output
screen managed by PocketC. You can see the output by tapping the Output
button on the main PocketC screen. The sersenda( ) function outputs a character array to the serial port. The serial port must already be open for this command to work; we will see the command to open the serial port in the main( )
function. The arguments to the sersenda( ) function are the character array
and the number of characters to send. The serdata( ) function returns the
number of bytes waiting to be read on the serial port. If there is data on the serial port, the code reads it with a call to serrecva( ). The arguments for this
function are the character array to store the data in, and the number of bytes to
read. To ensure that the character array can be converted to a string, the code
sets the array element following the last byte to 0. The code then calls the
ctostr( ) function. This converts the character array to a string and assigns the
result to our int variable x. Unlike standard C, PocketC allows you to assign a
string to an int. If the string starts with a number, the number is assigned to the
variable. Thus, you don’t need a special function to convert a string to an int.
The value of x is then sent to the Output display and to the screen of the PDA.
Following the readSensor( ) function is the doJig( ) function. This function
uses the sersenda( ) function to send the command to the serial port. The serial port must already be open for sersenda( ) to work. The sleep( ) function
stops the program for the given number of milliseconds. One thousand milliseconds is one second.
The main( ) function is what PocketC calls to start the program. The program starts by declaring some variables, calling the initCmds( ) function, and
setting up the display. The next important function call is the call to open the
serial port:
seropen(9600, "8N1N", 10);
As seen in the code snippet above, the function seropen( ) opens the serial
port. The parameters set the serial port to 9600 baud, 8 data bits, no parity, 1
stop bit, and no flow control. The final parameter (10) is a timeout value in
hundredths of a second.
After opening the serial port, the main( ) function draws two buttons on
the screen for starting and stopping the program. When the user taps the Start
button, the program starts a loop that calls the readSensor( ) function, and
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calls the doJig( ) function when sensor 1 detects an object. When you click the
Stop button, the program closes the serial port using the serclose( ) function.
Loading and Running SimpleJig.c
Start by creating the program as a memo on your Palm OS device. Alternately,
you can create it as a memo in the Palm Desktop or a note in Outlook, and perform a hot sync operation to load the memo to the PDA.
After you have created the memo, launch PocketC on the PDA. Tap the
Compile button to go to the compile screen. You will see a list of memos that
contain programs. Select the SimpleJig.c program and tap the Compile button
to compile the program. If the program has an error, PocketC will display a dialog box telling you which line has a problem. When the program successfully
compiles, PocketC will automatically return to the main screen.
Connect the PDA to the robot and turn on the robot. Select the SimpleJig
program in the main PocketC screen and tap the Execute button to run the program. Put the robot on the floor and place an object in front of sensor 1. When
the sensor detects the object, it will display the range reading on the screen. If
the object is close enough, the robot will perform its jig. When you’ve seen
enough, tap the Stop button to stop the program. Go back to the PocketC main
screen, select SimpleJig, and tap the Output button. This will show you the debug output from the puts( ) function calls.
The Robot Geek Says
All of the software tools for creating, programming, and running
programs can be found on the CD-ROM for this book. They are all
demo or trial versions of the software. If you want to purchase the full
version of any package, or you want to search for the latest versions and
other information, you should go to the web sites of these products:
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✖
HotPaw Basic
✖
MathLib
✖
NS Basic
www.nsbasic.com/palm
✖
PocketC
www.orbworks.com/pcpalm
✖
PocketPPRK
✖
Pocket Toolbox
www.hotpaw.com/hotpaw
www.radiks.net/~rhuebner/mathlib.html
home.townisp.com/~kmcentire/palm/pprk/pprk.htm
www.geocities.com/retro_01775/PToolboxLib.htm
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We would like to thank the following people or companies for
allowing us to include their software with this book:
✖
Ron Nicholson, creator of HotPaw Basic
✖
Rick Huebner, creator of MathLib
✖
NS Basic Corporation
✖
OrbWorks
✖
Karl McEntire, developer of the PocketPPRK application
✖
Joseph Stadolnik, developer of Pocket Toolbox
✖
Acroname Corporation, for the TEA language and SDKs
✖
Carnegie Mellon, PPRK project, for the original PPRK software
The software that is included on the CD-ROM is copyrighted and
licensed by their respective developers or owners. Please consult the
documentation for each package for the software rights granted to you
with each package or application.
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Chapter 8
Taking Control of the
BrainStem Robot
199
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I
n much of this book, we’ve been covering both the original PPRK built with the
Pontech SV203 controller and the PPRK built with the BrainStem controller.
This is the second of two chapters that focus on just one of the versions. In the
previous chapter, we explored various languages for programming the SV203. In
this chapter, we will focus exclusively on the BrainStem controller.
We will first look at writing programs in a language named TEA (Tiny Embedded Applications). Using TEA, you can write programs for the BrainStem
that look very much like programs written in the C language. This is not surprising, because TEA is a subset of C. So, if you’re a C programmer, you
should find TEA simple to use. You can also use TEA to write programs in a
different mode. Acroname calls this mode “Reflex,” and as you will see, it provides a powerful toolset for writing programs that can react to stimuli.
Finally, we’ll look at writing Java programs for the BrainStem. Java is one of
the major programming languages today. We will see how to use Java together with some Java classes developed by Acroname to write programs for
the BrainStem controller.
The Robot Geek Says
So You Want to be a BrainStem Hacker
In this chapter, we assume that you already know how to program
in at least one computer language. This chapter will not be a tutorial
on how to program, but rather how to use what you already know to
program for the SV203 or BrainStem controller. If you want to learn
how to program, there are many other books you can try. Here are
a few suggestions:
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✖
Java 2: A Beginner’s Guide, by Herb Schildt, from McGraw-Hill/Osborne
✖
Teach Yourself Java, by Joseph O’Neil, from McGraw-Hill/Osborne
✖
Thinking In Java, by Bruce Eckel, from Prentice Hall
✖
Beginning J2EE 1.4, by Kevin Mukhar, from Wrox Press (No robot
information whatsoever, but lots of Java programming. Since we plugged
one of Dave’s books in the previous chapter, this time it’s Kevin’s turn.)
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Programming the BrainStem Using TEA
If you have a PPRK that uses the BrainStem controller, your easiest route to
programming is to use the TEA (Tiny Embedded Applications) language.
TEA is a subset of the C programming language, so if you know C or Java, you
should be able to easily program in TEA.
BrainStem Modes
The BrainStem can actually operate in a number of different modes. These
modes are called Slave mode, Reflex mode, and TEA mode.
In Slave mode, the robot is completely controlled through a host device.
This host device can be a PC or a PDA. The host receives sensor readings from
the BrainStem, performs calculations, and sends servo commands to the
BrainStem. All the computation for controlling the robot occurs on the host,
and the BrainStem module simply acts as a conduit for data and commands.
In Reflex mode, you create a number of small code blocks, called reflexes
and messages, that are stored on the BrainStem controller. Reflexes consist of a
list of references to messages; messages consist of some BrainStem command
that you want to be executed. Events, such as a sensor reading or another reflex,
cause one or more reflexes to be initiated. The reflex causes the commands in
its list to be executed. You can see that these are analogous to the reflexes of
your own body. Tap your knee in the right spot and your lower leg reflexively
reacts. Sneeze and your eyelids close.
Finally, there is TEA mode. This is kind of a mixture of Slave and Reflex
modes. Similar to Reflex mode, you store small programs on the BrainStem
controller. However, unlike Reflex mode, TEA programs don’t execute in
response to events or other TEA programs. Some host must command the
BrainStem controller to execute the TEA programs. However, after the host
has sent the execute command, the BrainStem can be disconnected from the
host and all processing occurs on the BrainStem controller.
We will be looking primarily at TEA mode in this section. Later we will take
a brief look at Reflex mode. The final section in this chapter will look at using
Java in Slave mode.
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Installing Acroname Software
To use TEA mode, you will need the Console application and a library of TEA
functions and subroutines, both from Acroname. We’ve included all the files
you need on the CD-ROM for the book. But if you want to make sure you have
the latest and greatest files, you can get them at www.acroname.com. The file
you need is the pprk_sdk.zip or pprk_sdk.sit file. Acroname has created different versions of the software for many different systems. You will need to
download the software for your system (Windows PC, Mac, or Palm OS).
Unpack the file to your hard drive.
In the directory structure that is created when you unpack the pprk_sdk
archive file are the directories aBinary, aSystem, and aUser. The aBinary directory contains programs that help you use your BrainStem controller. One of
these is a program called Console, which is used to load programs from a host
to the BrainStem. Another program is Config, which allows you to check the
operation of the sensors and servos. The aSystem directory contains the library files that you can use to create BrainStem programs. The aUser directory
is where you will place your TEA source code.
If you are using a Palm PDA as a host, TEA source code files should be
placed in the MemoPad. You’ll find it much easier to edit the files on a PC, and
then perform a HotSync operation to put the memos on your PDA. You can
edit TEA files on the PDA if you want, but it is a cumbersome process.
Writing TEA Programs
Since TEA is based on C, if you know C (like I know C), you won’t have any
problems at all. The big difference between the two is that TEA does not use
pointers. Another difference between TEA and C is with a right shift operation.
In TEA, a right shift on a signed or unsigned variable will perform an arithmetic
shift. This means the sign bit is always shifted right into the value. In Ansi C, a
right shift on an unsigned variable shifts zeros into the value. A final difference
is that although you can include files in your TEA program, as we will see
shortly, you don’t include header files. TEA programs do not use header files
like C or C++; the files that you include are other source files.
The main entry point for all TEA programs is the main( ) function. In this
book, we will be using a form of main( ) that looks like this:
void main()
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Recall that this means the main( ) function takes no arguments and returns no
values. However, in TEA the main( ) function can also have a return type of
char or int, and it can take an arbitrary number of parameters. Within main( ),
you can execute program logic and call other functions or subroutines. These
functions and subroutines can be in the same file, or they can be included from
other files.
Just as with C or C++, you can include other source files using the #include
macro:
#include <aPPRK.tea>
The command shown above includes the named source file, aPPRK.tea,
into the current source file. Recall that with TEA programs, the file you include, aPPRK.tea for example, is a source code file, and not a header file. Code
in the current source file can call any of the functions or subroutines defined in
the included file.
Subroutines and functions are code modules that can be called just like
functions and subroutines in C. The primary difference between the functions
and subroutines is that functions return a value and subroutines do not.
int myFunction() /* returns an int */
void mySubroutine() /* returns nothing (void) */
A Sample TEA Program
If you went through Chapter 5, you have already encountered one TEAprogram,
simple.tea. This is the program that waits until sensor 1 detects an object, and
then it does a little jig that consists of moving away from the object, turning
one direction, then reversing the turn, and finally moving forward.
Rather than go through that code again, let’s examine another of the TEA
sample programs and look a little more closely at how it works. After we do
that, you may want to investigate the other sample programs on your own or
try writing a TEA program yourself.
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The program we will look at is the one named chase.tea in the aUser directory.
Here is the complete source code for the program:
/* chase.tea
/* BrainStem PPRK program
/* Move toward sensor detection, otherwise spin
/* Only moves in direction of one sensor
#include <aCore.tea>
#include <aPPRK.tea>
#include <aA2D.tea>
#define
#define
#define
SPEEDR
SPEEDL
DRANGE
100
100
175
void main()
{
int b;
int r1;
int r2;
int r3;
/* five second wait before starting */
aCore_Sleep(30000);
aCore_Sleep(20000);
while (1)
{
r1=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR1);
r2=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR2);
r3=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR3);
b=0;
if (r1>DRANGE) b = b | 1;
if (r2>DRANGE) b = b | 2;
if (r3>DRANGE) b = b | 4;
switch (b)
{
case 1:
aPPRK_Go(0,SPEEDL,-SPEEDL,0);
b=1;
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*/
*/
*/
*/
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break;
case 2:
aPPRK_Go(-SPEEDL,0,SPEEDL,0);
b=1;
break;
case 4:
aPPRK_Go(SPEEDL,-SPEEDL,0,0);
b=1;
break;
default:
b=0;
break;
}
if (b==0)
{
aPPRK_Go(0,0,0,SPEEDR);
}
else
{
aCore_Sleep(5000);
aPPRK_Go(0,0,0,0);
aCore_Sleep(5000);
}
}
}
chase.tea Line by Line
Let’s spend a few minutes examining the chase.tea program to get an understanding of the kinds of things that go into a TEA program. The program begins
with four comment lines that start with the following comment:
/* chase.tea
*/
TEA follows ANSI C, so the markers /* */ above indicate that what appears
between the markers is a comment and is ignored by the compiler. Within
TEA code you can also use // to indicate comments like this:
//chase.tea
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Following the comment lines in the source file are some include statements:
#include <aCore.tea>
#include <aPPRK.tea>
#include <aA2D.tea>
These three files are part of the library that comes with the Acroname software. The aCore file contains functions and subroutines for sending data to and
from the ports, and it contains a subroutine, aCore_Sleep( ), that pauses the
program. The aPPRK file contains a single routine for commanding the servos.
The file aA2D contains two functions that read data from the analog ports of the
BrainStem. Finally, both aCore and aA2D include the file aIOPorts, which defines constants that can be used in the TEA programs. The include statements
are followed by some constant definitions:
#define
#define
#define
SPEEDR
SPEEDL
DRANGE
100
100
175
These lines define three constants that will be used in the code that follows.
Using constants is better than using the literal numbers in your code. It makes
the code easier to understand because anyone reading the code can make a
good guess about what SPEEDR refers to, but guessing what 100 refers to
would be much more difficult.
Next, we get to the starting point for the program. Each program you create
and run must have one and only one main( ) function. The code for chase.tea
uses void main( ), but recall that main( ) can return char or int, and take parameters. The main( ) function is the function that the TEA VM calls to begin
execution of your program.
void main()
{
Next, the program defines a number of variables:
int b;
int r1;
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int r2;
int r3;
The variable b tracks which sensor detected an object. The variables r1, r2,
and r3 hold the readings from sensors 1, 2, and 3.
This is followed by two sleep commands. The purpose of the
aCore_Sleep(int) function is to pause the program. The time that the program
pauses is given by the int parameter. This parameter specifies how many
ten-thousandths of a second that the program pauses. So, to pause for 1 second, you pass the value 10,000 to the subroutine. In the code, the program
waits for 3 seconds, then 2 seconds, for a total wait time of 5 seconds.
/* five second wait before starting */
aCore_Sleep(30000);
aCore_Sleep(20000);
The Robot Geek Says
The Big Sleep
You might be wondering why the chase.tea source code uses two
calls to the aCore_Sleep(int) function, rather than:
aCore_Sleep(50000);
The reason is that TEA uses both signed and unsigned int parameters.
The parameter for the sleep function is defined to be an int. The range
for signed int parameters is –32768 to 32767. Thus, the largest number
you can use for aCore_Sleep is 32767. If you need the robot to sleep for
more than 3.2767 seconds, you will need to use multiple function calls.
TEA uses the following data types:
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✖
void The void type represents no data. It is typically used to show
explicitly that there is no return value from a routine or no parameters
for a routine.
✖
char The char type represents a signed byte. It has a range of –128
to 127.
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✖
unsigned char The unsigned char type represents an unsigned byte.
It has a range of 0 to 255.
✖
int The int type represents a signed integer comprised of 2 bytes.
It has a range of –32768 to 32767.
✖
unsigned int The unsigned int type represents an unsigned integer
comprised of 2 bytes. It has a range of 0 to 65535.
✖
string
The string type is a fixed series of ASCII-encoded text characters.
Now we get to the main loop of the program. The first thing that occurs in
the loop is that the program calls the aA2D_ReadInt( ) function for each of the
three sensors. You can see that the function takes an argument that tells the
function which sensor to read. In the chase.tea program, the code uses symbolic
constants to refer to each of the sensors. The symbolic constants APPRK_IR1,
APPRK_IR2, and APPRK_IR3 are defined in the aPPRK.tea file.
while (1)
{
r1=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR1);
r2=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR2);
r3=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR3);
This is followed by code that sets the value of the variable b based on which
sensors detect an object. If one or more of the sensors detect an object, the
value of b will be OR’d with 1, 2, or 4, depending on which sensors detect an
object. If only a single sensor detects an object, b will have the value 1, 2, or 4.
If more than one sensor detects an object, b will have the value 3, 5, 6, or 7. If no
sensor detects an object, none of the if statements will evaluate to true and b
will remain 0.
b=0;
if (r1>DRANGE) b = b | 1;
if (r2>DRANGE) b = b | 2;
if (r3>DRANGE) b = b | 4;
The code then executes a switch statement based on the value of b. If b is 1, 2,
or 4, the program commands the servos so that the robot moves toward the detected object. If b is any other value, the default block executes and sets b to 0.
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switch (b)
{
case 1:
aPPRK_Go(0,SPEEDL,-SPEEDL,0);
b=1;
break;
case 2:
aPPRK_Go(-SPEEDL,0,SPEEDL,0);
b=1;
break;
case 4:
aPPRK_Go(SPEEDL,-SPEEDL,0,0);
b=1;
break;
default:
b=0;
break;
}
Finally, as seen in the following code, if b is 0 (meaning no sensor detected an
object, or more than one sensor detected an object), the servos are commanded to
rotate the robot. Otherwise, only a single sensor detected an object, and the else
block waits for half a second, stops the servos, and waits for another half second.
From there, the program jumps back to the start of the loop.
if (b==0)
{
aPPRK_Go(0,0,0,SPEEDR);
}
else
{
aCore_Sleep(5000);
aPPRK_Go(0,0,0,0);
aCore_Sleep(5000);
}
}
}
In summary, this program causes the robot to spin around until it sees an
object with one sensor. It then moves toward that object. If it loses the object,
or if it detects objects with more than one sensor, it reverts to spinning again.
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Steeping a Steaming Cup of TEA
Before the TEA program above can be loaded and executed on the BrainStem
module, it must be compiled into a form that is executable by the BrainStem.
Unlike C code, TEA code is not compiled into some executable machine language form. TEA code is compiled into a form that can be executed by a TEA
virtual machine.
The Robot Geek Says
Virtual Machines
✖
A virtual machine is a computer implemented as a software program
that runs on some other host computer.
✖
A virtual machine contains code specific to a processor and operating
system.
✖
Virtual machines allow you to use the same executable on multiple
platforms, as long as that platform has a virtual machine. (Compare
this to a C program written and compiled for the Palm OS, for
example. That application cannot run on a Pocket PC device.)
✖
Java is another language that runs on a virtual machine.
The Console program is used to compile, load, and launch TEA programs.
If you are running a PC, you should find the Console program in the aBinary
directory.
If you are using a PDA, you need to perform a HotSync operation to load
the console.prc application and supporting Palm database files to the PDA.
Navigate to the \aBinary directory of the Acroname software. Add console.prc
and all the PDB files in the \aBinary directory to the install file list, and then
perform a HotSync operation to load them to the PDA. The current build of
the console program when we wrote this chapter included these files:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
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console.prc
aIO.pdb
aLeaf.pdb
aSteep.pdb
aSteepGen.pdb
aSteepOpt.pdb
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❏ aStem.pdb
❏ aTEAvm.pdb
❏ aUI.pdb
If you are using a later version of the Acroname software, the list of files
you find may be different. The key point is to load the console.prc and all the
.pdb files to your Palm OS device.
You will also need to enter the TEA files as memos. The easiest way to do
this is to create the memos in the Palm desktop and then perform a hot sync
operation to load them to the PDA. You will need to edit the TEA files slightly.
The first line to TEA file memos should be the name of the file. For example,
the first line of the chase.tea memo file should be “chase.tea” without any
other characters or comment markers. You also need memo files for each of
the included files. Thus, you need the following files as memos on your PDA:
❏
❏
❏
❏
❏
chase.tea
aA2D.tea
aPPRK.tea
aCore.tea
aIOPorts.tea
Additionally, you may need to edit some of the TEA files by removing some
comment lines. We found that a couple of the TEA files were too large to fit in a
memo without editing them. (Memo pad files have a limit of 4,096 characters.)
Finally, launch the Console program. You are now ready to compile a program.
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TEA code is compiled using the command steep followed by the quoted
program name:
steep "chase.tea"
This will take the TEA source code and compile it into a form that can be used
by the virtual machine on the BrainStem controller. If you are running on a PC,
the compiled file will be placed into the \aObject directory. The name of the file
will be the same, but with a new extension: .cup. Thus, you now have a cup of
TEA. If you are running on a Palm, the cup file will be stored as another memo.
The Robot Geek Says
Examining a cup File
Although you can look at a cup file in its native format, it won’t do
you much good since you don’t speak or read in byte code. However,
you can process the byte code in the cup file into a somewhat more
readable format. To create a readable file out of byte code in a cup file,
you can
✖
Type ast simple on the console command line. This creates a file
named simple.ast that shows the annotated syntax tree of the program.
✖
Type dsm simple on the console command line. This creates a file
named simple.dsm that contains the assembler style machine code
that corresponds to the byte code.
Downloading and Launching Programs
After you successfully compile the TEA program, you need to load it to the
BrainStem controller and launch the program. This is accomplished using
the load and launch commands. Launch the Console application. With the
BrainStem connected to the host, switch the robot power on. If the BrainStem
connects to the Console, you should see a green light on the BrainStem start
blinking. A similar light will start blinking in the Console application. If the
programs do not connect, you can try turning the BrainStem on first, then
launching the Console application. Now execute the load command:
load "simple.cup" 2 0
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The first parameter to the load command is the name of the program. This is
followed by the BrainStem ID. Each BrainStem controller has a board identification number. This allows a single host to command multiple controllers at the
same time. With multiple BrainStems, each BrainStem is given a different ID,
and the host addresses each controller by its ID. The default ID for the
BrainStem is 2, and since we have not changed the ID, that is the argument we
use in the load command. Finally, each BrainStem has 10 slots, numbered 0 to 9,
in which you can store TEAprograms. The slot number is the final parameter.
Manually Launching Programs
Since the BrainStem has 10 slots, you can store up to 10 programs on the
BrainStem at the same time. In addition, you can have multiple programs running at the same time. To command the BrainStem to execute one or more programs, you use the launch command:
launch 2 0
The first parameter is the board ID, and the second is the slot number of the
program to execute. The default board ID for BrainStem controllers is 2. The
slot number can be any number from 0 to 9. If you want to run more programs
at the same time, you would issue another launch command using the slot
numbers of the other programs.
At this point, the robot should begin executing the program. If it detects an
object on one of its sensors, it will move toward that object. If no sensor detects
an object, or more than one sensor detects an object, it will stop moving and
start spinning.
Notice that chase.tea, simple.tea, and each of the other sample programs that
come with the Acroname software has a five-second delay at the start of each
program. This allows you time to disconnect the PPRK from the host and set it
down on the floor. If you program the BrainStem to auto-execute a program, it
also provides time for the BrainStem to finish its initialization sequence before
executing the program. We will see how to do this in the next section.
Auto-launching Programs
While you are experimenting with different programs, you will want the flexibility of having a host computer connected to the robot, and manually
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launching the program or programs you are working on. However, once you
have a working program, you may want the program to be launched automatically every time you turn the robot on. With auto-launching, you can take the
robot anywhere and be free from the need to have a host computer to operate
the robot.
After you have steeped and loaded a TEA program onto the BrainStem,
you can instruct the BrainStem to automatically launch that program by issuing two commands. The two commands will set the BrainStem to automatically launch a loaded program the next time that the BrainStem boots up:
❏ cmdVAL_SET
❏ cmdVAL_SAV
These two commands are defined in the BrainStem command reference
files. You can find the reference files on the CD-ROM, or you can access them
at Acroname’s web site. Information on the commands is in the Commands
section of the reference; information on bootstrapping programs is in the
TEAvm section of the reference.
The cmdVAL_SET command is used to set a system variable. In this case,
we will set the variable that tells the BrainStem to auto-launch a program. The
cmdVAL_SAV command saves the variable setting in the EEPROM so it is
available the next time the BrainStem boots up.
When issuing BrainStem commands to the BrainStem, the general syntax is
module_id command_id [parameter [,parameter]]
As we discussed above, the default module ID for BrainStem controllers is
2. The command ID for cmdVAL_SET is 18, and cmdVAL_SAV is 19 (you can
find this in the Commands section of the reference). cmdVAL_SET takes two
parameters: the index of the system variable and a new value for the variable.
You can set up to four boot programs using system variables 15, 16, 17, or 18.
The new value will be the program slot of the program to be launched. So to
set and save a variable to command the program in slot 0 to auto-launch, type
the following two lines into the Console program, pressing Enter after each
line to send each line:
2 18 15 0
2 19
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To disable the auto-launch, you simply need to pass an invalid slot ID for
the final parameter:
2 18 15 255
2 19
One final note: when you create programs that you plan to auto-launch, the
first thing the program should do is go to sleep for a few seconds. This allows the
BrainStem to complete its bootup and initialization before the auto-launched
program continues executing. Recall from the chase.tea and simple.tea programs
that we’ve looked at that Acroname uses a five-second delay.
Writing Your Own TEA Programs
At this point, you should be ready to begin writing and executing your own
TEA programs on the BrainStem. There are many useful functions contained
in the library files in the aSystem directory. But for the most part, you only
need a few things to get started with TEA:
❏ The TEA file that is the starting point for your program must
have a main( ) function.
❏ You can read sensors with the aA2D_ReadInt(char) function.
Use one of the predefined constants APPRK_IR1, APPRK_IR2,
or APPRK_IR3 as arguments to this function.
❏ You can command the servos with the aPPRK_Go(char,char,char,char)
function. Note that the arguments are defined as chars to force
you to pass arguments in the range 0 to 255.
❏ You can pause the program with the aCore_Sleep(int) method.
Program the BrainStem Using Reflexes
Our whole point in writing this chapter has been to show you how to use what
you already know to program your robot. This section is going to violate that
purpose. While using reflexes isn’t that difficult, it is not something you probably
already know how to do. It consists of new concepts and a new programming
language that you would need to learn. For those reasons, we will not spend a
great deal of time on reflexes. If, after reading this section, you want to pursue
reflexes in more detail, you should consult the reference manual provided
with the Acroname software.
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How Reflexes Work
In a word: pretty darn simply. Okay, that’s really three words. Not two. Not
four. Three. No more. No less. Three being the number of words and the number of words being three.
Reflex mode uses messages and reflex vectors. A message is a specific piece of
code stored on the BrainStem controller. This message consists of a BrainStem
command and the parameters needed by the command. A reflex vector is simply
a list of “pointers” to messages. When a reflex is triggered in response to an input,
the messages in the reflex vector are executed. Among the numerous actions that
messages can perform are reading sensors, commanding servos, and calling
other reflexes.
Both the messages and the reflex vectors are compiled and downloaded to
the BrainStem using the Console application we looked at in the previous
section. After the messages and reflex vectors are downloaded to the
BrainStem, they will execute in response to specific stimuli.
A Simple Reflex Program
In this section, we’ll construct a very simple reflex program, and show you how
to compile and download it using the Console application. Programming a reflex
requires you to think a little differently. With TEA, C, and BASIC, one tends
to think linearly: the program starts here and proceeds through a series of
commands. With C++ and Java, one should be thinking in objects: the program
consists of components that cooperate by sending messages (method calls) to
each other. But in Reflex mode, you need to think about stimuli and responses.
There is not a controlling main( ) method to coordinate actions. If a stimulus
occurs, a reflex may or may not be activated. Stimuli can occur in any order with
no beginning or end. Once a response is complete, the reflex stops executing until
it receives another stimulus. As we mentioned above, messages can cause other
reflexes to execute, so it is possible to create stimulus-response cycles with
messages and reflex vectors.
Let’s do something simple. We’ll have the robot simply move back and
forth continuously. So what are the commands we need?
❏ Command servos to move forward
❏ Countdown two seconds
❏ Command servos to reverse
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❏ Countdown two seconds
❏ Repeat
Let’s start with the first message. In a reflex source file, commands are
contained in block of code that looks like this:
message[index] {
module, command, parameters
}
Each message has an index so that we can reference messages by index
number. The message body consists of the BrainStem module ID (which is 2),
a BrainStem command, and parameters needed by the command. So, for example, consulting the BrainStem reference manual that comes with the software,
you can find the command cmdSRV_REL for commanding a servo. This
command takes three parameters. The reference manual states that the first
parameter is the servo number (0–3), the second parameter is the servo position,
and the third parameter is the relative direction for the servo to rotate (1 is
forward, 0 is reverse). We must create an index for each message. We’ll simply
index our messages counting up from 0. We will also use symbolic constants
for each index. We use the #define macro to define the symbolic constants:
#define MODULE 2
/* message ids */
#define mSRV1FOR 0
#define mSRV1REV 1
#define mSRV2FOR 2
#define mSRV2REV 3
#define mTIM1
4
#define mTIM2
5
The servo messages look like this:
/* servo 1 forward */
message[mSRV1FOR] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 1, 127, 1
}
/* servo 1 reverse */
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message[mSRV1REV] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 1, 127, 0
}
/* servo 2 forward */
message[mSRV2FOR] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 2, 127, 1
}
/* servo 2 reverse */
message[mSRV2REV] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 2, 127, 0
}
Let’s look at one of those messages above in a little more detail. As we
mentioned earlier, each message block has an index. Here’s the first line of
the first message:
message[mSRV1FOR] {
This defines the start of a block with index 0, because we defined
mSRV1FOR to be 0. Any reflex vector that contains this index will execute this
message when it is activated. Next in the block is this line:
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 1, 127, 1
The first parameter is the symbolic constant MODULE, which we defined to
have the value 2. This is the module ID of the BrainStem. Next in the list is the
BrainStem command cmdSRV_REL. This is again a symbolic constant, but unlike the indices we defined, the cmdSRV_REL macro is defined in the file
aCMD.tea. The command cmdSRV_REL takes three arguments: 1, 127, and 1.
The first value (1) is the servo number, so this command is for servo 1. The next
value (127) is the relative position that the servo should rotate to. This parameter
is a signed byte, so you are limited to values from –128 to 127. The final parameter
(1) is the direction that the servo should rotate. For this command, 1 is forward, 0
is reverse. Note that you must use commas to separate each parameter in the
command message. If you leave out any commas, the program will not compile.
Now, we’ll work on the timers. We’ll have the robot move in each direction
for two seconds before reversing direction. We need a two-second timer and,
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as you’ll shortly see, we’ll need two of them. The command for the timer is
cmdTMR_SET. It has two parameters. The first is the timer number; there are
24 timers that can be used. The second parameter is the number of 0.1 milliseconds to wait. Here are the message blocks that set the timers:
/* set timer 1 for 2 seconds */
message[mTIM1] {
MODULE, cmdTMR_SET, 1, 20000
}
/* set timer 2 for 2 seconds */
message[mTIM2] {
MODULE, cmdTMR_SET, 2, 20000
}
Now we need to construct the reflex vectors. Here is the general form of a
reflex vector:
vector[index] {
command index, command index, ...
}
A reflex vector consists of the keyword vector followed by an index. Within
the vector is a comma-separated list of command indices. When the reflex is
activated, the commands referenced by the indices will be executed.
In contrast to command indices that can be arbitrary, we sometimes need to
use specific indices for reflexes. The BrainStem has a number of predefined
reflex indexes. The BrainStem has 24 built-in timers. When a timer counts
down, the vector at a specific index is activated. The index 20 happens to
correspond to timer 1. (There are 24 timers, so timers 1 through 24 correspond
to reflex vectors 20 to 43.) When timer 1 completes, reflex vector 20 is activated.
When timer 2 completes, reflex vector 21 is activated.
What we will do is set one of the timers. When that timer counts down, it
will cause its associated reflex vector to execute its commands. These commands will move the robot and set a second timer. When that timer counts
down, its associated reflex vector will execute its commands to move the robot
in the opposite direction, and reset the first timer. However, instead of using
20 or 21 as reflex vector indices, we’ll use the constants already defined in
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aGPReflexes.tea (which we will need to #include into the source file). The constants for the timers are aGP_RFX_TIMER_1 and aGP_RFX_TIMER_2.
Finally, each reflex vector will contain the command ID numbers of the commands we want executed. Here is the complete reflex vector for timer 1:
vector[aGP_RFX_TIMER_1] {
mSRV1REV, mSRV2FOR, mSRV1REV, mSRV2FOR, mTIM2
}
Each vector contains a list of one or more message indexes separated by
commas. The message given by the index is executed when the reflex vector is
started. In this case, the messages are given by the symbolic constants for the
indices 1, 2, and 5. When timer 1 completes, the vector will cause servo 1 to rotate in reverse, servo 2 to rotate forward, and then it will set timer 2. The vector
for timer 2 is here:
vector[aGP_RFX_TIMER_2] {
mSRV1FOR, mSRV2REV, mSRV1FOR, mSRV2REV, mTIM1
}
When timer 2 completes, the vector will cause servo 1 to rotate forward,
servo 2 to rotate in reverse, and then it will set timer 1. The reflexes will continue to cycle until you interrupt the program. You may be wondering why
each reflex vector repeats the commands for the servos twice. The simple answer is that commanding the servos once doesn’t work, and commanding
them twice does work.
Here’s the final program. The source code for reflexes is stored in LEAF
files. We’ve named this code to_fro.leaf. If you don’t want to type this code,
you can find it on the CD-ROM in the \Other Applications\ToFro directory.
/* file: to_fro.leaf */
#include <aCmd.tea>
#include <aGPReflexes.tea>
/* assume the BrainStem has address 2 */
#define MODULE 2
/* message ids */
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#define
#define
#define
#define
mSRV1FOR
mSRV1REV
mSRV2FOR
mSRV2REV
#define mTIM1
#define mTIM2
0
1
2
3
4
5
/************* COMMANDS *************/
/* servo 1 forward */
message[mSRV1FOR] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 1, 127, 1
}
/* servo 1 reverse */
message[mSRV1REV] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 1, 127, 0
}
/* servo 2 forward */
message[mSRV2FOR] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 2, 127, 1
}
/* servo 2 reverse */
message[mSRV2REV] {
MODULE, cmdSRV_REL, 2, 127, 0
}
/* set timer 1 for 2 seconds */
message[mTIM1] {
MODULE, cmdTMR_SET, 1, 20000
}
/* set timer 2 for 3 seconds */
message[mTIM2] {
MODULE, cmdTMR_SET, 2, 20000
}
/************* REFLEX VECTORS *************/
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vector[aGP_RFX_TIMER_1] {
mSRV1REV, mSRV2FOR, mSRV1REV, mSRV2FOR, mTIM2
}
vector[aGP_RFX_TIMER_2] {
mSRV1FOR, mSRV2REV, mSRV1FOR, mSRV2REV, mTIM1
}
After entering and saving the program above, you would compile it with
the leaf command in the Console application.
leaf "to_fro.leaf"
If the command is successful, a BAG file will be created in the \aUSER directory (for a PC) or as a memo in the MemoPad (for a PDA). The code is
downloaded to the BrainStem with the batch command:
batch "to_fro.bag"
After the code has been downloaded to the BrainStem, we need to kick off
the first reflex. This can be done by sending a command from the Console
application to the BrainStem. Enter the following in the Console input area,
and send it to the BrainStem by pressing Enter:
2 38 20 0
The first number is the BrainStem module ID. The next number, 38, is the
command to start a reflex. The value 20 is the reflex ID. The command can
send 1 or 2 bytes of data to the reflex; in this case, we have nothing to send, so
the final parameter is 0. Executing the command should start the servos; after
about two seconds, the servos will reverse. This will continue until you power
off the BrainStem.
Just as with the programs we saw in the first part of the chapter, we can set
the BrainStem to automatically start a reflex program. To do that, we need to
create a reflex with index 127. Add this reflex vector to the to_fro.leaf program:
vector[aGP_RFX_BOOT] {
mTIM1
}
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The new reflex vector calls the mTIM1 command message in the program.
Recall that this sets the timer for two seconds and then executes the reflex vector
aGP_RFX_TIMER_1. After compiling and loading the new to_fro.bag program
to the BrainStem, you would use the following two commands to cause the
BrainStem to execute reflex aGP_RFX_BOOT the next time the BrainStem is
started:
2 18 6 1
2 19
The parameter 6 is the system variable that controls whether the BrainStem
issues reflex aGP_RFX_BOOT at startup. The second parameter instructs the
BrainStem to issue the reflex. Instructing the BrainStem to not issue the reflex
is done by setting the second parameter to 0, as shown here:
2 18 6 0
2 19
Programming the BrainStem Using Java
One of the most popular new languages in recent years is the Java programming language and environment from Sun Corporation. Java originated in the
mid-1990s as an embedded language for consumer electronic devices. The project was never fully realized and Java became a solution in search of a problem.
Coincidentally, the mid-90s was also the time when the World Wide Web began
to explode. The features of Java made it an ideal language for programming
web applications. While it was first used as a language for programs that ran in
a web browser, Java is also ideal for mobile devices (like Palms). Java running
on mobile devices is known as Java 2 Micro Edition, or J2ME.
However, there’s a slight problem. Java is able to run on many different
platforms because the platform-specific code is contained in the virtual machine or in special Java libraries. Host computers communicate with the
BrainStem using the host’s serial port, and that requires platform-specific
code. Sun’s Java virtual machine does not come with Palm-specific code for
communicating through the serial port. So, even though you can run Java programs on a Palm OS device, you can’t use Sun’s Java virtual machine for the
Palm to control the Palm. If you want to use a Java virtual machine to control
the robot, you’ll need to run your code on a PC.
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Getting the Java Communications API
As we wrote at the beginning of this chapter, we’re assuming that you already
know how to program. For this section, we’re also assuming that you know
how to program in Java, and that you already have a Java Software Development Kit (SDK). So we won’t be showing you how to get a Java SDK or how to
program in Java. We’ll simply say that you need one of the Java 2 versions of
the SDK (we recommend the 1.4 version) to program for the BrainStem.
However, as we mentioned earlier, you do need to have a special Java library
to communicate over the serial port to the BrainStem. This library is the Java
Communications API. You can download the Java Communications API at
http://java.sun.com/products/javacomm/. At the time we wrote this, Sun
provided support only for Windows and Solaris platforms. There is thirdparty support for Linux; see the FAQ at the Java Communications API web
page for a link to the Linux version.
Download and unzip the API to your computer. When you unpack the archive
to your computer, it will create a \commapi directory. So we recommend you
unpack the archive to your Java SDK directory. For example, if your SDK is
installed at C:\jdk1.4, you would unpack the API so that the API files are installed
at C:\jdk1.4\commapi.
The installation instructions for the API are contained in a file named
PlatformSpecific.html that is included with the installation. We’ll briefly repeat
the Windows directions here:
1. Copy win32com.dll to the \bin directory of your Java installation.
2. Copy comm.jar to the \lib directory of your Java installation.
3. Copy javax.comm.properties to the \lib directory of your Java
installation.
4. Add comm.jar to your classpath.
And here are the directions for Solaris:
1. Add libSolarisSerialParallel.so to the environment LD_LIBRARY_
PATH. Alternately, copy libSolarisSerialParallel.so to /usr/lib.
2. Copy comm.jar to the /lib directory of your Java installation.
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3. Add comm.jar to your classpath.
4. Copy the file javax.comm.properties to the same directory where
you copied comm.jar.
5. Make sure you have the JDK native thread package installed.
This implementation only works with native thread. Look at
http://java.sun.com/products/jdk/ for details.
You are now ready to write Java programs that can communicate to other
devices over the serial port.
Java and the BrainStem
Luckily for us, Acroname has already developed some base classes that handle some of the lower level communication details for us. The class files can be
found in the Java software that you can get from Acroname. The files will unpack into the \aJava directory of the BrainStem distribution. The helper
classes are located in the \aJava\acroname directory. There is an example
program, gp_example.java, in the \aJava directory that shows how to write a
Java program for the BrainStem.
Here, we’ll show you some excerpts from that sample program so you can
get an idea of how you can use the Acroname Java classes to communicate
with the BrainStem.
Within your class, there are two primary Acroname classes that you will use:
jStem and jGP. The gp_example.java files declares variables for these objects.
jStem stem;
jGP gp;
Within the constructor, an instance of jStem is created, and then a few lines
further, the jGP instance is created:
/* build a stem to provide packet protocol */
stem = new jStem();
//code not shown...
gp = new jGP(stem, moduleAddress); //moduleAddress is 2
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The gp_example.java has a doExample( ) method that actually reads and
writes data from and to the serial port. Here are some of the methods used:
/* display Analog 0 */
gp.AnalogIn((byte)0)); //returns a float
/* move the servos a bit */
gp.ServoAbs((byte)0, 0.5f); //move servo 0
gp.ServoAbs((byte)0, -0.5f);
The AbstractBrainStem class
What we will do first is follow the gp_example class to develop our own base
class that can be used by any Java programs to communicate with the
BrainStem. We’ll write this class to do a couple of things for us:
❏ Create the jStem and jGP objects
❏ Provide a method for commanding a servo
❏ Provide a method for reading a sensor
With these basic tasks provided by the base class, we don’t need to re-create
that code for every Java class we write for the BrainStem. When we write a
Java program for the BrainStem, we extend our base class and our program
gets the ability to read the sensors and command the servos.
We’ll show the source code first, and then talk about what the class does. To
save space, we’re not going to show every bit of the class; you can find the
complete source code for this class in the \OtherApplications\ToFro directory on the CD-ROM. Here’s the base class:
public class AbstractBrainStem {
jStem stem;
jGP gp;
public AbstractBrainStem(String portname, byte moduleAddress) {
InputStream inputStream;
OutputStream outputStream;
stem = new jStem();
try {
CommPortIdentifier portId =
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CommPortIdentifier.getPortIdentifier(portname);
SerialPort serialPort =
(SerialPort) portId.open("AbstractBrainStem", 2000);
inputStream = serialPort.getInputStream();
outputStream = serialPort.getOutputStream();
serialPort.addEventListener(stem);
serialPort.notifyOnDataAvailable(true);
stem.SetStream(inputStream, outputStream);
gp = new jGP(stem, moduleAddress);
} catch (Exception e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}
public float readSensor(int sensorNumber) {
float result = -1;
try {
result = gp.AnalogIn((byte) sensorNumber);
} catch (jErr e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
return result;
}
public void startServo(int servoNumber, float amount) {
try {
gp.ServoAbs((byte) servoNumber, amount);
} catch (jErr e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}
public void stopServo(int servoNumber) {
try {
gp.ServoAbs((byte) servoNumber, 0f);
} catch (jErr e) {
e.printStackTrace();
}
}
}
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Let’s start by looking at the constructor. The constructor here follows the
same basic outline as the gp_example class. Your class will need to pass a port
name and module address to the constructor. For Windows, the port name
will be “COM1” and the default moduleAddress for BrainStem is 2. One of the
first things the constructor does is create an instance of the acroname.jStem
class. This class is provided by Acroname, and you will find it in the \aJava
directory of the Acroname software. Next, the constructor attempts to open
the serial port. The CommPortIdentifier and SerialPort classes are part of the
Java Communications API. After the port is opened, the code gets the input
and output streams for the port and passes them to the jStem instance. After
the initialization is complete, the code uses the jStem instance and the module
address to create an instance of the jGP class. This class has the methods for
communicating with the BrainStem and is used by the other methods of the
AbstractBrainStem class.
Next is the readSensor(int) method. This method takes an int that identifies
the sensor to read. For the PPRK this argument should have the value 0, 1, or 2.
It returns the sensor reading as a float value between 0 and 1.0. The closer the
object is to the sensor, the closer the return value is to 1.0. If there is a problem
reading the sensor, the method returns –1.
Following the readSensor(int) method is the startServo(int, float) method.
This method takes a sensor number as the first argument and commands that
servo to rotate. The amount to rotate is given by the second argument, which
should be a number between –1.0 and +1.0. Values close to –1 or 1 will cause
the servo to rotate faster than values close to 0.
The final method is the stopServo(int) method. This method takes the servo
number as an argument and commands that servo to stop.
PPRK Programming with Java
Using our new base class, let’s write a Java program for the BrainStem. What
we will do is recreate the to_fro.leaf reflex program in Java. Recall that all this
program does is command the robot to move in one direction for two seconds,
then reverse that movement, and repeat indefinitely. Here’s the ToFro.java
source code:
public class ToFro extends AbstractBrainStem {
public ToFro(String portname, byte moduleAddress) {
super(portname, moduleAddress);
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}
public static void main(String[] args) {
ToFro tf = new ToFro("COM1", (byte) 2);
while (true) {
tf.moveTo();
tf.moveFro();
}
}
void moveTo() {
startServo(1, 1.0f);
startServo(2, -1.0f);
sleep(2);
}
void moveFro() {
startServo(1, -1.0f);
startServo(2, 1.0f);
sleep(2);
}
void sleep(int seconds) {
try { Thread.sleep(seconds*1000); } catch (Exception ignored) {}
}
}
The ToFro class should be relatively straightforward. The main( ) method
calls the constructor for the class, passing the communication port name and
BrainStem module ID. The communication port name is, of course, the name
on a Windows platform. If you are trying this code on a Mac or Unix platform,
you will need to change to the appropriate name for your system. The constructor calls the constructor of AbstractBrainStem, which sets up the serial
port to communicate with the BrainStem. The code then starts an endless loop
where it calls methods that move the robot in one direction for two seconds,
and then in the opposite direction for two seconds.
The next thing to do is to compile our program. To be able to do this, you
will need some additional resources. The first thing you’ll need is the Java
Communications API. We introduced the API earlier in this chapter. If you
installed it at that time, you don’t need to do anything else. Otherwise,
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download and install the Java Communications API now. The other resource you need is the BrainStem Java classes from Acroname. Those files
can be found in the Acroname Java.zip archive or the Acroname sdk.zip archive. You can get these files from the Acroname web site or on the CD-ROM
in the \Other Applications\BrainStem directory.
Set your classpath to include the comm.jar file and the \aJava directory of
the BrainStem software. Also, the classpath needs to include the path to the
AbstractBrainStem class. Now compiling is as simple as issuing this command:
javac ToFro.java
After the class is compiled, connect your BrainStem to the computer using
a serial cable. You can get a serial cable for this from Acroname. Turn the
BrainStem on and execute the ToFro program. If all goes well, you should see
the robot start moving back and forth. It will continue to do so until you turn
the BrainStem off or the batteries run down.
The Robot Geek Says
BrainStem and Java Tools
All of the software tools for creating, programming, and running
TEA programs can be found on the CD-ROM for this book. The TEA
software and the tools to compile, load, and launch TEA programs are
from Acroname. If you want to search for the latest versions and other
information, you should go to Acroname’s web site, www.acroname.com.
The tools for writing, compiling, and running Java code can be found
at java.sun.com.
We would like to thank the following organizations for making this
chapter possible:
✖
Acroname Corporation, for the BrainStem controller, the TEA language,
and SDKs
✖
Carnegie Mellon, PPRK project, for the original PPRK
The software that is included on the CD-ROM is copyrighted and
licensed by their respective developers or owners. Please consult the
documentation for each package for the software rights granted to you
with each package or application.
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W
elcome to Chapter 9. If you’ve gotten this far into the book, it means
one of a few things: You are a hardcore roboticist, or you’ve skipped
ahead in the book. You have a working robot, or you’re just a speedreader and your robot is still a collection of parts sitting on the shelf. You’re ready
to take the next step with your robot, or you’re looking for more jokes.
So, let’s get the joke out of the way, and we can proceed with the chapter.
Dave: Why do elephants avoid using computers?
Kevin: I don’t know. Why do elephants avoid using computers?
Dave: Because they’re afraid to use the mouse.
Kevin (and readers): Groan!
Dave: Which just goes to show, there’s nothing like a good joke.
Kevin: And that was nothing like a good joke.
Dave: Yes, you’re right. My apologies to all the readers out there. Yet, the
joke does have some connection with this chapter.
Kevin: I’m interested to hear what that connection might be. But first, how
much longer are we going to use this style of writing?
Dave: I was thinking we’d use it for the entire chapter. Then we could turn
it into a movie script and become rich and famous or maybe almost famous.
Kevin: And what would be the title of the movie?
Dave: Of Mice and Robots? Sensors and Sensibility? Or maybe, Detector
Gadget?
Kevin: I should have known not to ask. Let’s just get on with it. What do
these awful jokes have to do with this chapter?
Dave: This chapter is all about how to take your Palm Robot to the next
level. That is, how to add different input and output devices to your robot.
Early in the book, we talked about the basic components of a robot. Here they
are again, as a reminder:
❏ Base
❏ Processor
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❏ Actuators
❏ Sensors
There’s not too much we need to say about the base. If you’ve already built
the Palm robot, you know all there is to know about the base. (Reminder: Aluminum frame and acrylic deck.) In the last few chapters, we’ve seen how to
program the processor of the robot. That leaves the actuator and sensors—
also known as the input and output devices.
Most of the machines we work with have some sort of input and output.
That’s what makes them useful to us humans. Through a small number of input devices (such as a steering wheel, pedals, or shift lever) a car accepts input
and outputs power to move us around. A television accepts input from buttons, dials, and remote controls and outputs video to us. A computer accepts
input from keyboard, mouse, and other devices, and outputs data to us.
Likewise, our Palm robot uses input and output devices. The Palm robot
uses an infrared ranger to detect distance to objects. It then determines which
servos to turn on or off to move the robot in various directions. As we’ve seen
in previous chapters, we can use these rangers and servos to accomplish a
good variety of behavior. If you tried some of the sample programs available
on the web (see Chapter 5), you’ve seen the robot follow walls, copy a pattern
drawn on its screen, run away from objects, or chase objects—just to name a
few behaviors.
But there are some things our robot cannot do. BEAM robots, which we
looked at in Chapter 1, can be built to seek out or avoid light. Our Palm robot
can’t do that.
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Mindstorms robots, built from Legos, can be programmed to follow a line.
Our robot can’t do that.
Some robots can be programmed to make noise, or even talk. Our robot
can’t do that.
Some robots have death ray lasers that they can use to annihilate enemies
(as in Figure 9-1). Our robot can’t do that. (And a good thing that is, or life as
we know it might end.)
Yes, our robot can’t do any of these things. At least, not yet. It is a relatively
easy matter to add different sensors and output devices to the controller (either
SV203 or BrainStem) of the robot. This will enable you to extend the Palm robot
to perform an even greater variety of behaviors than we have already seen.
The SV203 controller has a total of five input ports available for use. If you
keep the rangers connected, that leaves two unused input ports that can be
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Figure 9-1
This
conceptual
mockup
shows how
a PPRK
might look
with a death
ray laser
mounted
on top.
used by other sensors in addition to the rangers. If you want to use other sensors
in place of the rangers, you have up to five available input ports.
The BrainStem controller has five analog input ports, so you can add anywhere from two to five additional sensors. The BrainStem also has five digital
ports that can be used for either input or output.
With the SV203, two unused output ports can be used to drive other devices.
The BrainStem controller has one unused output analog port, as well as the
digital ports mentioned.
Using these ports, we can add all kinds of new capabilities to the robot.
Adding Sensors or Input Devices to the PPRK
When you are learning to program, one of the most important steps you can
take is to learn how to get and send data to the user. Your program can loop
and iterate and count and add all day long. But until it can get an input from a
user and output data to the user, it’s not a very useful program. In fact, when
we’re learning to program a new language, some of the first things we try to
learn is how to read input from the keyboard or mouse. Similarly, once you
understand the basics of input with the SV203 or BrainStem controller, you
can add any number of sensors to your robot.
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Adding Sensors to the Pontech SV203
The SV203 has five input ports used for reading data. In this book, we’ve usually referred to them as analog ports. In fact, they are analog/digital ports—
that is, they read an analog value from the input device, and that reading is
converted to a 1-byte digital value that is sent to the host computer. Since the
value is limited to 1 byte, the value sent by the A/D port is between 0 and 255.
The A/D ports are located on the SV203 in the block of pins labeled J3. The
pins are numbered from 1 to 5, starting in the upper-left corner, and moving
left to right, top to bottom.
The output line from a sensor device is attached to one of the five A/D
ports. Assuming the sensor needs power, the power and ground lines can be
attached in a couple of different ways.
With the PPRK we built in this book, the power and ground lines for the
rangers were attached to the pins in the output block of ports. Those were the
pins labeled S6, S7, and S8 in the block of pins labeled J4 on the SV203. This
gave each sensor its own power and ground line.
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S8
S7
S6
Alternatively, the J3 block on the SV203 also has power and ground pins
that you can use for a sensor. These are pins 9 and 10 in block J3. Pin 9 provides
a +5V source of power; pin 10 is the ground line.
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You can conceivably use the power and ground lines in J3 for multiple sensors, but in general, you will find it easier to use the power and ground lines in
J4. While it does tie up an output port for each device, using J4 allows you to
give each sensor its own source of power. If you try to put multiple devices
onto the power and ground lines in block J3, you will need to attach your
devices serially or in parallel. When wired serially, the voltage drop across
each sensor will not be the full 5 volts supplied by the board. When wired in
parallel, each sensor will get the full voltage drop, but current will be reduced,
which could prevent the sensor from working properly. So you can see why
we prefer to give each sensor its own power line.
Using the power and ground pins from the output ports is exactly what we
did when we attached the rangers to the SV203 when building the PPRK
(Palm Pilot Robot Kit). Each ranger had a power and ground wire (the black
and red wires) that we connected to pins S6, S7, or S8. The yellow wire from
the ranger was the output wire. Each yellow wire was attached to one of the
pins in block J3.
When we attach any other sensor to the SV203, we will follow the same general procedure. Power will be supplied to the sensor using one of the output
ports; input from the sensor will be read using one of the A/D ports. Remember,
though, if it makes sense for you, you can supply power to your sensor using
power from block J3.
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Adding Sensors to the BrainStem
With the BrainStem controller, we have a little more flexibility. The SV203 has
only analog input ports, the A/D ports in block J3 of the board. The BrainStem
has both A/D ports and digital ports. That means, of course, that we can use
the BrainStem for analog sensors and digital sensors or devices.
The BrainStem controller contains another port that you can use as well. This
is a GP2D02 port located between the digital ports and the servo ports. You can
connect another ranger directly to this port. Coincidentally, the name of this IR
Ranger is GP2D02. Alternatively, you can attach a special bus called an I2C bus.
With the I2C bus, you can connect up to 16 sonar rangers that can also detect
light, a compass module, and a text-to-speech module (SP03), all on the same
bus. Discussing the I2C bus further is beyond the scope of this book; however,
once you are familiar with the BrainStem, you may want to investigate using
the GP2D02 port and an I2C bus to attach other devices to the robot.
You should already know where the A/D ports of the BrainStem are located
(see Figure 9-2). These are the five sets of pins, of which we used three for the
rangers.
These five sets of pins are located on the upper-left edge of the BrainStem
controller board. They work similarly to the A/D ports on the SV203. With the
BrainStem, the ports can read an analog voltage from 0 to 5 volts on any of the
ports. Like the SV203, this is converted to a digital value. However, in the case
of the BrainStem, the ports can output a 10-bit number, which means the output value can range from 0 to 1023. So when you read the A/D port with TEA
or Java, the returned value will be between 0 and 1023.
Figure 9-2
The input and output ports of the BrainStem are on the top edge of the BrainStem circuit board. In the orientation
shown, the analog input ports are on the right, the servo ports are on the left, and the digital ports are in the center.
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Another difference between the BrainStem and the SV203 is that the pins
that provide the power and ground lines to the sensor are located next to the
input pins. Each input pin gets its own power and ground line, so the problem
of sharing the power and ground lines, or stealing power and ground from the
output ports that we had with the SV203, is not an issue with the BrainStem.
Finally, the BrainStem also has five digital ports that can be used as either
input or output ports for digital devices (see Figure 9-2). These ports are configured to be digital input ports as the default. You can change them to output
ports through software. When configured for output, the on state of the port
will be using about 25 mA (milli amperes) of current. These outputs can be
used to drive any digital device that can accept 25 mA of current. When configured as input ports, they can measure the on or off state transmitted by a
digital component. You can attach any device that outputs a digital signal that
can be read on the digital port. For example, you could hook a radio control receiver to the digital input ports and use the receiver to inject input into the robot
for driving the robot or testing its operation. In addition, ports 1 through 4 can
be configured as high-resolution timers that can be used to measure pulse
widths or elapsed times.
So, like the SV203, we can add two to five analog sensors to the BrainStem,
and one to five digital sensors. That makes ten total sensors, and none of them
steal one of the output ports for its power.
Using a Line Detecting Sensor
Researchers who study robotics have found robotic movement to be one of the
more difficult problems. While walking seems extremely simple to most of us,
re-creating in a robot the ability to sense and move through its environment is
extremely complicated.
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Walking robots have been around for years, but most of them have more
than two legs. It’s just much simpler to maintain balance when your robot has
four or more legs. It’s only recently, with Honda’s Asimo as one of the best
examples, that robots have been created with autonomous two-legged motion.
Robots with wheels don’t have to worry about balance and walking, but
like walking robots, they have the same challenge of needing to sense their
environment and maneuver through that environment. To solve this problem,
various approaches have been attempted by researchers. One approach is to
limit the boundaries of the problem. By limiting the scope of the problem, the
solution becomes simpler.
What is that limited scope? From the title of this section, you might guess
that it involves following a line. And you would be correct. By limiting the
challenge from free maneuver through the entire environment to movement
along a predefined track or line, our robot becomes much simpler to design.
Creating a robot that successfully navigates a line is much easier to build than
a robot that has the ability to meet all the challenges of its environment.
To be sure, making that limitation is not always possible. The Mars Sojourner
robot, a robot that needed to operate semiautonomously in its environment—
the surface of Mars—would not have been viable if all it could do was follow a
line. But since our robot is not going to Mars, we can use this solution.
We tried out two different sensors with our robot. The first is a reflective
infrared (IR) sensor made by Lynxmotion, Inc. (www.lynxmotion.com). The
second is a solid-state photoreflector from Hamamatsu Photonics
(www.hamamatsu.com). Both sensors are available from Acroname.
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The Hamamatsu Photoreflector
The photoreflector from Hamamatsu is similar to the infrared rangers that
we’ve already used. It has an IR light emitting diode (LED) that emits an infrared signal. When this signal is reflected by some object, another component
detects the signal. Unlike the ranger, however, this sensor signals only
whether or not it receives the IR pulse, but it does not calculate anything else
from the received signal.
This sensor comes in two varieties. If we assume that we have a black line on
a white surface, one sensor sets the output to a high state (close to 5 volts) when
it detects a reflected IR signal; otherwise, it sends out a low. That is, when the
sensor is over a white or reflective surface (not over the line), its output state
will be 5 volts. This sensor has the model number P5588. The other sensor is just
the opposite. It sets the output to a high state when it does not detect a reflective
IR signal; otherwise, it sends out a low. That is, when the sensor is over the line,
a black surface, its output state is 5 volts. This is the P5587 photoreflector sensor.
These values are illustrated in the following table.
Sensor
Output
Over Black
Over White
P5587
5V
0V
P5588
0V
5V
This sensor is easily connected to either the SV203 or the BrainStem controller.
The sensor has five pins, but we care about only three of those pins. As with
the IR rangers, we need the power input (also known as Vcc), the ground pin
(GND), and the output pin (Vo).
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When attaching the Hamamatsu photoreflector to the SV203, the Vcc and
GND pins are attached to the Vcc and GND pins in block J4. The Vo pin is
attached to one of the A/D ports in block J3. This is the same way we attached
the IR rangers to the SV203. We recommend that you use a circuit board or
breadboard to mount the sensor. This will give you a way to attach the sensor
to the frame of the robot. For best operation, the sensor needs to be mounted
within just a few millimeters of the surface. The specification sheet that comes
with the sensor gives the operating characteristics at 3mm. That is approximately
1/8 inch. The sensor will work if it is slightly further away than the optimal
3mm, but its performance will be degraded.
Recall from Chapter 7 that we can read the analog port with the command
ADn, where n is the port number from 1 to 5. Thus, to use this sensor, you will
send the AD command to the board and read the output. If the sensor is in the
high state, you will receive a value of 255. When the sensor is in the low state,
you will receive a very low value (but not necessarily 0). A representative code
listing to do this using HotPaw Basic is shown next. This code listing assumes
that the P5587 IR photoreflector is connected to port 1. You would need to
change the listing to reflect the actual port you use.
print #5, "BD1 AD1" : rem tell board sensor 1
result = get$(#5, 0) : rem read 1 byte
if (result < 50)
/* P5587 sensor is not over line */
else
/* P5587 sensor is over line */
endif
Connecting this sensor to the BrainStem is just as easy. Just as with the
SV203, you will connect the GND, Vcc, and Vo pins of the sensor to the correct
pins of the BrainStem.
After connecting the sensor to the BrainStem and mounting it to the robot
at approximately 3mm over the surface to be sensed, we can read its output
using the TEA language. Here is sample TEA code for the BrainStem that
assumes the IR photoreflector is connected to port 1.
r1=aA2D_ReadInt(APPRK_IR1);
if (r1<50) {
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/* P5587 sensor is not over line */
} else {
/* P5587 sensor is over line */
}
The Lynxmotion Single Line Detector
The Single Line Detector from Lynxmotion is similar to the Hamamatsu
photoreflector—basically, the sensor includes an IR emitter. When the sensor
is positioned over a reflective surface (such as a white surface), the IR signal is
reflected back to the sensor. When the sensor detects a reflected IR signal, its
output is high, or close to 5 volts. When the sensor is positioned over nothing,
or over a surface that does not reflect the IR signal (such as the black line), the
output of the sensor is low, or close to 0 volts.
We recommend that you purchase this detector from Acroname. The detector
is already set up to connect to your BrainStem controller. The Vcc, Vo, and
GND lines from the sensor are already inserted into a Molex housing, which
can be directly attached to the A/D port of the BrainStem controller.
After attaching the Lynxmotion Single Line Detector, you would use the same
TEA code used previously to read the sensor. If the sensor returns a high value,
the sensor is not positioned over the line; if the sensor returns a low value, the
sensor is positioned over the line.
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Using a Temperature Sensor
Another sensor that we tried with the PPRK is the LM34DZ temperature
sensor. This sensor is made by national Semiconductor. A simple search of
the web should turn up several suppliers. We found some of these at
www.allelectronics.com and www.pigselectronics.com.
As with the photo detectors, the LM34DZ can be directly connected to either
the SV203 or the BrainStem. The LM34DZ has three leads: one for Vcc, one for
Vo, and one for the GND. These are connected directly to the appropriate leads
on either the SV203 or the BrainStem.
After the sensor is connected to the SV203 or the BrainStem, you can read it
using the same techniques we’ve already discussed. The LM34DZ changes its
output voltage based on the temperature it senses. For each degree Fahrenheit
that is sensed, the sensor outputs 10 millivolts. For example, if the temperature is 65 degrees, the sensor will output .65 volts; a temperature of 75 degrees
will cause the sensor to output .75 volts. The A/D ports of the controller will
convert the voltage to a digital value between 0 and 255.
Other Sensors
At this point, attaching other sensors to either the SV203 or the BrainStem controllers should be a simple matter for you. If the sensor already has pins for Vcc of
5 volts, a GND, and an output voltage line Vo, you can attach it directly to either
controller using the same techniques we’ve used in this chapter. If you need more
information, one of the best resources we’ve found for modifying the PPRK with
additional sensors is Roberts Gadgets and Gizmos at www.bpesolutions.com/
gadgets.ws/gproject3.html.
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Adding Output Devices to the PPRK
We’ve finished the first step. We know how to attach sensors to the PPRK and
read the data from those sensors. Now we need to look at attaching output
devices other than servos to the controller and using those other devices.
Adding Output Devices to the Pontech SV203
The SV203 has eight output ports that can be used. The output ports are
located on the SV203 in the block of pins labeled J4. The pins are numbered
from S1 to S8, starting at the bottom of the block of pins.
Unfortunately, three of the output ports are used by the IR rangers of the
PPRK. With the PPRK we built in this book, the power and ground lines for
the rangers were attached to the pins in the output block of ports. Those were
the pins labeled S6, S7, and S8 in the block of pins labeled J4 on the SV203.
Thus, assuming that you are going to keep the servos attached to S1, S2, and
S3, only two output ports are available for attaching additional devices.
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When we attach any other output device to the SV203, we will follow the
same general procedure we used for the servos. The GND of the device is
attached to the GND of the SV203 (the pin closest to the edge of the board). The
power line of the device is attached to the middle pin. The signal line of the
device is attached to the pin to the inside of the board.
Adding Sensors to the BrainStem
With the BrainStem controller, we have a little more flexibility. The BrainStem
SV203 has only four servo ports, but it has an additional five digital ports that
can be used for output. That means that even if we keep the three servos, we
can attach up to six other output devices to the BrainStem.
You should already know the location of the output ports of the BrainStem
(see Figure 9-2). These are the four sets of pins on the right side of the upper edge
of the BrainStem. We used three of these sets for the servos. As with the SV203,
one pin is used for the GND, one supplies power to the device, and the third is the
signal line. With the servos, the signal line passes commands to the servo to cause
the servo to rotate.
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LEDs
The first output project we will look at is an extremely simple one. Light
Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, can be directly attached to either the SV203 or the
BrainStem. (Now these are not exactly the same as death ray lasers, but if you
squint your eyes a little, you can pretend they are almost the same.)
We started by connecting an LED to the analog output ports of the SV203
and the BrainStem controller. Later in this chapter, in the section “Using Digital
Components with the BrainStem,” we’ll connect the LEDs to the digital output
ports of the BrainStem.
We used simple colored LEDs available from various sources. The ones we
used are from Radio Shack, part numbers 276-022 and 276-041.
LEDs have two leads—one known as the anode and one known as the cathode.
If you look at the LEDs, you’ll see that one lead is shorter than the other. The
shorter lead is the cathode and the longer lead is the anode. The anode is attached
to the signal, or Vo, line. On both the SV203 and the BrainStem, this is the pin
farthest from the edge of the board. The cathode is attached to the GND line of
the controller. For both the SV203 and BrainStem, this is the pin closest to the
edge of the board.
Anode
Cathode
Using the programming we saw in Chapter 7 and Chapter 8, we can drive
the LEDs so that they light up on command. With the SV203, we will use the
SVn Mn command. Recall that the SVn command is used to select an output
port; the Mn command sets the output port to a particular value from 0 to 255.
The value 255 will cause the LED to light. For example, this line of BASIC code
will cause an LED connected to output port 4 to light:
print #5, "SV4M255"
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Similarly, if we’ve attached an LED to output port 4 of the BrainStem, this line
of TEA code will cause the LED to light:
aServo_SetAbsolute(3, 255)
Making Noise with Sound Devices
If you have a BrainStem, you might also want to check out the Devantech
SP03 Speech Synthesizer (www.robot-electronics.co.uk/). You can get this
device from Devantech or from Acroname. While this device is not cheap,
who doesn’t want a robot that can talk? The synthesizer has a built-in speaker.
All you have to do is add digitized phrases, and command the synthesizer using
your Palm or PC.
The SP03 can store up to 30 phrases consisting of up to 1925 characters.
Alternatively, you can send text to the SP03 and it can convert the text to
speech. Full details and software for using the SP03 can be found at both
Acroname’s and Devantech’s web sites.
Other Output Devices
At this point, attaching other output devices to either the SV203 or the
BrainStem controllers should be a simple matter for you. If the device needs
power, you will connect its power input to the Vcc line of the controller. The
signal line is connected to Vo and the ground line to GND. If your output device
does not need power, as with the LEDs, you will just connect the Vo and GND
lines. If your device does not conform to these specifications or it uses different
voltages, you can find more information on how to connect devices to the
SV203 or BrainStem at Roberts Gadgets and Gizmos at www.bpesolutions.com/
gadgets.ws/gproject3.html.
Using Digital Components with the BrainStem
Any device that can accept digital signals can be used with digital ports of the
BrainStem controller. For example, the LEDs that we connected to the analog
output ports earlier can be connected to the digital ports of the BrainStem (see
Figure 9-2).
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As with the output ports, you will connect the anode (the longer lead) of the
LED to the digital signal line of the digital port. This is the pin farthest from
the edge of the board. The cathode will be connected to the GND pin, the pin
closest to the edge of the board.
You can then set the port to high and light the LED with these TEAcommands:
aDig_Config(0, ADIG_OUTPUT)
aDig_Write(0, 1)
Where to Go From Here
As far as this chapter goes, we’ve barely touched the surface of what you can
do with your Palm robot. The number of devices you can attach to the robot is
limited only by your imagination.
We’ve looked at input devices that are analogous to the sense of sight. But
we humans have at least four other senses. Sensors that detect the presence of
particular molecules in the air are out of our reach, but sensors that mimic
touch or sound could easily be added to the robot. But don’t let all this stop
you. Just because humans are limited to five senses doesn’t mean your robot is
limited to those same five senses.
We’ve also spent some time investigating how to add other output devices to
the robot. Our little PPRK is limited in what it can do—it’s not going to pilot a
Mars rocket or control the power grid of New England. On the other hand, it
makes a great platform for investigating simple control and output applications.
You can modify and program your robot to do many other things as well.
As far as the Palm robot, our journey is nearly at an end. We’ve spent a lot of
time looking at how to build, program, and extend the robot. But we’re more
than robot fans (that is, enthusiasts—not rotating blades that provide cooling
air), we’re also Palm enthusiasts. Working endlessly day and night on just the
PPRK is not our only idea of fun. Palm OS devices can do more than control
your PPRK, and in the next chapter, we’ll take a quick look at some of the other
robotics applications that you can use your Palm to accomplish.
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Y
our Palm robot may be alive and well, but how can you claim to live the
robot lifestyle without surrounding yourself with robot stuff? It’s like
Kevin always says: “I need Powerpuff shower curtains to go with my
Powerpuff toothbrush and Powerpuff bathrobe.” You can apply his dedication
to that particular hobby to the world of robots.
Where should you start? Right on your PDA, of course. In this, our final
chapter, we’ll point out some of the coolest robot stuff you might want to get
to impress your family and friends. And it’ll give you something to do when
you’re not playing with your Palm robot.
Installing Palm Programs
You can find all of the Palm OS programs mentioned in this chapter at
www.palmgear.com, an excellent resource for shareware, freeware, and commercial PDA software. To track down one of the titles we discuss, visit
Palmgear and enter the name of the program in the search box. When you get
to the proper page, be sure to download the appropriate file—usually .zip for
Windows users or .sit for Mac users.
If you’re new to PDAs, it pays to keep in mind that downloaded applications aren’t immediately ready for installation. Usually, programs arrive on
your PC in the aforementioned form of .zip or .sit files. You will need to expand the .zip or .sit file into its original form before the program can be installed on your Palm (see Figure 10-1).
We recommend these tools for managing compressed files:
❏ Windows Use WinZip to uncompress ZIP files. If you’re using
Windows XP, a rudimentary unzipper is built in, so you don’t
even need WinZip.
❏ Macintosh Use Aladdin StuffIt Expander to manage SIT files.
Of course, if you’re already happily expanding compressed files with another program, keep up the good work; these are just our favorites. If you
need to find WinZip or StuffIt Expander, try www.download.com.
Once expanded, a typical ZIP file will have many individual files inside—readmes, HTML files, and so forth. You can ignore most of that stuff.
The readme will have instructions you may need to read, of course, but in general you need to install only files that bear the file extensions .prc (which are
the executable program files) or .pdb (which are database files that supply information the PRCs need to run).
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Figure 10-1
WinZip,
showing
all the parts
of a Palm
download—
including
both the files
you install on
the Palm and
those that are
useful only
on the PC
Once you’ve got a PRC ready to install, do this:
1. Start the Palm Desktop by choosing Start | Programs | Palm Desktop |
Palm Desktop.
2. Click the Install button on the left side of the Palm Desktop screen.
The Install tool appears.
3. Click the Add button. You see the Open dialog box for selecting
applications.
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4. Locate the program you want to install and select it. Click the Open
button.
TIP: You can select multiple applications at once by holding down the CTRL
key as you click programs in the file list.
5. With your application displayed in the Install Tool dialog box,
click Done.
6. The next time you hot sync, the selected application is installed,
usually to the Unfiled category on your Palm. If you don’t see it
there, look in All—some apps get automatically filed elsewhere,
such as in Games or Main.
TIP: A faster way to install apps on the Palm is simply to double-click the
icons. They’ll automatically be added to the install queue.
Mindstorms from Your Palm
Lego Mindstorms have proven incredibly popular with kids, adults,
roboticists, educators, and just about everyone in between. It was only inevitable, then, that eventually someone would create a Palm-based tool for interacting with Mindstorms.
Unfortunately, the PBrick project, developed by Dr. Ing. Till Harbaum, isn’t
intended for nonprogramming-savvy users. In a nutshell, Harbaum has written a library that provides an application programming interface (API) for
two-way infrared communication between the Palm PDA and the Lego
Mindstorms RCX controller.
What good is it? If you’re a programmer, you can take advantage of this library to emulate the Lego Mindstorms remote control, program the RCX
unit, or even use the Palm as a CPU for advanced on-board logic and control.
Using the Palm as the robot’s CPU could potentially give your robots a lot
more flexibility and intelligence than what’s possible with the standard
Lego RCX.
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If you’re not a programmer but you want to experiment a bit with the
PBrick Library anyway, you can: the software comes with a pair of demo programs that give you a taste of what’s possible with the software. First, download the software from www.harbaum.org/till/palm/pbrick.
You need to install three files on your Palm: the PBrickLib.prc file itself, as
well as PBRemote.prc and PBDemo.prc. Here’s what they do:
❏ PBRemote.prc This program emulates the Lego Mindstorms
remote control, and it can be used to operate the RCX unit. You
can use the remote to operate the motors, for instance, as well as
activate whatever programs are stored in the five storage blocks.
❏ PBDemo.prc This demo program actually uses two-way
communication with the RCX unit and shows a lot of the power
the software is capable of. The FW button queries the RCX unit to
determine the firmware version number, for instance, and the BT
button determines the battery level.
NOTE: When we tested the PBrick library, it wasn’t compatible with Palm
OS 5 devices like the Tungsten T. We ran it successfully on a Palm m515,
though, so it should run fine on almost all older devices.
What Is Lego Mindstorms?
If you haven’t experienced Lego Mindstorms, you’re missing out on
something very cool. Yes, they’re Legos—but they’re not just for kids. The
Mindstorms Robotic Invention System 2.0 is an open-ended set of robotics
tools that lets you create a wide-ranging variety of robots and program
them to interact with their environment and other Mindstorms robots.
The heart of every Mindstorms robot is the RCX (which you can see in the
next illustration in the image of a typical Mindstorms robot), which
houses the battery pack, motor and sensor ports, infrared transceiver, and
a CPU. After you build your robot, it can be stationary, or it can walk or
roll—you program it using a visual, drag-and-drop environment on the
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PC. Programs are beamed via infrared to the robot, which then can run the
program. The core system comes with touch and light sensors, but other
sensors, such as rotation and temperature sensors, are also available.
FIRST Scoring
If you are into robots, you no doubt know all about FIRST (For Inspiration and
Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST sponsors an annual robotics
competition that currently features 20,000 students in 800 teams across the
country and internationally. FIRST also sponsors a Lego league that allows
students to compete with Lego Mindstorms designs—it’s considered a sort of
“little league” in the FIRST community.
If you’re involved in the FIRST Robotics competition at any level, you’ll
want to check out Scoring 2.00, a free application that’s a scoring calculator for
the 2002 event. If you’re a competitor, you can use the calculator to help determine smart competition strategies.
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Play a Few Games
All work and no play makes for a boring roboticist. We’ve rounded up about a
dozen robot games for you to try on your Palm OS PDA. We tested these
games on a shiny new Tungsten T, so most of them should work with pretty
much any Palm model—except perhaps for the very oldest devices that predate Palm OS 3. We’ll point out exceptions when we run into them.
Flying Robots
Okay, to tell you the truth, we’re not really sure why it’s called Flying Robots.
Honestly, it looks a lot more like a variation on the old Space Invaders arcade
game. The idea behind the game, though, is that a slew of flying robots escaped from the factory at which they belong (really, ripped from today’s headlines, when you think about it), and it’s your job to return them. It looks, feels,
and smells a lot like Space Invaders, so just use the buttons on the Palm or the
stylus to move your character around the screen and fire.
Actually, it’s a pretty neat game because it’s written in Java. That means you’ll
need a Java interpreter to play the game, and anytime you have to install arcane
programming tools on your Palm just to play a game it is a good day indeed. In
addition to the game itself, you need to visit this URL and download MIDP for
Palm OS: http://java.sun.com/products/midp4palm/download.html.
After you download the ZIP file onto your PC, you can extract MIDP.PRC
and install it on your Palm. Throw away the rest of the ZIP file—you don’t
need it. Then start blasting robots.
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Welded Warriors
If, like us, you’re convinced that robots should always be equipped with some
sort of death ray, you might appreciate Welded Warriors, a cool robot combat
game that more or less follows in the tradition of Mech games. In a nutshell,
you control a giant robot that fights battles in a large combat arena for money
and fame.
This ambitious game is part fighting, part role playing. You can visit locales
like the junkyard and machine shop, where you can purchase parts such as
power supplies, shields, and lasers for your robot. Then you equip your robot
with these devices and challenge someone to a fight (in the bar, of course).
Actual combat is turn-based; you tap offensive actions such as kicking, punching, or firing your laser to inflict damage, and you defend yourself to conserve
power and recharge your shields. The full version of the game—which costs
about $15—features two dozen robots and 20 worlds to visit. It’s an entertaining
way to pass the time before your first morning meeting.
Botz
In the annals of computer gaming, two crazed-robot titles leap to the forefront: Daleks and Berzerk. Both are mindlessly simple games from the earliest
days of arcade gaming. Berzerk pitted you against a horde of zombie-speed
robots that meandered toward you as if their legs were filled with molasses,
while you tried valiantly to work your way through a maze-like set of rooms.
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Even though no one moved very fast, it was a gripping arcade experience anyway, probably because the robots taunted you with the ominous threat that
they would, indeed, get the humanoid (that audio taunt was arguably the
game’s coolest feature). And eventually, they always did.
The other great robot classic was Daleks, a Doctor Who-derived title for the
Macintosh in which you wandered around a field full of Delek robots, and
they inevitably converged on you with a single-minded obsession that caused
them to bump into each other in the process, annihilating themselves. Therein
was the solution: Daleks was something of a puzzle game, in which you
moved around the screen to get the robots to run into each other. Your sole
weapon—a teleporting Sonic Screwdriver—was always a last resort.
All that’s a long-winded way of getting to the fact that Botz combines both
gaming experiences into a single treat for the Palm. In real-time mode, Botz
simulates a game of Berzerk, in which you run away from the persistentbut-sluggish robots bent on your destruction. In turn-based mode, you try to
collect goodies from the screen while helping the Dalek-like robots run into
each other. The full version of Botz is $9.95.
Nanobots
In many ways, robotic hardware is the easy part of designing and building a
robot. Programming a robot to respond intelligently to its environment without being programmed with contingencies on how to deal with every single
aspect of the world is the hard part. And many roboticists, of course, realize
that traditional programming techniques simply won’t cut it.
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That’s where neural networks come in. When neural nets burst onto the
scene a few decades ago, some scientists thought that they would give machines human-like intelligence in short order. Since neural nets are learning
programs that improve through training and experience, they bear a passing
resemblance to the way the human brain works. And technologies saw neural
nets as the key to unlocking voice translation, pattern recognition, auto-navigation, and a slew of other problems.
It really didn’t pan out that way, however; neural nets, despite their early
promise, haven’t proven to be the magic bullet that solves all of our deepest
programming challenges. Nonetheless, they still have a role in robotics, and
many roboticists continue to develop robots using neural networks. If you
want to get a taste of what neural networks are all about, try Nanobots, a
clever strategy game that’s also a primer on neural networks. You need to
teach a batch of nanobots how to eliminate a virus by moving around the
screen. There are other considerations: you need to minimize your interaction
with healthy blood cells and other nanobots. The program costs a mere $4.95.
To use Nanobots, you’ll need to install a small utility called Mathlib on your
Palm; it’s free and you can find a copy of that program on Palmgear as well.
YADaleks+
This version of Daleks is even better than the mini-Daleks game you’ll find in
Botz, and it’s well worth checking out.
To be perfectly honest, versions of Daleks are only a little less common than
fireflies in June. We found a small assortment of Dalek-like games, but trust
us: this one, with an abbreviated title that stands for “Yet Another Daleks,” is
the one to try.
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Minebot
These days, it seems like most “robots” are little more than glorified radio-controlled cars, sometimes equipped with a lot of armor, sensors, and manipulating arms. Robots like these are used by scientists, the military, police, and
emergency workers to go places and do things too dangerous for humans.
Minebot puts you in the driver’s seat of just such a robot: you’re tasked
with traversing a minefield to rescue hostages. You are equipped with a proximity scanner to sense the presence of nearby mines, and some levels include
the use of dynamite and other tools.
Okay, you got us—it’s really just a fancy version of Minesweeper, a silly little game that comes with every version of Windows. This program takes it to a
whole new level, though, and the premise really does involve driving a robot
around—so give it a shot.
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Iron Strategy
Some of the best strategy games have involved programming virtual robots.
Another entry in this long and distinguished lineage is Iron Strategy, which,
while not groundbreaking in any fundamental way, is a fun way to pass the
time with a friend. With each of you controlling a side, you take turns maneuvering robots into position to defeat the other side. Each robot in your small
army can move a limited number of spaces, fire a weapon, or perform some
other action such as effect repairs to another unit.
There’s a real sense of strategy in the game, since you need to eliminate all of
the other robots or blow up the enemy base, all without sacrificing your own resources. Most robots are limited to just two or three squares of movement in
each turn, and since the game is turn-based, you don’t know exactly what your
opponent will do based on your own movements. The downside? You can’t
play against the computer, so it’s fun only if you play against someone else.
On the PC
In addition to all of the robot-oriented apps on the Palm, you can take part in
robot goodness on your desktop computer as well. Depending upon how
much of a programmer you liken yourself to be, you might want to try either
AT-Robots 3 or MindRover.
AT-Robots3
AT-Robots 3 is a Windows application that lets you design, build, and battle virtual
robots based on a simplified version of assembly language. Interested? You can
find the program (it’s free) at the author’s web page, www.nw.fmph.uniba.sk/
~9bartelt, or from Dave’s web site at www.bydavejohnson.com.
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If you download it from Dave’s web site, you can find the appropriate link
in the Books section.
At its core, AT-Robots 3 is a programming game. You need to create your robot, optimizing the design based on such factors as weapon strength, power
demands, shielding, and movement capabilities. All AT-Robots can have
parts, including a hull, weapon, scanner, and other components. Designing a
robot is pretty straightforward; if you have any programming experience,
you can whip up a simple robot in literally minutes. Here’s a robot in the process of being created:
As you can see from the illustration, the robots are little more than scripts,
each line of which defines specific robot parameters, like this:
#equip
hull
material
engine
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7
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turret
weapon
weapon
1
8
8
0
1
//2 slot turret, slots at 0 and 128
//laser in slot at 0
//another laser in slot at 1
#equip
The program is well documented and comes with tables that describe all
the possible values for the various components; weapon 8, for instance, is a laser, as you can see from the program comments.
After you design your robot, you can unleash it in virtual combat with other
robots online. Of course, you need to program the robot’s maneuvering logic,
but that’s half the fun! If you want more insight into programming and competing with AT-Robots 3, you might want to check out Dave’s other robot book,
Robot Invasion: 7 Cool and Easy Robot Projects, from McGraw-Hill/Osborne.
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MindRover
If AT-Robots is a bit too imposing for you, you might want to try MindRover
instead. Without a doubt the best virtual robot programming game around,
MindRover is a lot more “friendly” for the casual roboticist. You can download a trial version from www.mindrover.com, and the full version is available online or in stores for $25.
In MindRover, you get to design robots simply by dragging and dropping
components such as sensors, motors, and weapons onto available slots on the
robot chassis. Then you program the robot by dragging and dropping logic
circuits into place.
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TIP: The MindRover RCX Pack Add-On is a $15 accessory to MindRover.
It lets you program Lego Mindstorms robots with the MindRover interface,
so you can see if real robots behave the same way as the on-screen bots.
To program the robot, you create “circuits” by dragging connections between the various parts of the robot. To turn, for instance, wire the thruster directly to the sensor, so it’ll run whenever it sees an enemy robot.
Other tasks require you to use logic circuits—you might only fire the rockets
if you can see the enemy with both sensors, for instance. That would use an
AND circuit.
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When you’re done programming your robot, you can turn it loose in a 3D
environment that looks like a living room.
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Where To Go From Here
Where to, indeed.
Our journey together is over. Over the course of the past ten chapters,
we’ve shown you how to build a robot, how to program it, and how to modify
your robot with new capabilities.
It’s now up to you to choose your path.
Are you interested in the hardware side of things? Check the web for resources and information about robots. The PPRK design is unique in the world
of wheeled robots, since almost every other wheeled robot uses two or four
wheels configured like a cart or car. You may want to explore other wheeled robots or further investigate the capabilities of the three-wheeled design of the
PPRK. Beyond wheeled robots, you might branch out to walking robots.
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Intrigued by different gadgets? You can look at other sensors or output devices beyond what we’ve explored in this chapter. What about sound or
touch? Can you add a device that makes the robot sensitive to particular
sound frequencies? Can you add a sensor that signals the processor when it
touches an object? What other devices can you control through the controller
board? You may want to look at adding a remote video capability to the robot,
so that the robot sends back a picture of where it is. Can you devise a robot that
can play a ukulele or a saxophone?
Perhaps you’re a software hacker. We’ve looked at some simple programs
for the robot. These programs can provide some interesting behavior, and yet
that behavior is somewhat limited. Wall following is useful for the robot, but
by itself it does not give the robot a long-term usefulness. Start thinking about
the bigger problems you might want your robot to handle and how you could
program the robot to handle them.
If you have a BrainStem, you might want to look further into reflexes.
While there is a lot of debate about self-awareness and animal intelligence, it
seems clear to us that regardless of where one draws the line, many behaviors
are driven by reflex and instinct. The less intelligent a creature, the more
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its behavior is driven be reflex and instinct. Much of artificial intelligence research is directed toward re-creating a complex intelligence. Could the use of
reflex programming provide a different approach to artificial intelligence?
Fire up that code editor and start programming reflexes.
Regardless of where you go from here, keep your fellow roboticists informed of what you are doing. This book would not have come about if many
different people had not shared their work on the web. If you come up with a
cool use for the robot or some new techniques for building, or you use some
unique sensor, share your work on your own web site. We’d love to hear from
you; emails for both Kevin and Dave are listed in the introduction to this book.
You can also send pictures and descriptions to www.acroname.com; a gallery
on the web site shows a number of projects. Who knows? You could be the
next great robotics genius.
Good luck, and have fun!
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What’s on the CD
We’ve covered an awful lot of software in this book. To make it all easier to
handle, we’ve loaded it all onto the CD-ROM that comes with this book. That
way, you don’t need to spend hours and hours online, going to different Web
sites, and using your precious online time to download everything that you
need.
You’ll find that the CD-ROM is organized into three main folders:
❏ Palm Robot Reader This folder has versions of the Palm Robot
Programmer application (from Chapter 6) for a variety of
operating environments, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
❏ Other Applications Here, you’ll find all the utilities and other
applications we wrote about in the book. Each program has its
own folder, making it all easy to find.
❏ Licenses We’ve rounded up all of the software licenses and
stored them in one place. Please be sure to read these before using
any program contained on the CD.
How to Use the CD
Using the CD is pretty straightforward. If you want to install an application like
the Palm Robot Programmer, do this:
1. Insert the disc in your CD-ROM drive. Depending upon your
operating system, the disc will automatically open on your desktop
or you’ll need to open it yourself.
2. Locate the folder you want to open and double-click on it. If you
want to install the Palm Robot Programmer, double-click that folder
(Mac users, of course, only need to single-click).
3. Now locate the folder for your operating system and double-click.
4. Double-click the Install icon for the Palm Robot Programmer and
follow the onscreen instructions.
That’s the basic procedure for installing many of the applications on the
CD-ROM. Note that for some apps in the Other Applications folder, there’s
only one version provided—in most cases, for the Palm OS.
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The Palm Robot Programmer Folder
This folder contains all of the installation files for the Palm Robot Programmer
software that we developed especially for this book. Installers are included
for all major platforms. Note: You must have Java 1.4 installed on your computer to use the Palm Robot Programmer. If you don’t already have it, files on
the CD will help you get it installed.
To find the right installer for your computer, navigate to the subfolder that
best describes your system, such as Windows or Mac. Use this guide to figure
out which version to install:
❏ If you already have Java 1.4 installed on your PC, you can use
the NoVM installer, since you don’t need to install Java 1.4.
❏ If you need Java 1.4, look for the VM folder and use that
installation. It will install Java 1.4 to your system.
❏ If the folder for your system only has a NoVM installer,
you will have to get Java 1.4 from some other source, such
as http://java.sun.com/—we could not provide one for
you (sorry!).
Launch the installer and follow the instructions to install the Palm Robot
Programmer. You should be able to use the default choices offered by the installer. After installation is complete, locate the program icon that was created
by the installer and use it to launch the Palm Robot Programmer.
You can find detailed information on how to create programs with the
Palm Robot Programmer in Chapter 6.
Inside the Other Applications Folder
The Other Applications folder is where you’ll find, well, everything that
isn’t the Palm Robot Programmer app. It has Palm OS software, BrainStem
software, and other goodies.
You’ll find a number of tools, for instance, that you can use to write programs for the PPRK:
❏ HotPaw The HotPaw folder contains the HotPaw Basic interpreter
for your Palm OS device. Unpack the archive and load the ybasic.prc
and mathlib.prc files to your Palm OS device. You will now be able
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to run BASIC programs on your PDA. See Chapter 7 for more
information on how to write HotPaw Basic programs.
❏ MathLib The MathLib folder contains, not surprisingly, the math
library. This library of functions is used by several of the other
applications and programs on the CD-ROM. Every application
that needs mathlib already includes it as part of its set of files,
so you will probably not need to use this folder.
❏ NS Basic This folder contains the demo version of NS Basic
that was used in Chapter 7. NS Basic provides a programming
environment in which you can create Palm OS programs in a
visual environment. In other words, you manipulate forms,
buttons, and other user interface elements to create the visual
form of your program, and then add the code to give those
elements life. NS Basic runs on the Windows platform and has
its own installation program. Simply run the installer and follow
the prompts to install NS Basic to your computer. You can find
more information on how to use NS Basic to create a program
in Chapter 7 and in the NS Basic program documentation.
❏ PocketC PocketC is a C interpreter that runs on the Palm OS
platform. Simply unzip the archive and load the .prc and .pdb
files to your Palm OS device; after that, you will be able to run
C programs on your Palm PDA. Information on coding PocketC
programs can be found in Chapter 7 and in the PocketC
documentation.
❏ PtoolBox This directory contains the PocketToolbox library of
functions used with PocketC and the PocketPPRK program.
You’ll also find folders that contain some of the programs written in Chapter 5 through Chapter 8:
❏ SimpleJig Contains versions of the Simple Jig program that was
built in Chapter 7. It includes versions in BASIC for HotPaw Basic
and NS Basic, as well as a C version for PocketC.
❏ ToFro Contains various versions of the ToFro program. There is
a version written in TEA (tofor.leaf) for the BrainStem reflex mode,
a version in Java from Chapter 8, and a version that can be loaded
into the Palm Robot Programmer from Chapter 6.
❏ Chbaud Contains the chbaud.bas program that was used in
Chapter 4 to change the baud rate of the SV203 controller. This
program runs under HotPaw Basic.
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And we’ve included three of the programs from Chapter 10:
❏ FlyingRobots Contains the Flying Robots game for Palm OS.
❏ Welded Contains the Welded Warriors game for Palm OS.
❏ PBrick Contains the Programmable Brick Library that provides an
interface between the Palm OS and a Lego MindStorms controller.
Working with the BrainStem
The BrainStem folder (in the Other Applications folder) contains all the software developed by Acroname for use with the PPRK. This software is further
divided by operating system. Acroname has built versions of their software
for all the major platforms, including the Palm OS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
If you navigate to the directory for your system, you will find archive files
containing the BrainStem applications that we used in Chapters 4 through 8.
To install the software you simply extract the archive onto your hard drive.
Here’s some of the software you will find:
❏ Config Contains the Config program that can be used to
test the sensors and servos of the robot.
❏ Console Contains the Console application that is used to
compile and load TEA programs to the BrainStem.
❏ GP Contains the GP application that can be used to test
the A/D, digital, and output ports of the BrainStem.
❏ Cdev Contains files useful for writing C programs for the PPRK.
❏ Java Contains files useful for writing Java programs for the
PPRK.
❏ Ref The reference manual for the BrainStem.
❏ PPRK_SDK Contains all the files for TEA programming,
including Config, Console, and GP.
❏ SDK Everything above in one convenient archive.
Installing Palm Applications
Many of the other applications in this folder are from Chapter 10. So, after
scanning that chapter, you might want to try out some of these Palm OS apps.
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To install these apps, you need to copy the program to your hard disk and add
the PRC files to your Palm PDA via the Install tool. Do this:
1. Find an app that you want to install in the Other Applications folder
and drag it to your computer’s desktop. Locate all of the .prc and
.pdb files—these are the ones you need to copy to your Palm PDA.
2. Start the Palm desktop by choosing Start | Programs | Palm Desktop
| Palm Desktop.
3. Click the Install button on the left side of the Palm desktop screen.
The Install tool appears.
4. Click the Add button. You see the Open dialog box for selecting
applications.
5. Locate the program you want to install and select it. Click the Open
button.
6. With your application displayed in the Install Tool dialog box,
click Done.
7. The next time you HotSync, the selected application is installed,
usually to the Unfiled category on your Palm. If you don’t see it
there, look in All—some apps get automatically filed elsewhere,
like Games or Main.
Inside the PPRK Folder
The PPRK Programs folder (in the Other Applications folder) contains the
software that was introduced in Chapter 5. These are programs that were developed by other hobbyists for playing with the PPRK.
The following three PRC files contain programs that you can load to your
Palm OS device just like any other PRC file (see “Installing Palm Applications” earlier in this appendix for details):
❏
❏
❏
❏
MathLib
PenFollow
Robot1
ServoTest
Note that ServoTest and PenFollow conflict with each other, so don’t load
both of them to your Palm OS device simultaneously. The folder also contains three HotPaw Basic programs for the robot: sequence_motors_test.bas,
square2.bas, and triangle3.bas.
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Index
A
AbstractBrainStem class, 226–228
Acroname software, installing, 202
Acrylic decks, 53
Analog ports, checking, 107–108
API, Java Communications, 224–225
Asimov’s three laws of robotics, 3
AT-Robots3, 262–264
Auto-launching programs, 213–215
B
Basic
and Palm OS devices, 99
PPRK programming with NS,
180–186
programming PPRK with
HotPaw, 164–168
Basic, HotPaw, 157–164
Hello, World!, 158–162
HotPaw functions and functions,
162–164
Basic, NS, 168–180
Hello World in NS Basic, 169–176
loading NS Basic programs to
Palm OS PDA, 176–178
running POSE, 178–180
BASIC, programming PPRK in, 157–187
HotPaw Basic, 157–164
PPRK programming with HotPaw
Basic, 164–168
PPRK programming with NS
Basic, 180–186
BASIC programs, using with robots,
99–100
loading HotPaw Basic, 99–100
Baud rates, changing, 89–91
BEAM (biology, electronics, anesthetics,
and mechanics), 4
BEAM robotics, 4
Bots; See Minebots, Nanobats
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Index
Botz, 258–259
Brains, good robot, 10–12
BrainStem
adding sensors to, 239–240, 247
hackers, 200
sample TEA programs for, 111–115
software for, 101–103
using digital components with,
249–250
BrainStem controllers, building PPRK
with, 60–71
attaching decks to frames, 69–70
attaching Palm, 70–71
attaching wheels, 70
batteries, 60–61
building frames, 61–62
completing wiring, 64–69
controllers and decks, 62–64
BrainStem, Java and, 225–230
AbstractBrainStem class, 226–228
PPRK programming with Java,
228–230
BrainStem PPRK, top 10 reasons to buy,
81–82
BrainStem, programming using Java,
223–230
getting Java Communications
API, 224–225
Java and BrainStem, 225–230
BrainStem, programming using
reflexes, 215–223
how reflexes work, 216
simple reflex programs, 216–223
BrainStem, programming using TEA,
201–215
BrainStem modes, 201
downloading and launching
programs, 212–215
installing Acroname software, 202
steeping steaming cup of TEA,
210–212
writing TEA programs, 202–209
BrainStem robots, taking control of,
199–230
programming BrainStem using
Java, 223–230
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programming BrainStem using
reflexes, 215–223
BrainStem, using Handspring Visor
with, 74–80
assembling Visor’s connectors,
79–80
connecting cables, 77–79
parts list, 75
soldering connectors, 75–77
soldering printed circuit boards,
75–77
Break component, 138
Building
cables, 82–86
PPRK with BrainStem controllers,
60–71
PPRK with Pontech Controllers,
44–60
robots, 43–71
C
C, programming PPRK with, 187–197
Cables, building, 82–86
connecting cables to DB9 male
connectors, 83–86
Cables, connecting, 77–79
Call component, 138
Carnegie Mellon, software from, 94–97,
97–99
CD, about, 271–276
how to use CD, 272
inside other applications folders,
273–275
inside PPRK folder, 276
installing Palm applications,
275–276
Palm Robot Programmer
folder, 273
what’s on CD, 272
working with BrainStem, 275
Chase.tea line by line, 205–209
Classes, AbstractBrainStem, 226–228
Code component, 140
Codes, converting programs to source,
144–148
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Index
Communicating at nearly speed of
light, 88
Communication, 11–12
Communications API, Java, 224–225
Component palettes, 133–140
Break component, 138
Call component, 138
Code component, 140
For component, 137
Constant component, 134–135
Continue component, 137–138
If component, 135–136
Include component, 138–139
Read Sensor component, 139
Servo Start component, 139
Servo Stop component, 139
Sleep component, 140
Variable component, 133–134
While component, 136–137
Components
adding, 141
deleting and pasting, 141–142
Config, 104–106
Connection testers, cheap, 84
Connectors
assembling Visor’s, 79–80
soldering, 75–77
Console, 110–117
examining TEA files, 115–117
launching CUP files, 115
sample TEA programs for
BrainStem, 111–115
Constant component, 134–135
Continue component, 137–138
Controllers, building PPRK with
BrainStem, 60–71
Converters, writing, 149–153
CPU, 11
cup files, 115, 212
D
Decks, acrylic, 53
Deleting and pasting components,
141–142
Detecting sensors, line, 240–245
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Detectors, Lynxmotion Single Line, 244
Devices
Basic and Palm OS, 99
making noise with sound, 249
miscellaneous output, 249
Palm OS, 12–18
Digital components, using with
BrainStem, 249–250
Digital ports, checking, 108–109
Downloading and launching programs,
212–215
E
Empire, rise of Palm, 8–9
Enhancements, sensors and, 231–250
F
Files
CUP, 115, 212
examining TEA, 115–117
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition
of Science and Technology), 256
First programs, making, 128–131
FIRST scoring, 256
Flying Robots, 257
For component, 137
Functions, creating, 142–143
G
Games, playing a few, 257–262
Botz, 258–259
Flying Robots, 257
Iron Strategy, 262
Minebot, 261
Nanobots, 259–260
Welded Warriors, 258
YADaleks+, 260–261
GP, 106–110
checking analog ports, 107–108
checking digital ports, 108–109
GP2D02, 109
Servo, 109–110
279
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280
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Index
H
Hackers, BrainStem, 200
Hamamatsu photoreflectors, 242–244
Handspring Visor, 17–18
Handspring Visor, using Palm VIIs and,
73–92
using Handspring Visor with
BrainStem, 74–80
using Handspring Visor with
PPRK, 81–88
Handspring Visor, using with
BrainStem, 74–80
assembling Visor’s connectors,
79–80
connecting cables, 77–79
parts list, 75
soldering connectors, 75–77
soldering printed circuit boards,
75–77
Handspring Visor, using with PPRK,
81–88
building cables, 82–86
modifying Pontech SV203, 86–88
parts list, 82
Hello World in NS Basic, 169–176
HotPaw Basic, 157–164
Hello, World!, 158–162
HotPaw functions and functions,
162–164
loading, 99–100
programming PPRK with,
164–168
I
If component, 135–136
Include component, 138–139
Input devices, adding to PPRK, 235–245
Iron Strategy, 262
J
Java and BrainStem, 225–230
AbstractBrainStem class, 226–228
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PPRK programming with Java,
228–230
Java Communications API, 224–225
Java, programming BrainStem using,
223–230
getting Java’s Communications
API, 224–225
Java and BrainStem, 225–230
jig explained, simple, 167
Jig programs, simple, 164–166
jig, running simple, 168
K
Kits, getting, 26–29
L
Language, how PRP converts programs
to source, 149
Languages, adding new, 148–153
how PRP converts program to
source language, 149
writing converters, 149–153
LEDs (light emitting diodes), 242,
248–249
Lego Mindstorms defined, 255
Line detecting sensors, 240–245
Loading programs, saving and, 143–144
Lynxmotion Single Line Detector, 244
M
Machines, virtual, 210
Manually launching programs, 213
Menus and toolbars, 132–133
Methods, creating, 142–143
MindRover, 265–267
Mindstorms
Lego, 255
from Palm, 254–256
Minebots, 261
Models, miscellaneous Palm, 16–17
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Index
N
Nanobots, 259–260
New languages, adding, 148–153
Noise, making, 249
NS Basic, 168–180
Hello World in NS Basic, 169–176
loading NS Basic programs to
Palm OS PDA, 176–178
PPRK programming with,
180–186
running POSE, 178–180
Numbering, port, 66–67
O
Online resources, 41–42
Online sellers, 21–22
OS devices, Basic and Palm, 99
OS devices, Palm, 12–18
Handspring Visor, 17–18
miscellaneous Palm models, 16–17
Palm III, 14
Palm V, 15
Palm VII, 15–16
PalmPilot Personal/Professional,
13–14
Pilot 1000, 13
Pilot 5000, 13
Output devices
adding to Pontech SV203, 246–247
adding to PPRK, 246–249
miscellaneous, 249
P
Palettes, component, 133–140
Palm empire, rise of, 8–9
Palm III, 14
Palm, Mindstorms from, 254–256
Palm models, miscellaneous, 16–17
Palm OS devices
Basic and, 99
from A to Z, 12–18
Palm Pilot Robot Kit (PPRK), 6–7, 94, 122
Palm programs, installing, 252–254
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Palm robots, meeting, 1–23
essence of robots, 3–4
Palm, good robot brains, 10–12
Palm OS devices from A to Z,
12–18
Pocket PCs, 18–19
PPRK, 7–8
rise of Palm empire, 8–9
robots defined, 2–3
where to find new and used
PDAs, 19–22
wide, wide worlds of robots, 4–7
Palm V, 15
Palm VIIs, 15–16
Palm VIIs and Handspring Visor, using,
73–92
using Palm VII with PPRK, 88–92
Palm VIIs, using with PPRK
changing baud rates, 89–91
restoring default value, 92
PalmPilot Personal/Professional, 13–14
Parts, getting, 25–42
getting kits, 26–29
Parts, getting from other sources, 29–39
carry on, 39–40
if one only had a brain, 30–32
motor city madhouse, 33
under my wheels, 34–36
odd ones, 37–39
talk to me, 36
Pasting components, deleting and,
141–142
PCs, on, 262–267
AT-Robots3, 262–264
MindRover, 265–267
PCs, Pocket, 18–19
PDAs, where to find new and used,
19–22
buying used PDAs, 20
gadget freaks, 20–21
local recycled electronics stores, 21
online sellers, 21–22
pawnshops, 21
PenFollow, 96–97
Phones; See Smartphones
281
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Index
Photoreflectors, Hamamatsu, 242–244
Pilot 1000, 13
Pilot 5000, 13
Pocket PCs, 18–19
PocketC, 187–191
PPRK programming with,
191–197
PocketC programs, using with robots,
100–101
Pontech Controllers, building PPRK
with, 44–60
assembling wheels, 49
attaching decks to frames, 54
attaching Palm connectors and
wheels, 58–60
attaching Palm connectors to
decks, 50–51
batteries, 45
building frames, 51–53
completing wiring, 55–58
controllers and decks, 53–54
modifying servos, 47–49
wiring battery packs, 45–46
Pontech SV203
adding output devices to, 246–247
adding sensors to, 236–238
modifying, 86–88
reasons not to modify, 86
Port numbering, 66–67
Ports
checking analog, 107–108
checking digital, 108–109
POSE, running, 178–180
PPRK, adding output devices to,
246–249
adding output devices to Pontech
SV203, 246–247
adding sensors to BrainStem, 247
LEDs (light emitting diodes),
248–249
making noise with sound
devices, 249
PPRK, adding sensors or input devices
to, 235–245
adding sensors to BrainStem,
239–240
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adding sensors to Pontech SV203,
236–238
line detecting sensors, 240–245
miscellaneous sensors, 245
temperature sensors, 245
PPRK, building with BrainStem
controllers, 60–71
attaching decks to frames, 69–70
attaching Palm, 70–71
attaching wheels, 70
batteries, 60–61
building frames, 61–62
completing wiring, 64–69
controllers and decks, 62–64
PPRK, building with Pontech
Controllers, 44–60
assembling wheels, 49
attaching decks to frames, 54
attaching Palm connectors and
wheels, 58–60
attaching Palm connectors to
decks, 50–51
batteries, 45
building frames, 51–53
completing wiring, 55–58
controllers and decks, 53–54
modifying servos, 47–49
wiring battery packs, 45–46
PPRK (Palm Pilot Robot Kit), 6–7, 7–8,
94, 122
programming, 187–197
programming with HotPaw Basic,
164–168
programming with Java, 228–230
programming with PocketC,
191–197
top 10 reasons to buy BrainStem,
81–82
Visor and, 18
PPRK, programming in BASIC, 157–187
HotPaw Basic, 157–164
NS Basic, 168–180
PPRK programming with HotPaw
Basic, 164–168
PPRK programming with NS
Basic, 180–186
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Index
PPRK programming with HotPaw
Basic, 164–168
running simple jig, 168
simple jig explained, 167
simple jig programs, 164–166
PPRK, software for, 94–101
miscellaneous software from
Carnegie Mellon, 97–99
software from Carnegie Mellon,
94–97
using BASIC programs with
robots, 99–100
using PocketC programs with
robots, 100–101
PPRK, using Handspring Visor with,
81–88
building cables, 82–86
modifying Pontech SV203, 86–88
parts list, 82
PPRK, using Palm VII with, 88–92
changing baud rates, 89–91
restoring default value, 92
Printed circuit boards, soldering, 75–77
Programming; See also Programs
BrainStem using Java, 223–230
BrainStem using reflexes, 215–223
BrainStem using TEA, 201–215
fun facts to know and tell
about, 112
PPRK, 164–168, 180–186, 191–197
PPRK in BASIC, 157–187
PPRK with C, 187–197
Programming strategies, essential robot,
155–197
programming PPRK in BASIC,
157–187
programming PPRK with C,
187–197
Programs
auto-launching, 213–215
converting to source codes,
144–148
installing Palm, 252–254
making first, 128–131
manually launching, 213
sample TEA, 111–115, 203–205
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saving and loading, 143–144
simple jig, 164–166
simple reflex, 216–223
writing TEA, 202–209, 215
Programs, downloading and launching,
212–215
auto-launching programs,
213–215
manually launching programs, 213
writing TEA programs, 215
Project Timber, 5–6
PRP (Palm Robot Programmer),
119–153, 126–143
adding components, 141
adding new languages, 148–153
converting programs to source
codes, 144–148
creating subroutines, functions, or
methods, 142–143
deleting and pasting components,
141–142
how it converts programs to
source language, 149
installing, 122–126
making first programs, 128–131
PRP windows, 127
RPR in detail, 132–141
saving and loading programs,
143–144
updates to, 153
PRP (Palm Robot Programmer) in
detail, 132–141
component palettes, 133–140
menus and toolbars, 132–133
workspace, 141
R
Read Sensor component, 139
Reflex programs, simple, 216–223
Reflexes, how they work, 216
Reflexes, programming BrainStem
using, 215–223
how reflexes work, 216
simple reflex programs, 216–223
Resources, online, 41–42
283
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Index
Robot brains, good, 10–12
Robot programming strategies,
essential, 155–197
programming PPRK in BASIC,
157–187
programming PPRK with C,
187–197
RobotI, 97
Robotics
Asimov’s three laws of, 3
BEAM, 4
Robots
defined, 2–3
essence of, 3–4
Flying, 257
meeting Palm, 1–23
taking control of BrainStem,
199–230
using BASIC programs with,
99–100
using PocketC programs with,
100–101
Robots, building, 43–71
building PPRK with BrainStem
controllers, 60–71
building PPRK with Pontech
Controllers, 44–60
Robots, checking out, 93–118
software for BrainStem, 101–103
software for PPRK, 94–101
working with robots, 104–117
Robots, having fun with, 251–270
FIRST scoring, 256
installing Palm programs, 252–254
Mindstorms from Palm, 254–256
on PCs, 262–267
playing a few games, 257–262
Robots, wide, wide worlds of, 4–7
BEAM robotics, 4
PPRK (Palm Pilot Robot Kit), 6–7
Project Timber, 5–6
Stiquito, 5
Robots, working with, 104–117
Config, 104–106
Console, 110–117
GP, 106–110
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S
Saving and loading programs, 143–144
SDK (Software Development Kit), 224
Sensors
adding to BrainStem, 239–240, 247
adding to Pontech SV203, 236–238
adding to PPRK, 235–245
miscellaneous, 245
temperature, 245
Sensors and enhancements, 231–250
adding output devices to PPRK,
246–249
adding sensors or input devices to
PPRK, 235–245
using digital components with
BrainStem, 249–250
Sensors, line detecting, 240–245
Hamamatsu photoreflectors,
242–244
Lynxmotion Single Line
Detector, 244
Servo, 109–110
Servo Start component, 139
Servo Stop component, 139
ServoTest, 96
Sleep component, 140
Smartphones, 17
Software for BrainStem, 101–103
Software for PPRK, 94–101
software from Carnegie Mellon,
94–97, 97–99
using BASIC programs with
robots, 99–100
using PocketC programs with
robots, 100–101
Software from Carnegie Mellon, 94–97,
97–99
PenFollow, 96–97
RobotI, 97
ServoTest, 96
Software, installing Acroname, 202
Solder, methods for removing, 87
Sound devices, making noise with, 249
Source codes, converting programs to,
144–148
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Index
Source language, how PRP converts
programs to, 149
Sources, getting parts from other, 29–39
Stiquito, 5
Strategy, Iron, 262
Subroutines, creating, 142–143
T
TEA files, examining, 115–117
TEA, programming BrainStem using,
201–215
BrainStem modes, 201
downloading and launching
programs, 212–215
installing Acroname software, 202
steeping steaming cup of TEA,
210–212
writing TEA programs, 202–209
TEA programs for BrainStem, sample,
111–115
TEA programs, writing, 202–209, 215
chase.tea line by line, 205–209
sample TEA programs, 203–205
TEA (Tiny Embedded Applications), 200
Temperature sensors, 245
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Testers, cheap connection, 84
Timber, Project, 5–6
Toolbars, menus and, 132–133
Tools, BrainStem and Java, 230
V
Variable component, 133–134
Virtual machines, 210
Visor and PPRK, 18
Visor, Handspring, 17–18
W
Welded Warriors, 258
While component, 136–137
Windows, PRP, 127
Workspace, 141
Writing
converters, 149–153
TEA programs, 202–209, 215
Y
YADaleks+, 260–261
285
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