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RELATING SIMULATIONS TO THE REAL WORLD
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FIGURE 17.11 simulated robot.
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A real-world robot emulating RobotBASIC s
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If you don t want to use a camera for beacon detection, you could use circuitry similar to that described for the infrared perimeter sensors described above. Both the emitter and the detector would need some form of lens to make them more directional and to increase the operating distance. You might even consider experimenting with an old television remote control as the transmitter. As you can see, even though you might have to create your own beacon detection system there are many options. Perhaps Parallax or some other vendor will offer such a sensor in the future. An ideal kit would come with a detector and several infrared beacons that the robot can individually turn on and off by remote control. Such a system would put realistic navigation within the budgets of most hobbyists. Figures 17.11 and 17.12 show our prototype for a real-world robot with capabilities similar to our simulation. Figure 17.11 shows a camera on top, the ultrasonic sensor and
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EB500 Bluetooth tranceiver
FIGURE 17.12 simulation.
Another view of a real world version of our
its turret on the front, and the line sensors underneath. Notice the breadboards for prototyping circuits. Figure 17.12 shows another view of the robot. In this case, the camera has been replaced with Parallax s EB500 Bluetooth transceiver to allow direct control from RobotBASIC (more on this later). 17.2.10 PRACTICAL CONSIDERATION Even though parts are available to allow you to create a real-world version of our simulation there are potential problems that should be mentioned. Every motor and sensor needs one or more input/output (I/O) pins on the robot s microcontroller. Most controllers have a very limited number of I/O pins available. You could use only a couple of sensors at a time and change them based on the experiments or applications you are pursuing. This is relatively easy to do if you utilize breadboards like those shown on our robot. If you want to keep all of your sensors connected
RELATING SIMULATIONS TO THE REAL WORLD
so they can be used together, you could multiplex the I/O pins (more on this later) or even link several processors together, greatly increasing the number of I/O lines available. Parallax s BS2 microcontroller can easily exchange data with other BS2s using their built-in serial communication capabilities. With multiple controllers available, each could be given speci c tasks such as controlling the motors, gathering sensory information, managing a wireless link, and so on. Of course that complicates the programming required to construct a real robot, which emphasizes just how valuable a simulation can be for those wanting to learn how to program a robot. With RobotBASIC you have all of the sensors most people could imagine, and they are available to be used and experimented with immediately. Another advantage of using a multiprocessor system on your robot is speed. Since each processor is dedicated to speci c tasks, they could constantly read data from the sensors (instead of waiting for it to be requested by the main processor). When the distance to a distant object is needed, the processor could use the most recent data available instead of waiting for the ultrasonic sensor to perform its task. This technique would not be wise for sensitive sensors such as bumpers, infrared, and line detection, but it can be very advantageous for time-consuming sensors like the camera or ultrasonic ranging, especially since the data obtained from these sensors changes relatively slowly over time. Another problem with the Parallax hardware we used for our real-world prototype is that both the camera and the EB-500 communication module are designed to t into the same socket on the Boe-Bot s main BS2 carrier board (see Figs. 17.11 and 17.12). This means that you can only use one of these items at a time unless you create a custom cable or expansion board. If you do decide to utilize a multiprocessor system as described above, you could use two carrier boards, thus giving you sockets for both the camera and the EB500. Both controllers could then communicate with each other and with other controllers, should they be required for your sensory needs.
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