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Robot 101

Hello I am a Tool&Die Maker by trade, evolved to C.N.C. Cutter Path Developer. Going to be retiring soon and I want to build my first robot. Would like to know about programmable software. It would make my world simple :-) to find something that uses X axis Y axis grid design using a common start point referencing to a X 0.00 , Y 0.00, same as what you would find on C.N.C. machines . Since I will soon be retired I will need to keep the cost low. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You
Dave P.

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#1  
Hello, 53stude/Dave. Welcome to the forum. I thought I would give answering your question a shot since I have a passing familiarity with G-Code. The thing I found most insane about the code was the lack of automatic renumbering of the line numbers. Having to allocate them in blocks so you can later edit if you have to was just silly to me. Maybe they have improved on that in more recent years. When I became familiar with it was a number of years ago while I was doing PLC programming in conjunction with milling machines operation. I didn't actually do the G-Code programming but the guy I worked with did and I picked up some of it. G-Code is really a holdover from when computer memory was expensive and
all programs had to be very compact. Thus the numbers after the letters to form instructions instead of using actual words. It was, and is still, so ingrained in the industry and people's minds, no one ever dared change it. The closest most people in here get to it is in 3-D printers. There is a conversion process that takes whatever the maker uses to create the 3-D computer model to be printed and translates it to G-Code just before it get's sent to the actual control for the 3-axis machine that forms the basis of the printer.

Anyway, back to the question. The bad news is, no, the programming associated with these robots is not based on a coordinate system as such. The good news is that programming languages all have certain features in common. In G-Code, for example you learned to create a sequential set of steps, following a certain pattern of reasoning. That's basically the same in the language used here. The better news is that you can forget about worrying about line numbers. There are none. At least none that matter where code execution is concerned. The editors that are used here do have line numbers associated with them but that is only for debugging the code. It gives the error checker a way to reference the code line where the fault occurred. The program, in it's execution, doesn't need or use them. You can insert new lines of code anywhere you like and the line numbers will renumber themselves accordingly, but it matters not to what the code does. Unlike early Basic, for example, you don't jump to a particular line number in the code when you want to do things out of a strict sequence. You jump to what is called a "label." A label is just a group of letters preceded by a colon. Don't worry about all that right now, however. I just mention it in passing to illustrate differences to G-Code.

Not only don't you have to worry with line numbers, but you don't have to memorize a plethora of something like G-Codes, associating their number with what they do. In the code here you can use actual words to perform functions and execute commands. For instance, instead of a G00 instruction, you can write something like RapidMotion. In many languages you can not only do that but send along values to be worked with when the RapidMotion instruction is executed. Like this:

Code:


RapidMotion(0.12,6.5) with the 0.12 and 6.5 being the
X and Y coordinates you wish to
use in the movement.
This would be like:
N75 G00 X0.12 Y6.5;

A typical instruction here would be:

Code:


Servo(D12,50). This tells servo #12 to move to position 50.

Not unlike G-Code in that respect but with only 1 axis of movement instead of 3. In robotics controlling servos is what it's all about. They do all the work of moving the robot and it's appendages. There is more to it like speech recognition and making lights flash. But that's the basic idea.

I could go on endlessly but I'll stop here. The thing to keep in mind is that the programming here is only different in form. The steps you go through to make the code work are similar to G-Code. So don't be put off by the fact there is no G-Code-like language to work with. I promise you, once you immerse yourself in the language here (called "Script" language) you will wonder what you ever saw good about G-Code.

There are tutorials on all aspects of the robots used here in the "Learn" section. Just click on the word Learn right here to go there. In fact, you don't even have to worry about the programming language right now ,if ever. (NOW he tells me!) It's true though. The software you will be working in here (EZ-Builder) has been written in such that you will rarely need to do any programming to make your robot do things. It was made for absolute beginners so they could do things right away by simply choosing control blocks and clicking on settings in them. The most you might have to do is type in a name for some things. You can do a huge host of things without ever having to write a single line of code. All the programming is already done and does things behind the scenes.

Follow the tutorials from the beginning and you will see what I mean. When you get stumped post here and there will be someone to help you. That help may be to first point you to a tutorial, but you won't be ignored.

PS: If you are undecided as to which robot to get I would recommend one of the rolling robots, such as, appropriately enough, Roli. :) Roli Rover that is. They are the easiest to maneuver. If you have your heart set on a robot with legs, Try the Galapagos Bot or Six, the spider-like robot. A Robot like JD the biped one can be challenging for the beginner.

Also, if you want one right away (I know I did) Brookstone sells them. They have only recently started carrying them, so they may not have much of a selection, but I know they carry Six. There are other places listed in the "Store" section (at the top) as well.

Good luck and above all have fun. While learning is a big part of it all, so is having a good time doing it!
#2  
Hello @53stude

Welcome to the forum. You will find your overall background in Tool and Die work, machine tools and cutter path development will give you an good base understanding for your future in your robotic builds.

The EZ robots are simple to build and the software basics are easy to learn and use. Buying a robot like @WBS00001 mentioned will allow you to learn the basics. What is nice is you can modify the basic robot you buy with additional servos and EZ bits and build other listed robots or one of your own design.

I had bought an Adventure Bot and a development kit which with the purchase of additional parts became a JD. The camera tracking function is great to play with and opens many ideas.

The basic cost of these robot is reasonable for the amount of power the EZB v4 gives you. They are real robots, not blinky, flashy type toys which need tons of code to do very little. Look at the projects in the Robot Showcase and the videos here on the site to help you pick something to meet your likes. Review the tutorials to see what can be done. Again a local Brookstone store can supply your needs, or here on this site. I think Maker Shed sells also.

The main thing is have fun and know you will be busy during your retirement build cool things.

Ron R
#3  
@53stude

Welcome to the community. The responses given so far have been spot on.

It is difficult for someone with your background to wrap their heads around what is happening with these robots. Programmers in general have a hard time accepting that things can really be this easy. I know that I did at first and have seen this with multiple people.

I want to give you some information that might be helpful to you. EZ robot uses the tethered approach to robotics. All amazing robots use this approach. Some people are put off initially when they find out that EZ-Robot products need a computer attached to them to function. Please don't let this affect you. When you research what is possible with a tethered vs untethered robot, you will see that if you want to make powerful robots, the tethered approach is the way to go. As an example, an untethered robot might wonder aimlessly in a house using sensors to make decisions as to what to do next based on these sensor readings. It might follow a line and have some very basic human interaction. This architecture is very limited. Tethered robots are able to use anything that your computer uses on top of an array of sensors to detect its local surroundings. The internet is full of useful information that you might want to incorporate into your robot. Your computer is many times stronger than your robot controller. Your computer has local storage and many other advantages to allow it to get access to a world of information. Tethered robots are able to not only self navigate, but do things like get you cooking instructions or find a local store and navigate to it. It really opens up the possibilities of what you are able to build. EZ-B robot controllers are tethered via wifi connection. This prevents wires from being used for tethering. Additionally, an onboard computer could be added to your robot if it were of adequate size, making it a self contained system.

There are some situations where the EZ-B may need to communicate with subsystems. This would be something like using a neopixel light ring or some sensor that blasts a lot of information back to the EZ-B needlessly. These subsystems can be developed using the very popular arduino platform or really any other platform. I only mention this because after you get into robotics pretty deeply, you may want to build your own design and the EZ-B is great for that. There are some considerations that need to be taken into account when doing this though.

ARC is to robotics what the Mac or Windows was to computers in the 80's. It takes the need to understand a lot of the commands out of the hands of the user and puts them in ready to use controls. If you want to get into more programming, all of these functions are exposed through the use of an SDK. It isn't necessary to use the SDK to make amazing robots. It is simply an option for those who love to program.

I have watched people who have absolutely no knowledge of programming or of robotics build some amazing robot platforms. Some of these people are very young, have learning disabilities and other handicaps (although I am of the opinion that we all are handicapped in some way). I had a hard time understanding how this was possible until I downloaded ARC and started playing with it. I encourage you to do the same as it is free software. There is no need to wait until you have a robot in your hands before starting to learn about what the platform is capable of.

The other thing that I would like to add is that this community is full of very helpful people. Some of us step away from time to time to work on other projects but I know that we are still watching the community and offer assistance where we can. Someone in this community has probably faced the same challenge that you are experiencing as you work on your robot. Please ask questions not only to get help, but to also continue to build the knowledge base that this community is.

Welcome again.
David
#4  
WBS00001 to answer your question here is a picture


User-inserted image



I would like to exchange e-mails or find me on google+
#5  
@53stude
I'm sorry Dave, but I can't do that ... :D Just kidding. Seriously though, I don't follow what the picture means or to what question I asked that it relates. Are you meaning to "robotize" the electric wheelchair? Use it as a base for a robot? I'm lost here.
#6  



That youtube video should make it clear as mud :D


Retro fit the Jazzy to a 22" 5 h.p. Briggs & Stratton lawn mower
equipped with a car alternator
#7  
Anthony XLRobots
That's what I did, new demo jazzy $160.00 works great. A few I looked at for $200 needed batteries.
#8  
What you need to drive a Jazzy with an EZ-B is basically the same as you need to convert it to R/C. I high amp H-Bridge. Sabertooth 2x25 should do (the Jazzy motors are 20amp, so 25amp H-bridge gives you enough overhead).

Alan
#9  
Uh huh. Dave. You're a man of few words. I like that ... usually. In this case, however, we need to know just what it is you are thinking about doing with that nifty little gadget. Put a small plow on it and I'll bet you could use it to clear snow.

What do you have in mind for it? Make it more autonomous? Maybe be able to give it commands to perform programmed functions? With the stuff they have at EZ Robots you could do things like give it sonar for obstacle avoidance. And Vision for sizing up it's task and coming up with a way for it to execute it. Like the tire shoving maneuver. With appropriate add-ons it could find the tire and figure out a course to take to put it where it belongs. Maybe even figure out a place where it would fit and then put it there. The vision add-on could even recognize you and recognize bar codes to give it information about it's surroundings like where it is. You can even see what it sees on the controlling computer screen. Then there is the option of voice commands. No more hand-held controller needed. If you still want a little controller, you can use your cell phone to control it, completer with a custom screen you design, with whatever buttons you want. You can even control it over the internet or anywhere in your house.

Whatever it is you want to do, it's going to take a computer, PC desktop, or laptop, to make it work with the EZ-Robots devices. It's the computer that is the real brains of the system, as was pointed out by another Dave, d.cochran. You will also need WiFi to connect to it. It's not as difficult as it may sound, though. Really. And you can do almost all the stuff I mentioned without writing any code. Alternately, it could be possible to hack into that little hand control of yours and do some functions via it. But WiFi would still be needed for most of the stuff it needs.

We would also need to see how the motors are being driven now to be able to give you advice on what to do. That is to say, what control devices are on the unit itself. That way we could give advice on how to interface it to the EZB4 controller such that it would be able to do all the things I mentioned above.

So, speak up man! Tell us your heart's desires. I promise we won't make fun of you, no matter how fantastic the ideas seem. Unless, of course you start talking about the movie series "Twilight" or "50 Shades of Gray." Then we shall be merciless.
#10  
WBS00001

Well brother I did not want to talk much because I was afraid I would wear out my welcome. Robotics, Electronics I will admit I don't know much about it except I am
willing to give it a try. Fifteen years ago I knew nothing about programming C.N.C. machines and then I became a program developer. Now that I am knocking on the door to retirement I think it's time I learn to do something other than Tool&Die. I still enjoy my hobbies of Dog training, Camping, Hot Rods & Motorcycles. Robots are just too cool to pass up in this life time. So I started to put together a plan. I know mechanically what I want and found it. So know I am about to boldly go where I have never gone before Robotics & Electronics. I am not about to B.S. anyone I will need guidance. I would like 1st prototype to be programmable by that I mean write a program to a thumb drive plug it in. Give it a X 0.0, Y 0.0 start point and have it move on a planned course along the way edit the bot to move around objects. After that I might teach it how to walk and show a dog... NOW THAT ALONE WOULD BE WICKED AWESOME.

Dave
#11  
Ohhh! I get it ... 53stude = 53 Studebaker. Thus the picture in the avatar. Cool indeed!

I also get what you are trying to do, Well, at least have a better idea of it, Thank you. It's all doable with the EZ Robots stuff. Including the thumb drive thing. Well showing dogs thing might be a stretch. But you could use it to walk your dogs. If you stick to rolling robots anyway. That walking thing is devilishly hard to make work. But like you say, that WOULD be wicked awesome! As a side note, I used to raise Samoyeds (Russian sled dogs) along with my late wife (actually she was the expert there) and sell and show them. Not me personally, we hired professionals to show them. 60-some champions, some in England and Germany. Loved them all. Loved having a pack living in the house with us. Needed no alarm system. We were totally protected 24-7 by Tooth and Claw Inc.

Now, mind you I have NO vested interest in EZ Robots other than owning one of their products. In no way do I work for, or with them. I'm just another user of their products.

That's my disclaimer and my way of being up front with where I'm coming from here. So when I say you should start with one of their kits and play with it to get an understanding of what their system does, I am not trying to be a salesman for them. There are many ways to do what you want to do. What they have that, in my opinion, is superior, is their robot controller. It's easy to connect to and does a ton of stuff it takes other systems additional electronic hardware to do.

Their other strength is their software. With it you can write programs to do pretty much anything you wish. Lord knows I have twisted it to the breaking point to make it do things it was not really meant to do. I'm evil that way. Now they have added a new feature that allows people to write new add-ons to the basic software package that should usher in a new era of expansion of functions.

This is why I, and pretty much everyone here, will strongly recommend getting one of their kits and following the tutorials here on how to put it together and how to run it with the software that goes with it. The software is 100% free. No gimmicks. No crippled software that requires you to buy a "key" to really be able to use it. Free means free. You get the whole package and many add-ons right up front. You don't even have to purchase anything. Ever. It's called ARC, and that's just what it does; allows you to literally build an operating robot control system with software blocks called, (what else?) controls.

I know you want to jump in to working on your existing device right now. I don't blame you, I would want to do that too. But, like when you were learning your trade and moving on up in it, you started with the basics at some point. Maybe even worked with models. That's what the robot kits from EZ are. Models. They are not large robots, costing tons, but they are fully functioning real robots. Not some toy that has limited movement like Robosapien, for instance. OTOH, you can run a Robosapien with the EZB4 controller. Make it do a lot more. It's been done.

The great thing is, everything you learn from the small robot you can apply to your device. Including the guts of the hardware. So you're investment won't be wasted or limited in use. The control "brain" (EZB4) from your small robot can go right into a control system for your existing wheelchair base and run it. You will need a device called an HBridge to drive your motors, but that's about it, and they are cheap. The camera that comes with your kit can go right to your platform. Same with any other sensor or flashing lights that come with your kit. The size of the robot is not a factor. We have some people using the little EZB4 to run their B9 Robot. The B9 is the robot from the "Lost in Space" series. Huge thing.

Choose whatever kit that strikes your fancy. The least expensive will be fine. I might mention, however, the Roli Rover kit contains an HBridge so that could be a good choice for that fact. Doesn't matter though. What matters is that you gain experience and knowledge in how this system works. There is no better way to do that than to get a kit and play/struggle with it. Everything, and I do mean everything, you learn from it will be directly applicable to your existing device.

Oh my gosh that was long winded. Sorry for that. I never seem to know when to shut up.
#12  
.................................. I am looking for the delete button ...... posting from this site is showing up in spam mail
#13  
Chrome book won't work. You need a Windows computer to run ARC. It doesn't need to be a laptop, but you need a WiFi network, and a computer with WiFi to initially connect and tell the EZ-B your network information (you could use the chromebook for that, it just needs a web browser).

You can buy a Roli here on this web site, or Brookstone sells them, as well as some other hobby retailers. http://www.ez-robot.com/shop/retailers

Roli is a great choice (I have one) but the H-bridge is only 2 amp, so although you will learn a little about H-bridges, it will never drive your Jazzy motors, and the kind that will operate differently enough that there isn't huge learning opportunity. If you want to start small and cheap, an Adventure Bot will get you started for less than half the cost, but doesn't do nearly as much either.

Alan
#14  
Thank you for your understanding about my verbose verbiage, Dave. I would suggest going right to Brookstone for your order. If you have some in your area call them first to be sure they have one in stock. If not go for mail order but, again, make sure they actually have one in stock they can ship now. Most places will say they have them in stock when they do not. They are drop shipped from China and, because of serious supply problems due to a huge Brookstone order, it , will take 3-4 weeks to get to you. I have been ordering from Stemfinity because anything over $100 is free shipping, but, despite their on-line store saying they are in stock, they are not. Me, I'm cheap so I don't mind too much waiting. The other problem, for me, is that it seems like only Stemfinity offers all of what I need. The others just have a few spare parts for sale. Including Brookstone.

Anyway, Brookstone has the $99 free shipping offer (Promo Code Ship99) as well, so that is THE go-to place to get one, even if you have to go mail order. They all cost the same no matter where you buy/order them from, including directly from EZ Robots. Ordering directly from EZ Robots will, like the others, actually come from China and will also take 3-4 weeks. Plus you have to pay export/import duties (They're in Canada) in addition to shipping costs. So it's not a good way to go.

I would be happy to email to you but please be aware I am not the end-all be-all authority on these robots. I know that is hard to believe, but it's true. There people who have been at this several years longer than I have. My point is, when you have a problem, you should post here. Not only will they often be able to give you better advice than I can, but I will not always be readily available and at least one of them will be. Much greater chance of getting your needs met in a timely manner.

So, have great fun with the robot and let us know how it goes for you. We will all be here for you when you run aground on the shoals of frustration. Do not, under any circumstances fold, spindle, or mutilate the Roli. Punishing the Roli with a rolled up newspaper will not help. Nor will rubbing it's nose in it's messy code. However you may feel free to shout and cuss at it to your heart's content. It is impervious to verbal and emotional abuse thanks to it's transparent layer of F-off brand edodermic coating. It's the same stuff that the government uses on all it's devices, and many of it's employees. :D
#15  
Would this be the recommended H-Bridge
www.dimensionengineering.com/products/sabertooth2x25
for my application to run the Jazzy 2 motor differential. I did not plan
on the build to include radio control. I would rather have it be pre-programmed
to run it off a thumb drive. Unless you would advise that RC is a better way
to build the first time around.

Dave
#16  
Yes, that is an appropriate H-Bridge regardless if how you control it.

You should download ARC and take some of the tutorials or watch some of the EZ-B videos to see if this is what you are looking for. It can certainly do the navigation you are asking for, but so much more than just a pre-programmed path from a thumb drive.

EZ-B requires a wifi connection to a computer running ARC. That computer can be windows (and you need Windows to program it) or with some limitations in the functionality it can be Android or iOS.

In a large robot like you are planning, the computer can be on board the robot rather than remote. There are many small low voltage computers available that can run windows.

Alan
#17  
Thank You Alan most helpful :D
#18  
My Question Was Answered
by more than one person

thetechguru,
WBS00001,
ANDY ROID,
Anthony-XL robots,
d.cochran

And I would have closed this sooner
but for what ever reason my password
was not working and password reset
would not work unless I entered my
password

Thank You all
Dave P. :D