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Mechatronics Zone

Getting to Know Freescale's Mechatronics Robot

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Beth Stackpole
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More than just a training tool?
Beth Stackpole   6/29/2012 6:56:41 AM
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Nice in-depth account of how to work with FSLBOT, Jon. Based on your hands-on experience, how might the robot help students and hobbyists dive deeper into mechatronics? And is this simply a training platform or are there possiblities for real applications based on FSLBOT?

Jon Titus
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Re: More than just a training tool?
Jon Titus   6/29/2012 3:24:26 PM
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Hi, Beth.  The Freescale robot serves mainly as a teaching tool, but because it uses the Tower-family boards, engineers can "graduate" and learn more about these boards and how to use them in an embedded system.  The Tower board in the robot provides eight servo outputs, so students can do more than make the robot walk.

naperlou
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Real World Experience
naperlou   6/29/2012 8:53:07 AM
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Jon, that was an interesting description of your first experiences.  First, I suggest you get off of WindowsXP.  Windows 7 will make your machine run better and would not have the driver problem, I expect.  I did the upgrade to an old machine and it definately improved the system. 

I am also wondering about wireless communications.  It has a USB port.  I wonder if a Zigbee or Bluetooth dongle might work with this.  Something to try.

Jon Titus
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Re: Real World Experience
Jon Titus   6/29/2012 3:49:23 PM
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I might switch to Windows 7 when I need a new PC, but I don't want the hassle of getting replacement software that will run under Win 7.  I ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and many of my programs will run, but according to the Advisor, I would need to reinstall them again.  That's too much of a pain.  The Freescale Robot caused the only USB-driver problem in some time and I believe the problem stems more from a lack of follow-up and  information from Freescale than anything else. So for now, it's Windows XP.

 

I have upgraded the OS on my Mac several times without any problems and USB devices install without any difficulty.  I discovered recently that the audio input on Macs requires a signal input rather than a microphone connection.  For about $7 I bought a USB headset adapter that Mac OS immediately recognized and worked with.  If I could find all the engineering and design software I use in Mac versions, I'd dump Windows immediately.

 

I'll continue to look into the problems with the robot and expect to try it with two other Win XP PCs in my lab.  But this effort has a low priority for now.

NunjoBiznezz
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Re: Real World Experience
NunjoBiznezz   7/2/2012 10:00:23 AM
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FWIW you might try Windows 7 "XP Mode", a free tool from MS to run XP stuff under Win7. I was able to get an old HP USB scanner driver to work by doing so.

Jon Titus
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Re: Real World Experience
Jon Titus   7/2/2012 2:44:50 PM
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I'm not sure that tool comes for free.  When I looked into Windows 7, I found only the "Professional" version at $US 199 includes the capability to run in XP mode.  If you know another source of such a program, let us know.  Thanks.

NunjoBiznezz
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Re: Real World Experience
NunjoBiznezz   7/2/2012 2:58:54 PM
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Ah, you are correct, unfortunately. It requires Professional, enterprise or Ultimate.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx

I had previously tried a few free VMs with no success, bummer.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Real World Experience
Ann R. Thryft   7/16/2012 2:11:14 PM
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Your description of Windows' typical cluelessness about drivers was very funny. According to programmers who worked on kernels for the pre-X Mac OS (back in the PC Paleolithic), due to its mouse-based GUI, among other things, the Mac OS was originally designed to recognize peripherals as an integral part of the system, instead of treating them like alien invaders.

Jon Titus
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Re: Real World Experience
Jon Titus   7/16/2012 2:47:09 PM
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I bought a USB audio adapter so I could use a standard computer headset with my Mac for Skype calls.  The Mac audio input expects an active audio signal rather than just a microphone.  I plugged in the adapter and had a headset up and running within about 3 minutes.  Glad I didn't try that on my Windows PC. But wait, I did...

I wanted to use the PC for Skype, but it has three sound-card options (it came that way) and I could not get the microphone AND the earphones to both work on the same device.  I used the system tools for Win XP without success and tried troubleshooting on my own.  The small plug-in adapter cost about $20 and was worth every bit of it. The Mac is a gem.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Real World Experience
Ann R. Thryft   7/17/2012 1:17:23 PM
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I know there are things you can't do on a Mac, due to the lack of engineering and design app software. But when it comes to basic functions and tasks than can drive a user nuts--or not--and waste time--or not--Mac wins hands down. I've even been told this by some (pleasantly surprised)die-hard Windows users after they bought a Mac for their kids.

Jon Titus
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Re: Real World Experience
Jon Titus   7/17/2012 1:25:05 PM
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I was one of those die-hard Windows users.  My lab has Win XP computers for engineering and design software, but for everyday work, the Mac does the job.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Real World Experience
Ann R. Thryft   7/26/2012 2:33:40 PM
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I can remember, and you probably can too, when no engineer would be caught dead using a Mac, let alone singing its praises. Good to see that times have changed.

Rob Spiegel
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Shoe for the robot
Rob Spiegel   6/29/2012 1:50:52 PM
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Good story, Jon. I'm impressed for your solution for the robot's slippery feet. You created robot shoes so it won't fall down. There's a Sherlock Ohms blog in this story somewhere.

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