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Q: What is the actual difference in the TA, PA, and XU robot kits?
A: The TA, PA, and XU robot kits ALL have the same parts; they are just in different stages of the building process.
TA stands for Totally Assembled and means the product is totally assembled, tested & ready to use.
PA stands for Partially Assembled and means the robot's microcontroller is assembled, tested and ready to use, but you still have to assemble the rest of the kit (and do the hacks).
XU stands for eXpert Unassembled and means the product is totally unassembled, you have to do everything.
Q: What should I use, a Pic or HC11 microcontroller?
A: Although the PIC is a little easier to use, it is limited in expansion and programming capabilities. An HC11 micro, such as the MTJPRO11 with IC and PROGO (Mekatronix language for beginners), is far superior in I/0, sensing and control capabilities and allows you to greatly expand your base robot or microcontroller application with sophisticated programs and additional sensors and motors.
Q: How does the MRC11 compare with H.board?
A: When connected to the MRSX01sensor expansion board, the MRC11 allows you to control two DC motors with H-bridge motor controllers (more robust than the H.Board) and two servos with male headers on the board for easy connection (not available on the H.Board). The MRSX01 supplies 24 multiplexed analog inputs, with 2 unused, memory-mapped output select lines and 4 unused, memory-mapped input select lines for connecting input and output devices. The MRSX01 provides a recharge circuit to recharge NiCd batteries, a 5-bit and a 4-bit digital-to-analog-to-digital conversion units. These conversions are non-linear, but unique. For example, a 5-bit digital input will produce a unique 8 bit number which, if desired, can be converted to the same 5-bit input. Essentially, one analog port serves as a 5-bit digital input port. The same description applies to the 4-bit digital-analog-to-digital conversion unit. The MRSX01 also has an 8-bit digital output register whose outputs can be modulated at 40KHz to modulate Infrared LEDs or other devices. A socket allows you to place current limiting resistors or short circuits in series with the register's 8 outputs. A jumper permits you to use this 8-bit output register with or without 40KHz modulation.
The combined MRC11 and MRSX01 boards make a powerful combination hard to beat especially since it cost $100 less than the H.Board.
Q: How does the robot (or microcontroller) connect to my computer?
A: The robot (or microcontroller) actually connects to the MB2325 which, in turn, connects to your PC's serial port. If your serial port is a 9 pin, you will also need a 9 pin to 25 pin cable.
Talrik Jr. & Talrik Jr Pro Robots:
Q: What is the difference between the Talrik Jr (TJ) and the Talrik Jr Pro?
A: The only difference is the microcontroller (the robot's onboard computer). The TJ uses a single chip microcontroller (MSCC11E2) while the TJ Pro uses a complete microcontroller system (MTJPRO11). Both are very sophisticated robots, but the TJ Pro has more memory and more expansion capability.
Q: What robot platform should I use to teach to my middle school and high school students?
A: I sugggest the TJ Pro, which is the most flexible of the robots. (It is being used with students from 11 to 24 years old). This robot can be used at many levels of complexity. (The sequence of 9
articles written by Professor Doty in Tech Directions (Sept. 98 through May 99) will
give you a good idea about the tremendous range of educational options you have available with the TJ Pro (mechanics,electronics, computer programming, control, physics, biology, psychology, etc).
Q: What robot software should I use to teach to my middle school and high school students?
A: I suggest you use the PROGO robot programming language. PROGO is easy to use and can be learned quickly. Students program immediately and get instant feedback through the action of a real autonomous mobile robot. There is no delay between learning and application. The syntax is easy to grasp and apply. (By the time the students have written several example programs they have covered
all the syntax!) The program is written on top of C, but hides all the funky stuff that makes C a difficult beginning programming language. The fun thing for the students is they get ACTION feedback when they make a mistake or write something successfully. An added advantage is that students can intermingle C commands at will, so you can easily migrate the programs to C.
Q: If I wish to add more sensors to the TJ Pro Robot, will I have to purchase special sensors or can I add any kind I wish?
A: For the five available analog outputs you can place any sensor you chose as long as it meets the voltage-current requirements of the analog input port. Each port is serviced by a 3-wire header. One pin supplies your sensor with 5 volts and a second ground. The third pin should be your sensor output which should never exceed +5 volts and never go below ground. Signals out of that range can destroy the analog input port. Any signal going below ground can be extremely damaging.
Q: What behaviors does the A.I. program learn?
A: It learns to avoid colliding with objects. You can dynamically output the Q-learning matrix on the host computer through a serial connection if you'd like.
Q: What is the difference between PROICED01 and PROCCED02?
A: PROICED01 works with Interactive C (IC) which cannot control all robot
enhancements. PROCCED02 uses a C-Compiler and allows you to control all resources
and enhancements (Argos Pan-tilt head with sonar or color camera, for
example) of the robot. Both contain examples ranging from the elementary operation of one motor to animat.c which programs the robot to perform several behaviors sequentially (avoid, attract,
& control with IR).
Q: What is the physical size of the MSCC11
A: 2.35 inches by 2.35 inches.
Q: On the servo, there are three wires, which wire is which?
A: The one for signal is the lightest color wire, followed by power then the darkest is ground.
Q: What kind of glue should I use on the ABS plastic robot body?
A: Any CA (cyanoacrylate) type glue, super glue, Zap-A-Gap, Jet-CA these are
available at most hardware or model shops . Do Not use a solvent based glue,
since the parts are ABS plastic and immune to most solvents.
Q: I'm having downloading problems. Both MB2325 diodes stay on all the time; reset does nothing, what's wrong?
A: Diode D2 should not be on. D1 should go on when you plug the MB2325 into
your PC. With the micro in download mode, as long as you press the reset
button, D2 lights. When you release the reset button, D2 goes off. During
program execution, if you have IO, both lights will often be on.
Q: I'm having downloading problems, downloading begins to my TJ PRO in ICC11 but then stops part of the way through, what's wrong?
A: Possible sCause: Dirty chip from dirt, air pollution, finger oils etc. Solution: remove 68HC11 chip with a PLCC puller and clean the contacts on the sides of the chip by wiping the contacts gently with a cloth wet with rubbing alcohol or simular mild solvent. Carefully replace the
chip in the socket making sure the cut corner on the chip lines up with the cut corner on the socket.
Q: How can I get the MB2325 Comm board to work on my laptop with my serial cable?
A: Consider the following:
1. Be sure your COM1 port is set up correctly: 8 data bits, 1 Stop Bit, No
parity, 9600 baud, no flow of control.
2. The serial cable that connects the PC to the MB2325 communications board
may be a null- modem connection (printer cable). This will not work as it reverses the
connection of the serial transmit and receive lines. Make sure your serial
cable is a regular modem cable.
3. For normal operation of the MB2325:
- Connect the correct serial cable between the PC and the MB2325.
- Connect the 6-wire serial cable between the MB2325 and the TJ Pro robot.
- Assuming the PC is operating, turn the ROBOT power to ON.
a) Press the RESET button on the robot and release. Now, is the LED D1 ON
and the LED D2 OFF with the above connections?
b) When you hold the reset switch down, does LED D2 come on and stay lit
until you release the RESET button on the robot?
If the answer is yes to both a) and b), the MB2325 board is working properly.
If LED D1 does not light, that means your PC will not supply power to the
MB2325 board. Some laptops will not furnish power to the COM port unless it
is actually sending data. Such laptops will not work with the MB2325 unless
you can disable that feature in software (some can, some can't)
If LED D1 lights, but D2 is also on. Press robot RESET. D2 should go out
when you release the robot RESET button.
If D2 does not light up when you press RESET on the robot, reverse the
6-wire connection at one end only and try RESET again. D2 should light when
RESET is down and go off when RESET is released.
Q: I'm interested in a microcontroller board full of features, with the capability of allowing me to download my programs to EEPROM once they are developed (not just SRAM), and I also want to be able to connect to it with my computer through an RS-232 serial port connector for downloading programs. I'm wondering what product or combination of your products would be best for the task. Your MTJPRO11 board looks like it has all the I/O I'd need, but it looks like it only has SRAM. It would be very helpful if you could give me some advice, as I'm considering purchasing microcontroller hardware for a robotics project and your boards look like the best ones.
A: As you imply, you will want SRAM while developing your program. On the MTJPRO11, we provide for a memory save feature with battery backup. Depending upon your EEPROM application, RAM with battery backup may be an adequate replacement. The battery backup is good for several hours without recharging For our robots this works fine.
Another microcontroller, the MRC11 allows you to split 64K of memory between RAM and ROM (32K each). Once you have your program debugged and in final form, you could store burn it into the ROM. If you can find an EEPROM with pin compatibility, you could replace the ROM with it. However, to get IO you would need to get the companion card, the MRSX01. These two boards together provide an extremely versatile controller with lots of IO.
Q: Does the MRC11 mated with the MRSX01 offer anything more than 8 digital outputs? I'm asking this because a robot that can see all but do little isn't worth much, and I'm looking into your microcontroller for a robotics project where I'd like to use many devices with digital outputs like stepper motors, LEDs, etc, (in addition to sensors, of course), but I like your PWM outputs because (if I'm reading this correctly) you have the hardware to do it, and I wouldn't have to eat up processor time in my program with it.
A: In addition to the 8-bit digital output port, the IO Header supplies to digital output select lines OS2 and OS3 as well as two digital input select lines IS2 and IS3. These select memory addresses FFBA and FFBB (Motorola IO is memory mapped). Externally, you can hardwire an 8-bit register to be enabled by each select line, yielding an addition of 16bits of output and 16bits of input.
(Refer to the TALRIK Assembly Manual and the TALRIK Users Manual for more details. These can be downloaded free.) I recommend using the PWM of DC motors over steppers in wheel drives. Steppers are power hogs. In other situations, steppers may prove superior, but, again, power is a concern.
Q: How much soldering does the intermediate Talrik II kit (TALRIKPA) require?
A: If you purchase the Talrikpa (circuit boards assembled & tested), the soldering job is roughly as follows for the wiring:
12 three wire cables, 6 soldering points, 3 at each end for a total of 72 solder joints.
35 two wire cables, 4 soldering points for 140 more. Odd solder job here and there. Total around 225 or so solder points.
Q: When using the 115kbps high-speed downloader on my new computer, I sometimes get a "Bootload failure (acknowledge mismatch)". Also, when using the slow PCBug11 downloader I get failures also.
A: It seems that on some Win95 computers the serial port is either in conflict with other peripherals or is being interrupted by another process. So far there is no clear solution for this other than possibly creating a hardware profile in Win95 that shuts down all extra cards and peripherals (this would require re-booting every time to use the HSSDL11. If you use the auto-download feature on the HSSDL11 then every time you press the reset button it will download the program (this makes
trying multiple downloads almost painless). For using PCBug11 without errors you'll probably have to re-boot under DOS.
Q: I used the BUFFALO MONITOR to test the ME11 board memory using the command BF (block fill memory). The memory on the ME11 board could only fill from the address 8000 to CFFF (equivalent to 20K not 32k). What's wrong?
A: It sounds like your buffalo and your SRAM are conflicting. You have several options:
1. Disable Buffalo and the onchip memory and use PCBUG11 to do downloading and debuging. This will free up all of the SRAMs 32K
2. Place an inverter in the PB7 line going from the HC11 to the 74HC10 this will re-map your SRAM into lower memory. (But: IC from MIT will no-longer work on your board and you may have some interesting conflicts with our IO space on the board, and memory mapped IO may not work). Note that On-chip memory ALWAYS has priority over off chip memory.
Q: How do I access the 32K of external memory using PCbug?
( PCbug11 says that it is in bootstrap mode using the internal memory. When I try to do a mm (modify memory) command in the assumed address range of the external memory (i.e. $8000 - $ffff), it tells me that it is bad memory)
A: In PCBUG11 you must do a software switch to expanded mode do this by: mm 103c
E5 then you can access the expanded memory. Note: The High speed downloader (HSSDL11) does this for you and is 10X faster.
Q: How do we control robobug's walking motion?
How can we make it move forward, backward, left and right? Is the MSC11 enough to
do these 4 basic movements?
A: Yes, the object code that comes with the robot will do those functions.
Q: Can we make the Robobug walk slower or faster?
A: The servos that are included with the robot are driven at max speed to the set point. This is how the servos are manufactured. To control speed would require a more expensive DC servo. In theory, you could convert the servos to do this, but that is not a supported function for ROBOBUG and you would be on your own. (Personally, I do not recommend it for the ROBOBUG servos because of their nonlinear response when converted to dc-servos with Mekatronix's trademark servo hack).
Q: How are the robobug legs on rough terrain?
A: You have to be careful, since ROBOBUG˘'s legs can snag on carpet, catch on chair and table legs and other room hazards and you do not want the strong servo motors to cause damage to either ROBOBUG˘'s leg or leg drive servos themselves. For robot safety, the robot should walk only on hard smooth surfaces or
tightly woven rugs.
Q: What is the best way to add more processing power to the robobug?
A: The best advice is to leave the MSCC11 and low level bug control intact (Otherwise you are wasting years of engineering development in order to "reinvent the wheel"). Instead add a board such as the MTJPRO11 to the bug.
- DO NOT REPLACE THE MSCC11 WITH THE MTJPRO11, RATHER, USE BOTH TOGETHER OPTIMIZING ON THE FEATURES AND CAPABILITIES OF EACH PROCESSOR.
- Connect the MTJPRO11 to the MSCC11 through the high speed synchronous SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface). (Refer to the Motorola HC11 Reference Manual on how to program the SPI). Develop a serial protocol on how to communicate information between the two controllers. Most likely you will make the MTJPRO11 the Master and the MSCC11 the slave processor.
- Write programs for the MTJPRO11 that send walk commands to the MSCC11 controller and reads the sensors attached to the MSCC11 controller through the SPI. You can also attach more sensors and actuators to the MTJPRO11 controller itself. Those, of course you would read directly from the MTJPRO11.
Q: What can I do with the robots and microcontrollers
A: Wow! So many things, and so little webspace to put it in... It's basically only limited to your imagination and programming. You can create anything from a roaming pet to a drink serving butler, it's up to you! For a list of ideas or school projects,click here
Q: What's the quickest I can get product?
A: Next Day Air is the quickest, but boy is it expensive!
Normal shipping time is 5 to 10 working days. In house rush shipping is $15.95 more and ships 2 to 4 working days.
Next day Air is $35 more (and up depending on weight).
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