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lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 08:10 AM
It's been discussed extensively in the TRC Chat this week, but here's the official announcement: Tyb and I are building the MechDAR: Pseudo-RADAR for your MECH!

The basic concept is that range sensor data is gathered and relayed to your PC, where software converts that data into a grid map to give you a visual representation of where walls are and how far you are from them. We're looking at integrating this map into a HUD with Wifi Camera capability.

System specs:
MechDAR sensor board, based on ATMEGA168. AVR source will be open-source.
4 GP2D12 (2 in rear, 1 on each side), servo with panning EZ-3 Sonar and long-range IR in front.
Uses XBee to relay information back to computer.
Python-based application to display maps (also open-source). Tyb is also sending me an IP-Cam so we can add that functionality to a complete Python-based mech-control software. I'll also be adding easy user configuration so end-users can expand this pretty much to infinity...

We will also be offering this as a Plug-and-Kill kit.

So, who thinks they will be interested?

-Fergs

A pic of the prototype AVR board:
http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/gallery/files/1/7/6/8/mini-sm.jpg

And a pic of my previous mapping software (MechDAR will look quite a bit different, with the map being drawn around the Mech at the center):
http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/gallery/files/1/7/6/8/screenshot-map_builder.png




Note from Andrew/Tyberius:
Okay guys, we're not wasting any time on this. I'm going to be ordering parts for this early next week, so I need an accurate count of how many people plan on buying one of these boards initially. I'm going to order a big batch of boards, but I'm only going to order enough parts to populate them to fulfill the needs of people who want them asap. Keep in mind this is a general use Atmega168 with Xbee board, it has far more use than just this competition.

We're selling them at cost for $25, assembeled or unassembled. If you want to build your own for MechDAR or other uses thats fine, but all target units will be sent out built and fully tested at no additional charge (for quality control purposes). If you want to save on shipping and order them with the sensors (vibration for Targeting units, or MechDAR sensors) or other Trossen merchandise we can work that out via PM at a later time, for now I'm just taking inventory of who wants what.

Everyone participating in Mech Warfare will need one of these boards (for the targeting system), and anyone who wants a MechDAR system will need another. We'll put together finalized parts lists for any additional components needed for both systems.

For the targetting system you're looking at $20-40 worth of sensors/cables and an Xbee ($19).

For the MechDAR system, if you don't have any parts at all you're probably looking at about $175 in addition to the $25 board. This covers all the IR sensors, sonar, servo, panning turret, a pair of Xbees, and a USB Xbee Explorer.

Please PM me (Tyberius, not lnxfergy) with how many boards you will need. I'm not asking anyone to pay for anything right now, but I'd like to start populating a list of how many boards will need to go out, and to whom.

Mech Warfare is on!

jes1510
01-23-2009, 08:37 AM
As I mentioned before I'm pretty excited about this. It's a great project with a lot of applications outside of Mech Warfare.

DresnerRobotics
01-23-2009, 09:05 AM
Didn't we spec an EZ3 for MechDAR?

The ultimate point of this is to give a visual map of your surroundings (walls) and how close you are to them. This will be especially helpful in Mech Warfare, as piloting via telepresence suffers from a lack of depth perception as well as the inability to see to your sides and behind you very well.

We're going to be offering the boards themselves at cost to TRC members, and the software is already free thanks to Fergs' open source mentality. The needed sensors, pan units, and Xbees can be found at the trossen store, we'll put together a parts list for you guys once everything is finalized.

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 09:06 AM
I agree with the "lot of application outside of Mech Warfare" - do you guys have a pricepoint on the board and/or kit yet?

DresnerRobotics
01-23-2009, 09:14 AM
I'm hoping to keep it around $20, its just an Atmega 168 board with some headers and a port for an Xbee. If demand gets too much or I get tired of burning my fingers, we might just send them as as a DIY solder kit.

If you were starting from scratch, figure two Xbees at $20 a piece, a USB Xbee Explorer for $20, and about $90 or so in sensors, Servo + panning mount is $20, and a couple cables, so about $200 for all the parts. A bit of an investment, however you're getting a lot of parts reusable in other applications if wanted, as well as a sensory module usable in tons of applications outside of Mech Warfare.

Thing is, if you were to buy a commercial product like this... I'd imagine it would be in the $4-500 range easily including the software.

lildreamer
01-23-2009, 09:29 AM
I was thinking along the lines of an urban environment and a UAV - I thought it would fit nicely with something I got on the drawing board - similar to HKA from Terminator...but the specs to GP2D12 indicate to align the sensor so that the motion is in the horizontal direction instead of vertical- but your design is modular and adaptable so maybe....have to pass it by my "Financial Advisor" :rolleyes:

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 09:43 AM
The 168 -> XBee board would save me from having this one I have sitting in Eagle right now etched. Honestly I'd rather have it as a kit anyway. Even compared to machine built, anything I solder will be "prettier". . . ;)

How soon could I pick one up? :)

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 09:44 AM
Yeah, EZ-3 - my bad. For reference, we chose this because it has a smaller cone and thus should be better suited for the tight hallways of Mech Wars.

$20-25 sounds right for going "at cost" - but I think we should have a more definitive estimate in a week or so.

As to other applications - I'm figuring that we will keep those extra accessories on the board even if they aren't used for MechDAR (we may just not plug them). The boards specs are:

ATMEGA168 @ 14.7456MHz
LM2940 - 5V @ 1A, LDO Regulator
LP2950 - 3.3V @ 100mA LDO Regulator (for onboard XBEE)
SN754410/L293D Dual Motor Driver, with 6 pin headers for L/R motors + L/R Quad Encoders (wired to INT0/1)
XBEE socket, using the AVR serial port (also, under the XBEE, there is a 3-pin header for TX, RX, GND if you don't want to use an XBEE)
4-Pin I2C header (the white header in the pic)
2 Servo ports connected to BATT voltage, using Timer1
All analog ports, plus 2 digital ports brought out to servo-style headers
Row of headers that can be made either Female to allow prototyping, or as male headers so that the whole board can be plugged into a breadboard (back edge in pic, not plugged on that board)
6-pin ISP header (on that proto, its a little to close to the regulator, but will be fixed in final version)

-Fergs

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 09:45 AM
The 168 -> XBee board would save me from having this one I have sitting in Eagle right now etched. Honestly I'd rather have it as a kit anyway. Even compared to machine built, anything I solder will be "prettier". . . ;)

How soon could I pick one up? :)

I'm planning to fix the few issues with the board this weekend - I ran it through its paces the last few days. I'll work it out with Tyb, but I'm figuring we will want to order these earlier, since it will take a few days for boards to be made up...

-Fergs

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 09:51 AM
I'd like to burn an Arduino loader on it and replace all those danged shields on my arm controller. They're so hideously hacked. All I need is four analog inputs and an XBee output... Having more than that just means I can recycle it later. I'd probably take several "kits" off your hands right off the bat. And I didn't mean to be offensive - my point was that I'd save you or Andrew any soldering load.

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 09:55 AM
Oh - I assume it must have 3.3v power (for the xbee) is that tapped with a header? How about the 5v - do you have that on a header too?

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 09:57 AM
I'd like to burn an Arduino loader on it and replace all those danged shields on my arm controller. They're so hideously hacked. All I need is four analog inputs and an XBee output... Having more than that just means I can recycle it later. I'd probably take several "kits" off your hands right off the bat. And I didn't mean to be offensive - my point was that I'd save you or Andrew any soldering load.

The only thing it is lacking is a USB port - since I really hate to add SMD components. I'm sure you could get around that.

And, my soldering is horrendous. Tyb was the one gonna assemble anything...

Schematic attached! A few changes for the final version will be: I forgot to finish wiring up one of those extra port connectors, need to add a silkscreen label to the headers (which ports they are), and fix the ISP clearances. The other thing is level conversion for XBEE: I haven't ever used any on my several previous boards, and some of them have been running for a year or so without problem. At one point the consensus was that XBEE had 5V tolerant I/O, but I noticed in threads that both you and Tyb were big on level conversion - do ya guys think we need it, and if so what form of conversion would you recommend?

-Fergs

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 09:59 AM
Oh - I assume it must have 3.3v power (for the xbee) is that tapped with a header? How about the 5v - do you have that on a header too?

The 5V comes out at multiple places - see the schematic above.
The 3V, umm, whoops, yeah, thats another thing to fix... will be on the final -- good point! (I sorta rushed out these prototypes to get them through before the holidays, but that was an epic fail, because they didn't make it back until about a week ago. The other board (see my gallery) is for my new fire-fighter)

-Fergs

javafiend
01-23-2009, 10:02 AM
When will the software be available?

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 10:08 AM
When will the software be available?

I would hope to have it up in about 2 weeks - I'm waiting on a few sensors... Most of this code will be a rehash of my existing stuff - I've already started working up the code - I have the roadplan all set up.

-Fergs

javafiend
01-23-2009, 10:41 AM
Great! I can't wait to see it.

DresnerRobotics
01-23-2009, 10:48 AM
For simplicity sake, we're going to be using the same board for the target units. I'm sending two to Jon as soon as I get them in. We've discussed a way to link the two so that they can use 1 Xbee unit, but it adds too much software complexity to it, AND the MechDAR system uses all available analog ports (and as a result, the I2C) so its really not feasible. I know having two Xbee units on a single mech for those using the MechDAR system and the required targeting system isn't ideal, but it keeps things simple and its the way we are moving forth. The good news is since we're using the same board, they'll be stackable, keeping the footprint down.

So, the MechDAR system will remain as a separate board and system, and is optional.

The target units will still be around the quoted cost of about $50 a piece, which includes the Xbee that they use and the target board itself. The vibration sensors (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/3233-Vibration-Sensor.aspx) we plan on using are about $9 a piece, so overall we're not looking too bad on the cost of the target units. I will supply the master scoreboard PC equipped with an Xbee, so you dont need one unless you want to do your own internal testing. We're just using an USB Explorer (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5828-XBee-Explorer-USB.aspx) and Xbee (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5200-XBee-1mW-Communication-Module.aspx) for the interface PC side.


Fergs: I'll hit you up on the subject of logic voltage level conversion later today, we'll want to include it on these boards for sure.

robologist
01-23-2009, 10:56 AM
I was wondering about the routing of PC0 and PB0 to the motor headers. Analog to one side and dig IO to the other?

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 11:36 AM
I was wondering about the routing of PC0 and PB0 to the motor headers. Analog to one side and dig IO to the other?

Those are the ENCODER B lines. I ran low on lines, so I had to use an analog (you can of course, not configure at as analog, so really it's a digital in use)

The 6 pin header is designed so that you can plug in a 2-pin motor header, plus power/gnd and A/B from an encoder such as : http://www.lynxmotion.com/Product.aspx?productID=448&CategoryID=11

-Fergs

jes1510
01-23-2009, 12:07 PM
How about adding one more 3 pin header on the serial lines (RX, TX, GND). That way if you want to use the board as a general controller you can leave off the Xbee and use a servo cable to access the TTL serial lines. Of course this would have to sit between the micro and the level shifters.

DresnerRobotics
01-23-2009, 12:10 PM
How about adding one more 3 pin header on the serial lines (RX, TX, GND). That way if you want to use the board as a general controller you can leave off the Xbee and use a servo cable to access the TTL serial lines. Of course this would have to sit between the micro and the level shifters.

This is a solid suggestion, Fergs?

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 01:08 PM
How about adding one more 3 pin header on the serial lines (RX, TX, GND). That way if you want to use the board as a general controller you can leave off the Xbee and use a servo cable to access the TTL serial lines. Of course this would have to sit between the micro and the level shifters.

Already there - it's just right underneath the XBEE
http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/gallery/files/1/7/6/8/miniserial.jpg

jes1510
01-23-2009, 01:12 PM
Beautiful!

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 02:42 PM
Hate to increase your BOM, but have you considered a little reset switch on both the processor and XBee?

I'll look at the schematic before I comment further...

lnxfergy
01-23-2009, 03:12 PM
Hate to increase your BOM, but have you considered a little reset switch on both the processor and XBee?

I'll look at the schematic before I comment further...

It's not the BOM, as much as routing wires, thats a problem.... Cause we can even go the route of not plugging certain stuff... but it's getting kinda cramped...

-Fergs

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 03:34 PM
Those tiny little resets like are on the Arduino or the XBee shield shouldn't take any real room. Have you seen the part count on the XBee shield? Anywho - at least leave 'em floating with pads so that they can be reasonably rebooted... You'll thank me later. ;)

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 03:53 PM
Ok - who voted "no"? I need to kick 'em in the shins. ;)

DresnerRobotics
01-23-2009, 04:18 PM
Okay guys, we're not wasting any time on this. I'm going to be ordering parts for this early next week, so I need an accurate count of how many people plan on buying one of these boards initially. I'm going to order a big batch of boards, but I'm only going to order enough parts to populate them to fulfill the needs of people who want them asap. Keep in mind this is a general use Atmega168 with Xbee board, it has far more use than just this competition.

We're selling them at cost for $25, assembeled or unassembled. If you want to build your own for MechDAR or other uses thats fine, but all target units will be sent out built and fully tested at no additional charge (for quality control purposes). If you want to save on shipping and order them with the sensors (vibration for Targeting units, or MechDAR sensors) or other Trossen merchandise we can work that out via PM at a later time, for now I'm just taking inventory of who wants what.

Everyone participating in Mech Warfare will need one of these boards (for the targeting system), and anyone who wants a MechDAR system will need another. We'll put together finalized parts lists for any additional components needed for both systems.

For the targetting system you're looking at $20-40 worth of sensors/cables and an Xbee ($19).

For the MechDAR system, if you don't have any parts at all you're probably looking at about $175 in addition to the $25 board. This covers all the IR sensors, sonar, servo, panning turret, a pair of Xbees, and a USB Xbee Explorer.

Please PM me (Tyberius, not lnxfergy) with how many boards you will need. I'm not asking anyone to pay for anything right now, but I'd like to start populating a list of how many boards will need to go out, and to whom.

Mech Warfare is on!

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 04:34 PM
Oh - before I forget - Fergs asked a question earlier:

No, it's not 5v tolerant. But a simple divider seems to work "well enough" - I'd go that route. I have a surface mount transitor/divider scheme goin' on, but it doesn't seem to make too much difference.

DresnerRobotics
01-23-2009, 04:36 PM
We already worked a divider into it, as well as a 1.8k inline on the outgoing Xbee line to the AVR, just to make sure we don't have any overflow. This is the same setup I have on my Xbee Bioloid controller, works great.

Adrenalynn
01-23-2009, 05:50 PM
Nod - that's what I was suggesting, yes.

robologist
01-23-2009, 11:43 PM
Uhh, XBee-Pro's draw about 270 mA on transmit, think that might toast a resistor divider? Regular XBee's only are 45 trans, 50 rec, Pros, 270 trans, 55 rec.

lnxfergy
01-24-2009, 12:03 AM
Uhh, XBee-Pro's draw about 270 mA on transmit, think that might toast a resistor divider? Regular XBee's only are 45 trans, 50 rec, Pros, 270 trans, 55 rec.

Resistor divider is for the TX/RX only - the Xbee has it's own 3.3V LDO.

-Fergs

lnxfergy
01-24-2009, 12:12 AM
Uhh, XBee-Pro's draw about 270 mA on transmit, think that might toast a resistor divider? Regular XBee's only are 45 trans, 50 rec, Pros, 270 trans, 55 rec.

Hmm, so this board was definatly designed with the XBee in mind - not the XBee pro. The LP2950 puts out 100mA, I suppose you could hot-wire an LM1117 to the underside of the board to power an XBee pro. Further, I don't have any PRO's but I would think that they won't clear the motor headers or Power LEDs, or the caps for the oscillator due to the longer size. You would definitely have to forgo the LED, and possibly the motor headers. I guess you could lay down the caps. So yeah, out of the box, this is designed for an XBee - you could probably hack it for Pro.... but that would void the non-existent warranty...

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
01-24-2009, 12:28 AM
For our purposes, we don't need anything more powerful than the standard Xbee for the competition anyway.

Sienna
01-24-2009, 08:36 AM
Ok - who voted "no"? I need to kick 'em in the shins. ;)
Hi. That would be me. I voted no because I already had the desire to make my own control board for the Mech, as I wanted things like battery usage monitoring, uC controlled 9V to 12V power supplies, transistors for lasers and bbguns, etc. Hence, this board doesn't work for me.

And then Tyb came out and said I am required to get one anyway because all of a sudden its the target board as well. And then I learn that we are using these huge phidget utrasonics as well, that doesn't look at all like the sensor can be mounted to anything from the pictures.

(Edit: On the sensors, I seem to recall that in the earlier experiments a piezo element was mounted directly to the "target plate", not overhung off a pcb like in the phidgets picture)

lnxfergy
01-24-2009, 10:01 AM
Hi. That would be me. I voted no because I already had the desire to make my own control board for the Mech, as I wanted things like battery usage monitoring, uC controlled 9V to 12V power supplies, transistors for lasers and bbguns, etc. Hence, this board doesn't work for me.

And then Tyb came out and said I am required to get one anyway because all of a sudden its the target board as well. And then I learn that we are using these huge phidget utrasonics as well, that doesn't look at all like the sensor can be mounted to anything from the pictures.

(Edit: On the sensors, I seem to recall that in the earlier experiments a piezo element was mounted directly to the "target plate", not overhung off a pcb like in the phidgets picture)

Sienna,

That's fine - no hard feelings. I just wanted to say: this is not being used to control the mech, it's a separate self-contained system that pumps out sensor readings and builds a HUD. In theory, something like battery monitoring could also be added - however, the actual controlling of the mech will be through some other sorts for most people (unless they rework this to control thier mech too, which isn't recommended, since the transmit is gonna be on nearly all the time - and thus recieving data will be very slow and error prone...)

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
01-24-2009, 11:00 AM
As Fergs said, this isn't intended to be a control solution, its simple an independent sensory hud device to assist in piloting. It's purely optional, but we wanted to share it with the community because we feel its a great idea thats going to help a lot of us with piloting.

We're using the board for the target unit as well, as the original plan for that board was an AVR with an Xbee interface, no sense in designing the same thing twice. We were always required to pickup a target unit, and these ones turned out to be a little cheaper anyway. We're only using an USB Xbee Explorer w/ Xbee for the master unit, so we're saving money there too for people who want their own setup.

We're using the piezos from Phidgets for a few reasons, first because they're already converted to a 0-5v analog signal and it gives us a standard, rather than people scavenging for sensors across the net. The interface board itself is actually quite small, about 1"x1", and the plan is to separate the piezo from them so that they can be mounted directly to the target sensor, as the stock configuration wouldn't exactly work too well.


Hi. That would be me. I voted no because I already had the desire to make my own control board for the Mech, as I wanted things like battery usage monitoring, uC controlled 9V to 12V power supplies, transistors for lasers and bbguns, etc. Hence, this board doesn't work for me.

And then Tyb came out and said I am required to get one anyway because all of a sudden its the target board as well. And then I learn that we are using these huge phidget utrasonics as well, that doesn't look at all like the sensor can be mounted to anything from the pictures.

(Edit: On the sensors, I seem to recall that in the earlier experiments a piezo element was mounted directly to the "target plate", not overhung off a pcb like in the phidgets picture)

Connor
01-24-2009, 11:38 AM
And then Tyb came out and said I am required to get one anyway because all of a sudden its the target board as well. And then I learn that we are using these huge phidget utrasonics as well, that doesn't look at all like the sensor can be mounted to anything from the pictures.

Not to gang up on you or anything, but, I just want to point out that the "phidget ultrasonic" isn't phidgets, it by maxbotix, phidget just sells them. It's SMALLER than any other Ultrasonic out there, and, by far the best. Compared to the dual units, these things are tiny.

Thanks, Connor

DresnerRobotics
01-24-2009, 11:46 AM
I assume she meant the Phidgets Vibration Sensor.

Adrenalynn
01-24-2009, 01:54 PM
+Rep from me, Tybs [you'll get yours later, Fergs. Have to spread it around]

Thanks for the effort you're putting into this!

lnxfergy
01-24-2009, 02:53 PM
Not to gang up on you or anything, but, I just want to point out that the "phidget ultrasonic" isn't phidgets, it by maxbotix, phidget just sells them. It's SMALLER than any other Ultrasonic out there, and, by far the best. Compared to the dual units, these things are tiny.

Thanks, Connor

Actually Connor, I'm not entirely sure thats fully accurate - I'm also a big fan of the SRF-02 from Devantech. Its the same size as the maxbotix units, but has an I2C interface - its pretty much the same price (avgs $27, i've seen them for $24 on sale). That can save a lot of ports! 16 sonars = just two lines! Where I think maxbotix really rocks, is that they are the only people who are making sonars that have DIFFERENT detection cones! Thats really awesome, because you can select which cone you want when you buy your sensors (the detection cone of an SRF-02 is comparable to an EZ-1).

-Fergs

Connor
01-24-2009, 03:59 PM
Actually Connor, I'm not entirely sure thats fully accurate - I'm also a big fan of the SRF-02 from Devantech. Its the same size as the maxbotix units, but has an I2C interface - its pretty much the same price (avgs $27, i've seen them for $24 on sale). That can save a lot of ports! 16 sonars = just two lines! Where I think maxbotix really rocks, is that they are the only people who are making sonars that have DIFFERENT detection cones! Thats really awesome, because you can select which cone you want when you buy your sensors (the detection cone of an SRF-02 is comparable to an EZ-1).

-Fergs

Your right, the SRF-02's are good.. About the same size as the Maxbotix ones.. and are I2C. But, as you said, the EZ's have 5 different cones to choose from which is really nice.... Also offer 3 different output options vs just I2C. (Analog, PWM, and Serial). FYI, I'm running my sonar ring with only 2 lines! They're chained with diodes on the output side of the serial so that they trigger each one in succession. Timing is critical, but, works rather well.

Thanks, Connor

Sienna
01-25-2009, 10:20 AM
:blush
Oops.... Yes, Tyb was right, I did mean the vibration sensor. And it mollifies me that we can "split" the sensor from the pcb.

DresnerRobotics
01-25-2009, 12:11 PM
I've got 14 votes for wanting a MechDAR system and only 5 PMs to be put on the list to get one. If you want a MechDAR system, or a Target Unit, PM me with quantities of each. I'm not taking any money at this point, simply putting together a list of people who want them so I know how many boards to have made. If you don't PM me to secure one, you're going to have to wait until we get enough orders for a 2nd batch.

sthmck
01-25-2009, 12:34 PM
By target unit are you talking about the board that detects hits and sends the score to the score computer?

DresnerRobotics
01-25-2009, 12:47 PM
Yes.

MechDAR and Target Units use the same board, but different programming and sensors attached.

Everyone participating in Mech Warfare will require at least one target unit (and I've gotten plenty of requests for those via PM already), the MechDAR system is purely optional.

MSpurk
01-25-2009, 08:39 PM
Okay. A lot going on here, and I'm getting older by the minute, so let me ask some questions here.

You are currently taking orders for the target units and MechDAR, correct?

I need a target unit, and according to your post about 2 pages back, that will run us about $64-$84. Which includes the $25 board (currently being ordered), $20-$40 for sensors and cables, and $19 for the Xbee unit. What else would I need to be able to use this setup? Assuming I know nothing, and have nothing is a safe assumption. Can I get everything I need from Trossen, and save a couple bucks on shipping?

If we don't have $80 right now (or in the next few days when the order is made) can we order the units later, or do we miss the boat?

Where were the Phidget sensors discussed? I missed that one, and need to look into them a little.

Thanks,
-Matt-

DresnerRobotics
01-25-2009, 09:03 PM
I am taking orders for both, no money is needed right now. I'm asking for PMs because I'm trying to get an idea of how many I need to have made, as I have to get them in batches of 20. I can cover this cost up front as its only about $5 a board, no worries there.

Once I receive the boards and build and fully test the first ones (as well as wait on all the software to be finalized) I will be excepting money for these and placing orders for the parts to populate them. This will probably be about a month from now.

Your assumption on the target units is correct, that would be everything you would need to compete. If you want your own scoreboard setup, that will consist of another Xbee and USB XBee explorer (and a computer to run the software), which will cost about $39. That unit is going to be provided by me at the competition, so you don't technically need one unless you want it for your own testing purposes.

Everything else we need is available at the Trossen store. When the time comes to ship them out, I'll be communicating with people who need target sensors, MechDAR sensors, and XBee stuff. You'll be able to place your order for that stuff online on the store, and I'll slip in your target units and/or MechDAR units so that you can save on shipping.

The vibration sensors for the target units we're likely going to be using are here: http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/3233-Vibration-Sensor.aspx

You can separate the piezo element from the PCB for mounting directly on the target panel.

Firestorm65
02-03-2009, 02:01 PM
Are you offering the translational software to participants? Many mech's might want different sensing systems, but the ability to map AND detect enemies against that map could be useful to everyone.

lnxfergy
02-03-2009, 02:15 PM
Are you offering the translational software to participants? Many mech's might want different sensing systems, but the ability to map AND detect enemies against that map could be useful to everyone.

I'm a firm believer in open source. All of the AVR based mechDAR, as well as the Python GUI (using pygame), will be freely available under a BSD license. Additionally, I am developing an entire Python-based mech control system, which will be available under a similar license. The current prototype is running around, but it will still be a week or two before I have any final product to show... current development roadmap is as follows:

MechDAR RoadMap:
REV 1 - final software for AVR (will not have to be changed in future versions). The python GUI will handle single data frames (aka instantaneous map). This part is pretty much done, but I am tuning and experimenting with a few things. Should also include a rudimentary threat detection system, but limited data will equal limited results. (Intended release: mid-february).
REV 2 - Will add frame meshing (world map creation) to the GUI. Will also include a more advanced threat detection system. (Intended release: early to mid-march)

PyMech RoadMap:
REV 1 - Includes IP cam interface, packetized control using pyserial for XBee->AVR, integrated mechdar screen, and system feedback (batt voltage, etc). (Intended release: early- to mid-march)

Edit: re-reading your question, I think I should elaborate more. If you want to use a different sensor suite, you will have to rework the AVR code, as well as part of the GUI code. Very doable, but you will need an AVR-ISP ($25-40), and have to install AVR-GCC (free).

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
02-03-2009, 02:48 PM
This isn't directed at anyone- just a general statement, but something to keep in mind is that Fergs is doing this for the benefit of the community and on his own spare time. I'm funding the parts for the system to be prototyped and built, but that is trivial compared to what Fergs is contributing: a lot of dedicated time and effort into bringing this system into reality. Everyone should definitely give him a big thanks (and/or a +rep), in a weeks time he's gotten the system up and running to the point where it just needs some minor tweaking.

He also provided a very simple and straightforward solution for our target unit boards, which helped move that along at a dramatically faster pace.

Thank you Fergs!

ooops
02-03-2009, 03:37 PM
I leave the country for one short week and you guys do something amazing:)
+rep to you both!!!

DresnerRobotics
02-03-2009, 04:50 PM
I really can't take any credit for this, it's all Fergs. His vast knowledge of programming, electronics, and mapping is what is making this happen.

DresnerRobotics
02-11-2009, 06:05 PM
Just an update: The ball is definitely rolling and rolling quick.

I have the first 25 boards in, we're doing some software prototyping and finalizing things before I start taking orders though.

Here's the first board, which will play the part of Target Board or MechDAR board:

DresnerRobotics
02-12-2009, 10:08 PM
And, I've now successfully replicated the MechDAR system on my end. We're going to be finalizing the embedded code shortly, the GUI side still needs a good amount of optimization though. Hopefully we'll have made very solid progress on the Target board software next week too... so expect me to start taking money for orders in the near future.

jes1510
02-13-2009, 10:18 AM
Nice work guys! I'm looking forward to playing with these.

robologist
02-13-2009, 11:14 AM
What are the possibilities of combining functions? Having one board be both MechDAR and target monitor? Just curious, unaware of code space limits or pin usage.

lnxfergy
02-13-2009, 11:18 AM
What are the possibilities of combining functions? Having one board be both MechDAR and target monitor? Just curious, unaware of code space limits or pin usage.

code limits are not the problem -- XBEE bandwidth is... further, we don't want the XBEE to spam the scoring controller with mechdar data...

-Fergs

DresnerRobotics
02-13-2009, 01:55 PM
What are the possibilities of combining functions? Having one board be both MechDAR and target monitor? Just curious, unaware of code space limits or pin usage.


We looked at this, not really feasible. In order to get a good update rate on the MechDAR we pretty much max the Xbee bandwidth. Also, there are no available analog ports with MechDAR, you need 2-4 for the target boards.

nagmier
07-12-2009, 09:41 AM
Has there been anytime to make more progress on MechDAR yet?

lnxfergy
07-12-2009, 07:32 PM
Has there been anytime to make more progress on MechDAR yet?

Not yet. I also don't have a working setup here (the board got stripped out for scoring testing, the IRs sorta dissappeared. hmm) I will eventually get back to this project, but probably not until the fall. I will post updates here in this thread though as soon as anything happens. Thanks for the interest!

-Fergs