Robotics - Robot controller from motherboard

Hi guys, i'm developing a robotics project

I need to control my robot from a pc inside the robot.

so far i have found controllers online, but i rather them be connected into the pc, which is housed inside the robot itself.

The programming will be done in .net


ANY IDEAS?


and, NO.. I don't want to go the easy way and avoid this
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAsked:
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IanThCommented:
arduino is the controller of choice usually and you can get specific robot varieties

its a proper micro controller that can talk to a pc with wifi (exbee) but is self contained using a sketch ( program) installed locally on the eprom or you can use an sd card


http://www.robotshop.com/arduino-2.html
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
I don't want local programs, i want it controlled directly from pc
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TommySzalapskiCommented:
Are you talking about using the PC as the actual embedded controller of the robot (i.e. the robot has no other embedded processor) or are you talking about just having the PC talk to the robot's embedded hardware?
If it's the second case, then the ones you are finding online should be fine. Just have the PC inside the robot talk to the controller. Wifi would still work although hard wiring would make more sense.
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
i want the pc as the main controller

like so:
pc controlled
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TommySzalapskiCommented:
So what you need is input devices line a camera or infrared lens and output devices like a motor that all plug in via USB or something similar?
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
im using microsoft kinect for visual and audio input

the computer is a windows7  8-core cpu on a motherboard, and 3 TB harddrive for memory, 8 gig of ram (better to overestimate than underestimate)

i need to figure out the locomotive proporties on it. Not sure what motors to get for the wheels, and how to control them.

later im planning to make it walk on legs, but if there are solid ideas on that, ill skip to the legs straight away


my concearn is how to connect these parts to the pc, or are microcontrollers fast enough to process middleman commands, and perhaps attach those to the usb ports.
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
also, the proper way to code the controls is an issue, not sure if i should code the software from scratch or if there is anything available which might save me time
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TommySzalapskiCommented:
Walking on actual legs is going to be very complicated because of balance issues. I wouldn't advise doing that yet.

How fast is "fast enough"? USB communication is very fast for most things.
If you need everything to be super fast, then you need an embedded system, not a PC. I imagine that the microcontroller attached via USB should be fine for what you want.

What do you mean by "code the controls"? If you have independent parts all attached to the PC, then you'll just need to interface with whatever the part is. For example, the motor should connect to some kind of microcontroller which will have an API or something that you can just send SpinClockwise() or something to.
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
Yes, that sounds what im looking for

any suggestions for microcontrollers that connect to usb and preferably can control 8 or more servos
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IanThCommented:
you can use arduino to usb its the micro controller of choice for robotics

it just uses a client server architecture
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IanThCommented:
or you can use a micro itx or nano itx mini pc motherboard too
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
i have a motherboard already, and i am not fond of arduino because of its interface with .net
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kode99Commented:
Take a look at Phidgets,

http://www.phidgets.com/

Its full line of sensors and controllers that are geared to work through USB and can be programmed in just about any language you want.  Overall pretty easy to use.

I would also suggest looking at some robotic kits.  Robotshop is a good source with a variety of different brands and types from small to large stuff.  The reason I suggest this is not necessarily to buy a premade kit,  but to get an idea of what you are looking at for necessary parts to accomplish what you want your robot to be able to do.

http://www.robotshop.com/robot-kits.html

Robotshop also carry the Phidget line but don't stock everything so sometimes going direct to Phidgets can be faster.  Roboshop will likely order in any Phidget parts even if they don't list them if you ask.  

Your motherboard/processor sounds like it might be power hungry and could lead to a issue if you need to load up your robot with batteries just to power the computer.  Depends a bit on the size of robot you are planning.  For a large robot an extra 5 - 10 lbs is not so much of a issue.

Do be careful you don't backfeed your computer and blow it up.  That is one of the nice things about using a Rasberry Pi or a Beagleboard system,  not so expensive if you smoke it.

I would recommend getting a USB isolator if you do end up using Phidgets,
http://www.phidgets.com/products.php?category=28&product_id=3060_0

Probably also use a powered USB hub and don't connect stuff directly to the motherboard if you are experimenting.

The new beagle bone black is pretty nice for $45,  has a pile of built in IO

http://beagleboard.org/Products/BeagleBone%20Black
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
@kode Greal links,  i was browsing through them a few days ago


Anyone try ez-robot.com?
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kode99Commented:
Not something I've ever used but looks okay for a good starting point or if you want to have something operational as fast as possible.

The nice thing about many kits is the parts are fairly universal in the sense that servo's, motor and sensors etc will work with anything else down the road.  The only truly proprietary part in the Ez robots kits is the controller.

They have taken the a big part of the work out of a build by giving you a controller preprogrammed.  The plus is you don't have to do it,  the negative is you are limited to what its programmed with which may not be all that bad.  Plus as I said you can always put in your own controller later.  I don't think the ez controller is open source so you probably cannot tinker with it directly.

Ultimately it really depends on what your intentions are.  Their kit may be well suited though I do not think you would be putting a motherboard right on it.
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IanThCommented:
Don't use phidgets I have used them in the past and while good for specific projects robots is not one

you can use an arduino in local autonomous mode or in client / server architecture using an api the arduino world is far more active than phidgets due to the fact more companies make them whereas phidgets are only made by one.

see

http://www.ez-robot.com/Shop/

the micro controller is a arduino
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
Ezbuilder looks like its closed code unless i disassemble it and alter the assembly language,  but it does come with a. Net SDK


what i like about it, is if you give it a script it runs in realtime.
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Ess KayEntrapenuerAuthor Commented:
thanks for your input.

I'm going to try the ezrobot first. its supposebly controlled directly and has many built in features. The ez-b Board is stackable to 20 boards, for a total of 100 servos or motors, which is more than enough. I'm more focussed on the ai aspect, so having a .net environment is a big plus for me.

I'll keep you guys posted on http://www.stankiselev.com

thanks again
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