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Thread: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

  1. Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    Dear All,

    While I have an HD PC camera "Microsoft Lifecam", I'm wondering if I will be able to connect such camera to CM-5 in the bioloid kit, given that CM-5 does not have a USB outlet.

    If it is possible, please tell which component/module is required to make the bioloid be able to recognize the PC camera through USB

    Thank you

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    Re: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    There is likely more processing power on the Lifecam than on the CM-5. The CM-5 (powered by an ATmega128 micro-controller) is meant to be a very basic controller of Dynamixel servos (perform pre-recorded/pre-programmed motions and communicate with a remote control or a PC for further input). If you want to use the Lifecam, you will need an actual micro-processor (x86, ARM, PPC, etc.) equipped device with a high-speed (480 Mbps) USB2.0 Host Controller (full-speed is 12 Mbps and will not achieve very high resolution or framerate). The last incarnation of lxnfergy's Issy used two lifecam's connected to a Fitpc2 (a very small form-factor, Intel Atom equipped computer).
    Last edited by tician; 02-27-2012 at 12:18 AM.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"

  3. Re: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    Thanks for the comprehensive response, its truly appreciated . The problem is that I don't know much about micro controllers as I am a computer science student. However, I took the initiative to do a project which involves Agent Surveillance, where a robot is able to autonomously scout and take images of trespassers. Now, since I was able to get the Bioloid comprehensive kit for the project, I am wondering how I can attach a camera to the robot so that it takes images and sends them to the computer. I read about IP cameras and how bioloid is able to connect to wifi cameras via ZigBee, but I'm just not sure where to go from here. If it is possible that you provide me with a name of an IP camera brand or perhaps primitive webcams that are able to easily be integrated to the bioloid, that would be really great !

    Thank you!!!

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    Re: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    There are some threads in the MechWarfare section related to Wifi webcams and should be a decent source of info. No webcams can actually be integrated with the bioloid controllers, but there are numerous examples in the MechWarfare threads related to mounting cameras on robots (made from dynamixels and/or other servos and motors). There is also a third-party dynamixel device called the HaViMo2, but it is meant for robot soccer and would not meet your needs (very low resolution and meant for basic color tracking). Writing that last sentence gave me a powerful sense of deja vu, so there is probably another thread floating around here with a better discussion of video processing options. All of the bots in the MechWarfare threads use a dedicated servo control board (CM-5/510/700/730, Arbotix, Axon, etc.) and/or an embedded-PC (fitpc2, RoBoard, Gumstix, BeagleBoard, etc.).

    When there is no embedded-PC to directly process the video stream from a USB webcam, then the MechWarfare builders have been using either a wifi camera or a wifi video encoder (takes analog video from a micro camera and streams it over wifi). They use an XBee or other ZigBee solely to facilitate communication between the remote PC and the servo control board (when dynamixel servos are used, they are often accompanied by an arbotix as it is more or less an open source alternative to the CM-5/510/700). XBee's are also used for the independent scoring system. Most often this design results in a human simply viewing the streamed video on a laptop and then using either the PC or a hand-held controller (like the RC-100 if using robotis products or arbotix commander if using XBee modules) to control the robot.

    The DARwIn-OP, Issy, Xachikoma, Turtlebot (when it has an arm) and several others on the forum use both a servo board/USB dongle to control the robot and an embedded-PC to handle video processing of the USB webcam video on the robot (and also stream the video over wifi/ethernet if so desired). The DARwIn-OP is a rather expensive example of the effectiveness of the fully onboard processing design (see some of the RoboCup videos from the last year or so) and Xachikoma is another great (and less expensive) example. While placing an embedded-PC on the bot can be a bit heavier (and a bit of a power hog depending on embedded-PC), it is the most likely to be considered reliably "autonomous". Read through some of the MechWarfare threads and you will notice that some of the Wifi cameras can be rather susceptible to RF interference producing lost video, lagging video, and image tearing (even happens sometimes when streaming video from a DARwIn-OP). Without a reliable video stream to the PC (wherever it may be), there is not much point in having a camera on the bot (doesn't matter how beautiful and elegant your code is if you can't get it useful sensor data).

    There are a few systems that can use a single board to directly control hobby servos and dynamixel servos while grabbing video from a webcam. The only one that comes to mind at the moment is the RoBoard. Although others on this forum and elsewhere have had great experiences with the RoBoard, my experiences with it have not been terribly encouraging (just seems a bit underpowered with only 256MB RAM, and does not implement certain x86 extensions useful for video/data processing).


    The choice of processing depends pretty heavily upon the robot design (and vice-versa). AX-12 bipeds like the Bioloid Premium Humanoid may have a bit of trouble supporting anything more substantial (heavier) than a Roboard or BeagleBoard. The DARwIn-OP uses MX-28's, a CM-730 to control the servos, and a fitpc2-sbc for video processing and gait control (via the CM-730). The payload and gait stability of a biped is often significantly less than quad's or a hex's. Walking robots (bipeds, quads, hexs) tend to be quite a bit more power hungry (also a bit more difficult to control and often more expensive) than rovers, and are susceptible to falling over/shutting down due to servo overload. There are also hybrid designs, like Xachikoma, with wheels on the end effector of its four legs allowing it some of the benefits of both walkers and rovers (lock servos in low torque/load orientations and use wheels to drive around using a bit less energy than walking. encounter an obstacle and use the legs to step over it).
    Last edited by tician; 02-28-2012 at 06:57 PM. Reason: Had RoboGames (thinking of MechWarfare) instead of RoboCup (football/soccer)
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
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    Re: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    I did a similar project to this, My idea was a walking robot that I could use to take pictures with, the way I did it was , I used the cm-510 to handle all the robot control. But than I mounted a roboard on the back of the Bioloid like a back pack, I used a cheap non cpu intensive webcam that I bought on ebay for $5. I ran win xp on the robaord, I forgot what program i used but it was an app that took a picture at what ever interval I setup, for my test i had it snap a shot every 5 seconds. It all actually worked good to. I have since dissassembled that design and have bioloid (Roy) set up in a fighter config. I recently moved from the NE to the SE a long move it was, so I have not been to active on here, however I am about to unpack the robots that I brought with me and resume my experiments. Look around on these forums I think I poste vids and links to my work. Good luck.

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    Re: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    There is a specific camera for the bioloid comprehensive robot. It is called the HaViMo and interfaces with the CM-510 in a similar manner as a servo or sensor. I'm not sure if you could use it to take pictures specifically, but it can feed the CM-510 information on blobs that are being tracked and so forth. As for taking pictures you might get away with something like a GoPro camera which is fairly light weight and takes resonably good though fisheyed pictures. Finally you could go with a webcam like the trendnet and use an offboard computer.

    Best of luck

    DB

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    Re: Connecting USB PC Camera to Bioloid Comprehensive Kit

    The HaViMo2 is third-party (created and used a few years ago by a RoboCup competitor) and is sort of being pushed by Robotis for the Premium kit (but not much). It is a bit of a pain to mount on any Robotis frames as the mounting holes do not line up with any frames. There are 6~7 in the lab and I had to make crappy aluminum plate boxes for them to safely mount on the frames (nice, fully-enclosed boxes are yet another reason I should build that cursed pile of parts in my basement into an actual reprap). The 3-pin dynamixel connector interferes with one of the four mounting holes, and a second hole allows the screw head to come uncomfortably close to a trace or component (don't remember which right now, but I used ~1/8" of a plastic spacer to keep it isolated).

    If you use the custom instructions and non-compliant packets then you can retrieve at most a 160x120 pixel image, either full resolution at a few frames per second or a heavily interlaced mode at maybe 20 frames per second. The gridding algorithm works well enough and can be accessed via RoboPlus Task programs, but it is a bit easier in embedded-c since you need to read up to 16 bytes of data for each detected blob (one 16-byte read versus multiple 1/2-byte reads).
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"

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