Off-work robot fun

February 26, 2009 by
Filed under: Communications, Robots 

As of late, I’ve been having loads of fun with an old robot of mine, Robby RP5. My biggest complaint at all times has been the fact that it has a horrible 8-bit processor with “some kind of” Basic interpreter/compiler that I never quite figured out because it is so boring and … well, let’s face it, you will never be able to do anything “wow” in a language that is more or less assembler having 4k flash and 256bytes ram where only some 60 bytes are actually available.

As of late, we’ve been having some fun with zigbee modules at work, and I figured out a way to have fun with my old Robby again. Robby has a serial port, and I’m connecting one zigbee module to that one, and on the other end I’ve got a zigbee module connected to my computer via USB. On the Robby processor, I got a very simple program that simply talks a protocol sent over the zigbee connection and “implementing” the commands sent in packets. There are 3 packets that can be sent, TrackData, SensorData and RequestData. TrackData packet sent from computer sets speed of both tracks individually, RequestData is sent from computer to Robby and contains a request for a packet back. The Request can either be TrackData or SensorData. SensorData contains data from all sensors supported (currently only IR range sensors).

My first demonstration program on the computer is connected to a joystick and simply transforms the joystick input and sends it to the robot. Pushing button 0 requests sensordata and 1 trackdata.

Right now, I’m looking at porting my robot drivers into the Player/Stage project which I’ve been looking heavily at as of late, and seems damn cool. I’ve been testing some of the example robots in the Stage simulator, and if I would port my setup into that project, I should be able to use the available robot “behavioural modules” straight on my robot, and/or test my new modules in a simulator before actually running in the real world. In all honesty, I think player/stage is the best thing I’ve ever found since sliced bread, it simply opens up for sooo much fun 🙂 . Connect this with a couple of zigbee modules, you can build very simple and cheap robots that are extremely powerful. 60ÃœSD robot chassis, 5USD processor, 10USD junk, 30USD for 2 zigbee modules, add some sensors, and you’ve got as much as you can ask for. Robby for example is around 110USD, probably much lower, a pair of zigbee modules are 30USD.

And yes, I will open this once I feel that I’m closer to finished :-).


4 Comments on Off-work robot fun

  1. Hassan on Tue, 13th Mar 2012 13:20
  2. Have you finished your work???
    I am currently stuck in such work too. i want to send some movements comands through zigbee and read them on other pc connected to an active media robot.
    Your help would be much appreciated

  3. Oskar Andreasson on Tue, 20th Mar 2012 14:01
  4. Hi Hassan,

    I put the project aside as I was really overworked and ran into a wall of problems with the communication. The programming language on the Robby is really limiting, but its sufficient to do what I tried to do… I just couldn’t get myself to finish it up. I hope to get some spare time in the upcoming months however, and will try my hands on it again.

    What is it that you want to do? The Zigbee modules are really simple to use in normal rs232 mode.

  5. Bart on Sat, 25th Jul 2015 15:55
  6. Hi Oscar, i kinda had the same idea when i recently found this robot lying around 🙂 I was wondering on what OS you can run the IDE that they provide with the robot.

  7. Oscar Andreasson on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 19:42
  8. Hi Bart,

    It runs mostly on windows platforms unfortunately so I really suggest getting something more modern to be honest. The robby rp5 is really really old by now, the rp6 is also old, and I’ve grown rather irritated by the development environment. I think I managed to get it running in Wine, but it was a pain…

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