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JimH
02-06-2008, 08:16 PM
Hi everyone. I'm exploring options for a robotics project to do with my son (6yr old). In searching for good information and parts I came across this site. Since then I have been looking at a lot of different options and have decided that the Serializer would be a good place to start (cost and bridged control being the leading factors).

I'm not sure exactly what the first goal will be and may just start picking up parts to explore and learn from. I do know that ultimately I do not want a tethered solution. That means Bluetooth or Xbee will come into play. I'm familiar with Bluetooth, but Xbee is new to me.

Does anyone have experience with using the Xbee module? The questions I have currently are:

1. What do you need on the PC side?
2. What is the operational range of the Xbee setup?
3. What is the general performance of Xbee over Bluetooth?

I did some general looking around for Xbee info, but haven't found a good, easy to understand explanation that covers these topics.

Thanks for any help you can provide! As I move forward on the project I will share the details. I'm sure there will be tons of questions as I start to figure things out. This looks like a great place to get/give help and to participate in discussions.

Thanks,
Jim

Dave
02-07-2008, 03:12 PM
Hi Jim, welcome to the TR forums!


I have been looking at a lot of different options and have decided that the Serializer would be a good place to start (cost and bridged control being the leading factors).

Good choice. We're big fans of the Serializer.


1. What do you need on the PC side?
2. What is the operational range of the Xbee setup?
3. What is the general performance of Xbee over Bluetooth?

1. You'll need a Zigbee adapter. These are not terribly common, and they're a bit more esoteric than your average Bluetooth dongle.

2. 100 meters, theoretically.

3. Bluetooth tends to perform better, because it uses more power.

Personally, I'd go with Bluetooth, mainly because it has the advantage of being a much more widely accepted and widely used standard.

JimH
02-07-2008, 08:10 PM
Thanks for the reply Dave. I guess if nothing else, it will be better to stick with more widely supported options at first, and knowing that with some extra effort I have the Xbee as an option. The reason that I was exploring the Xbee was in the interest of range. It sounds like it has that, but I'm not sure it will be required for my application.

So I guess the next step for me is to get some hardware and see what I can do with it. My son says he wants a humanoid, but I think that might be a bit ambitious as a starting project. I also want this to be as much of a learning experience for him, so perhaps just working through some various systems (movement, sensing, etc.).

DresnerRobotics
02-07-2008, 09:06 PM
Perhaps look into a Bioloid Comprehensive kit then? You could start off with the simpler projects and work your way up to the humanoid, would be an excellent learning experience for your son.

Alex
02-07-2008, 10:51 PM
Perhaps look into a Bioloid Comprehensive kit then? You could start off with the simpler projects and work your way up to the humanoid, would be an excellent learning experience for your son.

The Bioloid is definitely an excellent learning experience, but it might not be good for what Jim's asking because it's not "out of the box" intuitive to get wireless communication control up and running with the Bioloid. It's focused more so on autonomous actions than anything.

Jim, a few questions: How are your programming skills? What type of languages do you know? Are you wanting to teach your son about programming?

DresnerRobotics
02-08-2008, 11:06 AM
Oh, my bad! I thought the Xbee Bioloid (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/bioloid-zigbee-wireless-module-set.aspx) setup was pretty easy to get going.

Alex
02-08-2008, 11:55 AM
It isn't too bad, but I'd say it's over a 6yr olds learning. Who am I to say though, the bioloid rocks!

It's a kit and can be configured into a ton of different robots, so I'd say go for it! It might not be exactly what you're looking for Jim, but you and your son will have a blast with it I can guarantee that:)

JimH
02-08-2008, 10:29 PM
After Andrew's suggestion I took a look at the kit. I can definitely see it's potential and I have no doubt we would have a lot of fun with it.

However, the upfront cost is my first issue. I want to start small and explore concepts. I have no doubt that I will have well over the cost of the bioloid kit wisked out of my wallet before I am done, but I prefer to start small and work up from there.

My second issue with the bioloid is that I am not looking for a "kit". I want to create something, not follow directions. At least, not in the mechanical areas.

So my .NET programming experience is limited. I am a director of IT with 13 year of experience with scripting languages (batch, shell, KIXtart, etc.). For the last 3 years I have used VBScript almost exclusively, so I am comfortable with how to code in the Microsoft world. It will be getting familiar the Visual method which presents the first challenge. I'm sure there will be other challenges along the way.

Let me boil my intent down to the basics. Maybe it will help me get clarity on where to go next, and let you guys get to know me a bit better (and therefore have some ideas on how we might help each other):

My son - At 6 years old he is asking questions about the world and is a very bright kid (don't we all remember those days?!). I want to impart some of my excitement about technology and give him a foundation to build on. I don't expect him to take responsibility for the project, but to experience it as I move through it. I also want to give him the opportunity to provide feedback and participate in the design and thought processes. I hope that he learns mechanical foundations and would be delighted if he picks up programming skills. Without a doubt he will learn the basics of logic.

Me - at 36 years old I am asking questions about the world....just kidding. Rather, I find challenge and reward in learning new things and innovating. The most rewarding part is to then teach those things to others. I have always been mechanically inclined. I have designed and built RC airboats from balsa wood, raced on-road and off-road RC cars. Built and flown RC airplanes. My formal post grammar school education was in auto mechanics. I have even constructed full plate mail armor to engage in full contact sword play back in my SCA days. And other countless hobbies that fed my need to learn and tinker. The one passion that has always been with me (at least since the first day I touched one) has been computers.

So I want to design, build, test, tinker with, and generally find pleasure in making my own robot. It doesn't have to happen overnight, or even in the next month. I fully understand that there are things I just don't know (like Xbee) and that there will be much study and learning required on my part.

So to get the ball rolling I ordered the serializer kit last night. Should be here on Tuesday, so I'll have the core to start playing with.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my questions and offer your thoughts and feedback. Keep it coming! It was cool to check out the bioloid and see the demo movie. Really got me thinking about behavior and what I might want to start exploring first in the way of sensors...

Alex
02-11-2008, 08:39 AM
Hey Jim,

After understanding where you're coming from with reading your post, I was going to recommend that you do go with the Serializer, so I'm glad that you did end up ordering it. The Serializer is an extremely flexible system and will give you many different avenues to explore in robotics. Plus once you learn about the programming, it'll give your son some programming experience with a language that he can actually take with him later on in life and build a career.

Oh yeah, did you happen to look through the Stinger page:

http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5390-Stinger-Robot-Platform.aspx

It's a platform that is designed for the Serializer.


We'd love to hear what sort of projects you come up with, so be sure to keep us all posted with all the details and any questions:)

Dave
02-11-2008, 12:46 PM
[Edit] Post deleted. I'm retarded.

JimH
02-11-2008, 08:37 PM
Oh yeah, did you happen to look through the Stinger page:

http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5390-Stinger-Robot-Platform.aspx

It's a platform that is designed for the Serializer.


I probably came across it, but hadn't reviewed all of the details. Looks like a very clean platform and if I run into problems with designing/fabricating a chassis I will definitely consider it. Thanks for the heads up.

Matt
02-11-2008, 08:45 PM
[Edit] Post deleted. I'm retarded.

And now, finally, we have it in writing.