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32.5.1 ROBOT VIEW DIGITAL CAMERA
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If a live full-motion video system seems too much for you, a small digital camera (like the one shown in Fig. 32-10) can be added to a robot very easily. This camera was bought
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FIGURE 32-10 A small, inexpensive digital camera can be mounted to and controlled by your robot very easily.
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ROBOT VISION
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for under $20 at a local Radio Shack and can store 32 pictures at its highest resolution (640 by 480 pixels, or VGA resolution), and the pictures can be downloaded to a PC using a USB port. Depending on the camera and robot, you may have to modify the camera to take pictures under computer control, but this should not be a significant amount of work. The camera mount on the robot can be a bit tricky. You will have to make sure that the camera lens has an unobstructed view before it, the battery compartment must be accessible as well as the USB interface. You will also have to provide access to the controls and shutter release on the camera. The camera s buttons can either be electronically controlled (the interface follows) or physically pressed using a radio control servo controlled by the robot. In either case, the camera mounting will have to be designed around all these interfaces and apertures. The prototype camera shown in Fig. 32-10 had a control button to place the camera in a specific mode (depending on the number of times it was pressed). This button did not seem to work reliably enough for an electronic control or a servo actuator it seemed to take a different number of presses to get the camera into a specific mode (as indicated by an LCD display on the front of the camera). The decision was made to set the camera to a specific mode before sending the robot out on a photographic mission. Along with this simplification of the control interface, the decision was made to mount the camera to the front of a robot using two-sided tape. There did not seem to be an easy solution to hard mounting the camera and allowing access to the various controls and parts of the camera except by mounting the camera by its back to the robot. The camera s shutter release was controlled electronically using the circuit shown in Fig. 32-11 (parts list in Table 32-3). To access the switch connections, a rotary tool was used to cut away the plastic case on the back side, and the transistor s collector and emitter were soldered across the switch s terminals. To find the negative connection of the switch to wire
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2N3904
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FIGURE 32-11 Electronic shutter release control for a robot-mounted digital camera.
32.5 INTRODUCTION TO VIDEO VISION SYSTEMS
TABLE 32-3 Q1 R1 Misc.
Parts List for Robot Digital Camera 2N3904 NPN transistor 10k resistor Wiring, soldering iron, solder
the transistor s collector to, use a DMM to find the button lead that is connected directly to the negative battery connection. When a high voltage is applied to the Shutter Control line, the NPN transistor will turn on and pull the high side of the switch to ground. The PBASIC instruction to take a picture was the simple statement:
PULSOUT Pin, 100
which holds down the shutter release for 100 ms or 0.1 s, which was adequate for the camera that was used. If you do not feel comfortable opening up the camera body and probing to identify the negative button lead, you can use a servo with a long arm on it to press the camera s shut-
FIGURE 32-12 Photograph taken from a robot with the camera shown in Fig. 32-10 mounted on its front. The perspective could be described as a mouse s point of view.
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