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Of course, you will have to create RobotBASIC subroutines that replace all the commands and functions of the simulator in a manner similar to how we translated code for the BS2 earlier in this chapter. But, before you consider doing this, there is a better option still. 17.3.4 CONTROL BY A REMOTE PC WIRELESSLY USING AN INBUILT PROTOCOL You have seen how easy it is to control our simulated robot using the commands and functions of RobotBASIC. Wouldn t it be great if you could use these very same commands to control a real robot You can do this with the built-in protocol provided in RobotBASIC (version 2.0.1 and up). The protocol provided follows the same principles discussed in the previous section, but instead of having to use raw serial communication commands such as SerIn and SerOut, you can use the very same commands the simulator uses. You can say rForward 10 and the command will generate the necessary communications to make a properly prepared real robot execute the command as discussed above. You do need to make the simulator know when to use the simulated robot and when to use the real robot. This is easily achieved using a special command. When you issue the command rCommPort portNumber, the RobotBASIC programming environment enters the nonsimulated mode and starts operating via the serial communications medium to control a real robot. Once in the nonsimulated mode, the commands rForward and rTurn no longer animate the on-screen simulation. Instead, they automatically send data to the serial port (either real or virtual) identi ed by portNumber (see the RobotBASIC help le or Sec. D.6 for more information). The data sent from the PC consists of an ID (identi cation) code indicating the action to be taken and a second byte in the form of an integer, indicating the amount to move or the amount to turn. You can connect the serial port speci ed to any radio transceiver with serial I/O or you can use a Bluetooth adapter. Most Bluetooth USB adapters provide a virtual serial port option so they can be an easy solution, especially since Parallax offers a Bluetooth BoeBot that handles the wireless communication using their EB500 module. The important point here is that this option is very exible. You can create any type of communication link using nearly any transceivers you wish. At the robot end, you will need another compatible transceiver, of course, that is able to communicate with the robot s processor. When the robot s processor receives the data from RobotBASIC it needs to call appropriate subroutines based on the ID code. It is your responsibility to write these subroutines so that they perform the requested functions. If the data received, for example, is the ID for forward and the parameter was ve, then your subroutine must command your robot s motors so that your robot moves forward 5 units. It is important to realize that you must write these subroutines because they must be custom designed for your hardware. Only you know what type of motors you have and how they are interfaced to your robot s controller. Of course, if you are a member of a club or classroom and everyone is building the same robot, then you can share your routines. Typically though, the hardware-level subroutines for controlling your robot must be designed speci cally for your hardware.
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The subroutines you write for TURN and FORWARD have another responsibility beyond that of moving the robot. After they have commanded the motors to create the requested movement, they must read the line sensors, the infrared sensors, and the bumpers. This data (3 bytes) must be sent back to RobotBASIC via the serial port or radio link (again, see the help les for more information). Actually the amount of data sent back to RobotBASIC is always 5 bytes in order to provide consistency. The additional 2 bytes are required in some commands [e.g., rLook()] where data has to be returned in addition to the status of the above three sensors. When these 2 bytes are not required, they must be set to 0 and sent anyway. The reason for this is to make the number of bytes received and sent back the same for all the commands. This makes for a simpler and faster communications protocol on both the microcontroller and in RobotBASIC. The protocol requires that the robot using this protocol always expects to get 2 bytes from RobotBASIC and always send back 5 bytes. If your robot does not have bumpers or infrared or line sensors, it must send 0 as values for the bytes. RobotBASIC will store the sensor values received in a buffer and supply them to your programs when requested by the functions, rSense(), rFeel(), and rBumper(). This gives you tremendous exibility. Let s look at an example. Assume for a moment that a robot you are building does not have line sensors but does have some form of custom sensor. You can implement your sensor and have your robot s controller send the appropriate data back for that sensor in the proper position (the third byte) in the 5 bytes always returned to RobotBASIC. Anytime you use the rSense() function it will return the value for your custom sensor. Even though the simulated rSense() provides only 3 bits of data, the real-world version provides all of the bits sent back from the robot when the function is used. This is also true for rFeel() and rBumper(). This lets you provide many custom features on your real-world robot. You could, for example, easily let your robot have eight bumper sensors since the data returned is an 8-bit byte. Notice that each time the robot is commanded to move, it sends back sensory data. This back-and-forth handshaking is very important because the transceivers must know when to transmit and when to listen or they can get out of sync. This methodology also speeds the communication process because no additional transmissions are necessary to request the standard sensory data (line, infrared, and bumper). There are several more RobotBASIC statements that communicate over the serial link when the rCommPort mode has been invoked. In order to make the communication ef cient, each of these commands will perform as requested and then return 5 bytes. If all of the bytes are not needed, then 0s are sent in the unused bytes. Unless otherwise speci ed, the unused bytes are at the end of the transmission. These bytes cannot be omitted even though they are unused because RobotBASIC will be expecting them. See Sec. D.6 for additional details on the protocol. The table in Fig. 17.20 shows the two commands discussed earlier as well as the remaining sensory functions and summarizes their functionality. To create consistency, all of these commands will send an ID and a second byte even if no parameters are required. Some simulator commands such as rTurn are sent to the robot as two versions (turn left and turn right). This allows a full range of 360 to be handled with a single byte of data. If you use the command rTurn 350 in the simulator, RobotBASIC would automatically order the robot to turn left 10 , and if you say rTurn 350 a 10 right turn is commanded.
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