Twin Tweaks ...
MINDING ITS OWN BUSINESS.
After confirming that we had a nice consistent
high reading of 5V from the digital outputs upon
pressing a sensor, we were ready to wire up the
With the robotic base electrically prepared for
the smart modules, we had to make sure it was
structurally prepared too. The smart modules
come equipped with some convenient mounting
holes. The hole diameter is a little smaller than
the basic VEX fastener, but with a strategically
placed washer, it would fit together nicely.
One detail about the layout of the smart
modules that we really appreciated was that the
pins that connected to the programming cable
were situated on the top edge of the module,
making them easily accessible so that the modules
could be programmed even in place on the robot.
There and Back Again
on the ultimate number of jumper wires required, but it
would avoid the necessity of messing with the signal lead
coming out of the sensors, and keep them pristine for
To sort out the digital output ports that would
correspond to the bot’s sensors, we mapped the ports on
the brain and confirmed with a digital multimeter (one of
the handiest tools a tinkerer can have in his or her arsenal).
With the modules programmed and mounted, it was
finally time to test the robot. We had programmed the VEX
base so that it could be remotely controlled by radio, but
that it would react autonomously to obstacles by backing
away and turning when it encountered something that
activated one of its sensors.
We set up an obstacle for it to run into, and hoped the
robot’s expression of a stoically forward looking Eye and
goofy smile would change to a burning
Eye and outstretched tongue upon
contact. When we mercilessly crashed
the bot into the obstacle, we were
delighted to see it autonomously back
away while registering its displeasure
with a change in facial expression.
The modules had been successfully
integrated into the robot. With a little
electrical and programming ingenuity,
the smart modules can be used as much
more than passive displays.
Similar techniques could be used to
develop the type of touch pad controller
mentioned above, or just about any
other robotic application that could use
a dash of artistic flair.
Even though the robot face here
was certainly more on the aesthetic and
whimsy side, don’t be surprised if you
see the modules pop up in more
practical capacities in our future
74 SERVO 05.2013