vb.net barcode reader from webcam RELATING SIMULATIONS TO THE REAL WORLD in Software

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17.2 Constructing a Robot
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Many companies offer a wide variety of hardware and kits that make building a robot easier than ever before. Many hobbyists, however, often want to build their own robots, or at the very least, signi cantly enhance the functionality of a basic kit. RobotBASIC s robot has been designed to have sensors and instruments that simulate ones that could actually be built or affordably purchased by a typical hobbyist. Nowadays, there are many companies offering sensors, but many specialize in only a few items. One company that we had purchased items from over the years truly stands out. This company is Parallax, Inc. Not only do they offer a wide variety of both robot kits and sensors, they also share our educational views that students of all ages can bene t from courses and projects involving robots. You can certainly use parts from any source to create a robot that emulates RobotBASIC s simulated robot, but since Parallax offers virtually all of the sensors we have on our robot, we will discuss their kits and sensors as the primary basis for constructing a real-world version of our simulated robot. Another reason we chose Parallax is that they provide a wealth of documentation (spec sheets, program listings, application notes, discussion forums, and more) on their web site to help you utilize their products effectively. This allows the discussions in this chapter to be general in nature. If you need more help, visit the Parallax web site (www.parallax.com) and also refer to the list of resources at the end of this chapter. Parallax offers an educational robot kit called Boe-Bot (see Fig. 17.1). It has two servopowered wheels and one caster, all mounted on a rectangular body. It comes with an easily programmable microcontroller (BASIC Stamp 2 [BS2]) and enough parts to give anyone a good introduction to robotics. A detailed manual outlines a series of experiments that
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FIGURE 17.1
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Boe-Bot educational robot kit.
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are very helpful and informative. The Boe-Bot can easily serve as the basis for our realworld robot even though the basic kit does not have all the functions provided by our simulation. The photograph in Fig. 17.1 as well as others in this chapter that depict Parallax products are courtesy of Parallax, Inc. The discussions that follow, offer suggestions for customizing the Boe-Bot to enhance its abilities. Remember, our simulated robot has all the sensory capability most hobbyists would ever want on a mobile robot. Use the simulator to determine what you would like the robot to do and to establish what capabilities it needs to accomplish your target project. When you are ready to build a real robot you can purchase only the sensors you need for the projects you wish to do. Furthermore, if you have utilized the simulator effectively, you can feel con dent that the money you spend on the hardware project will result in an operational robot with the desired capabilities. 17.2.1 WHEEL AND BASE ASSEMBLY RobotBASIC s simulated robot is a circular robot (no corners to hook things) that can turn around its center. This movement has the advantage of allowing the robot to turn within its footprint without having to worry about bumping objects around it. Since the robot is round and rotates around its center, if it is not in contact with an object before it turns, it will not hit an object as it turns. The robot in the Boe-Bot kit has two side-by-side wheels and one caster to keep the robot from tipping. If both wheels turn in the same direction at the same speed the robot will move forward (or backward). If one wheel turns forward while the other turns backward, the robot will rotate around its center. In order to generate the motions described above, each wheel has its own motor. We could have successfully used DC motors, stepper motors, or servomotors but both DC and stepper motors require external drive circuitry. Servomotors (similar to those used in model airplanes) are easy to control with digital logic because the drive-circuitry is built into the servo itself. This is the type of motor supplied with the kit.
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Standard servomotors have a xed range of motion and are not suitable for driving the wheels of a mobile robot. Servos that can rotate continuously can be purchased from Parallax or standard servos can be modi ed.
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The width of the pulses sent to Boe-Bot s servo drive motors control the speed of each wheel. You can control how far the robot moves or turns by controlling the number of pulses sent to each wheel. This is an open-loop feedback system though, that does not guarantee that the wheels have moved the desired amount. One servo, for example, might be more ef cient than the other and turn slightly more even when given the same number of pulses. The Parallax documentation explains how to calibrate the servos so they can operate together, but some error is to be expected. You should consider adding Parallax s wheel encoders (they easily mount on the BoeBot chassis and provide pulses to the BS2 that indicate how far the wheels have turned) so that the robot can be positioned more accurately. The stock encoders can only resolve the robot s movement to about in of linear wheel travel, but adding a custom re ecting disk to the wheels could improve on this limitation.
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