View Full Version : Serializer-but can it cook?

03-31-2007, 01:53 PM
I've been reading all I can find on the Serializer and it looks like the perfect solution for my ROV project. I need PWM control of 3 motors (right, left and vertical thrusters) and the light source. We'll need to read a compass, a 3-axis accelerometer , pressure (depth) gauge, and a temperature gauge. It will be carrying 2 CCTV cameras as well. I was going to use a laptop topside for control, but the recent demise of my ThinkPad due to poor handling by some un-named airline baggage-smasher leads me to believe that a nice fanless Mini-ATX in a smash-proof Pelican case will be a better idea.

Serializer questions:
Will the Serializer work with Phidget hardware?
Is the MS Robotics Studio necessary to run the Serializer software? I am still using Win2KPro because it is stable and..well..cheap. MS Robotics Studio won't run on anything pre-XP apparently. Has the Serializer stuff been tested with Vista?

How is this going to fit into the TRS?
Is the TRS an independent application like MS Robotics Studio or am I missing the point altogether here?

I'll save the rest of the questions for later. :D

My other project <in the very, very preliminary information gathering stage> is an Autonomous Surface Vessel for survey/mapping work. Take a look at the AUVSI site http://www.auvsi-asvc.org if you'd like.

04-02-2007, 11:58 AM
Hi Bill,

Thanks for not derailing the other thread, hehe!

I'm not 100% clear on your Phidget question, but hopefully this will answer it.

You should be able to create a .NET application and use both the serializer and any other Phidget hardware (Interface Kits, RFID board, servo & DC motor controllers) in the same application. We haven't had the opportunity to test that for sure though, but we don't see a reason why it wouldn't work. However, obviously the Phidgets will require a constant connection to a USB port on your computer.

Now, if this is not what you are referring to the Phidget sensors being able to connect to the serializer, you're in luck. All Phidget sensors require a max of 5V, and returns a 0 - 5V analog signal.

In regards to MSRS and the Serializer, it does have Services for MSRS available, but you do not have to use MSRS Services with the Serializer if you do not want to:D

Regarding the TRS; It is a completely independent set of tools designed to simplify the life of a robotics developer.

Good luck with that other project or yours, and thanks for the link! I'll be checking out the link in a little bit:)

04-02-2007, 01:23 PM
The Serializer looks like my solution still...BUT...since I am having ZERO luck with the Robotics Connection "Quick Start Guide to the Serializer" ...got the libraries installed, but none of the example screens look or work like mine do...and while the guys at Robotics Connection were helpful, they couldnt solve my problem either.....When are you going to unleash the TRS on the world? and do you need a Beta tester?

04-02-2007, 01:45 PM
What sort of problems are you having with the libraries and/or docs? I haven't had the time to dive too deep into the support docs yet, but I'm certainly willing to help any way I can:)

On a side note, we don't have much info on the TRS release at this time. Beta testers are always welcome, but we don't have a time frame set for a beta release.

04-02-2007, 04:31 PM
OK Alex...this will probably end up with me being humiliated for missing something obvious, but I am old and used to it<G>
Quick Start Guide= QSG
I'm using Microsoft Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition. I do have the Microsoft .Net Framework SDK installed as well as Visual C++ Express.

Which is the problem..since I am trying to use C# in a VB program. (Pointed out to me, quite nicely, by Jason @ Robotics Connection)]

SOooooooooooo...I'll be doing a bit of rework here...
I have classes the next three days, so.. I may be a bit slow to answer..
Ideas still accepted, as will be any code I can C&P
Have a fine day,

04-03-2007, 10:04 AM
Hey Billblack,

What sort of ideas and/or code are you looking for?

04-03-2007, 04:50 PM
Hi Alex...
I guess what passes for a "QuickStart" Guide for some folks is different than for others.. :)
If I can get the first serializer component to show up in my VB app, I'll be tickled. A friend of mine that writes code for a nuclear plant tells me that there is a converter for changing C# code to VB. I have class till 830 tonight and a 45 minute drive home, so I wont be doing much till morning.
At that point I'll try to change Jason's C# to VB and see how things work.
Any help will be appreciated.

04-03-2007, 05:11 PM
Yep, your friend is right! There's a ton of tools out there to convert VB.NET to C#. I like free stuff though:


This may not convert everything 100% beautifully and perfect, but it at least 90% of the time gives you a great start with what you should be looking for.

Question though... If you are using C++ Express, then why do you want to convert (and use for that matter) VB?

Either way, I would recommend trying to learn C# Express though. In the long run, you will be way more satisfied with it in comparison to VB Express. There really isn't too much of a difference between the two languages, other than the syntax. It's just that more people in this field program in C# as opposed to VB. There are a ton of tutorials, examples, and videos on the Microsoft Express pages:


Enough to keep your head spinnin for days:D

Also, Microsoft has even put together an entire beginner developer center intended to help you learn programming from the ground up:


04-04-2007, 08:58 AM
Good morning!
I had DLed VB Express as well as C++ and now C#. I've had one class in VB, one in C++ and next semester I have an online class in C. I thought that the C# syntax most resembled VB..so I thought to start there.

For the next few days, while I catch up on Digital Fundamentals homework, Circuit Fun homework and Analog Circuits homework, I'll brush up on my C# with the MS online tutorials and try to get the Quickstart Guide stuff working..THEN we'll know what else I need to know!
I'm still interested in the TRS, tho. I am looking forward to more information. Ahhh..btw..I showed your Bridgeware Tutorial to the other folks and the instructor in my Circuit Fundamentals class last night..Everyone was duly impressed. :) Maybe I can drum up some business for y'all.
My electronics professor has a Masters in Computer Science..I'm trying to get him interested in helping me with GUI desirn for this project.

More questions in a few days...but if you have any thoughts that might eeeeeease the pain, feel free to communicate them in any fashion you'd like. :)

04-05-2007, 02:27 PM
The only thing I would suggest other than looking through the info on my other posts would be to look through all of Jason's examples of the Serializer:


Look under "Docs/How To/Library", and go through all of the code examples. The more code you look at the more familar you'll get with his API:)

04-06-2007, 12:29 PM
Well...between catching up on homework and reading code..I have a weekend ahead of me. It's 78 degrees, the sun is shining and the ocean is like glass...Right now..I am going fishing. TONIGHT I will do homework and read code!

Oh..The BaneBot motors MS-25010-370 (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/4218-10-1-25mm-Spur-Gearmotor-RF-370-Motor.aspx) are listed 1575 rpm @ 7.2V. Is that the highest RPM in that 25mm line of motors/gearboxes? Are these pretty durable units? I won't be putting an overhanging load on that long shaft...That long shaft is going to cure some of my propeller mounting troubles. :)
My props have a .375" id bore. I'll have to find some sort of spacer.
Have a good afternoon
in sunny Florida

04-09-2007, 07:24 PM
I recommend moving up to the 28mm motors, as we've been having some issues with the 370 motors that come with the 25mm series. Check out these:
28016-385 (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/4223-16-1-28mm-Planetary-Gearmotor-RS-385-Motor.aspx)
28005-385 (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/4222-5-1-28mm-Planetary-Gearmotor-RS-385-Motor.aspx)

04-11-2007, 12:10 PM
On my way to a new thread, now.

04-29-2007, 04:21 PM
Hey Bill,
I know what you mean about that quick start guide. There is no mention of the two drivers that must be installed for the usb to work. Once that was accomplished however I have the same problem of getting the blinking led tutorial to work. I am programing in vb.net and have coded based on c# examples numerous times yet my serializer does not communicate with my app. If you find a solution please let me know.

04-30-2007, 11:15 AM
Hey Mich,

I just tried to connect the USB module to my PC for the first time and I'm having a little trouble communicating with the device as well:( It is still a fairly new product, so there are still some things to work out.

I just contacted the manufacturer though, so hopefully we might have an answer soon.

On a side note though, I had very little trouble using the bluetooth module. (http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5199-Bluetooth-Communication-Connector.aspx) The bluetooth module is sweet cuz it's wireless, but it's not as fast as USB.

04-30-2007, 12:11 PM
Hey Guys,

We are actually putting together some How-To videos for establishing communications w/ the Serializer. We've finished the Bluetooth video, but we still have to complete the RS-232, USB, and XBee videos. I'm waiting to put all of them on the site at once.

I apologize for the delay in getting them finished...We've been spending a lot of time getting our demo working for our Robotics Studio show at Maker Faire (http://www.makerfaire.com/).

As for establishing communication via USB, it should be pretty straight forward.

Before plugging the USB cable from your Serializer in to your PC/Laptop, I would go into Hyperterm, and see the list of currently available COM ports. Then, plug the USB cable in which should be attached to the Serializer USB module. Under windows XP, you should hear the little 'ding' sound that typically occurs when a USB device is recognized and enumerated (make sure your sound is turned on). Once XP recognizes the USB module, it will basically set it up as a new COM port.

Now, go into Hyperterm again, and look at the list of COM ports. The new COM port is the one that was assigned to the USB module. You should be able to power up the Serializer, and establish communications via 19200 baud at this point using the new COM port.

A few notes...The USB chip on the USB module on the serializer is powered from the cable (e.g. the PC/Laptop), so if you want to totally disconnect the module from your PC or Laptop, you need to disconnect the cable. Cycling power on the Serializer won't cause a USB disconnect. :)

I'm going to post this question on our new forums, along w/ the answer to help any other customers until we can get the videos finished (~3 weeks).

Are you using XP/Vista, or are you using a Linux variant? We haven't tested under Linux yet.

By the way, here's the 'Establishing Communication via Bluetooth' (http://www.roboticsconnection.com/multimedia/movies/Serializer/BluetoothConnection/EstabCommBluetooth.wmv) video link (I still need to work on the audio track volumes & re-render - I know it sucks right now - I'm new at video editing :) ).

Best Regards,

Jason Summerour
Summerour Robotics Corp
Microsoft MVP
www.roboticsconnection.com (http://www.roboticsconnection.com)

04-30-2007, 11:55 PM
First of all I appreciate all the help. Second, I followed your directions with using Hyperterm with no change in the outcome.(Using XP) However the two drivers are still installed from the first time I connected the USB.(No one ever mention these, so is it a problem 1.FTDI driver 2.Generic Microsoft USB driver) To be more precise my application starts communication with the serializer, most the time. However the problem is sensor input reads as zero, Firmware version is an empty string and the dam blinking LEDs remain unchanged.:rolleyes:

05-02-2007, 08:42 AM
which test app are you using? Also, have you modified it at all?

05-08-2007, 12:24 AM
I am follwing the "Serializer.NET Library Installation & QuickStart Guide v1.1"

I have followed it word for word as well as modified it. the application does not change the lights blink rate, however I do believe there is a connection between the serializer and the computer. I also tried to communicate using hyperterminal following the example in the bluetooth video with no success.(no ACK prompt)
When I have time I will start from scratch.

PS Great Video. Waiting for more.

05-09-2007, 06:06 PM
Hey Mich,

Just to keep you updated, I'm going to try testing the USB module out tomorrow. I'm not sure why the module is not working for you. I know I had a little trouble getting it up and running as well, but I didn't have a whole lot of time to spend on figuring it out.

If I don't get to it tomorrow, I'll post here as soon as I have a little more freed up time. Sorry, we're just trying to tie up all the last minute things for our demonstrations at Maker Faire '07 (http://makerfaire.com/) before we ship everthing out next week.

05-15-2007, 04:27 PM
Hey Mich,

I just finished testing the USB module and was able to successfully move a servo around, and change the LED blink rate:)

First of all, I think the easiest way (sorry Jason) to find out what port your USB module is using is just to go to Device Manager. All I did was right click on "My Computer", and went to "Manage". Under "Computer Management", look for "Device Manager". Then, you'll see all of your devices on your computer on the right. Expand "Ports (COM & LPT)". Finally, with your Serializer USB Module unplugged, make note of all the ports in the list, and plug your Serializer USB Module in, wait for the list to refresh, and make note of the port that is added. Mine says "USB Serial Port (COM11)".

Ok, now that you have your serial port number, open up the application that I attached to this post. It's a modified version of the Serializer demo. It has three sliders/trackbars on the form.

The first trackbar is for a servo connected to port #9. The servo range that the Serializer understands is from -100 to 100.

The last two trackbars are to change the blinkrate of the LEDs. I wasn't sure of the range, so I just left them from 0 to 1000.

Ok, now for the modification. Open up the code editor for the form and go to the constructor. You will see the following line:

serializer.PortName = "COM11";

Change that to your port number. Also, note the following line:

serializer.BaudRate = 19200;

As Jason stated above (which I missed the first time:D), the baudrate for the USB communication needs to be set at 19200, else it won't work.

Once you have the .PortName set, go ahead and compile/run the app, and play around with the sliders (only move the first one if you have the servo plugged into port #9).

I hope you get back to me quick, cuz we're going to be flying out to Maker Faire Friday morning, so I won't be around at all for a while.

Sorry it took so freakin long for me to get back to you. We've been swamped here at TR getting ready for Maker Faire.

05-15-2007, 10:33 PM
Thanks Alex,
I am going to try out the application immediately, however I fear this will not change anything as I know I have the correct port and baud rate. But can you tell me if windows immediately installed two drivers on that port as soon as you plugged in the Serializer?

05-16-2007, 01:17 AM
Unfortunately the application did not work. I will continue to troubleshoot myself and when I come up with direct questions I will come back to you.


P.S. My first question still stands. Did anyone else have two drivers installed? (Generic usb device followed by ftdi driver)

05-16-2007, 08:30 AM
Hey Mich,

Yes, Windows immediately installed the two drivers (USB device and FTDI driver) the first time I plugged in the Serializer. I didn't install anything, I just plugged in the device and went through two drive setups that Windows asked me to do.

However, it wasn't until I set the correct port name and baud rate that I got it to actually work.

Please keep us posted and don't hesitate to ask some questions if you have some.

If you want to send it in to me so that I can test it on my machine, I'd be happy to do so, just contact me off list if you want this. You could have a bad Serializer, or even a bad USB module.