National Control Devices
NCD offers microcontroller-enabled
products useful in robotics. These
include: A/D converters, character
displays, graphic displays, input/output
devices, I/O expansion modules,
microcontrollers, motor controllers,
relay controllers, and serial interface.
Ethernet controllers for embedded
applications. They offer a complete
development package, or modules for
net-enhancing control electronics.
New Micros, Inc.
New Micros, Inc., is a leading manufacturer of microcontrollers, single board
computers (SBC), peripherals, and support electronics. Robotics is singled out
as an ideal application for the company’s
line of DSP-based microcontrollers.
Oricom develops PIC and OOPic-based robot controllers, as well as
extension modules, such as Zigbee
wireless. The website includes experimental project info, links, and articles.
The BASIC Stamp revolutionized
amateur robotics, yet the concept is
simple: Take an eight-bit microcontroller
normally intended to be programmed in
assembly language, then instead of
requiring folks to learn assembly, embed
a language interpreter within the microcontroller so that it can be programmed
in a simpler language, namely Basic.
Additional microcontroller offerings
include the new Propeller chip — an
inventive device containing multiple
controllers in one package.
Small and affordable interpreted
language microcontrollers. Available in
several versions, with different I/O pins
and capabilities. Check the Distributors
page for online retailers.
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The Orangutan is a specialty
controller made for controlling small
robots. Offered in several versions
including a compact and inexpensive
Rabbit makes a popular eight-bit
microcontroller and associated
developer kits; the Rabbit system is
known for its speed, hence its name.
In addition to bare controllers, the
company also sells “core modules”
such as Ethernet connectivity built in.
Renesas Technology Corp
Manufacturer of a large line
of microcontrollers and support
electronics. Check out their web page
for product availability, app notes, and
Rentron offers kits and ready-made products for the electronics
enthusiast and robotmeister, including
PICBASIC and PICBASIC PRO compilers,
BASIC Stamp, Microchip PICs, Intel
8051 microcontrollers, remote
controls, tutorials, projects, RF
components, RF remote control kits,
and infrared kits and components.
Manufacturer of the OOPic microcontroller line, offering multi-tasking
and built-in “objects” that simplify
programming. Many of the objects
are directly suitable for robotics. Sold
Southern Oregon Robotics
Specializes in microcontrollers for
Sumo robots. Ready-made or blank
Offers a wide assortment of
microcontroller development boards
and modules. Check out their line
of “breakout boards” which are small
circuit boards for attaching to the rest
of your robot electronics.
Embedded control hardware, software, enclosures, components, etc. Java
and non-Java systems (such as JStamp).
Microcontroller boards using
80C251, 80C552, 8051, and 68HC11
controllers. Compiler, assembler, and
loader software included upon purchasing any of the microcontroller boards.
Technological Arts produces
postage stamp sized single board
computers using the Motorola 68HC1x
microcontrollers. A number of special-purpose application boards are also
offered, and many are suitable for
The Handy Board
The Handy Board uses a Motorola
68HC11 microcontroller to build a
sophisticated robotics central brain.
The Handy Board is used in many
college and university robotics courses
(it was originally developed at MIT) and
is suitable for education, hobby, and
industrial purposes. As the website
says, “People use the Handy Board to
run robot design courses and competitions at the university and high school
level, build robots for fun, and control
A great deal of documentation,
user-supplied programs, and other
material exists to support the Handy
Board. But one of the best is a book by
the Handy Board’s creator, Fred Martin.
Check out Robotic Explorations: A
Hands-on Introduction to Engineering
(ISBN 0130895687). SV
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
Gordon McComb can be reached via
email at email@example.com