Why Did The Robot Cross The Road?
for only about $15.
Mapping the controls to the Logitech
controller is very easy, because all you have
to do is navigate through a few drop-down
menus. The RCS is even accommodating to
those without fancy USB controllers, because
you can set the inputs to be buttons and
sliders that will appear onscreen.
We were very happy with Protobot’s
new control system. The controls were a
breeze to map to the game controller, and
we were soon driving Protobot around our
driveway just like in the glory days of yore.
The handheld game controller is a lot more
manageable than the controller boards we
built for our FIRST robots, and the RCS was
constantly giving helpful feedback like the
robot voltage and a graphical meter that
tracked our input via the joystick. The various
buttons and triggers on the game controller
also provided ample opportunities to manipulate any
mechanisms that could possibly go on a FIRST robot.
THE CROSS-LINK ROBOT CONTROL SYSTEM USER INTERFACE.
Cool Factor Engineering
To The Victor, Go The Jaguars
The system worked well and we were happy with our
sleek game controller, but one area for improvement
jumped out at us. One of the cool aspects of the Cross-Link
control system was the advantages associated with the
CAN protocol. Those advantages of noise immunity were
not exploited to their full potential, because the entire
system was not on the CAN network. The biggest
exclusions were our Victor speed controllers which used
noise susceptible PWM signals. This was quite the
disappointment, because fine motor control could be
potentially disrupted by a noisy robot.
The disappointment, however, was easily remedied.
Even though the scrappy Victor 884 will always have a
place in our hearts (and our combat robots), a newcomer
has pounced onto the scene that promises to take full
advantage of the CAN protocol offered by the Cross-Link
control system. The feisty newcomer is the MDL-BDC24
Black Jaguar from Texas Instruments.
The Jaguar is a motor controller designed specifically
for the FIRST competition — something for use in harsh,
high noise environments while still being accessible to
newcomers. The Jaguar was a part of the 2011 FIRST kit of
parts, so the competitive environment and accessibility of
the unit already seemed like a perfect fit for the Cross-Link
Even more perfect is the fact that the Jaguar includes a
CAN interface. This means it can be incorporated seamlessly
into the Cross-Link system while maintaining the noise
immunity of a CAN network. The only caveat we have
about the impressive Jaguars is that they are quite a bit
bigger than Victor 884s, but they still fit perfectly onto
Protobot’s accommodating frame.
We have always been big fans of the cool factor. The
cool factor can take a variety of forms. It may be a
completely nonfunctional embellishment, like whimsical
decals or a paint job. It may be functional, but perhaps
PROTOBOT'S BRAND NEW BRAIN.
SERVO 06.2011 73