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FIGURE 38.11 The Dinsmore 1490 digital compass provides simple bearings for a robot. The sensor is accurate to about 45 .
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FIGURE 38.12 Circuit diagram for using the Dinsmore 1490 digital compass. When used with a 5 vdc supply, the four outputs can be connected directly to a microcontroller. One or two outputs can be activated at a time; if two are activated, the sensor is reading between the four compass points (e.g., N and W outputs denotes NW position).
ULTRASONIC DISTANCE MEASUREMENT
Ultrasonic Distance Measurement
Police radar systems work by sending out a high-frequency radio beam that is reflected off nearby objects, such as your car as you are speeding down the road. The difference between the time when the transmit pulse is sent and when the echo is received denotes distance. Speed is calculated using the Doppler effect: the time between the sending pulse and echo increases or decreases proportionately depending on how fast you are going. Radar systems are complex and expensive, and most require certification by a government authority, such as the Federal Communications Commission for devices used in the United States. There is another approach: you can use high-frequency sound instead to measure distance, and with the right circuitry you can even provide a rough indication of speed. Ultrasonic ranging is, by now, an old science. Polaroid used it for years as an automatic focusing aid on their instant cameras. Other camera manufacturers have used a similar technique, though it is now more common to implement infrared ranging (covered later in the chapter). The Doppler effect that is caused when something moves toward or away from the ultrasonic unit is used in home burglar alarm systems. However, for robotics the more typical application of ultrasonic sound is either to detect proximity to an object (see Ultrasonic Wall Following, earlier in the chapter) or to measure distance (also called ultrasonic ranging). To measure distance, a short burst of ultrasonic sound usually at a frequency of 40 kHz for most ultrasonic ranging systems is sent out through a transducer (a specially built ultrasonic speaker). The sound bounces off an object, and the echo is received by another transducer (this one a specially built ultrasonic microphone). A circuit then computes the time it took between the transmit pulse and the echo and comes up with distance. Certainly, the popularity of ultrasonics does not detract from its usefulness in robot design. The system presented here is suited for use with a computer or microcontroller. There are a variety of ways to implement ultrasonic ranging. One method is to use the ultrasonic transducer and driver board from an old Polaroid instant camera, such as the Polaroid Sun 660 or the Polaroid SX-70 One Step. However, the driver board used in these cameras may require some modification to allow more than one ping of ultrasonic sound without having to cycle the power to the board off, then back on. More about this in a bit.You can also purchase a new Polaroid ultrasonic transducer and driver board from a number of mail order sources, including on the Internet. Several of these outlets are listed in Appendix B, Sources. These units are new, and most come with documentation, including hookup instructions for connecting them to popular microcontrollers, such as the Basic Stamp. Perhaps the most common Polaroid distance measuring kit is composed of the so-called 600 Series Instrument Grade transducer along with its associated Model 6500 Ranging Module. The transducer, which is about the size of a silver dollar coin, acts as both ultrasonic transmitter and receiver. Because only a single transducer is used, the Polaroid system as described in this section cannot detect objects closer than about 1.3 feet. This is because of the amount of time required for the transducer to stop oscillating before it sets itself up to receive. The maximum distance of the sensor is about 35 feet when used indoors, and a little less when used outdoors, especially on a windy day. The system is powered by a single 6-vdc battery pack and can be interfaced to any computer or microcontroller.
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