vb.net barcode reader tutorial OWIKITS AND MOVITS in Software

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11.2.3 OWIKITS AND MOVITS
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The OWIKITS and MOVITS robots are precision-made miniature robots in kit form. A variety of models are available, including manual (switch) and microprocessor-based versions. The robots can be used as-is, or they can be modified for use with your own electronic systems. For example, the OWIKIT Robot Arm Trainer (model OWI007) is normally operated by pressing switches on a wired control pad. With just a bit of work, you can connect the wires from the arm to a computer interface (with relays, for example) and operate the arm via software control. For the most part, the kits can be fairly easily hacked but you will have to design your own motor drivers (which is an important point as will be discussed later in the chapter). The kit comes with an interesting dual motor that operates the left and right treads. Most of the OWIKITS and MOVITS robots come with preassembled circuit boards; you are expected to assemble the mechanical parts. Some of the robots use extremely small parts and require a keen eye and steady hand. The kits are available in three skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. If you re just starting out, try one or two kits in the beginner level.
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FIGURE 11-5 The Tamiya Bulldozer kit can be used as a lightweight robot platform.
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HACKING TOYS
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11.2.4 ROKENBOK
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Rokenbok toys are radio-controlled construction vehicles that take the form of both wheeled and tracked versions. Despite the European-sounding name, Rokenbok toys are made in the United States and have recently become available through mass-market retailers (the beginner s kit costs around $80). Each vehicle is controlled by a game controller; all the game controllers are connected to a centralized radio transmitter station. The Sony PlayStation-style controllers can be hacked and connected directly to the input/output (I/O) of a computer or microcontroller (similar to what is shown in 16). The transmitter station also has a connector for computer control, but as of this writing Rokenbok has not released the specifications or an interface for this port.
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11.3 Robots from Converted Vehicles
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Motorized toy cars, trucks, and tractors can make ideal robot platforms with an afternoon s or evening s work they can be modified to run under switch remote control or computer control, as will be shown in this section. The least expensive radio-controlled cars have a single drive motor and a separate steering servo or solenoid mechanism. Despite what many people think, they can be fairly easily modified into robots although the car-type steering gives them less agility (i.e., the ability to literally turn on a dime) than a tracked vehicle. When hacking these vehicles, care must be taken to ensure you understand how steering is accomplished and you will have to go through the circuitry to ensure that your computer control can drive it. Most radio- and wire-controlled tractor vehicles or simple toys with differential drives are well suited for conversion into a robot. You will have to strip off the vehicle s body and probably modify the electronics that come with the robot as well as add some of your own. Turning a robot by changing the direction of wheels or tracks does produce a lot of drag; when modifying these toys into robots it is important to keep the weight of the modifications as low as possible. When considering a vehicle for hacking into a robot, look at how it is powered and consider whether or not it is appropriate small remote controlled cars that run off a single 1.2 V NiMH battery can be modified into a microcontroller controlled robot, but some work will be required to add a boost power supply for the microcontroller as well as a fairly comprehensive review of the drive electronics to ensure that the correct current is passed to the motor drivers. When you are doing this for the first time, it is easier to select a toy that is powered by three or four AA cells. Another option is to use two small motorized vehicles (mini four-wheel-drive trucks are perfect), remove the wheels on opposite sides, and mount them on a robot platform. Your robot uses the remaining wheels for traction. Each of the vehicles is driven by a single motor, but since you have two vehicles (see Fig. 11-6), you still gain independent control of both wheel sides. The trick is to make sure that, whatever vehicles you use, they are the same exact type. Variations in design (motor, wheel, etc.) will cause your robot to crab to one side as it attempts to travel a straight line. The reason: the motor in one vehicle will undoubtedly run a little slower or faster than the other, and the speed differential will cause your robot to veer off course.
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