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Author Topic: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?  (Read 5254 times)

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Offline Charlie1138Topic starter

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The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« on: November 03, 2006, 01:14:27 AM »
Is anyone familiar with this?

http://www.makingthings.com/makecontrollerkit/

I searched for it here on the site but couldn't find anything. The name makes it kind of difficult to search for though.

Here is another site explaining it..

http://www.makezine.com/controller/

They also have a messageboard devoted to it that I am still reading through to find out more about it.

Does anyone have any idea what this might mean? This is what comes in the "kit"

"""The MAKE Controller Kit includes the Controller Board, the Application Board, and a USB cable. This is sufficient to power, program and communicate with the kit."""

What is the application board?

I guess it's customizable too.. when you buy it... but I am still trying to find out what that means exactly. I just wanted to see if anyone here had any experience with it.



« Last Edit: November 03, 2006, 01:38:24 AM by Charlie1138 »

Offline JesseWelling

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2006, 02:44:52 AM »
Seems like a pretty good thing....You should find out if you get their FreeRTOS source code. That way you can expand on their operating system.

I'm using the open source FreeRTOS kernel on my Atmega128 and it works just fine (I've only got 35k of program right now but that is kernel included). So if you do get this and need help with the kernel let me know.

The application board appears to be the board that has all the terminals for easy prototyping. If you don't want to spend alot of time soldering and/or making your own application board, I think it's a pretty good investment.

If you are not worried about size (it wouldn't fit in my robot) it sounds like a solid controller to start with. I haven't ever used an Arm of this type, but if it's from atmel it's going to be worth the money (at least for the processor). I'm not to keen on their OSC protocol but you probably don't have to use it if you don't want to.

This board definitely gets my endorsement though.  ;) If I wasn't into the gumstix/robostix I would probably use this to integrate into a Linux bot of some sort.

Offline Charlie1138Topic starter

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2006, 04:10:56 AM »
Quote
Seems like a pretty good thing....You should find out if you get their FreeRTOS source code. That way you can expand on their operating system.

Hi Jesse. Thanks for the response. I don't know what that FreeRTOS is. :) BUt I will definitely keep an eye out for that term and ask about it.  It sounds like the programming is really customizable though and they use all different types and share codes in their message board for all different kinds of applications. So, hopefully they have that.

Quote
I'm using the open source FreeRTOS kernel on my Atmega128 and it works just fine (I've only got 35k of program right now but that is kernel included). So if you do get this and need help with the kernel let me know.

That would be awsome. I know less than zero about programming. I have wanted to learn more about it for awhile but it is so complex and abstract and confusing I seriously don't even know where to start. So that would be a lifesaver. Thank you!

Quote
The application board appears to be the board that has all the terminals for easy prototyping. If you don't want to spend alot of time soldering and/or making your own application board, I think it's a pretty good investment.


Yeah.. I'm kind of torn on that. I want to make this project very custom and as streamlined as possible in case I try to sell it later, somehow. But I think it will be easier to learn if it's prefabricated. So I am trying to find the best balance. This looks pretty good. This seems pretty small and doesn't have a ton of extras that I don' think I'll need like most I have seen. I only need to control 2 DC motors and connect to 2 encoders. Though I do need to use 2 highresolution encoders so I hope it works with them.

Quote
If you are not worried about size (it wouldn't fit in my robot) it sounds like a solid controller to start with. I haven't ever used an Arm of this type, but if it's from atmel it's going to be worth the money (at least for the processor). I'm not to keen on their OSC protocol but you probably don't have to use it if you don't want to.

This board definitely gets my endorsement though.   If I wasn't into the gumstix/robostix I would probably use this to integrate into a Linux bot of some sort.

That's great. So it's a good one! Thanks so much, Jesse. That really helps me focus my attack. :) I'll keep reading on that message board and register and ask some more questions on there.

I checked out the controllers you are using. Those look really cool. Tiny little things. Could you post some links to discussions of the project you are working on? I'd like to see what you  are using and making.

Offline Admin

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2006, 08:28:47 AM »
I think its priced right for its features, but I wouldnt say its an exceptional board to others out there . . .

Its a little big for my robots too, but depends on your application.

32 bit . . . not necessary, but nice if you want high accuracy . . . im usually happy with 8 bit . . .

what i thought was interesting was this:
Quote
8 digital outputs through 2 Half H drivers—high current (1A per coil). Drive 2 unipolar stepper motors, 4 DC motors, or 8 individual outputs (solenoids). Output protection circuit to prevent power spikes from noisy output devices affecting the processor. Driver chips are socketed for easy replacement in case they burn, and replacement chips are cheap ($1 each).

appears that the digital outputs are capable of up to an amp! very useful feature i think, for small robots. my DC motors tend to draw ~1.5A . . .

i think im an exception, but i like to overload my bots with sensors. more sensors is a more situationally aware bot. only 8 ADC is kinda limiting for me, but again, depends on your application.

the point im making is, decide what your robot requirements are before deciding on the controller . . .  :P

Offline JesseWelling

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2006, 11:20:11 AM »
If you need more than 8 ADC just use a ads7828 or a max128 on the i2c bus.
You take a speed performance hit but you can always hook up your high priority
sensors to the 8 ADC on chip.

I really haven't made any documentation for my bot yet other than incode explanations
and my engineering notes. Maybe I'll take some pictures when I get the time.

As for FreeRTOS go to FreeRTOS.org. RTOS means Real Time Operating System.
What this means is running more than one "task" on a processor while still obeying hard
time constraints. Imagine you need to do 10 different things at different (or varying times) with
a time constraints such as PID or any kind of sampling. A RTOS will make scheduling
of tasks by priority easier. (check wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTOS

So essentially it's a way to maximize your though-put of processes.

Offline Charlie1138Topic starter

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2006, 06:55:27 PM »
I did a search on their message board and found this -- Maybe you can translate this, Jesse?

Quote
MAKE Controller Kit: FreeRTOS V4.1 for Make Controller Kit Posted
 
1 to 1 of 1
davidthings
Aug 30th 2006
As I'm still trying to get a good build of the Heavy codebase to run properly under GCC, I thought I'd post something that does work very nicely for those who are aching to get to some programming.

As you may know, Heavy is based on FreeRTOS.org. So what I decided to post was a close-to-raw FreeRTOS demo adapted slightly for our board. What it lacks is any OSC or any of the other API niceties.

See http://www.makingthings.com/makecontrollerkit/resources.htm
and look down for FreeRTOS.org.

For more information about FreeRTOS.org, I bet you can guess where to head...

This builds and runs under Rowley CrossWorks and in the various GNU ARM toolchains on Windows and on OS X. I haven't tested this under Linux yet, but I'm very optimistic.

Offline JesseWelling

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2006, 12:09:31 AM »
I think they are just talking about giving you a raw kernel to work with....which means you won't have to take the time to pull out the stuff you don't want, just put in what you do.
For more information I would look at this page http://www.freertos.org/portsam7xlwIP.html

But if you are not familiar with Real Time Operating Systems (or what operating systems do in general) check this page out
http://www.freertos.org/tutorial/index.html

I've have never developed any c code on a windows computer, so I really don't know what's available for development. But if you develop on a Linux box you will need some kind of programmer. I would check this out http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=7834

Hope that helps for now.

Offline Charlie1138Topic starter

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2006, 12:40:41 AM »
Ok, thanks again, Jesse.  I'll start studying up on it. This is exciting stuff for me. I wish I would have tried getting into this a long time ago. :)

Offline Charlie1138Topic starter

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2006, 04:04:26 PM »
I have a new contestant.. it's called the Arduino.. and i guess it is similar to the "make ontroller". It is an open source controller. It seems to be a little cheaper though too. Maybe about half the price. I don't know if it is enough for my needs though. I want to run 2 DC mtoors and 2 high resolution encoder.. and I need it to be computer controlled preferrably USB controleld.

http://www.arduino.cc/

The weird thing is though.. i did a search at both forums.. for the Arduino and the MAKE.. and there is nothing about encoders. Will encoders work easily with these boards? Anyone know?



« Last Edit: November 25, 2006, 04:06:24 PM by Charlie1138 »

Offline JesseWelling

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2006, 04:40:07 PM »
Quote
Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple i/o board, and a development environment for writing Arduino software. The Arduino programming language is an implementation of Wiring, itself built on Processing.

That's from their website. I'm always a bit weary about proprietary languages and code. They tend to hide things from you and not alow you to use your equipment the way you want to (see windows for an example).

I guess it all depends on your perspective and what you are trying to accomplish.


Offline Charlie1138Topic starter

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Re: The MakeThings "Make controller kit"?
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2006, 04:58:25 PM »
Is the MAKE controller language totally open source, Jesse?

 


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