|Surveyor Robotics Journal|
Sat, 24 May 2008
Default Matchport configuration for SRV-1 Blackfin is now 2500kbps
The special version of Matchport firmware (matchport-6500GE.rom) that Lantronix built for us has proven to be very robust, and in many ways, superior in performance to the default 220.127.116.11 firmware. As such, shipments of the SRV-1 Blackfin robot and SRV-1 Blackfin camera w/WIFI will henceforth be preconfigured with this 6500GE firmware on the Matchport and 2500kbps firmware on the Blackfin.
Note that if you check the Matchport settings through the web interface, it will show the CPU Performance as medium and the baud rate at 9600. You can ignore these settings. In case you inadvertently reset the Matchport, you can recover the settings via telnet to port 9999, using the instructions shown here - http://www.surveyor.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1209480141
Thu, 15 May 2008
Microsoft Robotics Studio 1.5 - test version of SRV-1 Blackfin support
We just posted a test version of SRV-1 Blackfin support in MSRS 1.5 on the Surveyor Robotics Forum - see http://www.surveyor.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1210870698.
The "Teleoperation" service provides a nice joystick-like control interface and easy configuration. Many thanks to Trevor Taylor of Software Technology, Australia, for providing this support.
Trevor also provided support for the original ARM7-based SRV-1, as documented in his new book - "Professional Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio". Additional information on Trevor's work can be found here - http://www.soft-tech.com.au/MSRS/.
Sun, 11 May 2008
Update for SRV-1 Blackfin command protocol specification
The command protocol specification for SRV-1 Blackfin firmware has been updated to include latest additions, and reorganized semi-alphabetically to be more readable / usable.
Latest version is found here -
and here -
Fri, 09 May 2008
New Matchport / Zigbee radio board for SRV-1 Blackfin
Abe Howell's Robotics - www.abotics.com - has developed a new radio board for the SRV-1 Blackfin which hosts either the Lantronix Matchport 802.11b/g or Digi/Maxstream Zigbee 802.14 radio, and interfaces to a second microcontroller operating at 5V. As many microcontrollers operate at 5V instead of the 3.3V we use for the Blackfin, this level shifting a very nice feature.
The new board is open source, with all schematics published on the Abotics website, e.g. http://www.abotics.com/ExpressPCBs/OPEN_ROBOT_MATCHPORT_BOARD_SCHEMATIC.pdf and an assembly manual is provided here - http://www.abotics.com/MatchPort_PCB_Assembly.pdf.
Visit http://abotics.com/open_robot.htm for more project details.
We're really happy to see this board, as a number of our users are interfacing the SRV-1 Blackfin camera to other robot platforms with 5V logic. Also, this represents the first 3rd-party add-on board for the SRV-1 Blackfin, and we hope to see this trend continue.
Tue, 06 May 2008
new visualization tool for color segmentation on SRV-1 Blackfin
A new version of test firmware has been posted, as described here on the Surveyor Robotics Forum. It adds a new visualization tool for color segmentation, allowing the user to view in real time the actual matches in color bins defined by the 'vc' or color command. For example, in this new firmware, if we defined the following colors -
and then issued the new 'g1' command, all of the pixels matching one of these color bins would be assigned a solid color (the midpoint of the range), and remaining pixels that don't match any colors would be painted black.
For example, using the above set of colors, we printed out this graphic from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YUV
put the printout in front of the camera, and looked for pixel matches. Here's the image before color segmentation was enabled -
and the same camera view with color segmentation enabled -
Here's an archived video showing the tracking of an orange golf ball in real time - note how my fingers block out part of the shape. Clearly, the color ranges have not been optimized, but you get the idea -
This color segmentation visualization tool should help considerably in dialing in color ranges for object location / tracking tasks.
Sun, 04 May 2008
Report from Maker Faire
We spent the day yesterday at Maker Faire, probably the largest DIY techno / craft / electronics gathering of its kind (60,000 projected attendees) anywhere. Lots of robots, a giant mousetrap, steam punk, an electric cupcake parade, r/c battleships battling with BB's, 800kV Van de Graff generator, flamethrowers, 20-ft homemade rockets, etc. Felt just like home ...
Main purpose of attending was to support demos given by Team FREDnet for their Google Lunar X-Prize entry - they had a small swarm of SRV-1 Blackfin robots available for test drives, including a couple of prototypes of a quad-motor version we're developing with Inertia Labs.
An SRV-1 Blackfin was also spotted in the RoboRealm booth, and there may have been other SRV-1's at the show.
At the other end of the faire from the FREDnet project, we got to hang out with Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail at the geekdad.com booth. Chris is the creator of the DIYDrones, a very popular destination for UAV developers. In particular, Chris has been working on a couple of entry-level robotic blimps, and he asked us to bring YARB 1.0 to share the booth with BlimpDuino. There seems to be a lot of interest in robotic blimps, and it was fun to talk with Chris about a divide-and-conquer strategy for this as-yet-non-existent market.
The Maker Faire is still running today, though YARB 1.0 won't be there. Next time, we'll plan for a longer trip plus a logo on the blimp (as it was featured but unidentified in a G4TV interview).
CIS1.5 Introduction to Programming using C++ (robotics application) - Brooklyn College (City University of New York)
Brooklyn College has built cross-platform (Win, Mac, Linux) console support for the SRV-1 Blackfin and ARM7 for use in their course - CIS1.5 Introduction to Computing Using C++. This is part of a larger robotics education program called robotics.edu, which is a shared spaced for curricular materials used in educational robotics classes for middle school and undergraduates students. A complete lesson plan for a teleoperated robot lab, vision processing lab, and advanced vision processing is found here - http://agents.sci.brooklyn.cuny.edu/robotics.edu/bcsoftware.php.
RoboBrain - new console on Mac OS/X for SRV-1 Blackfin
Voxatec (Switzerland) has created a very nice SRV-1 Blackfin console for Mac users which provides a virtual joystick, real-time video display, C program editor and C program upload. It is available both as an application bundle as well as an open source X-Code project. This a very nice interface that's optimized for Mac users, and the developer has plans for further feature extensions. Make certain to visit the RoboBrain website - www.voxatec.com