Robots in 4D
It Will Become You
Now that we had the plan, we needed to get the two
halves of our robot symbiote ready. We opted to start with
the smart display modules. The software and all of the
supporting documentation discussed above can be
downloaded for free from the 4D website. For our initial
testing we chose to use the OLED module, largely because
we were enticed by the novelty of the relatively new
technology and we wanted to see what kind of image
quality the little screen could really produce.
For our first test, we used the classic “Hello World”
program. We figured a simple program displaying only text
wouldn’t require us to fiddle with the SD card just yet. One
handy thing about starting new programs in the 4D
Workshop is that you’re given a little more to start with
than just a complete tabula rasa. A library of functions for
the graphics processor and a main program loop are
already included. All it took was a few more lines of code
to instruct the screen to display that immortal phrase, and
we were ready for our first test.
Programming robots can often be a tedious process,
with syntax errors and COM port conundrums delaying the
gratification of seeing something actually work until long
into the process. This was not the case with the smart
display OLED module, though, because just as it was
plugged in it sprang to life with what must be a default
program. The default program in this case was not some
unremarkable color test or some such banality, but rather
an impressive display of the capabilities of the screen.
First, there was the 4D Systems
logo and an explosion of color akin to
a Fourth of July firework, and then a
brightly colored clock started keeping
time with sweeping second and
minute hands. The swirling motion and
bright colors of the clock were a cool
introduction to the capabilities of the
screen, but what we really wanted to
see was the output from our own
With the screen connected, we
compiled and loaded the program. The
window at the bottom of the screen
assured that no errors were found and
that the program loaded successfully.
When we looked to the screen, we
were happy to see the immortal “Hello
World” emblazoned on a black
background in defiant green type.
With the success of our first test
behind us, we wanted to see what
kind of image quality the smart display
could muster. Using Visi, we were
easily able to pick an image from our
THE PROGRAMMING SETUP.
computer to load onto the screen — a shot of our cat Lida
posing glamorously in front of a pillow. Getting the image
onto the screen, however, was not quite as easy as just
picking a photo from your computer.
The smart modules have enough memory on board to
A ROBOTIC BASE THAT NEEDS A FACE.
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