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Control Your Robot with an Atari-style Joystick
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This easy project does not require you to assemble a remote control circuit out of ICs and components, and it is perfect when you want to control five or fewer functions. It uses a wired Atari 2600-style joystick. Though the Atari 2600 hasn t been sold for a long time, joysticks for it are still common finds at surplus stores. The joystick is designed to work
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with the Atari 2600 game machine and all computers that accept Atari-type (switch contact) joysticks. It is not intended for use with the Apple II or IBM PC, which use potentiometer-type joysticks. (If you re lucky, you may find wireless Atari-style joysticks. These come in two parts: a transmitter and receiver.) Fig. 34.1 shows the functions of the pins on the joystick cable. To interface the joystick to your robot, wire the pins as shown in Fig. 34.2. You can interface to TTL or CMOS gates, but for any application where you want to drive heavy loads use relays or opto-isolators. An opto-isolator setup is shown in Fig. 34.2. You can connect the joystick to discrete circuitry or to a computer or microprocessor. For example, you can use a Basic Stamp (see Chap. 31, Using the Basic Stamp ) to translate the joystick movements to motor control. Pushing the joystick forward ( Up on the joystick) might makes both motors go forward. Pushing the joystick back (Down) might make both motors go backward, and so forth.
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Build a Joystick Teaching Pendant
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No doubt you ve been to Disneyland or other theme parks that use robotic or animatronic performers. These on-stage automatons are operated via a sophisticated computerized system that plays back the audio portion of the program and controls every movement or every robot on the stage. Walt Disney was one of the early pioneers of this art and science. Audioanimatronics, the system his WED (Walt Elias Disney) Enterprises group developed, used audio tones on recorded tape as the control medium. Animatronic shows are most commonly acted out by a human director who operates a joystick or other control in real time. As the sound portion of the program is played, the director moves the joystick to operate the various animatronic devices on stage. The movements of the joystick are recorded for later playback. This same concept is used in many kinds of manufacturing robots, whose actions are programmed not from the keyboard but from a teaching pendant, a controller that records the actions of a human operator. Using an ordinary joystick you can create your own teaching pendant for your robot (or animatron, if that s to your liking). For this next project, I ll use a common garden-variety IBM PC-style analog joystick, though you can apply the same techniques to any kind of joystick, analog or digital. IBM PC-style joysticks are inexpensive (mine cost $5) and
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Up N/C Left Down Right
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N/C Fire FIGURE 34.1 Pinout diagram for an Atari-style joystick.
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Facing connector end
BUILDING A JOYSTICK TEACHING PENDANT 537
+6vdc
+5vdc
Up N/C Left
Down Right R1 1K
R2 3.3K
Output
N/C Common
N/C Fire
FIGURE 34.2 How to interface the output of the joystick to TTL or CMOS circuitry.
available everywhere. The joystick teaching pendant controls the motors of a two-wheel robot. You can record and play back up to 30 seconds of commands. You can also use the joystick teaching pendant in free (no record or playback) mode, where you control the robot by manually pushing the stick. For the control electronics, we ll connect the joystick to a BasicX-24 microcontroller (see 32, Using the BasicX Microcontroller ) by way of a simple interface. The joystick interface, (see Fig. 34.3) shows how the joystick interface connects to the BX-24. The BX24 in turn connects to whatever motor control electronics you are using. See 18, Working with DC Motors, for more information on motor drive circuits for DC motors. IBM PC-style joysticks contain analog potentiometers; the resistive value of these pots changes as you move the joystick around. We actually won t be using the analog nature of the joystick for this project, but you can add this feature in your own if you wish. For example, instead of controlling the power and direction of the motors, you could rig the joystick so that the more you push on the stick, the faster the motor goes. Listing 34.1 provides the BX-24 code for the joystick teaching pendant.
This program requires the use of the SerialPort.Bas file, which is included with the BX24 developer s kit (and available for download at the BasicX site). When creating the project file for the joystick teaching pendant, be sure to include SerialPort.Bas as well.
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