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17.11.2 ZENER/COMPARATOR BATTERY MONITOR
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A microprocessor-compatible battery monitor is shown in Fig. 17-15 (refer to the parts list in Table 17-3). This monitor uses a 5.1-V quarter-watt zener as a voltage reference for a 339 quad comparator IC. Only one of the comparator circuits in the IC is used; you are free to use any of the remaining three for other applications. The circuit is set to trip when the voltage sags below the (approximate) 5-V threshold of the zener (in my test circuit the comparator tripped when the supply voltage dipped to under 4.5 V). When this happens, the output of the comparator immediately drops to 0 V. Note that the outputs of the 339 are open collector; R2 pulls up the output so a voltage change can be observed.
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17.11.3 USING A BATTERY MONITOR WITH A MICROPROCESSOR
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You can usually connect battery monitors to a microprocessor or microcontroller input. When in operation, the microprocessor is signaled by the interrupt when the LED is triggered. Software running on the computer interprets the interrupt as low battery; quick get a recharge. The robot can then place itself into nest mode, where it seeks out its own battery charger. If the charger terminals are constructed properly, it s possible for the robot to plug itself in. Fig. 17-16 shows a simplified flowchart illustrating how this might work.
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17.12 A Robot Testing Power Supply
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In the previous editions of this book, a great deal of space and effort was devoted to creating a power supply to eliminate the need for supplying the needs of a robot from a battery during development and testing. The circuit rectified and regulated 110 V AC from a household wall socket to +5 V using a 7805. This circuit replicated the capabilities of the logic power supply already built into the robot but probably did not provide enough current to drive the robot s motors. In this edition, a step back is taken with a look at a more practical and easier method of powering a robot on a bench or during development by using commonly available wall wart or laptop power supplies.
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17.12 A ROBOT TESTING POWER SUPPLY
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Time Out (Wait XX Minutes to Next Read of Monitor Circuit)
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No Is Battery Low
Activate Floor Tape Sensors; Look for Tape
Tape Found
Follow to End
Nest Charger at End
No Back up
Make Connection and Charge
FIGURE 17-16 Software can be used to command the robot to return to its battery recharger nest should the battery exceed a certain low point.
BATTERIES AND ROBOT POWER SUPPLIES
Wall wart is the term used by most people to describe wall-mounted AC/DC power converters to provide power to a variety of different tasks, from powering boom boxes, to toys and game systems, to telephones and other appliances. Chances are you have a number around the house left over from electronic devices that no longer work or have been lost. They can probably be adapted to power your robot s electronics and even motors (if they can produce enough current) with no modifications. Even if you don t, one can be picked up at a local convenience store for just a couple of dollars. The important feature to look for in these power supplies is that they have a power plug on them rather than a phono plug. A phono plug is a single shaft of metal, with multiple connections built into it at different intervals and was originally designed for providing headphone connections to a radio or other audio device. A stereo headset phono plug will have a tip that is separate from a metal band just after it and the main body of the shaft. A power plug consists of a hollow barrel that has a power connection on the inside separate from the one on the outside. The phono plug can be used for providing power, but you will find that there is some arcing or sparks when the plug is inserted or withdrawn. The power plug does not cause arcing or sparks when plugged in or withdrawn from the socket because there is no opportunity for the positive voltage and ground to be shorted together as is shown in Fig. 17-17. When the plug is inserted, the center hole, which provides positive voltage, comes into contact with the central post of the socket and the outside ground connection contacts a metal wiper. The size of a power plug is determined by the diameter or the central post of the plug 2.5 mm is probably the most common size used. Note that in Fig. 17-17, the negative voltage from the battery passes through a metal connection to the ground wiper, which is disconnected when the plug is inserted. Using this feature will allow the battery to be kept in the robot while external power is being provided. Looking around, you will find that the most current the typical wall wart power supply can provide is about 800 mA. This is probably not going to be adequate for larger robots.
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