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Thread: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

  1. WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    Hi everybody, I'm Tom. I work in the WiMAX division of Sprint Technology Development and I build the Demo WiMAX systems for use at trade shows and Demos. Individual user bandwidth in WiMAX is in the range 2-5Mbps average downlink and 1-2Mbps Average uplink. So I was thinking to showcase the capability of WiMAX I could build a computer controlled robot that is driven wirelessly over the Internet. This would be similar to some WiFi robots that you may have seen, but the range of a WiMAX cell site is measured in kilometers.

    I have both small laptops and OqO Model 2s with WiMAX cards that I could use as the control computers.

    We have a number of small profile web cameras, including some nice sony security cameras with zoom, and pan and tilt http://bssc.sel.sony.com/Broadcastan...&sp=0&id=78447 for the video to drive by.

    I was looking at an ATR chassis from http://www.superdroidrobots.com/shop...asp?itemid=739 for the chassis. They seem pretty simple and are large enough to carry a laptop and other stuff.

    The control of the robot could be simply via a remote desktop connection over WiMAX or a IP/HTTP based interface for the microcontroller if possible.

    I can add other interesting sensors as I get more time.

    I'm looking for ideas and guidance from some of you experienced individuals. I'm really hoping to get something going in the next couple of weeks if possible. I will be at CTIA in Vegas in April. As the weather improves we can drive it around the neighborhood.

    My eventual goal is to build a WiMAX connected aircraft that can fly anywhere there is WiMAX signal.

  2. #2

    Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    Quote Originally Posted by twaller View Post
    Hi everybody, I'm Tom. I work in the WiMAX division of Sprint Technology Development and I build the Demo WiMAX systems for use at trade shows and Demos. Individual user bandwidth in WiMAX is in the range 2-5Mbps average downlink and 1-2Mbps Average uplink. So I was thinking to showcase the capability of WiMAX I could build a computer controlled robot that is driven wirelessly over the Internet. This would be similar to some WiFi robots that you may have seen, but the range of a WiMAX cell site is measured in kilometers.
    WiMax on a robot would definitely be very cool and interesting.

    I've already had WiFi working on my rover, which runs a Samsung S3C2410 ARM9 as the main processor and Linux (kernel 2.6.22 at present). I don't know if Linux supports any WiMax units though and it can be difficult figuring out what is and is not supported due to needing to know what chipset is being used. Right now, my WiFi is not reliable due to using an older driver grafted onto a 2.6.22 kernel - I really need a 2.6.24 kernel which has kernel support for my USB WiFi adapter.

    How large is the robot you want to build?

    8-Dale
    I can handle complexity. It's the simple things that confound me.
    Do everything in moderation, ESPECIALLY, moderation..
    Sometimes the only way to win, is not to play.. -- Stephen Falken

  3. Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    8-Dale,

    the robot would be large enough that i would not be too concerned about it driving around the neighborhood, office building, or a conference center unaccompanied. the ATR chassis i looked at is more than a foot square. i guess i could put one of those bicycle flags on it so it is more visible.

    i have to stick with a very generic computing platforms, like windows xp, because of the relative age of the WiMAX community and the number of devices since it is still pre-launch in the U.S.

    i have access to OqO Model2's and laptops with imbedded WiMAX chips, i also have USB dongles, PCMCIA and PCExpress cards for laptops. the embedded devices are easier because i don't need extra ports or slots.

    do you control your wifi robot using an onboard camera or is it strictly line-of-sight?

    with the small amount of research i have done so far, i was going to buy a chassis that already had motors and wheels. i need a motor control board and a micro-controller with a USB/serial interface to connect to the computer. Obviously some batteries and power supply. the camera will interface directly to the computer.

    if i use the ATR chassis/motors that i put in the link in my first post, i could probably get batteries and motor controller from them, too. does anyone have any experience with the ATR kits from Superdroid Robots?

  4. #4

    Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    Quote Originally Posted by twaller View Post
    i have to stick with a very generic computing platforms, like windows xp, because of the relative age of the WiMAX community and the number of devices since it is still pre-launch in the U.S.
    I am interested in any WiMax adapters that are supported in Linux. I have a crazy idea of making a roving access point one day, or many roving access points. Set them to go around different areas of a neighborhood and they would stay within range of the next nearest node or search out another node if they somehow get out of range. WiMax range is supposed to be much better than WiFi so getting out of range of another node would be much more difficult. Think of this as a WiMax Swarm. Each roving node could also have WiFi B/G and use WiMax for interconnecting between nodes due to greater range.

    Quote Originally Posted by twaller View Post
    i have access to OqO Model2's and laptops with imbedded WiMAX chips, i also have USB dongles, PCMCIA and PCExpress cards for laptops. the embedded devices are easier because i don't need extra ports or slots.
    You are fortunate to have access to such cool toys. Are any of these supported in Linux yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by twaller View Post
    do you control your wifi robot using an onboard camera or is it strictly line-of-sight?
    Right now I am in the process of converting W.A.L.T.E.R. to have an ARM9 MCU (Samsung S3C2410, TinCanTools Hammer Board) as main brain, so he isn't quite operational yet with the new setup. I already have my Hammer Carrier Board mounted, but need to convert it to dual power (battery and wall wart). I may just wait for the upcoming Hammer Bot Board though.

    Quote Originally Posted by twaller View Post
    with the small amount of research i have done so far, i was going to buy a chassis that already had motors and wheels. i need a motor control board and a micro-controller with a USB/serial interface to connect to the computer. Obviously some batteries and power supply. the camera will interface directly to the computer.
    The Hammer Board has both USB Client and Host ports, and in fact both can be used in either mode. I already have my batteries chosen and mounted. You might want to take a look at my blog to see what I have done so far. I designed the new decks I have for W.A.L.T.E.R. - four decks, 11 1/2" diameter, octagon shaped with lots of places to mount sensors and just about anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by twaller View Post
    if i use the ATR chassis/motors that i put in the link in my first post, i could probably get batteries and motor controller from them, too. does anyone have any experience with the ATR kits from Superdroid Robots?
    I haven't had any experience with them, but I have heard both good and bad things. I prefer to go with my own designs so I have no doubts about construction and durability for the many different things I want to do. I am planning to have a final set of decks made for W.A.L.T.E.R. out of aluminum once I have all my various mounting holes placed and added to the 3D CAD models.

    8-Dale
    I can handle complexity. It's the simple things that confound me.
    Do everything in moderation, ESPECIALLY, moderation..
    Sometimes the only way to win, is not to play.. -- Stephen Falken

  5. Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    8-Dale,

    I am not expecting any Linux drivers to be available until the end of this year and to be honest, I have never even heard any of the vendors mention it. I've asked one of my vendor contacts to see if they have any plans. I'll let you know.

    Thanks for the input on the controller.

    Right now I am working up the courage to spend some money. It costs more than I was anticipating to get all the hardware. My wife is going to have a cow.

    Tom

  6. #6
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    Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    My advice would be to look at different options for a rover base. Honestly I think those Superdroid rovers are far too expensive for what they are.

    LM has a cheaper alternative that might work for you: http://www.lynxmotion.com/Product.as...CategoryID=111

    Regardless, my advice is to shop around a bit more before you buy.

  7. Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    Well, I finally got around to buying parts and putting version one of the robot together. Right now it is plywood, but as I work on it i will get some sheet aluminum and do it up a little nicer.

    I bought a couple of GMH-01 motors and Banebot motor controllers for the drive train. With a Phidget 4 port servo controller to run it. The computer is currently my OqO model 2. The camera is a Logitec Pro900 USB camera.

    I found the Phidgets really easy to use and yesterday my wife was impressed by the fact that i had the motors tested with the Phidget manager in about 40 minutes with everything screwed to a 2x4. While she was at her Saturday team softball tournament (I only play Monday and Wednesdays and occasionally sub on Saturday) this morning I ran through the VB programming tutorial and network connectivity tutorial and created a networked driving program with dual speeds forward and backward, including a differential drive spin. I've never programmed in VB and it was interesting and by the time my wife was home I was driving around the family room.

    The funny thing is that probably the most interesting thing I did today was to make wheels. I didn't want to spend money on AT wheels until I was sure everything was going to work out, so I didn't have any wheels to test out my driving program. To make wheels I used a hole saw to cut out circles of plywood and used a drywall screw as a set screw in a notch to secure them to the motor shaft. What great fun inventing the wheel today.

    I was having problems with the video affecting the robot response to driving commands. I suppose it might be the motor electrical noise causing problems with the wireless. Right now I am only using WiFi. I have to go to the office or down the street to get WiMAX. The site down the street from my house isn't up yet. I'll probably take it in to the office on Monday to see how it is over WiMAX.

    I think I will pick up another motor and create a screw driven scissor jack to raise the OqO and camera up to more visible heights.

    Right now I have to get a better battery. I am using a simple AA battery box from Radio Shack for the motor power and it is not particulary efficient. I was thinking about using on of the cordless drill batteries I have. I just need to build a socket for it.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Comments?

  8. #8
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    Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    Good to see you again and to hear of your progress! (We were corresponding early on if you recall)

    Do you have filter caps on your motors? What are you using for a camera?
    I Void Warranties´┐Ż

  9. Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    Adrenalynn,

    I don't have any caps on my motors. I read about how to reduce the noise by using 3 caps and I'll probably do that.

    The camera is a logitec pro9000 web camera. It is very compact and a high resolution camera, but I am currently turned down to the lowest setting 320x200. I don't think it is bandwidth, but I will run Netmeter on the OqO to see what the throughput is.

    Tom

  10. Re: WiMAX Wireless Computer Controlled BOT

    So the learning continues. I needed decent wheels, so I bought a couple of 5" diameter mower deck wheels. That helped somewhat, though they are hard plastic and don't get much traction. I decided that the plywood body was too heavy and rebuilt the body last night using lexan. It looks much nicer, is half it's original size (about 12"x12"), drives better and the battery lasts much longer. I switched the battery from 12V AA battery boxes to using a battery from a 12V cordless drill. I get about an hour of drive time out of it. My wife took some pictures of it last night and I will try to post one when I get home from work.

    I have been running the robot remotely using Sprint's EvDO wireless. The entire DC metro area and suburbs is pretty well covered and I am surprised at how good the video is coming in from the robot. I could drive for miles.

    My problem now is that the motors don't seem to be evenly matched. When accelerating one motor invariably starts up faster or stops faster than the other. They work evenly on a carpet, but on harder surfaces it starts and stops unevenly and tracks to one side.

    Tonight I will switch the motor leads and see if the problem is in the motors or coming from the controllers. I am sending the same data to both motors, so the next step would be to build seperate sliders for each motor so that I can try to match the amount of power at each wheel. If that doesn't work I might buy another set of motors.

    I'm heading to the local hobbytown to check out the all terrain tires for better traction.

    Any suggestions on the motor problem?

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