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Thread: Looking to speed up

  1. Looking to speed up

    It seems like I have been working forever on a rb-100 based bot. Lot's of time spent trying to understand a fairly limited set of documentation, lots of time spent chasing hardware problems. But it seems like most of the time spent waiting for it to boot.

    So anyhow, it is time to move on to something a bit more modern, supported and faster. Windows 7 is a requirement, as XP is no longer supported by the current set of dev tools.

    I assume this mean a mini-itx, or pico or somthing like that.

    My question is what do you add to that to give it anywhere near the same kind of robotic I/O as the rb-100?

    I know I need serial for a GPS, probably I2C for INS(IMU). A/D for sonars (and possibly encoders). PWM out for drive motors and sensor turret servos.

    Is there some general purpose I/O board that provides these things via USB, or do you need to do it piece by piece (at around $100 each it seems)?

  2. #2
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    Re: Looking to speed up

    Oh how I hate the RoBoard. Win7/8 means a htpc-type PC such as the Intel NUC or Zotac Zbox. Quite a few users here have a NUC or Zbox for their Quad/Hex/Octo and/or rover. They have no onboard UART/SPI/I2C/ADC/PWM, but there are plenty of Arduino boards to accomplish control of those interfaces using USB. The arbotix is fairly popular arduino compatible board for robotics with an emphasis on dynamixel servos, but should have everything you need easily accessed through 3-pin servo-style headers. The Arduino Mega is another choice if you need even more GPIO/PWM/ADC and USART/SPI/I2C. There may be an arbotix pro released sometime in the summer, or later, that offers full compatibility with the CM-730 board used in the DARwIn-OP.

    If you are looking for a cheap and easy replacement (without the ADC built-in), the RaspberryPi Model B is probably the best starting place. It has an on-board UART, SPI, I2C, and several GPIO, plus there is a growing collection of accessory boards for adding ADCs and other devices to a RPi. Downside is that it is the older ARM11 architecture, which is not really supported by MS and runs at 3.3V IO (5V will damage the pins). Other options are the BeagleBoneBlack or the Arduino Tre; they both use TI Sitara processors (newer ARM Cortex-A8) and have linux support, but run at 3.3V IO (5V will damage pins). The (hopefully) soon-to-be-released Tre also has an AVR (ATmega32U4 - used on the Leonardo) Arduino assembled on the same board, so you can have that running a sketch independently of the whatever the OS is doing.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    [git][mech][hack]
    gives free advice only on public threads

  3. #3

    Re: Looking to speed up

    As for the NUC. I recently saw an announcement for a new NUC that was supposed to be released on the 28th, that is lower end, but has a custom connector, with things like: I2C, PWM, GPIO...

    Here is a link to that one: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/...e3815tybe.html

    Not sure how well this board will work, but it caught my eye as it is fanless, has built in 4gb of storage, runs on 12-19v input... So might be easier to host.

    Kurt

  4. #4

    Re: Looking to speed up

    A NUC or Zbox with an Arduino or OpenCM 9.04 will work great.

    However, do you need Windows? A Raspberry Pi is $35, runs ROS and Linux, and has some amount of built-in I/O already (you can also add another board for more I/O, just like above.)

  5. Re: Looking to speed up

    Quote Originally Posted by jwatte View Post
    A NUC or Zbox with an Arduino or OpenCM 9.04 will work great.

    However, do you need Windows? A Raspberry Pi is $35, runs ROS and Linux, and has some amount of built-in I/O already (you can also add another board for more I/O, just like above.)
    I've thought about the Pi / ROS route several times. Every time I look into it, I see warnings not to.

    The ROS page at http://wiki.ros.org/ROSberryPi/Setti...%20RaspberryPi

    includes things like;

    "The instructions above worked ok for most packages, though the dependencies are not automatically resolved. Some packages required more work. Here's how a got a couple to work."

    "I'm not completely sure of the best way to install new packages, but I think this works:"

    When I see things like that from the source, I get scared.

    "This took hours to rebuild everything, so there must be a better way, but it worked."

    I really really would like to work on robotics, not patching an OS. So far I have had to do zero work getting XP running and the I/O working, it's just slow as hell. I'm pretty sure a Pi would be a step backwards, but it might make an ok I/O board as suggested, except I'd have to write the equivalent to a device driver myself. Again, spending time on plumbing and not robotics.

    I guess no matter how much I want it, higher level robotics has just not advanced in the last 5 years, at least not to consumers without a half million to spend on a PR2.

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    Re: Looking to speed up

    Quote Originally Posted by spiked3 View Post
    I really really would like to work on robotics, not patching an OS. So far I have had to do zero work getting XP running and the I/O working, it's just slow as hell. I'm pretty sure a Pi would be a step backwards, but it might make an ok I/O board as suggested, except I'd have to write the equivalent to a device driver myself. Again, spending time on plumbing and not robotics.
    There are plenty of existing libraries and APIs for controlling the RPi I/O interfaces, and there are plenty of libraries for RPi and Arduino to use all sorts of sensors and actuators. You might have to buy/build a bit of external hardware to safely interface the RPi to 5V devices, but the software is mostly done if you port your RoBoard code to the new APIs. If you want easy ROS on inexpensive ARM boards with lots of I/O and interfaces, then you want Ubuntu ARM. RaspberryPi is not supported by Ubuntu because they used an old ARM11 instead of newer ARM architectures used by BBBk, UDOO, and Odroid.

    Quote Originally Posted by spiked3 View Post
    I guess no matter how much I want it, higher level robotics has just not advanced in the last 5 years, at least not to consumers without a half million to spend on a PR2.
    BS. There is simply no good reason for re-integrating low-level I/O controller ICs for sensors and actuators into PCs every time a new processor is released, so most people simply make one controller board isolated from the PC/motherboard, but with a commonly used, standardized interface between them (USB, Ethernet, etc.), that allows users to exchange/upgrade the high-level processing hardware at whim. The extreme integration between processor and I/O devices is part of what makes the RoBoard such a piece of crap, since you are stuck with the horrible Vortex86 architecture that cannot even meet i686 compatibility. Move the GPS, sensor, encoder, and actuator code to an arduino or similar embedded controller and you can use any USB Host-equipped processing platform without having to redesign everything any time you want a better processor or OS.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    [git][mech][hack]
    gives free advice only on public threads

  7. Re: Looking to speed up

    Quote Originally Posted by tician View Post
    but with a commonly used, standardized interface between them (USB, Ethernet, etc.), that allows users to exchange/upgrade the high-level processing hardware at whim. .... Move the GPS, sensor, encoder, and actuator code to an arduino or similar embedded controller and you can use any USB Host-equipped processing platform without having to redesign everything any time you want a better processor or OS.
    Well that is exactly what I asked about isn't it? Except 'standard' seems to mean design/build/solder/write it yourself.
    If someone sold an arduino 9875Dj7 that had an API already built I would be good to go now, wouldn't I?
    There is a reason the PR2 uses EtherCAT. Imagine if every university student had to write his own arduino code, how much research would ever get done?
    The idea that what is available now is acceptable is why robotics is stuck in such a rut.

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    Re: Looking to speed up

    Arbotix, Arduino Mega, etc. all use USB and have plenty of libraries.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    [git][mech][hack]
    gives free advice only on public threads

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    Re: Looking to speed up

    And the arbotix already has ros support.
    Please pardon the pedantry... and the profanity... and the convoluted speech pattern...
    "You have failed me, Brain!"
    [git][mech][hack]
    gives free advice only on public threads

  10. Re: Looking to speed up

    yeah - ordered - it seems like the easiest path, at least worth exploring.
    The ROS support looks like it can be ported fairly easy. Thanks for the pointer.

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