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Using the OOPic to Control a Servo Motor
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Though R/C servo motors are intended to be used in model airplanes, boats, and cars, they are equally useful for robotics applications. Servo motors are inexpensive basic models cost under $15 each and they combine in one handy package a DC motor, a gearbox, and control electronics. The typical servo motor is designed to rotate 180 (or slightly more) in order to control the steering wheel on a model car or the flight control surfaces on an R/C airplane. For robotics, a servo can be connected to an armature to operate a gripper, to an arm or leg, and to just about anything else you can imagine.
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SERVO MOTORS: IN REVIEW
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Let s review the way servos operate so we can better understand how you can interface them to the OOPic. An R/C servo consists of a reversible DC motor. The high-speed output of the motor is geared down by a series of cascading reduction gears that can be made out of plastic, nylon, or metal (usually brass, but sometimes aluminum). The output shaft of the servo is connected to a potentiometer, which serves as the closed-loop feedback mechanism. A control circuit in the servo uses the potentiometer to accurately position the output shaft. Servos use a single pulse width modulated (PWM) input signal that provides all the information needed to control the positioning of the output shaft. The pulse width varies from a nominal 1.25 milliseconds (ms) to roughly 1.75 ms, with 1.5 milliseconds representing the center (or neutral) position of the servo output shaft (note that servo specs vary; these are typical). Lengthening the pulse width causes the servo to rotate in one direction; shortening the pulse width causes the servo to rotate in the other direction. The position of the potentiometer acts to null out the input pulses, so when the output shaft reaches the correct location the motor stops. R/C servos are engineered to accept a standard TTL-level signal, which typically comes from a receiver mounted inside a model car or plane. The OOPic can interface directly to an R/C servo and requires no external components such as power transistors.
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CONTROLLING SERVOS VIA OOPIC CODE
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You can theoretically control up to 31 servos with one OOPic one servo per IO line. However, the more practical maximum is no more than 8 to 10 servos. The reason: Servos require a constant stream of pulses, or else they cannot accurately hold their position. The ideal pulse stream is at 30 to 60 Hz, which means that to operate properly each servo
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USING THE OOPIC TO CONTROL A SERVO MOTOR
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connected to the OOPic must be updated 30 to 60 times per second. The OOPic is engineered to provide pulses at 30-Hz intervals; with more than about eight servos the refresh rate is reduced to 15 Hz. While most servos will still function with this slow refresh rate, a kind of throbbing can occur if the motor is under load. Some robotic projects call for controlling a half-dozen or more servos, such as the sixlegged Hexapod II from Lynxmotion (which requires 12 servos working in tandem). However, the typical experimental robot uses only two or four servos. The OOPic is ideally suited for this task, and programming is easy. To operate a servo, you need only provide a few lines of setup code, then indicate the position of the servo using a positioning value from 0 to 63. This value corresponds to the 0 180 movement of the servo output shaft. With 64 steps the OOPic is able to position a servo with 2.8 of accuracy. This assumes a maximum rotation of 180 , which not all servos are capable of. Note that if you need greater resolution than this you can make use of the OOPic s built-in pulse width modulation object, which can be programmed to provide your servos with far greater positional accuracy. However, for most applications, the OOPic s servo object provides adequate resolution and is easier to use. Listing 33.1 shows a program written in the OOPic s native Basic syntax and demonstrates how to control an R/C servo using the oServo object. Fig. 33.5 shows how to connect the servo to the OOPic.
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