View Full Version : interested in robitics and need someone to point me in the right direction

08-05-2009, 07:05 PM
I'm a programmer by day and i am looking to get into some simple robotics. Since i am a .Net programmer i would like to apply those same programming skills to robotics. In my first little project i would like to work with a ultrasonic sensor connected to a PC. I've looked all over the net (including here) but i cant seem to find a USB sensor. Is that not the preferred connection method for this scenario? should i consider using something like an arduino board w/usb connected to ultrasonic sensor and communicate via that method using .net? I'm totally new at all this so please forgive the ignorance.


08-05-2009, 07:20 PM
Typically, you'll find that to connect sensors to a PC, you want to use some sort of an interface board. The Arduino is definately an option, but there are also boards out that don't require you to program (like the Arduino would). A couple options:

The serializer http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5196-Robotics-Connection-Serializer-WL.aspx
USB->I2C (many sensors out there can be found in an I2C form) http://acroname.com/robotics/parts/R286-USB-I2C.html

The Arduino is clearly the cheaper, and probably more extensible option, as long as you don't mind programming it. Arduino programming shouldn't be too tough for a software guy (it's just plain C, with a little bit of C++ style classes)


08-05-2009, 07:44 PM
The MaxBotics will do TTL serial. Then all you need is a TTL->USB line level converter. I wrote a quickie app the other day to displace the distance output from the MaxBotics with C#. Darned if I can find it. I'll have to find by date.

That doesn't get you very far though, because anything else you'd want to do in the future will require a microcontroller to talk analog or other digital levels to the sensors - as Fergs correctly advises.

08-06-2009, 02:57 AM
Another way to go all together would be the phidgets route. Phidgets are USB devices that use .net I believe. They are really easy to use, and have a set of stuff that you can use with them. You would need a phidget 8/8/8 (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5341-InterfaceKit-8-8-8.aspx). that is eight digital inputs and outputs, and eight analog inputs. You can use this with the sonar (http://www.phidgets.com/products.php?product_id=1128), IR, and a host of other sensors. Some will complain that the phidget device is relatively slow and expensive...and maybe it is, but it is also dead easy to use.

Also you should check out Matts tutorial on PC based robotics. (http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/tutorials/introduction-129/pc-based-robot-demo-2296/?catid=searchresults&searchid=405)

Ok...hope all of these posts help you out.


08-06-2009, 03:33 AM
The Serializer that Fergs mentions also has a fully developed set of .Net libraries with multiple sensor types already coded and almost every imaginable [useful] interface to the PC as plug-and-play (serial RS232, TTL, USB, bluetooth, xbee, etc) rather than the USB-only Phidgets.

08-08-2009, 06:28 PM
Wow, thanks for all the input guys. this should get me started! I'm all excited now!