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INFRARED BEACON
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Unless you confine your robot to playing just within the laboratory, you ll probably want to provide it with a means to distinguish one room in your house from the next. This is particularly important if you ve designed the robot with even a rudimentary form of object and area mapping. This mapping can be stored in the robot s memory and used to steer around objects and avoid walls. For less than a week s worth of groceries, you can construct an infrared beacon system that your robot can use to determine when it has passed from one room to the next. You equip the robot with a receiver and place a transmitter in each room. The transmitters send out a unique code, which the robot interprets as a specific room. Once it has identified the room, it can retrieve the mapping information previously stored for it and use it to navigate through its surroundings. The beacon system that follows is designed around a set of television and VCR remote control chips sold by Holtek. The chips are reasonably inexpensive but can be difficult to find. The chips used in this project are HT12D and HT12E; I bought mine at Jameco (www.jameco.com, but you should check the Internet for other sources as well). You can, of course, use just about any wireless remote control system you desire. The only requirements are that you must be able to set up different codes for each transmitting
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1 2 GP2D12 3
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FIGURE 38.18 Basic connection diagram for the Sharp GP2D12 analog output infrared ranging sensor. The sensor is powered by 5 vdc.
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Distance
FIGURE 38.19 The output of the GP2D12 sensor is a voltage that changes as the distance between sensor and detected object varies. The output is not strictly linear, so when using the GP2D12 run some tests with objects placed a set distance apart.
station and that the system must work with infrared light. You ll experience too much interference if you use radio control or ultrasonics. You can connect the four-bit output of the HT-12D decoder IC to a microcontroller or computer. You will also want to connect the VD (valid data) line to a pin of your microcontroller or computer. When this line winks LOW, it means there is valid data on the four data lines. The value at the four data lines will coincide with the setting of the fourposition DIP switch on each transmitter.
RADIO FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION
Though a fairly old technology that dates back decades, radio frequency identification (RFID) uses small passive devices that radiate a digital signature when exposed to a radio frequency signal. RFID is found in products ranging from toys most notably the Star Wars Episode 1 action figures to trucking, farm animal inventories, automobile manufacturing, and more. A transmitter/receiver, called the interrogator or reader, radiates a low- or medium-frequency carrier RF signal. If it is within range, a passive (unpowered) or active (powered)
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detector, called a tag or transponder, re-radiates (or backscatters ) the carrier frequency, along with a digital signature that uniquely identifies the device. RFID systems in use today operate on several common RF bands, including a low-speed 100 150 kHz band and a higher 13.5 MHz band. The tag is composed of an antenna coil along with an integrated circuit. The radio signal provides power when used with passive tags, using well-known RF field induction principles. Inside the integrated circuit are decoding electronics and a small memory. A variety of data transmission schemes are used, including non-return-to-zero, frequency shift keying, and phase shift keying. Manufacturers of the RFID devices tend to favor one system over another for specific applications. Some data modulation schemes are better at long distances, for example. Different RFID tags have different amounts of memory, but a common device might provide for 64 to 128 bits of data. This is more than enough to serve as room-by-room or locale-by-locale beacons. The advantage RFID has over infrared beacons (see earlier in this chapter) is that the coverage of the RF signal is naturally limited. While this limitation can certainly be a disadvantage, when properly deployed it can serve as a convenient way to differentiate between different areas of a house s robotic work space. The average working distance between interrogator and tag is several feet, though this varies greatly depending on the power output of the interrogator. Units with higher RF power can be used over longer distances. For room-by-room robotics use, however, we actually prefer a limited range, which also means a less expensive system. While RFID systems are not complex, their cost is not quite in the super-affordable region (demonstration and developers kits are available from some manufacturers for $100 $200, and this includes the reader and an assortment of tags). However, once implemented RFID is a low-maintenance, long-term solution for helping your robot know where it is.
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