Society of Robots - Robot Forum

Electronics => Electronics => Topic started by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 08:41:42 AM

Title: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 08:41:42 AM
As many of you have realized, I have not really been happy with any of the microcontrollers available on the market. They are all missing something . . .

So I am developing a microcontroller for SoR to sell (called the Axon), with revenue going to further develop/grow the SoR website. I've done a manufacturing run and it mostly works, but I'm working out the final bugs and documentation. I've been working hard on this for the last ~6 months, and it should be ready within a month or two from now for shipment.

For those who have used the Arduino, it will basically be the Arduino x 3 (in features, support, and cost). Yet it will be smaller and lighter, too.

A few teaser features:
16 ADC
built in USB
3 additional UART (for camera, wireless, hyperterminal, etc)
no programmer required
control up to 40 servos (building a hexapod/biped, anyone?)
has a power bus
designed for the intermediate/expert builder, simple enough for a beginner
  -actually, much much easier than the $50 Robot
2.5"x2.5"x.7" profile
full support, easy to use software/code
RoHS compliant (environmentally friendly, no lead, etc)


Price will be between $100 and $150. Send me an IM if you want to reserve one (no money down) so I can better judge how many to initially make. Those who reserve for the first produced limited batch will get ~20% off.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Steve Joblin on January 11, 2008, 10:17:31 AM
what language is used to program it?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on January 11, 2008, 12:58:45 PM
Any pics or 3D CAD images?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 01:19:26 PM
Programmed in C, using AVR Studio, and will very much resemble the code in the $50 Robot. I will write tutorials for it in just the same way, too.

But I will abstract the hard stuff away making it even easier to program.

I just had a friend try it out today. He had never programmed a microcontroller before, I trained him for like 10 minutes, and he was already programming a robot with it 100% on his own.

(haha yea it sounds like I'm bias and making this up, but I'm serious though . . .)

I don't want to release too many details until I finalize it . . .

This is an old CAD of it, but 80% of it is the same:
(http://www.societyofrobots.com/images/axon3D.jpg)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on January 11, 2008, 03:19:41 PM
looks good i'll consider it  ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on January 11, 2008, 03:31:21 PM
I definitely want one. :)

-Melanie
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: ed1380 on January 11, 2008, 04:13:26 PM
i'd get one if i had the mula  :-[
and wasnt a noob


it looks like it would be very succesful once it gets out
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Asellith on January 11, 2008, 04:33:20 PM
How fast is in and what kind of internal memory are we talking? you mentioned 16 ADCs what about digital inputs? If you don't want to give out that info because its not finalized yet thats ok I'll understand.

Thanks Admin!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 04:41:47 PM
16 MIPS throughput at 16 MHz (Arduino and $50 robot is 8MHz)

256K Bytes of In-System Self-Programmable Flash
4K Bytes EEPROM
8K Bytes Internal SRAM
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: robonoob on January 11, 2008, 05:57:37 PM
maybe someday i will buy myself this board :P when i wont be as noob as i am today :D:D and this will take a while for me to become a non-noob :D anyways this sounds like UNREAL to me :P unbelievable it really has all the functions i would ever need and a loads of more :D
if u get one ready then post a picture please :)

BTW...will you be doing these things completely urself i mean soldering and wiring and all?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 06:17:55 PM
Yeap, fully assembled and tested.

btw, it's designed for a noob to be able to use it without problems, yet powerful enough for an expert. 8)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on January 11, 2008, 09:25:21 PM
so out of curiosity, are all of these going to be handmade, or will you get some company thatwill ensure each is fully functional, and what if we order one, it arrives, and it doesnt work.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 10:20:29 PM
For now 80% of the assembly will be done by an outside company.

The rest of the assembly, plus programming and quality testing and shipping, will be done by me personally. Quality is very important to me :)

Plus, I've been brutalizing my test boards to make sure they are noob-hardened :P

Oh I forgot to mention, the board works with a voltage as low as 5.4V, but 6V is recommended (much better than the ~7.2V requirement for the Arduino). Its also has built in 'oops I reversed the battery connection' protection.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on January 11, 2008, 10:22:17 PM

Can I get a part number of the micro you are using?
Will SPI be bought out in pins if available? This is actually one of my gripes about the Robostix....
What about I2C? Is this going to be done with a boot loader?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 11, 2008, 11:02:35 PM
The controller is the ATmega2560.

Yeap it has I2C pinned out.

I however did not pin out the SS for SPI. Although I do have SCLK, MOSI, and MISO . . . hmmmm I wish you said this like 6 hours earlier before I sent out my boards! I will include the SS pin in a future version. I just wasn't thinking about it because I've never used SPI before . . .

It will have a bootloader to use with USB.

Attached is a pic of the first prototype with my hand for scale.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on January 11, 2008, 11:53:29 PM
Boot loader with USB? Will I need to home brew a Linux solution? :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 12, 2008, 12:15:53 AM
hmmmm I'm not finished programming the bootloader so I'll have to get back to you on it . . . but I'm going to try to get it to work directly through AVR Studio as if you had a hardware programmer connected.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Rebelgium on January 12, 2008, 04:53:29 AM
Respect. I would have loved to do something similar. But I don't have time for it... :(
Will there also be a Axon lite version? Just half of everything, 8 ADCs, 20 outputs, ...and half of the price ;)

I can imagine that a lite version would be very popular with noobs. Think about howmany people, that wanted to make a simple-to-decent robot, we've reffered to the arduino... A lite version would be ideal for them, imho
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: robonoob on January 12, 2008, 05:20:30 AM
hey admin if u have time for  it then could you make a step by step tutorial with this board to make a simple robot aswell? just for noobs.
something like $50 robot but a wall avoiding for instance :)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on January 12, 2008, 09:38:48 AM
If I had $100 to $200 bucks laying around I would get one. Maybe when I have a job.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 12, 2008, 09:42:15 AM
Quote
hey admin if u have time for  it then could you make a step by step tutorial with this board to make a simple robot aswell? just for noobs.
something like $50 robot but a wall avoiding for instance
Every board will come pre-programmed with both servo centering code for servo modification, but also a photovore algorithm. Literally just plug and play.

Quote
Will there also be a Axon lite version? Just half of everything, 8 ADCs, 20 outputs, ...and half of the price
Nope. The market is flooded with beginner boards already. I wanted to make a board for those who want more features than a beginner board. The main reason I designed this board is because I needed these features but no board on the market offered them. These additional features is why the price is $100+
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Ro-Bot-X on January 12, 2008, 10:31:10 AM
Programmed in C, using AVR Studio, and will very much resemble the code in the $50 Robot. I will write tutorials for it in just the same way, too.

But I will abstract the hard stuff away making it even easier to program.

Thank you verry much, sir! It's a pain for a non-programmer to learn the hardware controll of C language... That was the main reason I prefered Basic over C, except NQC, which is my favourite, becaus it allows multitasking. Yeah, come to think of it, an NQC-like language would be great for a board like that!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: maverick monk on January 12, 2008, 11:06:59 AM
nice... now that I have an arduino board... lol
love howyou have the 3 pin settups, I had to make my own on my arduino shield kit. I was planning a future build with an arduino but now it looks like ill get this instead.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Half Shell on January 12, 2008, 02:10:26 PM
nice... now that I have an arduino board... lol
love howyou have the 3 pin settups, I had to make my own on my arduino shield kit. I was planning a future build with an arduino but now it looks like ill get this instead.

Funny you should mention that, as I'm designing a shield for arduino like that right now :-p. Message me if you want to know more, its still in design.

As for this controller - I'm certainly interested and then some. Usually controllers that have these kind of features are way over priced or are hard to find and even harder to get acquainted with. The high price point is somewhat of a scary point as I can't just buy one every robot I build, but I can definately see buying this for my important, larger projects.

I look forward to getting the released spec sheets.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Kohanbash on January 12, 2008, 09:44:19 PM
Quote
I however did not pin out the SS for SPI. Although I do have SCLK, MOSI, and MISO . . . hmmmm I wish you said this like 6 hours earlier before I sent out my boards! I will include the SS pin in a future version. I just wasn't thinking about it because I've never used SPI before . . .
Is SS tied to gnd or left floating?
(If it is tied to gnd than you can still use SPI reliably for most devices)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 12, 2008, 11:25:46 PM
Quote
Is SS tied to gnd or left floating?
Floating . . . you could try soldering a wire to that pin . . . I'll pin it out on the next version and let you guys know when I do.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 21, 2008, 05:29:16 PM
Just a quick update on the Axon.

I fully tested the second prototype, and it worked surprisingly well (for a prototype). Most of the software is finished too. There were only minor issues with it, so I did some redesign and shipped it off to China. I wasn't happy with my previous manufacturer so I figured I'll try overseas this time.

I just got word yesterday that its done and they are shipping it back.

This means I'll spend another few weeks testing it (noob proofing it, hehe) and if I'm happy with it I'll do a full manufacturing run.

So that means I'll start selling it probably in 8 weeks, but don't quote me on it as I could make a dumb mistake somewhere . . .

In other news, I got my payment system set up, and 75% of documentation written, but haven't decided how to do international shipping yet or finalized pricing . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Ro-Bot-X on January 24, 2008, 06:39:34 AM

In other news, I got my payment system set up, and 75% of documentation written, but haven't decided how to do international shipping yet or finalized pricing . . .

I guess if you use USPS Express MailŪ International for any country it will work ok. It includes $100 free insurance or add 0.75 for $200. It requires customs form and the merchandise can be declared as SAMPLES for no customs fee. A 1 pound package sent to Romania will be $27.50 or $25.30 if mailed online.
http://ircalc.usps.gov/IntlMailServices.aspx?Country=10368&M=2&P=1&O=0&sd=1 (http://ircalc.usps.gov/IntlMailServices.aspx?Country=10368&M=2&P=1&O=0&sd=1)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on January 24, 2008, 07:13:41 AM

In other news, I got my payment system set up, and 75% of documentation written, but haven't decided how to do international shipping yet or finalized pricing . . .

I guess if you use USPS Express MailŪ International for any country it will work ok. It includes $100 free insurance or add 0.75 for $200. It requires customs form and the merchandise can be declared as SAMPLES for no customs fee. A 1 pound package sent to Romania will be $27.50 or $25.30 if mailed online.
http://ircalc.usps.gov/IntlMailServices.aspx?Country=10368&M=2&P=1&O=0&sd=1 (http://ircalc.usps.gov/IntlMailServices.aspx?Country=10368&M=2&P=1&O=0&sd=1)

yes, but you can't legally charge for samples, right?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Ro-Bot-X on January 24, 2008, 07:36:25 AM
Well, no, but you can accept donations  ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 24, 2008, 07:44:56 AM
Quote
if you use USPS Express MailŪ International for any country it will work ok.
that is my current plan . . . its just $25 really marks up the price though . . . might be cheaper/easier to ship in bulk and sell to European online retailers . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on January 24, 2008, 08:02:24 AM
Well, no, but you can accept donations  ;)

lol

admin can accept our donations and send free samples of the Axon to us ( lol  ,  that is sooo illegal )
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: sotu on January 24, 2008, 08:24:18 AM
Damn this microcontroller really looks like something for me, only problem is, offcourse, the money :(
Not that the price is to high for the microcontroller but the microcontroller isent all you need in a robot, so well with this product, servos and all other stuff u want to build a neat robot, it might cost more then i have, but the product seems very tempting  :-\
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on January 24, 2008, 09:30:25 AM
Admin should have a drawing to see who gets the first Axon for free JK lol. Are you going to post the schematic for Axon?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 24, 2008, 11:00:13 AM
Quote
Are you going to post the schematic for Axon?
Yeap I will, plus a half dozen tutorials, and tons of detailed documentation. ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: robonoob on January 24, 2008, 12:24:50 PM
Quote
Admin should have a drawing to see who gets the first Axon for free JK lol.
what what? :P admin u are giving one for free? :P
well if u are going to cast lots then count me in :D:D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bukowski on January 24, 2008, 12:46:39 PM
how can we pay for it??
eg paypal, credit card, or personal check?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on January 24, 2008, 12:53:32 PM
Quote
what what?  admin u are giving one for free?
lol i was kidding
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 24, 2008, 01:00:21 PM
I will be using Google Checkout. I've been testing it out - its soooo much better than paypal, etc.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: robonoob on January 24, 2008, 01:26:51 PM
Quote
what what?  admin u are giving one for free?
lol i was kidding
nah i allready hoped :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: maverick monk on January 24, 2008, 03:35:39 PM
by noob proofing... can it survive a drop kick??? its been known to happen to my projects. like my robot, that learned to fly at 2 last night this morning, i got it working tho, i guess i just had to show it who was boss.  ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on January 24, 2008, 03:53:13 PM
haha. lol that's so funny.  ;D ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on January 24, 2008, 04:16:40 PM
by noob proofing... can it survive a drop kick??? its been known to happen to my projects. like my robot, that learned to fly at 2 last night this morning, i got it working tho, i guess i just had to show it who was boss.  ;D

yea , whenever i get upset with something not working , I punch a punching bag really hard or use those stress balls. I don't think I can drop kick chives , though.....  ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 24, 2008, 05:33:19 PM
Quote
by noob proofing... can it survive a drop kick???
Its solid state, it will probably hurt you first ;)
I'll do this to an older board with video when I get the new boards in. Serious. I design my stuff with quality as #1 priority.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on January 24, 2008, 05:40:05 PM
nice im definitely getting one
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: SkinnyDog on January 27, 2008, 11:42:46 AM
HI all

As a noob it sounds great. would i be albe to get it sent to South Africa, i got a google pay account already and i agree it is way easier than the others.

Just started building the micro for the $50. robo praying its going to work
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on January 27, 2008, 12:22:32 PM
so if your posting schematics and tutorials, will you help us if we want to make our own from scratch? :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on January 27, 2008, 12:59:08 PM
Quote
so if your posting schematics and tutorials, will you help us if we want to make our own from scratch?
Ehhhh not really worth making one on your own. I am using all surface mount components. The ATmega2560 has 100 fine pitched SOC pins, and the USB chip has 32 non-extruded pins.

Etching your own board would be near impossible, and soldering very difficult.

You will only save about $20 making your own if you sent the board to a PCB house. And thats if you don't mess up and already own a programmer to load your bootloader (http://www.societyofrobots.com/bootloader_50_robot.shtml).

But yea, I'll help . . . If you don't want to financially support SoR :'(

(hehe, I'm hoping the guilt trip works :P)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: HDL_CinC_Dragon on January 27, 2008, 01:22:36 PM
WANT


I think ill buy one... I dont really have the financial security ATM but thats too good to pass up :D...
hmmm I need to think conservative.. I dont NEED it cuz I have my little programmer and stuff... BUT I WANT IT! :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on January 27, 2008, 01:24:32 PM
do u know exactly how much it will  cost? what programmer will it use?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on January 27, 2008, 01:25:33 PM
Oh i just saw this
Quote
no programmer required
didn't want to get typed at for double posting so i'll just ask here, when is the Axon microcontroller's new release date?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on February 07, 2008, 04:41:15 PM
An update on the status.

The 3rd prototype has been finished and tested. Only minor issues found, and all have been corrected. SPI has also been added (brought the SS pin out), as requested.

Next steps . . . I will now do a 4th prototype, which will basically be a short manufacturing run to make sure I didn't do anything dumb before spending thousands on a full run.

I should have the pricing finalized within a month, and the product in your hands within two months tops.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: frank26080115 on February 07, 2008, 08:34:09 PM
how much for an early prototype you don't want?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on February 07, 2008, 08:39:54 PM
i'll unload them free of charge, make sure they are properly "disposed of" :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on February 07, 2008, 08:43:50 PM
I will not be selling any prototypes for several reasons.

One reason is that I plan to use them for 'noob proofing' tests that result in melting/fires/sparks/cracks, etc ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on February 07, 2008, 08:47:35 PM
me thinks that you cant proof it from me.

Today I got attacked by an ice chipper after I opened a door, how do i know that your controller wont attack me if I turn it on?  :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: garriwilson on February 07, 2008, 09:22:14 PM
Today I got attacked by an ice chipper after I opened a door, how do i know that your controller wont attack me if I turn it on?  :P
The world may never know.  ;D

Hey Admin, do you think you'll make lots of money from this? Which company is going to sell it?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Half Shell on February 07, 2008, 11:20:21 PM
While I don't want to question your work Admin, as I do trust it, but what if there is something you overlook in your tests? Is there any guarentee or do we merely need to work around it?

Either way, looking forward to the final release.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on February 08, 2008, 08:22:40 AM
If it fails and it's not the fault of the user, I will replace it for free if there is no easy work around. If a user breaks it because they didn't know ground and power are different, then obviously I won't replace it :P

I will start off by selling it from this site, from my home, with no middle man. But I will be traveling the world again in about 6 months from now so I'll have to offload it to a retailer . . . the price will probably remain the same so don't worry too much.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: TrickyNekro on February 09, 2008, 04:10:04 PM
lol nice one....

But I bet I'll build one on my own??? Sorry admin...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Centaur on March 04, 2008, 11:51:24 PM
An update on the status.

The 3rd prototype has been finished and tested. Only minor issues found, and all have been corrected. SPI has also been added (brought the SS pin out), as requested.

Next steps . . . I will now do a 4th prototype, which will basically be a short manufacturing run to make sure I didn't do anything dumb before spending thousands on a full run.

I should have the pricing finalized within a month, and the product in your hands within two months tops.

Any updates on this?  You made that post in the beginning of February, so does it still look like the board will be out in the beginning of April?  I'm looking for my first augmented micro-controller board and it really looks like you hit the nail on the head.  My number 1 concern was not enough ADC, servo control, and pwm for motors on all the boards I was looking at.  My first chioce was the robostix, until now.  Does that offer for ~20% discount still hold for the first production run?  I haven't completely made up my mind yet so don't hold me to it.  You could expect an IM in the next few days though (probably by the end of this weekend I'll have done enough research on everything to have made up my mind).  I've still got a lot to learn so that I can make a good decision on my first board.

*Edit*  I just noticed you haven't mentioned pwm for motor control (unless I missed it).  Will this board offer pwm?  (hopefully it's not obvious and I'm not asking a stupid question...) ???
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Mcrich113 on March 05, 2008, 12:27:38 AM
When will u bring it out? Can we try to make our own Axon ?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: skatj on March 05, 2008, 01:54:21 AM
I'll definitely be interested in buying this if there is good documentation.

Would you say it is as easy to use as a Basic Stamp? (Obviously, it's a lot more powerful)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 05, 2008, 08:31:53 AM
My manufacturer took quite a while to get me a quote (2 weeks lost due to Chinese new years). I just got it in this morning. Given current known costs of everything, I'm 95% sure the final sale price will be $120.

They said turn around time is 2 weeks, plus an additional week for me. and I haven't done my pre-manufacturing run yet. I'm fairly sure it will be up for sale by end of April the latest. If the pre-manufacturing run comes out great, then just three more weeks.

In the meantime I've been working on the software a lot. I got three robots using it already, all of which I'll fully publish code for: my ERP (http://www.societyofrobots.com/robot_ERP.shtml), my robot fish (http://www.societyofrobots.com/robot_fish.shtml), and a robot arm project I haven't announced yet. I'm really happy with the code simplicity now, took like 10 minutes of coding from the start to get that robot arm to work :)

I've made the code so that its easy to share it with other people, and easy to understand/edit. In all I'd say the Axon is 10 times easier than the $50 Robot. ;D

Quote
Does that offer for ~20% discount still hold for the first production run?
Hmmm it occurred to me I forgot to give a deadline for that . . . I meant it to be only a week. The offer only stood for the ~10 people that messaged me in the first week.

Quote
Would you say it is as easy to use as a Basic Stamp?
As easy if not easier. All hardware can be controlled with no more than 2 lines of code (usually just 1 line). And unlike the stamp, no additional wiring is required. I give detailed examples of everything in my not yet published documentation.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Asellith on March 05, 2008, 08:53:38 AM
Quick question. Is the usb for programming only or can I use it to communicate with the controller? I was looking into some phidgets for my new wheelchair based robot I start (mainly because I found a cheap working electric wheel chair :) ) I want to make it expandable for future testing. this is going to be my testing platform for code and electronics. So I am trying to design it to be easily modified to test a bit of code or a new sensor. I want to experiment with video as my new laptop has a webcam built in I was thinking of strapping it to the base and experimenting. Anyway I just wanted to know if the USB port was going to be accessible once the controller is running. Also how hard will it be to send stuff to the controller from the PC side. I have not done any USB programming yet.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 05, 2008, 09:01:23 AM
Quote
Is the usb for programming only or can I use it to communicate with the controller?
Both. There are three other UARTs that you can also use, too.

Quote
Also how hard will it be to send stuff to the controller from the PC side.
Three steps:
plug in USB cable
open up hyperterminal and select your baud, com port
type into your keyboard

Couldn't be easier :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Centaur on March 05, 2008, 10:29:57 AM
Will the controller be able to output pwm for motor control?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 05, 2008, 11:34:53 AM
Quote
Will the controller be able to output pwm for motor control?
Oops, missed your earlier question . . . yeap, the chip has 12 PWM channels at 16 bit resolution. I think I pinned out like 8 of them. Let me know if you need an exact number on this.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on March 09, 2008, 07:41:24 PM
due to my string of luck( atacked by ice chipper when i open a door, MEEP(robot for FIRST) biting a large chunk out of my finger(leaving blood stains all over my school), stabbing top of hands on screws hiding underneath MEEP, having MEEPS arm stab my shoulder when it decided to collapse when i kicked it, and many more) how do I know that when I turn it on some random thing won't shoot out and lacerate my left hand(for some reason 95% of my MEEP induced injuries have been on my left arm)

For instance, say i turn it on and some tiny pistol pops up on a spring and shoots me in the arm, or a capacitor gets up and kicks me in the shin. I have come to not trust screwdrivers since they like to stab my palm, screws because they stab the tops of my hands, soldering iron and solder because they sizzle my flesh and tin my fingers, wires because they stab the tips of my fingers, electrical conduit because it gives me injuries which have yet to be explained, MEEP because it randomly hits me across the head, hard hats because they fall and hit me in the head, candy because it is never there when I need it, money because of the same thing as candy, but im okay with the things that people lose limbs to.

Robots are out to get me, just because I kicked MEEP a few times and hit it with hammers for no reason other then I was bored, doesnt mean they have to drink my blood.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 09, 2008, 07:55:06 PM
Sounds like you need to think more about safety . . . wear googles . . . and perhaps a leather glove on your left hand . . . ;D

I sometimes call it the 'stupid tax' . . . every stupid mistake you make, you pay for it in either $ or pain ;)

Others call it Darwinism :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on March 09, 2008, 07:56:16 PM
lol, well the stabbing of screws was from me picking up a OI for first, and the losing a portion of my finger noone can explain how I did it, so what is that? RoboKarma?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on March 09, 2008, 07:58:14 PM
I sometimes call it the 'stupid tax' . . . every stupid mistake you make, you pay for it in either $ or pain ;)

I like that ! ( the quote, but not when it happens to me, lol )
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Centaur on March 09, 2008, 10:19:44 PM
Do you happen to have an estimated mass?  (from prototype or something).

I'm designing a sumo so I am trying to spec out everything for a mass estimation prior to purchasing parts.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on March 09, 2008, 10:43:10 PM
I'm glad I waited on getting a micro controller.  This looks to be the one for me  :)

But it will be so simple... If I ever do this stuff in some other situation (read a job, but that's not too likely, really), and am forced to work with less intelligent hardware, I might have to cry. Heh.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 09, 2008, 10:57:03 PM
Total weight is 34 grams (by comparison, a 9V battery is 40 grams).

Dimensions are now posted here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/images/axon_dimensions_large.png

The screw holes are 4-40.

As another update, I finally got in an order with the manufacturer on last Friday. Mouser.com however is taking really long to ship me the USB connectors . . . so thats now the bottleneck . . . doh . . .

Probably not interesting to most of you, but I'm currently writing software so that multiple Axons can communicate with each other through serial. Useful for multi-robot interaction (swarms, etc). I had a successful test last night. Its so nice to have four UART channels :)
And of course, as always, I'll post all source.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Spoil9 on March 10, 2008, 11:17:54 AM
Just thought that I would share this from Wikipedia:
"An axon or nerve fiber, is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma."

Can't wait till your MCU is ready to be sold and I'm back in the states so I can order one.
I was looking for a first MCU and I'm glad I've been waiting as this sounds like the most bang for my buck, plus no real additional costs for a programmer! Nice!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: justsomeguy on March 11, 2008, 06:09:19 AM
Total weight is 34 grams (by comparison, a 9V battery is 40 grams).
Dimensions are now posted here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/images/axon_dimensions_large.png
The screw holes are 4-40.

I'm guessing the dimensions are in inches?  just thought i'll check as i don't want to do a "mars lander"  ;)
so i multiply by 25.4 for real numbers  :D

Any ideas on shipping to the UK?

Dave,
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Kohanbash on March 11, 2008, 06:19:52 AM
I'm guessing the dimensions are in inches?  just thought i'll check as i don't want to do a "mars lander"  ;)
so i multiply by 25.4 for real numbers  :D

I guess if we are avoiding another "mars lander"...

1inch =2.54cm
1inch=0.0254m
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 11, 2008, 06:31:39 AM
The best way to avoid a mars lander is ask yourself if it makes sense that my board is 2.5cm or not ;)

(especially with my pic of it in my hand :P)

As for foreign shipping (such as to UK), shipping will be about $20 more (making it $140). I haven't really looked into it yet.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on March 17, 2008, 06:37:29 PM
so admin, when will you start selling the board???
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 17, 2008, 07:47:27 PM
My first test manufacturing run is currently being done now in China as we speak. They should start shipping it back in the next few days, so I'll probably have it in ~15 days tops. But I won't be selling that batch, as they are all already ear-marked for other stuff.

There appears to be a good chance I'll make the end of April (as I mentioned before) for the public offering. I'm still writing the documentation, but I'll release the documentation sometime end of April too.

And a side note . . . I'm working with Surveyor Corp to integrate their robot camera with the Axon - that means you can have advanced robot vision by calling just one or two lines of code. I hope you like ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on March 17, 2008, 07:51:58 PM
And a side note . . . I'm working with Surveyor Corp to integrate their robot camera with the Axon - that means you can have advanced robot vision by calling just one or two lines of code. I hope you like ;)
(http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e398/RussianCommy/cool%20pics/1201749627077.jpg)

but on a serious note

so I would choose the Axon for my prize for the robot contest but I don't really want to wait till end of April............
any possibility it would be ready sooner?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 17, 2008, 07:57:14 PM
(I guessed that was your reason for asking :P)

Very small chance . . . sorry! If I had a choice, I'd be selling it like yesterday. But its out of my control.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on March 17, 2008, 09:06:40 PM
Have you thought of providing a FreeRTOS.org solution as well? It's really not that hard to port since there is already and Atmega32 project, and there is plenty of flash space as the RTOS is only about 19k
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 18, 2008, 05:01:42 AM
Quote
Have you thought of providing a FreeRTOS.org solution as well?
Hmmmm not in the short term - the short term being this year . . . Got my plate full at the moment . . .

But since its open source, anyone could add it on if they'd like ;)

The RTOS will probably require a bit of modification considering the Axon has waaaay more I/O. AVRlib couldn't even handle it . . . had to heavily modify the UART and ADC stuff.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on March 18, 2008, 09:34:58 AM
After you are done with Axon, you should  make a lesser version for those of us who don't have $150. 
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on March 18, 2008, 10:28:41 AM
After you are done with Axon, you should  make a lesser version for those of us who don't have $150. 

that was advised already by Rebelgium , Admin replied


Quote
Will there also be a Axon lite version? Just half of everything, 8 ADCs, 20 outputs, ...and half of the price
Nope. The market is flooded with beginner boards already. I wanted to make a board for those who want more features than a beginner board. The main reason I designed this board is because I needed these features but no board on the market offered them. These additional features is why the price is $100+
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on March 18, 2008, 11:44:12 AM
Oh, srry. I read that but forgot about it. :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: paulstreats on March 18, 2008, 05:48:47 PM
Can you let me know what board house you are using, and how much they charge etc.. PLZ
Ive had some quotes for some boards for my own small business but they are astronomical in price especially if they populate them.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 18, 2008, 09:12:18 PM
Its a new assembly house, and I'm their first customer. As such, I'm expecting hickups, so my opinion wouldn't be very valid. But they are cheaper than what I could find in the US.

More importantly, the last company I was with had extremely bad customer service - so its not just about price.

I'll let you know who they are when they go live.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: 555 timer chip guy on March 19, 2008, 06:55:33 PM
what kind of math can it do because I would need it to do stuff like cos sin acos ....... that is my only concern it has plenty of every thing els.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Rebelgium on March 21, 2008, 06:56:13 AM
It's pretty powerfull, Admin said howmany MIPS in the beginning of this post.
(check wikipedia/google if you're unfamiliar with MIPS)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: paulstreats on March 21, 2008, 08:42:25 AM
The mcu's arent limited in their calculations. Its the c compilers that are responsible for making the math calculations perform correctly.

 Realistically any mcu can do cos acos etc calculations but not very fast, the compiler can even have an impact over calculation speed.

See this website http://www.xargs.com/pic/picc18-vs-c18.html (http://www.xargs.com/pic/picc18-vs-c18.html) right at the bottom it compares 2 different C compilers for pic18's.

 It basically looks at how many lines of assembly a few floating point calculations in c produces. 1 of the compilers produces 137% more assembly for the same floating calculations meaning that it takes around 137% longer to do the same calculation so its not always about the speed of the controller, but the quality of the code compiler aswell.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: 555 timer chip guy on March 21, 2008, 10:38:00 PM
ooowww thanks :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: scrvtch on March 24, 2008, 04:14:05 PM
Oooh, I'm really looking forward to the blackfin camera integration. (And just about everything else you've mentioned.)

It would awesome if you could include documentation/instructions on how to use it with the iRobot Create in place of the command module. (Serial commands, using the battery to power the controller, etc.) I really like the create but I'm not too sure if I'll be able to figure out which pins go where, how to get the right battery voltage, and how to actually program the Axon to communicate with the create on my own. A tutorial, or possibly some internal functions for using the create, would be really helpful.

How many Axons are you planning on manufacturing for the first batch? (And are they all already reserved with the 20% off thing you were talking about earlier?) I'll definitely be interested in buying one when they're available.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Brandon121233 on March 24, 2008, 07:33:55 PM
Ahhh now I see what you wanted that 3D rendering software for...looks pretty sweet Admin, I might have to get one and take it for a spin
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on March 24, 2008, 07:52:31 PM
Ahhh now I see what you wanted that 3D rendering software for...looks pretty sweet Admin, I might have to get one and take it for a spin

see you're back Brandon,

welcome!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Brandon121233 on March 24, 2008, 09:34:55 PM
Yeah, I can only glance at the forum every now and then because as soon as high school starts up my free time quickly disappears, the only way I'm posting now is because I'm on spring break!! So I'll do as much posting as possible then I'm gone till June :(
(sorry for getting off topic)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on March 26, 2008, 09:22:36 PM
Quote
And a side note . . . I'm working with Surveyor Corp to integrate their robot camera with the Axon - that means you can have advanced robot vision by calling just one or two lines of code. I hope you like

Do you mean incorporated code wise, or it is included with the microcontroller?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on March 26, 2008, 09:47:36 PM
Quote
Do you mean incorporated code wise, or it is included with the microcontroller?
I think its obvious what I meant ;)

Incorporated code wise, support wise, and tutorial wise. I was actually writing the tutorial yesterday and today for it.


I just got an update from the manufacturer . . . they said it should be shipped back from China by Friday . . . meaning I'll probably get the prototypes a week after that. Considering this major delay, I don't think I'll start selling it untill mid-May now . . . Its entirely out of my control :-\
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Ro-Bot-X on March 26, 2008, 11:48:39 PM
What about this camera? http://www.robotshop.ca/home/products/robot-parts/microcontrollers/pob-technology-microcontroller-en/pob-technology-pob-eye.html (http://www.robotshop.ca/home/products/robot-parts/microcontrollers/pob-technology-microcontroller-en/pob-technology-pob-eye.html)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: skatj on April 04, 2008, 05:51:41 PM
Admin, how does your microcontroller compare with the Parallax Propeller? http://www.parallax.com/tabid/407/Default.aspx

I'm scouting a new microcontroller for an AUV project and i'm trying to decide between this one and the Propeller.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 04, 2008, 06:39:47 PM
New update . . . so I got my pre-manufacturing boards in a few days ago. The manufacturer made some mistakes, got the LED's backwards, forgot to not use lead for RoHS, etc . . . and I found another bug that I haven't figured out yet. I may need to do yet another prototyping run, depending.

Basically, I doubt I can get the boards up for sale before May. Hey, its my first product release, I'm still a noob at this! :P

Also, I'm debating raising the price a bit - I am going to promise personal full on-time support to all customers. This will take a lot of my time, so I need some comp for it. I have also already developed tons of source code . . . probably $125 or $130.

I'm about 2/3rds finished integrating easy to use robot camera source code.

Quote
What about this camera? http://www.robotshop.ca/home/products/robot-parts/microcontrollers/pob-technology-microcontroller-en/pob-technology-pob-eye.html
The Blackfin is cheaper and has way more features.

Quote
Admin, how does your microcontroller compare with the Parallax Propeller? http://www.parallax.com/tabid/407/Default.aspx
The propellor is just a chip and doesn't come with required supporting hardware. Also, my Axon has waaaaay more features and capability - the propellor doesn't even come close!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: scrvtch on April 04, 2008, 08:18:47 PM
Too bad about the manufacturing errors; I'm sure nobody has a problem with waiting until everything is worked out.  :P

I do have a quick question about the servo control features. I was reading up about the SSC-32 by lynxmotion (http://www.lynxmotion.com/Product.aspx?productID=395&CategoryID=52) and was really impressed by the features they offer for simple speed/timing control as well as synchronized group movements. (Where individual servo speeds are automatically altered so that they start and stop at the same time.)

How exactly are the 40 available servo channels ( :o) controlled and will the Axon offer similar features for group movements, etc?

Thanks!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 04, 2008, 09:15:22 PM
Quote
How exactly are the 40 available servo channels ( :o ) controlled and will the Axon offer similar features for group movements, etc?
Servos can be controlled any way you like with the Axon - its 100% open source ;)

One at a time, all at once, etc. I have written source code and examples for both. Check out my latest ERP robot video for a demonstration of servo control with the Axon:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robot_ERP.shtml
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: scrvtch on April 04, 2008, 09:57:23 PM
Quote
How exactly are the 40 available servo channels ( :o ) controlled and will the Axon offer similar features for group movements, etc?
Servos can be controlled any way you like with the Axon - its 100% open source ;)

One at a time, all at once, etc. I have written source code and examples for both. Check out my latest ERP robot video for a demonstration of servo control with the Axon:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robot_ERP.shtml
I looked at your videos of the ERP awhile back and was very impressed.

Will there be included functions for changing the speed/timing of the servos as well? (I would assume that for a servo to move slower, the pulse width would need to increase gradually until reaching the desired angle.)

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: siempre.aprendiendo on April 05, 2008, 05:59:27 AM
Quote
How exactly are the 40 available servo channels ( :o ) controlled and will the Axon offer similar features for group movements, etc?
Servos can be controlled any way you like with the Axon - its 100% open source ;)

One at a time, all at once, etc. I have written source code and examples for both. Check out my latest ERP robot video for a demonstration of servo control with the Axon:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robot_ERP.shtml

Your ERP robot looks pretty interesting! Do you have "published" (or will you) the source code?

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: awally88 on April 05, 2008, 09:31:52 AM
This looks good, I'm thinking that I may have to find myself some money so I can get this board!
I can't wait admin, this is going to be awesome.

Also what have you decided about international shipping? I'm in australia, do you know how much extra shipping will add onto the price?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: skatj on April 05, 2008, 09:35:15 PM
Admin, I'm willing to pay a premium for personal support  :P Its of course understandable considering the amt of time you've spent/will spend

I have a question though, I am a little new to electronics. I used GPS receivers, etc from Parallax and they all had source code documenting how to use it with the basic stamp. If I use this microcontroller, do I just have to sort of figure out how to program 3rd party devices in C? Im a little confused on that part.

Also, will programming be procedural or object-oriented

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: ajax spray n wipe on April 06, 2008, 01:58:10 AM
I've been holding back to buy an MCU and this seems to be the perfect thing for everyone. I'm from australia too so if you could please specify the total in US Dollars (or even better, aussie dollars) that it would cost me (or Awally88 and all other aussies),
Thanks
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: ajax spray n wipe on April 06, 2008, 03:36:46 AM
Another thing, upon looking at the atmel site, they say the 2560 has 86 I/O ports and also where will you be selling the axon from? Will it be an external site or will you be selling it from SoR?
Thanks
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 06, 2008, 05:49:36 PM
Quote
Do you have "published" (or will you) the source code?
I've already published the ERP code I used with the $50 Robot controller. And yeap, I'll publish the Axon ERP code, too. As well as the code for the Blackfin with the Axon.

Quote
Also what have you decided about international shipping? I'm in australia, do you know how much extra shipping will add onto the price?
I'm fairly sure it will be ~$25 international shipping - fairly standard I think. But for international, it may be an additional month delay, as I want to work out the shipping kinks locally first. In the long term (~4 months from now) I'll work with international distributors to get that cost down for you guys. Which brings me to the next question . . .

Quote
where will you be selling the axon from? Will it be an external site or will you be selling it from SoR?
In the short term, I will be selling it from SoR International Headquarters (my apartment :P) from this site. In the long term, I will only be selling them through distributors (at the same price to the customer).

edit:
oops for to answer a question
Quote
I have a question though, I am a little new to electronics. I used GPS receivers, etc from Parallax and they all had source code documenting how to use it with the basic stamp. If I use this microcontroller, do I just have to sort of figure out how to program 3rd party devices in C? Im a little confused on that part.
I'll be writing code to integrate all the common/typical robot parts for the Axon (sonar, compass, camera, sharp IR, servos, LCD's, motors, etc). Otherwise for the odd/expensive stuff, I encourage open source and for everyone to share code. And if you want some serious personal support, send me the component (for free) and I'll write easy to use code for you ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on April 06, 2008, 06:00:25 PM
how many more weeks till I get my axon?  :P

i'm really looking forward to this!  ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: skatj on April 07, 2008, 10:40:43 PM
Agreed, you can count me in as a guaranteed buyer  ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Anoroc on April 08, 2008, 02:55:53 PM
I haven't even come close to finishing my $50 robot (waiting on parts) but I think im going to really want this. I have a robot that I want to create and, size being one of my concerns, is lifted by this cool MCU.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on April 08, 2008, 08:27:27 PM
any new pics? or is it still the same as 1/2 pages ago?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 10, 2008, 09:53:42 PM
Prepare your drewl engines!

Two pics, the first shows the Axon after surface mounts are placed (done at the factory).

The second image is with the headers and two other large components added (by me).

I squished several bugs recently - fortunately software issues. I'm going to test the Axon on my ERP for another ~2 weeks just to make sure there aren't any other hidden bugs. I haven't yet thoroughly tested the bootloader . . . I just got the Blackfin cam tracking a blue LED with the Axon today.

The documentation still isn't complete yet, but as soon as its done I'll post the link. I'm also going to write tutorials on how to hack/mod my board to add additional features. ;D

Anyway, here is the predicted timeline:
*If* no hardware problems are found, in two weeks I'll place the order with the manufacturer and mouser.com.
Two weeks after that, I get the completed boards back.
I finish the boards, test, and program them.
A week after that, boards go on sale.
3 days later, you get your Axon in the mail.

May 16th-ish?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on April 10, 2008, 10:08:01 PM
drool.......................

can't wait for the axon!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on April 10, 2008, 10:36:22 PM
*Changes shirt and puts on bib*

Awesome :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Ro-Bot-X on April 11, 2008, 07:19:31 AM
I'll be in Canada, so no more missing on the good stuff! Keep it commin'!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Anoroc on April 11, 2008, 11:03:40 AM
sweetness! I want one :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: HDL_CinC_Dragon on April 11, 2008, 01:06:27 PM
oh good, I just put a super charger and noss injector into my drewl engine a little bit ago. I knew there was a reason!

*DROOOOOOOOOOOL!*
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 11, 2008, 02:16:27 PM
hmmm apparently I can't spell the word 'drool' . . . so in my defence, I claim its a real word:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=drewl
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on April 11, 2008, 09:32:40 PM
hmmm apparently I can't spell the word 'drool' . . . so in my defence, I claim its a real word:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=drewl

In a year or two when you release the Axon II you can rename it "Drewl" and just say you were foreshadowing...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bietz on April 23, 2008, 04:16:21 AM
just one (maybe stupid) question: how is the Axon powered when it's not connected through usb? I didn't see any power header or something in the pictures...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 23, 2008, 04:25:51 AM
Got some sort of bad news . . . it was a hard decision, but I've decided I wasn't fully happy with the design. I'm going to do another prototype, so this will push it back another two weeks or so.

Still working on documentation . . .

bietz, you can plug your battery into any of the non-regulated headers. I'm including an external on/off switch that you can connect anywhere on your robot chassis, then wire it to the Axon in seconds.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bietz on April 23, 2008, 04:28:55 AM
and about the propeller, I would have loved to have its multitasking capabilities on this board, although it could have caused some problems in openness (you must program in spin, not C, and the forthcoming C compiler will not be free, but spin is still pretty good).

What it allows you to do is to assign a 'cog' (processor, of which there are 8!) to each task. For instance, one cog would do all the low-level servo work (sending the right pulses), another one would get all the sensor inputs etc. and the main cog would orchestrate all the other cogs, without caring about the low-level stuff, nor being slowed down by it. In fact, the main cog can just change some RAM variables (for instance motor speeds), and the other cogs can immediately access the new values in the RAM, without any semaphore problems. So I think the propeller is an excellent chip for any robotics applications.

Maybe one day there'll be a prop-Axon?

Anyway, the actual one is still amazing!!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 23, 2008, 01:16:50 PM
bietz, I've been seriously thinking about that . . .

Perhaps on the Axon II next year :P

As for the propeller, my complaint is that it is weak in I/O and UART, which is why I developed the Axon. But I do like the parallel processing concept, and I think its the right direction for robotics to go . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bietz on April 23, 2008, 02:22:52 PM
Quote
As for the propeller, my complaint is that it is weak in I/O and UART
I agree with that, especially the UART and serial communication, which takes one cog and isn't that much integrated. And since it's still in development, I do think one should wait some more time to use it at this scale.
Why not an Axon II next year  :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on April 23, 2008, 05:00:53 PM
I don't think most people use all the processing power they have now.

It's not like you can't use a OS that does task managing on an AVR, PIC, or ARM as it is. I just don't get what exactly you would use the extra cores for as opposed to dedicated UART/I2C/PWM/A2D/Counter/Timer hardware on the an AVR or PIC which essentially makes it all parallel in the first place, with a very tiny amount of overhead for interrupt handlers. I mean that's why all that dedicated hardware is on there. Your processor can do other things while the dedicated hardware is pumping out bits, or waiting to capture an input condition. Then, Boom, your interrupt fires, does some minimal processing, and if need be resumes some task that was blocked waiting on that piece of hardware.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bietz on April 23, 2008, 05:32:31 PM
If you take the example of an extra cog for servos and one for, say, an ultrasonic sensor, here's what it allow you to do:
with a normal microcontroller, a normal robotics program would look like this:
* call a function that allows you to read the input value of the ultrasonic sensor (for instance, with a Ping you would send a pulse, then receive one, and maybe convert the input to an actual distance) and store that value
* do your calculations (the behavior of the robot, i.e. the most important part) using the inputs, and get the output values for the actuators (in this example, the servos)
* call a function that converts your output value to a raw value that can be sent to your servos, then send the appropriate commands to each servo (send one pulse per servo)
* goto start

The problem with this is that the first and the third steps are low-level things that only slow down the main part, which is the orchestration (the thinking). Moreover, when the behavior part is very long, it will diminish the rate of input readings, and especially the rate of pulses sent to the servos, which causes them to lag a bit.

Now what the propeller allows you to do is have a processor care for each of these two steps, so that they don't have to bother the actual brain part of the program, and themselves are not bothered by it. These processors would do just that, thereby doing it more rapidly and more efficiently. In fact, the servos cog would behave kind of like a complete servo controller, reading in ram the speeds or positions of each servo (expressed in a more user-friendly way, such as -100 to 100), converting them to raw values (pulse lengths) and sending the right pulses. All this in a loop by its own.
With this in mind, the main cog (the brain cog) only has to change the values of some variables (for outputs), or read some variables in the RAM (for inputs) and doesn't need any extra-processing at all. Even better, you don't have to care about mutual exclusivity because the propeller has a so-called 'hub' that makes sure each cog accesses the clock, the RAM and I/O one at a time, which means that there's no risk to have 2 processors access the same data simultaneously.

So that's the power of the propeller for robotics applications.

Now I know that many microcontrollers have dedicated hardware to handle some of that stuff (interrupts, counters and all that), but have an entire processor care about it is much more powerful. And one could also use an extra processor just for a specific algorithm, such as a PID controller or some recognition algorithms.

That's why there are so many people saying that multitasking will be at the heart of programming in the future  ;)

But anyway, I agree that the processing power we have today can already allow to achieve pretty good stuff, especially for the kind of 'hobby' projects we do.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on April 23, 2008, 08:39:54 PM
In a RTOS this is what you would do:

Put the Ping sampling in one task. In it's own task loop it would send a pulse and start a timer and then block its self. The input from the ping would be tied to an interrupt that would that when brought high unblocks the Task. After the task is unblocked stop the timer and convert/store the value as the most current value. Here is a rough draft of the code:
Code: [Select]
static UInt16_T Distance_CM=0;
static Mutex Distance_Access_Mutex;

void PingTask(void)
{
   UInt32_T timer_value_nanoseconds=0; //or microseconds or whatever

   for(;;)
   {
      ResetTimer();
      SendPulse();
      StartTimer();
      BlockTask(); //In FreeRTOS you can put an upper limit on the amount of time to block
     
      //Processor runs other tasks while waiting
         
      timer_value_nanoseconds = StopAndReadTimer();
      timer_value_nanoseconds = ConvertTimeToDistance(timer_value_nanoseconds); //no sense it wasting space
      LockMutex(&Distance_Access_Mutex);
      Distance_CM = timer_value_nanoseconds; // might want to saturate timer_value_nanoseconds and avoid overflow.
      UnlockMutex(&Distance_Access_Mutex);
   }
}

UInt16_T getPingDistanceCM(void)
{
   UInt16_T return_value=0;
   LockMutex(&Distance_Access_Mutex);
   return_value = Distance_CM;
   UnlockMutex(&Distance_Access_Mutex);

   return return_value;
}

//Set up your interrupt function... not exactly syntactically correct but I'm lazy at the moment
_Interrupt (Whichever_PIN)
{
    Unblock(&PingTaskHandle);
}

Your main behavior goes in another task at a lower priority than your PingTask and is another for( ; ; ) loop that does it's own thing. Like you said you won't need another task to out put to a servo, you just need to set up the hardware and then all you have to do is make a function call that calculates from engineering units to raw units and writes that value to a register to change the PWM.

In this way you can see the very minimal processing that is needed when you properly use your hardware.

In addition, if the propeller has only limited access at any given time, you are essentially making a syncronized RTOS in hardware in which all tasks always get the same amount of time in a round robin fashion, which may not always be optimal. And because of this round robin fashion you will have reduced throughput in all tasks. So you are all ready hampered by the architecture.

I'll agree that it is a step forward in hardware ideas, but I think the implementation is lacking compared to modern software.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on April 23, 2008, 08:40:32 PM
Sorry for the OT post....  :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on April 23, 2008, 09:10:06 PM
Quote
Like you said you won't need another task to out put to a servo, you just need to set up the hardware and then all you have to do is make a function call that calculates from engineering units to raw units and writes that value to a register to change the PWM.
This won't work if the number of servos exceeds the number of hardware PWM on the mcu. For bipeds or my ERP or my robot fish, a huge amount of cycles get wasted on servo PWM. Since the Axon can in theory do up to ~41 servos, this is a serious problem.

In the future I plan to write much better servo software that doesn't require wasting ~1.5ms per servo (like on the $50 robot). I have ideas, but not the time to try them out. It will probably involve timers and interrupts . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on April 23, 2008, 09:15:36 PM
I guess my head is stuck on getting a person like driving capability so I only ever need 2 for ackerman and no more than 4 for tanks :D

I guess the solution may be... Specialized Hardware...  ::)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on April 23, 2008, 09:24:47 PM
Or just throwing a second (or third) microcontroller onto the board that only handles the servos based on a simple command from the main mcu.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bietz on April 24, 2008, 05:19:41 AM
Or just throwing a second (or third) microcontroller onto the board that only handles the servos based on a simple command from the main mcu.
That is basically what the propeller does by assigning a cog to the task: it's like an MCU by its own, and best of all, you don't need to send any data between the two (no time sent with serial communication or whatever) because they both have access to the same RAM. The only problem would be that they access the hub one at a time, so they don't go at full speed, but that's ok since the propeller runs at 80MHz...

Anyways, since I don't know that much about timers and interrupts, and RTOS, I'll give it a look.

And I guess we're getting too much OT...  :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: paulstreats on April 24, 2008, 06:10:35 AM
Quote
In the future I plan to write much better servo software that doesn't require wasting ~1.5ms per servo (like on the $50 robot). I have ideas, but not the time to try them out. It will probably involve timers and interrupts .

Ive just done this in an interrupt base along with pwm for my motors, its set for a PIC but im sure you could easily modify the code.

the important part is the number 40 in the below line.

if (rangefinder.offduty>=40){

if its set too low, the servo will try moving too fast and spaz out, if its set too high, the servo turns off and it isnt very efficient. This value needs changeing depending on whats in the interrupt sequence along with it. The more processes in the interrupt, the lower this number needs to be.

The function that the interrupt runs from motor.c allows full speed control using modified pwm (i found that plain pwm produces a jittery motion). I decided not to use the pwm ports on the pic because they are all in silly places (like 1 on each port)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 01, 2008, 02:04:05 PM
An update on the Axon . . .

I got the newest prototype PCB in the mail yesterday, and I just hand soldered it all today. I ran it through my tests, and it passed all of them.

I will now use it on my ERP for a week or so, and if no other problems show up, I will finally make the order for a large scale manufacturing run. I think we have a winner :)

Good chance it could be in your mail box by end of this month, but don't quote me on that . . .

Also, I decided I won't be shipping international directly, ever. Too much effort and shipping costs. But before you freak out, I already have an international distributor that I'm in the talks with. Those who are international will probably have to wait another ~month or so as I work out the details. Hopefully they can offer lower international shipping costs . . .

Anyway, I am setting up extra bonus features on the Axon. I will have a .hex file, that if you upload it, turns the Axon into a servo controller (up to ~40 servos) that can be used directly with a PC or anything else that has serial or USB.

I am also writing code that turns the Axon (also a .hex) directly into a highspeed data logger.

Don't remember if I mentioned this before or not, but the Blackfin camera interface code is done as well.

And I'm up for more ideas if anyone has any.

The documentation and tutorials are almost done. I'll release them in about two weeks.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bietz on May 01, 2008, 03:33:20 PM
Quote from: Admin


Also, I decided I won't be shipping international directly, ever. Too much effort and shipping costs. But before you freak out, I already have an international distributor that I'm in the talks with. Those who are international will probably have to wait another ~month or so as I work out the details. Hopefully they can offer lower international shipping costs . . .

Yeah international shipping is really horrible... That's what blocks me from buying robotics/electronics in the US most often (which means at all, since there's almost no places here in France to find that stuff unless it's 3 times more expensive...).

I just ordered some stuff from digikey (AVR programmer and lots of other little stuff) and I had to spend $70 of UPS shipping, and an additional 50 euros ($77) of taxes here...
A while ago, I ordered some stuff from parallax for my robotics club, and I had the choice between $170 with UPS or about $50 with USPS, so of course I chose USPS, but since it's public, boom, 85 euros (130 dollars) of taxes here, for a total of $180 of shipping... It hurts... Fortunately, that time, the school was paying but still...

The thing is I can never buy a small amount of stuff because I prefer waiting to have more things so that I don't end up wasting $150 a time for shipping...

ok, the dollar is low and stuff, but still... it just bugs me. I wish I lived in the US even just for that...

Quote from: Admin
Anyway, I am setting up extra bonus features on the Axon. I will have a .hex file, that if you upload it, turns the Axon into a servo controller (up to ~40 servos) that can be used directly with a PC or anything else that has serial or USB.

I am also writing code that turns the Axon (also a .hex) directly into a highspeed data logger.

Don't remember if I mentioned this before or not, but the Blackfin camera interface code is done as well.

And I'm up for more ideas if anyone has any.

The documentation and tutorials are almost done. I'll release them in about two weeks.

That is awesome!!! This is what will make it great!

Alberto
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: scrvtch on May 01, 2008, 04:28:48 PM
Sounds great. How much has changed since the last version? (A picture would be awesome)

For the servo control, will their be functions for modifying the timing and speed of a servo as well as just position?

I'm looking forward to taking a look at the documentation and tutorials!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on May 01, 2008, 08:02:08 PM
Modifying the timing or speed of a servo is pretty hard thing to do with out access to what the control loop of the servo is doing. The reason for this is that the servo has a pre-tuned gain (assuming just a P gain, some servos may have D gains) based on the response of the system. So it's designed to take you from angle X to angle Y as fast as possible with as little over shoot as possible. To change the speed at which it does that you would have to fiddle with those gains but as you can probably figure out there is no access to them. So you are kinda stuck trying to dither with an update of 50hz.

In other words, changing the speed of a servo is like like trying to get a race horse to trot.

But maybe I'm misunderstanding what you are after...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 01, 2008, 08:24:17 PM
Quote
How much has changed since the last version? (A picture would be awesome)
Not much changed. Added a resistor and two diodes to fix some minor issues.

Quote
For the servo control, will their be functions for modifying the timing and speed of a servo as well as just position?
Initially, no, because its a bit complex - especially with 40 servos to keep track of. But yea its possible. The controller would need to slowly ramp up the PWM signal to get the servo to slowly change to a new position.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Webbot on May 02, 2008, 09:18:55 AM

Quote
Admin:
In the future I plan to write much better servo software that doesn't require wasting ~1.5ms per servo (like on the $50 robot). I have ideas, but not the time to try them out. It will probably involve timers and interrupts . . .

Here's a good starting point
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=541.0 (http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=541.0)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: GHF on May 02, 2008, 07:14:21 PM

Quote
Admin:
In the future I plan to write much better servo software that doesn't require wasting ~1.5ms per servo (like on the $50 robot). I have ideas, but not the time to try them out. It will probably involve timers and interrupts . . .

Here's a good starting point
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=541.0 (http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=541.0)

I think Admin means that he doesn't want to have to "set pin X high - wait 1500uS - set pin X low" because that means a lot of time is wasted doing exactly nothing, and very little is accomplished. The better (but more complex) way is "set pin X high - set timer to cycles equal to 1500uS - turn on timer and timer interrupt - do useful things for 1500uS while timer counts - interrupt occurs when timer overflows - interrupt sets pin X low."

There are other schemes that use timers and a tight loop to do the "set pin X high" part for ALL the servos. After that, you turn on a timer, run in a tight loop, waiting for each servo's desired delay to come, and then set low the corresponding pin. This is the simultaneous way, vs. the back-to-back way.

-Xo W.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on May 02, 2008, 09:58:30 PM
AVRlib does the back to back way, but if you are only using one output compare you are limited to 25 (50ms/2ms) servos. But you could use up to 3 output compares on one timer. The only problem with that is you may have some jitter if it just so happens that 3 output compares cause over-lapping interrupts. But it really shouldn't be that bad...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Webbot on May 03, 2008, 06:48:25 PM
GHF - I don't think you checked out the link. which does EXACTLY what you are talking about - ie if you want to send a 1.5ms pulse to a servo then set the servo pin high and then schedule to be called back in 1.5ms time to change the pin low again. In the meantime get on with doing other stuff. There is NO blocking/delay of the main foreground task. Since the link provides the code to schedule callbacks for lots of tasks then this could be used to control lots of servos - subject to the granularity of the timer, number of servos etc.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 12, 2008, 07:46:48 AM
I know you guys don't want to hear this . . . but I've decided to do yet another prototype. I had a talk with the experts over at Dimension Engineering and they found a bunch of ways I can reduce costs during manufacture. Tons of other advice, too.

Also, I want peoples thoughts on this. Instead of the ATmega2560, Im going to change it to the ATmega640 ($4 cheaper). Its exactly the same for everything with one exception - instead of 250kb flash memory, it only has 64k. I seriously doubt anyone will use more than ~6k memory, so its just a waste.

If someone still wants 250k, I can do a custom board for you . . . If anyone sees a problem with this, or needed that memory, speak now!!!

The changes make each Axon ~$7 cheaper, so if I make 1000 of them, thats a lot of money saved!

So how does this affect shipping date? Pushed back an extra 3 weeks probably . . . sorry!!!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on May 12, 2008, 08:18:16 AM
Not that it should sway your decision on changing the processor, but I had planned for that extra flash memory for lookup tables for learning algorythms.  I can always just use an I2C or SPI memory board instead.  Of course 8bit might not be enough for the size of the tables when all is said and done anyway.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on May 12, 2008, 08:40:41 AM
I would leave the 250 k if you want the axon to be known as teh "ultimate  board"

but 64k is fine , I dont mine at all
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: paulstreats on May 12, 2008, 12:31:23 PM
Its strange because im currently designing myself a board with external memory installed. I dont think the internal memory of the mcu is that important, but maybe you should look into building an optional extra board that fits snugly on top with through pins for the ports that the memory board doesnt use. Im thinking of doing it like this for my own unit..... The 250k memory isnt going to let you hold images and pattern files for processing but external memory will
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: superchiku on May 12, 2008, 01:05:14 PM
why add external memory and go through all the trouble when u are getting 250 k premade in a microcontroller
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: paulstreats on May 12, 2008, 01:10:36 PM
how many images can you hold in 250k of memory? (consider that the data will be fully uncompressed)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on May 12, 2008, 01:29:24 PM
Boo hiss.  It looks like I'll be lucky to have this thing in my hand 8 weeks into my summer. A summer which I had hoped to spend continuously playing with robotics stuff.  At least I'm not in high school any more; that would leave me with 10 weeks of summer total.  I have more now as a college student...

And this doesn't sound like a particularly small change.  I will be unsurprised and further disappointed if you do yet another revision afterwards.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 12, 2008, 01:52:02 PM
paulstreats, is your argument that if you need a lot of memory, you should be using external memory anyway?

Gertlex, I agree, this has taken too long. I'm going to take time off my job to get this done faster.

This isn't a major change actually. The 640 is pin for pin with the 2560. Prototyping just takes time with shipping and testing . . .

Unless I hear a compelling reason otherwise, I'm moving to the 640. I can still do custom 2560 Axons for extra $ for the 1% of users that might need more memory . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: JesseWelling on May 12, 2008, 05:22:30 PM
My 'demo' FreeRTOS program compiles to 9210 bytes, so I think you may be spot on in using the 640 version. From what I can tell it's completely code compatible with my Atmega128 except it has more Output Compare Registers for more PWM outputs (which I've discovered doesn't matter as much as I thought) and more ADC channels, which is always a welcome thing.

Good cost reduction. You have my vote.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: superchiku on May 12, 2008, 10:00:40 PM
personally i think 64k is better as it reduces cost of manufacture and buying besides if u want to store images , microcontrollers ar not good options go for ur laptop or pc instead
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on May 14, 2008, 05:45:33 PM
more Output Compare Registers for more PWM outputs (which I've discovered doesn't matter as much as I thought) and more ADC channels,


sounds good
 
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 14, 2008, 07:43:16 PM
Thought I'd give another quick update on progress.

I figured out and tested my distribution system. Advertising is set up too.

After quite a lot of thought and changing my mind several times, I decided to go with the 640. The default software right now for the Axon takes up ~17kb, and I can't imagine people using up more than another 20kb, leaving still more memory. Its exactly the same as the 2560 except the memory. Maybe I'll move to the 2560 when more people require that amount of memory, and the cost of the chip goes down. If you still need the 2560, I can do a custom job for a few extra bucks.

I finished the latest design, but it hasn't been prototyped yet. I made only minor changes so Im not worried, this is the last prototype for sure. I got my ATmega640 in the mail today so Im going to try it out on an older prototype board tomorrow - basically it'll take just a day to verify it and modify code for it. I'll release the documentation as soon as I verify the 640 works as planned - this Sunday the latest?

I'm currently in negotiation with the manufacturer about prices and other options I'd like, so this is the bottleneck right now. I may have to make short-term concessions to speed production up . . .

Oh and I decided to test every single board and every single pin for flaws. SoR seal of quality :P
Today I designed an external circuit to quickly do this for me :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on May 14, 2008, 07:48:21 PM
Oh and I decided to test every single board and every single pin for flaws. SoR seal of quality :P
Today I designed an external circuit to quickly do this for me :D

now thats what I like to hear!!!!  ;D

if only every store was as great as you , lol
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: alessio136 on May 15, 2008, 02:21:22 AM
As many of you have realized, I have not really been happy with any of the microcontrollers available on the market. They are all missing something . . .

So I am developing a microcontroller for SoR to sell (called the Axon), with revenue going to further develop/grow the SoR website. I've done a manufacturing run and it mostly works, but I'm working out the final bugs and documentation. I've been working hard on this for the last ~6 months, and it should be ready within a month or two from now for shipment.

For those who have used the Arduino, it will basically be the Arduino x 3 (in features, support, and cost). Yet it will be smaller and lighter, too.

A few teaser features:
16 ADC
built in USB
3 additional UART (for camera, wireless, hyperterminal, etc)
no programmer required
control up to 40 servos (building a hexapod/biped, anyone?)
has a power bus
designed for the intermediate/expert builder, simple enough for a beginner
  -actually, much much easier than the $50 Robot
2.5"x2.5"x.7" profile
full support, easy to use software/code
RoHS compliant (environmentally friendly, no lead, etc)


Price will be between $100 and $150. Send me an IM if you want to reserve one (no money down) so I can better judge how many to initially make. Those who reserve for the first produced limited batch will get ~20% off.

did you really make the microcontroller integrated circuit or "just" the demo-board using an existing microcontroller?

Realizing IC costs hundereds thousends dollar due to the silicon masks, doesn't it? moreover microcontroller are very complicated devices and would require maaany masks... how could you afford that invesment?!?


have you ever tried Texas Istruments MSP430? they are very powerfull microprocessor and would be very good for robots...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: TrickyNekro on May 15, 2008, 02:46:33 AM
As many of you have realized, I have not really been happy with any of the microcontrollers available on the market. They are all missing something . . .

So I am developing a microcontroller for SoR to sell (called the Axon), with revenue going to further develop/grow the SoR website. I've done a manufacturing run and it mostly works, but I'm working out the final bugs and documentation. I've been working hard on this for the last ~6 months, and it should be ready within a month or two from now for shipment.

For those who have used the Arduino, it will basically be the Arduino x 3 (in features, support, and cost). Yet it will be smaller and lighter, too.

A few teaser features:
16 ADC
built in USB
3 additional UART (for camera, wireless, hyperterminal, etc)
no programmer required
control up to 40 servos (building a hexapod/biped, anyone?)
has a power bus
designed for the intermediate/expert builder, simple enough for a beginner
  -actually, much much easier than the $50 Robot
2.5"x2.5"x.7" profile
full support, easy to use software/code
RoHS compliant (environmentally friendly, no lead, etc)


Price will be between $100 and $150. Send me an IM if you want to reserve one (no money down) so I can better judge how many to initially make. Those who reserve for the first produced limited batch will get ~20% off.

did you really make the microcontroller integrated circuit or "just" the demo-board using an existing microcontroller?

Realizing IC costs hundereds thousends dollar due to the silicon masks, doesn't it? moreover microcontroller are very complicated devices and would require maaany masks... how could you afford that invesment?!?


have you ever tried Texas Istruments MSP430? they are very powerfull microprocessor and would be very good for robots...


For god shake man... If admin was producing a micro then he wouldn't sell it like this...
It's just a development board based on a ATmegaXXXX with a build in bootloader...


Lefteris
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 15, 2008, 01:27:11 PM
Actually a fab would probably cost $500 million . . .

Although we all say 'mcu', uC', and 'microcontroller', sometimes what we really mean is 'augmented microcontroller'. Basically a misnomer, its just much easier to not type out the word 'augmented'.

The Axon (not spelled Axion :P) is an augmented microcontroller.

Anyway, another news update . . .

I wired up the 640 and wrote the new software and new bootloader. Everything works :D

Next step, order the new prototype (when manufacturer gets back to me hopefully tonight) and try it out on my ERP for a few days to make sure no bugs pop up.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 17, 2008, 07:00:21 PM
I am now releasing the documentation. It is still in rough draft form, but most of it is finished.

http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/

There are a few things I'll be adding in the coming weeks:
A video demonstration
Updated code, many are dead links right now
A much better 'Getting Started' section that goes into detail for software
Current draw tolerances may change
Updated images of the newest version

If you have any comments, I'm open to consider them.


Now an update for manufacturing . . . I'm still waiting on getting quotes from the manufacturers. I should have them by Monday hopefully . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on May 17, 2008, 09:34:15 PM
Just to be sure... are orders through Google Checkout being taken *now*?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 17, 2008, 10:15:42 PM
Quote
Just to be sure... are orders through Google Checkout being taken *now*?
Well, not really. But if you put in an order, you can reserve an Axon. It will get you at the top of the list, but I don't play to run out.

Those who reserved during those first two weeks for a special 20% discount (no longer valid for new reservations), I'll have a different place for you to pay so don't worry.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: benji on May 18, 2008, 03:26:10 AM
Quote
control up to 40 servos (building a hexapod/biped, anyone?)
what do u exactly mean by that? ,,, 40 I/O s  ????
by the way , in the http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/ (http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/)
its mentioned 4 PWM CHANNELS,, but actually if its based on the ATmega128 then it can provide 7 PWM channels

timer0 outs ocr0
timer1 outs ocr1a,ocr1b,ocr1c
timer2 outs ocr2
timer3 outs ocr3a,ocr3b,ocr3c

so why 7 not 8 ? its actually because the ocr2 and ocr1c are the same pin
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 18, 2008, 07:49:49 AM
Quote
Quote
control up to 40 servos (building a hexapod/biped, anyone?)

what do u exactly mean by that? ,,, 40 I/O s  ?
Where do you see that written at? Its actually only 29 on the board, but if you make an external power bus more can be added.

Quote
its mentioned 4 PWM CHANNELS,, but actually if its based on the ATmega128 then it can provide 7 PWM channels
Ehhhh no its based on the ATmega640, which can do 16 PWM. But I only pinned out 9 of them - not enough room!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: benji on May 18, 2008, 09:10:48 AM
Quote
Where do you see that written at?
your very first post
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 19, 2008, 07:14:58 PM
Oh that was like four versions ago . . . the current specs are here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/
(about halfway down)

I might still tweak some of the specs, so don't quote me on anything until I've manufactured the final version . . . I'll be choosing a manufacturer tomorrow . . . quotes are coming in slowly . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 21, 2008, 01:45:18 PM
Turns out I'm more inexperienced than I thought when it comes to manufacturing.

The process of getting and negotiating price quotes is like a 2-3 week process, when I thought it was a 2-3 day process. Just when I'm ready, another company comes in with a better offer. At least I managed to save a few thousand by comparing ~12 different companies and negotiating with them 8)

So yea, I'm going to spend a huge sum of money in the next day or two. From that point on, its going to be about a ~15 day process. Then I'll spend a few more days putting on the final touches (testing, programming, etc).

But then again, my inexperience has made me really poor at estimating time . . . ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: pomprocker on May 21, 2008, 02:26:54 PM
I don't know if anyones already said this...

maybe you can write  a tutorial when your done!

haha
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Nyx on May 21, 2008, 03:27:42 PM
It would be nice if you could provide a firmware version that allows the Axon to be used as an I/O board for those of us who use PCs/Laptops/etc, and controlled through a serial/USB port. That could possibly get you more clients. If not, maybe that could be another product. There aren't that many competitive solutions out there, besides phidgets, which in my opinion, are fairly limited (few I/Os, each board does very little) and highly priced. I would be especially happy if you provided some standardized/published reference of the communication protocol used, and the source code for the firmware.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 21, 2008, 03:42:47 PM
Nyx, I'm way ahead of you!

Thats one of the first optional software packages I plan to write. It will turn the Axon into a USB servo controller and USB I/O board. You send it a serial command however you like from a PC, and it will do stuff for you. No programming required.

If you have more feature requests that you think others will like, I'll write the software for a firmware upgrade.

Most importantly I'm going to encourage open source as much as I can.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Nyx on May 21, 2008, 03:55:13 PM
The only other feature I would like is an expansion board with lots more I/Os, which could also be used with a PC-interface firmware. This would be more economical (and more practical) than having to get multiple boards. It would also make your solution significantly more competitive. I'm no expert, but perhaps this could be done for cheap by using weaker microcontrollers just for their I/O lines (I recently got 5 atmega8-16s for $8 shipped...).

On the software side... It would be great to have linux software support. Linux tends to be more practical to develop on, and more stable over time. If you program windows vista drivers/software, who's to know how hard it will be to make it all run on the next windows version, or the one after... But if you make a linux solution, chances are it won't be so hard to keep it working 15 years from now.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 21, 2008, 04:06:50 PM
I want the Axon to be multi-purpose, basically multiple products in one. Phidgets are designed so that you have to keep buying to add capabilities (which is how they make money off of you). The Axon is designed so that capabilities can be added by software.

I could make an I2C expansion board in the future. But not in the next 6 months probably.

Quote
It would be great to have linux software support.
The USB will work with both Linux and Mac, too. You will need to find a compiler however that works for your distro of Linux. I'm sure you can find it with a quick google search . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Nyx on May 21, 2008, 04:12:33 PM
Quote
The USB will work with both Linux and Mac, too. You will need to find a compiler however that works for your distro of Linux. I'm sure you can find it with a quick google search . . .

gcc can probably target the microcontroller you're using, and should be usable on windows too.

If you get this business working right, I think there's a big potential for profit. Most amateur robotics platforms seem to be so poorly done, they'll be easy to beat ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on May 22, 2008, 09:12:48 PM
and yet it hsant been done....... :'(

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Nyx on May 22, 2008, 09:35:21 PM
and yet it hsant been done....... :'(



What hasn't been done?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on May 22, 2008, 09:37:50 PM
umm I think he means a good robotics platform

Admin , im so excited for this board!!!

I have so much stuff I wanna connect to it , lol

Can you arrange some business deal with the guys who make Blackfin camera?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on May 23, 2008, 05:04:27 AM
Quote
Can you arrange some business deal with the guys who make Blackfin camera?
Like what? I've made deals with quite a few companies, but I'm keeping them secret until the Axon has gone on sale ;)
Lets just say, 'extensive code library' . . .

Speaking of which, I just bought all parts needed for manufacturing . . . and PCB manufacturing began yesterday. Hmmmm $500 in on/off switches . . .

I'm going to offer quanitity discounts for small volume purchases, too. And I made shipping free (within the US). Im fairly sure international shipping with be <$25, but don't quote me on that yet.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on May 23, 2008, 05:44:21 AM
Quote
Can you arrange some business deal with the guys who make Blackfin camera?
Like what? I've made deals with quite a few companies, but I'm keeping them secret until the Axon has gone on sale ;)
Lets just say, 'extensive code library' . . .

Speaking of which, I just bought all parts needed for manufacturing . . . and PCB manufacturing began yesterday. Hmmmm $500 in on/off switches . . .

I'm going to offer quanitity discounts for small volume purchases, too. And I made shipping free (within the US). Im fairly sure international shipping with be <$25, but don't quote me on that yet.

qouted  :D

so any idea in when the board will stop moving about and finally get mass produced? Everytime I get my wallet together, poof, switch manufacturers, or poof, needed to change the board,,, :-\
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on May 23, 2008, 05:50:08 AM

Lets just say, 'extensive code library' . . .

nice dude!!!!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: pomprocker on May 23, 2008, 09:44:37 AM
Quote
Can you arrange some business deal with the guys who make Blackfin camera?
Like what? I've made deals with quite a few companies, but I'm keeping them secret until the Axon has gone on sale ;)
Lets just say, 'extensive code library' . . .

package deals, It would be nice to buy a blackfin camera and the axon together for a lower packaged price.

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: BANE on May 23, 2008, 11:05:31 AM
Quote
 
so any idea in when the board will stop moving about and finally get mass produced? Everytime I get my wallet together, poof, switch manufacturers, or poof, needed to change the board,,,
Ha, i hate that too :D.  I think all get my wallet out around next year.  Not because i don't have the money, but because theres no telling what kinds of features and compatiblities it will have when he gets done with it!. lol

Bane
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Centaur on May 23, 2008, 09:13:19 PM
Turns out I'm more inexperienced than I thought when it comes to manufacturing.

The process of getting and negotiating price quotes is like a 2-3 week process, when I thought it was a 2-3 day process. Just when I'm ready, another company comes in with a better offer. At least I managed to save a few thousand by comparing ~12 different companies and negotiating with them 8)

So yea, I'm going to spend a huge sum of money in the next day or two. From that point on, its going to be about a ~15 day process. Then I'll spend a few more days putting on the final touches (testing, programming, etc).

But then again, my inexperience has made me really poor at estimating time . . . ;D

And I thought you were baiting us.  I've always heard to plan for at least twice the time and twice the money on development before you have a product.  So that means we could expect an Axon around the end of June, maybe mid July at the latest?  (fingers crossed)

At least your getting some cost savings in there so that you won't have to raise the price again :)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on May 26, 2008, 10:47:40 AM
But capitalism cant funtion without a price  ;)

In order to speed of production of the Axon II, admin will have to raise the price of the Axon I in order to acquire the funds for research and development, but raising the price will make less people interested, and to compensate you would have to charge the ones still interested even more. The only way it could function is with patience, which none of us consumers have, so the longer we wait the less interested we become, and the less purchases, which brings me back to the top of my rant....


Anyone have any plans for the Axon I?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Nyx on May 27, 2008, 07:45:47 AM
But capitalism cant funtion without a price  ;)

In order to speed of production of the Axon II, admin will have to raise the price of the Axon I in order to acquire the funds for research and development, but raising the price will make less people interested, and to compensate you would have to charge the ones still interested even more. The only way it could function is with patience, which none of us consumers have, so the longer we wait the less interested we become, and the less purchases, which brings me back to the top of my rant....


Anyone have any plans for the Axon I?

I'm sure at least 25 people on this board will buy it, and if it works half as well as the Admin promised us, these people will suggest the Axon to others, which will largely buy it, etc. The Axon has the advantage that there's already a community around it to do the publicity for *free*... And the Admin has plenty of "street cred", which will help sell the product ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on May 27, 2008, 07:21:52 PM
But capitalism cant funtion without a price  ;)

In order to speed of production of the Axon II, admin will have to raise the price of the Axon I in order to acquire the funds for research and development, but raising the price will make less people interested, and to compensate you would have to charge the ones still interested even more. The only way it could function is with patience, which none of us consumers have, so the longer we wait the less interested we become, and the less purchases, which brings me back to the top of my rant....


Anyone have any plans for the Axon I?

I'm sure at least 25 people on this board will buy it, and if it works half as well as the Admin promised us, these people will suggest the Axon to others, which will largely buy it, etc. The Axon has the advantage that there's already a community around it to do the publicity for *free*... And the Admin has plenty of "street cred", which will help sell the product ;)


Hey.......Admin........
can you.........
pay...............
us to............
advertise.......
for you?

I accept payments in Axons :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 02, 2008, 08:25:09 PM
Figured I'd post an update . . . suspense is building up, eh? :P

I've started manufacturing as you guys already know. Manufacturing is about 40% done right now. PCB's are done.

In the attached pics you can see I prepped up a bunch of boxes for shipping, and a bunch of caps for soldering.

Took me 2+ hours to prepare all the breakaway male headers . . . my hands were sore for the next day :-\

And yea, I'm pushing this back another week . . . forgot that shipping to/from my manufacturer in Canada takes forever (I'm betting you aren't suprised, lol) . . . I'll be taking orders and going live in ~10 days. Can't wait! :)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on June 02, 2008, 09:18:25 PM
Order placed  8)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on June 03, 2008, 04:21:09 AM
yea baby!!!

can;t wait to get mine

first in line ,lol
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: alovon on June 03, 2008, 06:51:37 AM
Well you can expect an order from me whenever you get around to putting it out. looks great, what is it going to sell for?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: S. Karim on June 04, 2008, 07:18:50 PM
Any dc motor control? Any way to hook vision up to it for onboard processing?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Parth on June 04, 2008, 07:27:46 PM
I'm totally gonna buy one after I get the money! It'll be my first microcontroller! ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Rebelgium on June 05, 2008, 03:36:33 AM
Any dc motor control? Any way to hook vision up to it for onboard processing?

ofcourse.
You can hook up a motor driver to every microcontroller, and a camera with UART for example, to.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 05, 2008, 06:36:34 AM
There is no on-board motor driver, but you can easily hook up your own motor driver to it.

I haven't heard from my manufacturer lately, but in theory I should be getting everything sometime at the end of next week.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: benji on June 06, 2008, 04:08:03 AM
looking at the pic of the axon i did see a 3300uF big cap  ,, why all that capacitance?

in the 7805 reg datasheet it says 0.33 uF at the input is pretty much suffiecient

or is it always that the bigger cap at input the better???
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: TrickyNekro on June 06, 2008, 04:33:19 AM
looking at the pic of the axon i did see a 3300uF big cap  ,, why all that capacitance?

in the 7805 reg datasheet it says 0.33 uF at the input is pretty much suffiecient

or is it always that the bigger cap at input the better???


If you can see axon supports multiple servos at a time...
operating all together times may exist that current draw is at pick....
a voltage drop can bring abnormalities to the osc of the AVR even causing resets of the chips and data loss...
Also in you see (I'm not so sure about this....) the cap is 10V rated meaning that it's connected at the +5V circuit
for the same reason above...

But the Admin as the builder can explain better...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: S. Karim on June 08, 2008, 07:03:10 PM
I don't know much about building electronics (but it's what I want to do), but I praise you and highly admire your ability to just do things of the sort. Amazing job, it looks extremely attractive as well, as opposed to those ugly MCUs I see on websites that charge tons of dollars, $130 is absolutely reasonable for the amount of features I'm reading (even though I have no clue what 90% of them do). Also, I can't wait until you make some real in-depth documentation (with pictures!) on using the Blackfin camera for this.

So I have a few questions before I purchase and please excuse me if I sound ignorant or ask questions comparing apples and oranges:

1. How does this controller compare and contrast to Robonova's MR-C3024? As in price and features?

2. How does the Blackfin camera work with conjuction to the Axon? Does it receive an image, process it and then feed information on objects it recognizes back to the Axon or does it work in another way?

3. Would I be able to hook up some sort of LCD to the Axon for display of text, images or video from the camera? Ones like these:

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=709
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8335
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8448#

4. Why didnt you choose to interface the CMUCam3 with it? Can't that one recognize faces and whatnot? That would've been amazing.

5. Is it possible to attach different camera systems onto the Axon? Or is it only made for the Blackfin?

Thanks.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bens on June 08, 2008, 08:49:26 PM
I was just looking through the Axon documentation and came across your RoHS disclaimer:

Quote
The Axon is 100% RoHS Compliant and lead free. No other microcontroller on the market has made this claim - meaning they use cheaper components (for higher profits) at the cost of our environment!

I've got to say, that's some pretty low-brow stuff there.  Seeing that you're willing to make incorrect and baseless slanderous claims about others to promote your own product makes me lose respect for you.

1) There are quite a few RoHS-compliant boards out there.  Saying that no other microcontroller on the market has made this claim is completely false.  Just one example (http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=arduino).  Or do you think Sparkfun is lying?  The Basic Stamp2 is RoHS compliant, as is the Propeller.

2) Failing to meet RoHS compliancy in no way means that cheaper components were used.  It might be something as simple as using leaded solder because lead-free solder does not work as well in their manufacturing process, leading to lower-quality boards with higher failure rates over time (http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080221_004346.html).  For example, all of the components on the Orangutan robot controllers are RoHS compliant, but the solder paste used in manufacturing is not as leaded solder yields better results.

3) Furthermore, if some company does use cheaper, non-RoHS components, you have no way of knowing that that is leading to higher profits.  What if they're spending less on components so they can offer the boards for less to their customers in a country where people realize that the environmental impact of traces of lead in circuitboards is negligible at best?

A respectable disclaimer, in line with what you see from other respectable companies, would have been:

Quote
The Axon is 100% RoHS Compliant and lead free.

Your disclaimer looks like it should also say something about how, unlike your competition, no puppies were murdered in the creation of your product, and it makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the claims you make.

- Ben
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 08, 2008, 10:19:54 PM
Quote
I've got to say, that's some pretty low-brow stuff there.  Seeing that you're willing to make incorrect and baseless slanderous claims about others to promote your own product makes me lose respect for you.
Sorry, wasn't meant to be slanderous . . . I've removed that claim. Just know that everything I say and do is done to the best of my knowledge with best intentions.

So where'd I go wrong? I looked at the websites of all the main comparable microcontroller manufacturers 6 months ago, and none of them made the claim on their sites that I could find. So I looked really hard just now and here are my results:

Arduino apparently made the claim hidden deep in their forum (http://www.arduino.cc/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1163734586) . . . can't seem to find it anywhere else . . .

Parallax, Olimex, and Gumstix makes it obvious . . . I missed it, my fault :-\
(perhaps they changed their site since, but thats no excuse, that was 6 months ago and I should have checked again)

As for orangutan . . . I can't find any RoHS claim on their site . . . but if lead is used in the solder paste, I don't consider it RoHS compliant . . . and when making the Axon, I got a quote for leaded solder and its definitely cheaper :P

PICAXE, although RoHS according to sparkfun, makes no RoHS claim at all on their site that I can find.

Wiring makes the claim, but its mentioned only once deep within the documentation . . . no green leaf pic :P

I didn't however think to look at retailer sites like Sparkfun . . . lesson learned! I actually feel a bit stupid now for not thinking of this . . .

This is one reason I haven't made the specs/documentation public outside of this thread. This is why I also haven't officially begun to accept orders yet. Not even those who reserved have had a chance to make a purchase yet. I'm sure I still have mistakes in it, and I'm confident you guys will find more. I'm making corrections almost daily to it . . . It hurts my ego occasionally, but its better for you guys to bring stuff up like this. I'm only human! :P

Besides, if I lie, you guys are smart and numerous enough catch me on it . . . and the forum to tell everyone . . . its in my best interest to be honest! ;D

And being wrong is embarrasing, and damages my 'street cred' . . . its in my interest to verify/check my claims . . . I'll try harder in the future . . .

Quote
3) Furthermore, if some company does use cheaper, non-RoHS components, you have no way of knowing that that is leading to higher profits.  What if they're spending less on components so they can offer the boards for less to their customers in a country where people realize that the environmental impact of traces of lead in circuitboards is negligible at best?
This is more of an economics argument . . . but I'll explain what I was thinking at the time . . . given a hypothetical fixed supply and demand, lower prices mean higher sales. But of course, this supply-demand curve has an unknown slope, and isn't perfect because of semi-competing products from other companies. If the prices drop faster than the sales (slope dependent), then it could actually result in a loss of profit . . . Its more likely to lead to higher profits, but isn't guarenteed like you point out . . . And like you said, how much does RoHS compliance mean to customers? I'm not sure myself . . .


hoping I partly redeemed myself . . . :-\
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: dunk on June 09, 2008, 07:55:06 AM
Quote
So where'd I go wrong? I looked at the websites of all the main comparable microcontroller manufacturers 6 months ago, and none of them made the claim on their sites that I could find.
so it was only in the last year or so that RoHS became a legal requirement in the EU (i cant remember the exact date).
it's possible you looked before this date.

most of the equipment manufacturers i deal with at work are only concerned with RoHS because of the legal implications.
i'd imagine microcontroller manufacturers are the same.

i believe RoHS compliance is not a legal requirement in the rest of the world as yet but is quickly becoming the minimum standard in any company who wants to export to the EU.

i have encountered a few equipment vendors who still supply 2 versions of equipment, the RoHS one being the (more expensive) EU version.
this appears to be due to the difficulty of changing their manufacturing processes in time for the EU legislation.
there were certainly a few pieces of equipment at work we had trouble finding RoHS versions of for a while.


dunk.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 14, 2008, 07:22:29 PM
My manufacturer finished the boards yesterday. They sent me a few images (one attached), and it looks perfect. I should get them in my mail sometime this week hopefully. I'll need an extra day to add the final touches and prepare shipping. For those who reserved, I'll be sending out an email in the next few days.

As for the documentation, its mostly done.
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/

Its missing a few things, like: a demo video, source code, external component libraries (Blackfin, sharp IR, digital compass, etc). I'll be adding these soon. Just putting the final touches on it all . . .


Quote
1. How does this controller compare and contrast to Robonova's MR-C3024? As in price and features?
The Axon has more ADC, more UART, more timers, more PWM, more servo ports. The Axon doesn't have a buzzer. The MR-C3024 doesn't have USB. Just google it up for details.

Quote
2. How does the Blackfin camera work with conjuction to the Axon? Does it receive an image, process it and then feed information on objects it recognizes back to the Axon or does it work in another way?
The Blackfin does *ALL* image processing. The Axon just requests the final desired results.

Quote
3. Would I be able to hook up some sort of LCD to the Axon for display of text, images or video from the camera?
Yeap, any LCD that uses UART serial takes seconds to add to the Axon.

Quote
4. Why didnt you choose to interface the CMUCam3 with it? Can't that one recognize faces and whatnot?

I almost did, but the Mr. Howard offered to work closely with me to use the Blackfin instead. He's been really really supportive, and the features/price of his camera were very attractive. I might still add a CMUcam (the original) library, but unlikely right now. He is currently adding a shape recognition algorithm. I requested face detection, but that probably won't happen soon.

Quote
5. Is it possible to attach different camera systems onto the Axon? Or is it only made for the Blackfin?
If it has serial, it can be added to the Axon. The Axon wasn't designed to process images however, so your camera should do the processing onboard.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Maltaeron on June 15, 2008, 03:49:42 PM
Its funny, no matter how much I seem to think that I don't need that many features, its just getting really, really tempting...

I applaud you admin! This is totally the thing I might try to do if only I had any clue were to start! ...but now that its done, why bother?

=]
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: shlodo on June 16, 2008, 03:20:49 AM
sounds great... I like that it has heaps of outputs and u have to ever expanding builder in mind. I want to buy 1 board that will last for ages and allow me to keep adding things as I learn.

What kind of language will it be?

Count me down for one for sure!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 17, 2008, 09:12:48 AM
Bllaaaahhhh my manufacturer lied . . . they still haven't shipped anything . . . oh well!

Now they say they will ship it tomorrow, meaning I probably won't get the boards till early next week :-\

I guess that gives me more time to perfect the code . . . I would have had the code up by now but my social life has been more exciting than usual :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on June 17, 2008, 09:23:45 AM
awww

whatever , next week is good


 but my social life has been more exciting than usual :P

Robotics does get all the girls..  ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on June 18, 2008, 09:07:25 PM
lol, only when it works, and only some girls like scars, none of the ones I know do, tis a shame, scars up and down my right arm and right leg, now if only I could put myself in the situiation of a high tension wire when it snaps, I want a scar the spirals down my arm.....
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on June 19, 2008, 08:06:46 AM
Robotics does get all the girls..  ;)

It gets all the *%(@ing insane ones.  And occasionally the normal-ish ones too.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on June 20, 2008, 09:56:46 AM
Admin,

What camera will interface easiest with the Axon? Will there be samples and code. Can do simple color segmentation and estimation of distance to objects all on the Axon ?

[edit]

I read that the Blackfin has been used with the Axon during a contest. I'd also like to interface the Blackfin to the Axon. I hope you will provide the instructions on how to do this.

Also, I have 16 sonars that I will interface to the Axon's 16 ADC ports. Hope there won't be any issues doing that. Will I need an external power supply for the sonar?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: TrickyNekro on June 20, 2008, 11:55:00 AM
I read that the Blackfin has been used with the Axon during a contest. I'd also like to interface the Blackfin to the Axon. I hope you will provide the instructions on how to do this.



Blackfin is a series of processors, I think...., from Analog...
CMUCAM comes with a blackfin, but why not to learn who to program a blackfin...

Also there is little general knowledge here on the forum about FPGAs or CPLDs...

This is a question to Admin.... why to focus on AVRs when they are so so common and not in a device like one above
if you want to do something for the experts???

Just asking......

Lefteris
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on June 20, 2008, 01:53:01 PM
Also there is little general knowledge here on the forum about FPGAs or CPLDs...

This is a question to Admin.... why to focus on AVRs when they are so so common and not in a device like one above
if you want to do something for the experts???

I would think that when people get to the knowledge level of using FPGAs on their own they would likely be building the entire circuit around the logic they are creating.  FPGAs are not (usually) a general use item where as an AVR is.  Of course FPGAs produce much faster logic...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 21, 2008, 09:08:41 AM
I got some good news . . . and some bad news . . .

The good news is I got everything back from the manufacturer and can start shipping Monday.

The bad news is that . . . my manufacturer is a [negativity]moron[/negativity] and despite me paying a premium for lead-free RoHS compliance, and repeatedly getting reassurance that the boards will be, they made sure to include lots of lead just for fun . . . the boards completely failed the lead test (http://www.leadcheck.com/LeadCheckSwab.shtml), even worse than my last manufacturer in China even :'(

Anyway, I'm kinda freaking/stressing out right now cause thats $4k+ of my money lost . . . so I need to spend some time de-stressing and figuring out how to recoup some of that . . . I sent an email to the manufacturer and I'm waiting to hear back . . .

Worst case, I convert the Axon to a non-RoHS compliant board . . . write off the premium costs . . . and pray I don't lose customers who only want RoHS . . . blllaaahhhhhh :'(

I'll think about it for a few days . . .

--------

vidam, read the rest of this thread for answers to all your questions . . . and the Axon documentation . . . its all here
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on June 21, 2008, 10:29:00 AM
Count me as one who doesn't care :)

Like all electronics of this sort, even if it breaks, I'll keep it.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Trumpkin on June 21, 2008, 01:40:17 PM
I wouldn't care if there was lead in it....
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: HDL_CinC_Dragon on June 21, 2008, 03:42:36 PM
Im interested in it even though it has lead in it. Besides, all I have to do is tell myself lead isnt toxic and it wont be. Mind over matter! <_<   >_>
But yeah I dont mind the lead, its the money they stole from you that bugs me...


Id buy one but I have a whopping budget of zero dollars :-\
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: emmannuel on June 21, 2008, 03:47:56 PM
Sorry to hear they did that Admin.

I've noticed a lot of companies doing the same thing too, raising their prices.

"We're charging you more cause this is a Green/Earth friendly process"

When its the same crap they were doing before :(
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on June 21, 2008, 04:00:59 PM
Personally I prefer leaded devices.  Aside from making better chew toys (that is a joke), the electronics tend to last longer.  20+ years of working with lead traces and components with no kidney damage, hearing problems or sleep loss; and I still managed to get into mensa, so I would say IQ loss was at a minimum.  Count me in on the non-RoHS compliance boards.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on June 21, 2008, 05:33:57 PM
Personally I prefer leaded devices.  Aside from making better chew toys (that is a joke), the electronics tend to last longer.  20+ years of working with lead traces and components with no kidney damage, hearing problems or sleep loss; and I still managed to get into mensa, so I would say IQ loss was at a minimum.  Count me in on the non-RoHS compliance boards.

ohh sleep loss, one night after working with a small amount of solder tip tinner( some wierd canister with a multi-colored blackish stuff in it) I woke up 3 times dreaming I was solderign and I dropped a hot solder iron, woke up reaching for it in my bed all three times......

Also, i dont intend to be licking the boards so im not too worried, hopefully those rabbis can forgive me.....
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: HDL_CinC_Dragon on June 21, 2008, 05:41:37 PM
wait... were not supposed to lick the boards?... aw man!
I too have dreamed I was soldering. As far as I know, I dont have a hearing problem nor kidney problems. I dont sleep very well at all ever and always wake up tired in the morning... may not be related to lead though cuz I dont think ive been exposed to lead long enough in my short life so far to get any damage... though Ive had 3 rolls of 60/40 sitting right next to me for at least 8 hours every day for the past 2 years... hmmm
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: TrickyNekro on June 21, 2008, 05:55:14 PM
Man, lead free is just a trend...
It affects soldering badly...
I think this act is because the want to cut electronics from costumers expect companies...

It's harder to solder and rework on the soldering mostly...

Anyways, what matters to the end product is how well it works no manufacturing ways...
All that years lead was in every product... what now... nothing...
They only need to create new markets.... health is not an issue... while super (benzine) is still sold....


Period...

Lefteris...

Admin... we are with you.............. but with no money sorry ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: R.O.B. 2.0 on June 22, 2008, 09:23:30 AM
I don't understand the three UARTs.

Does that mean the Axon can comunicate with the Blackfin camera, other MCUs, and bluetooth at the same time? Wow!

(Is there a way to do that with other MCUs?)     
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 22, 2008, 09:54:20 AM
I finally released the source code a few days ago:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#software

The Axon is now public (as a link in the MISC section at the top left on any main SoR page).

Still no word from the manufacturer . . . I'm guessing its the weekend and that they are taking time to investigate . . . Anyway I'm just going to ask for a major discount from them on the next batch, hoping they won't make the mistake again . . .

Barring any more unexpected problems (hopefully I'm running out of those), I start shipping Monday morning. :)

Quote
Does that mean the Axon can comunicate with the Blackfin camera, other MCUs, and bluetooth at the same time? Wow!
Yeap. Another example: USB to communicate with your laptop, with one UART for GPS, another for an LCD, and the 3rd for a camera. Or use two cameras for stereo vision :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Kohanbash on June 22, 2008, 01:24:50 PM
I can use the blackfin to determine how much lead is being licked off the Axon. yay
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on June 22, 2008, 01:35:52 PM
Quote
Do you have "published" (or will you) the source code?
I've already published the ERP code I used with the $50 Robot controller. And yeap, I'll publish the Axon ERP code, too. As well as the code for the Blackfin with the Axon.

Please help me find the link where the code for the Blackfin and the Axon are published by Admin? I checked the ERP page and did a search on the forum and can't find it anywhere.


Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 22, 2008, 02:32:40 PM
Quote
Please help me find the link where the code for the Blackfin and the Axon are published by Admin? I checked the ERP page and did a search on the forum and can't find it anywhere.
I'm still working on that tutorial - I'm refining the code to be easier to use. At the moment the code still requires the body of my ERP :P

(the same for all the other code I've promised, its in the works, and being debugged)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on June 22, 2008, 02:39:02 PM
Quote
Please help me find the link where the code for the Blackfin and the Axon are published by Admin? I checked the ERP page and did a search on the forum and can't find it anywhere.
I'm still working on that tutorial - I'm refining the code to be easier to use. At the moment the code still requires the body of my ERP :P

(the same for all the other code I've promised, its in the works, and being debugged)

Could you give a best and worst case estimate on when the code will be published for the Axon interface with Blackfin?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: silent069 on June 22, 2008, 07:58:23 PM
I see that right now, you are only shipping to the continental united states. Im from Canada and was wondering if you would ship to canada if we were to pay an additional shipping fee or something along the lines. Lemme know what u think.  ( I did a forum search and didnt see another post on this so i thought id ask).
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 23, 2008, 08:27:30 AM
I just got an email from the manufacturer:
Quote
I got your email about the lead issue. Here is what happened. The assembly was done using leaded paste. It is partially my fault because there was no official PO so I overlooked this during the procedure.  What can we do? Well, nothing on the boards we already did. For the next batch we can make sure things go right. Please try to convince your customer to take these for now.

Still in discussion on discounts, etc.

In other news, I shipped several Axons this morning. More tomorrow. Finally, eh? :P

Quote
Could you give a best and worst case estimate on when the code will be published for the Axon interface with Blackfin?
Its in a list of things I mean to get done. Probably 2 weeks more. If you or anyone else really needs it asap, I can send you the rough draft.

silent069, Canada will be the first international country I plan to ship to. I'll probably charge ~$8 more for Canada, but don't quote me on that yet! I'll let you know in a week or two. I'm still working on streamlining the process for everything.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: silent069 on June 23, 2008, 09:45:38 AM
Awesome!! good to hear things are finally working out! Im actually pretty excited to get my Axon in the near future. Lead free or not!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on June 23, 2008, 10:05:22 AM
Quote
Quote
Could you give a best and worst case estimate on when the code will be published for the Axon interface with Blackfin?
Its in a list of things I mean to get done. Probably 2 weeks more. If you or anyone else really needs it asap, I can send you the rough draft.

I have never worked with anything like Blackfin or CMUCam before. So I am probably getting one in august. I have a competition in Sept. I hope that 1 month is enough time to do all my image processing and hardware integration???

If not, then I could try to get it sooner this month. If so then I would need your code in July. Otherwise not till August. Let me know, please, your suggestion/advice if any?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: bukowski on June 23, 2008, 12:01:22 PM
Quote
I just got an email from the manufacturer:


Quote
I got your email about the lead issue. Here is what happened. The assembly was done using leaded paste. It is partially my fault because there was no official PO so I overlooked this during the procedure.  What can we do? Well, nothing on the boards we already did. For the next batch we can make sure things go right. Please try to convince your customer to take these for now.

Still in discussion on discounts, etc.

Sounds like Admin could use a intro to business tut.  :P
You should always make out a Purchase Order and get back a sighed confirmation. It makes it much easier to reject faulty merchandise. Also, these may be necessary to maintain by the state (look into your state sales tax laws) if you want to use it for a write off. California requires copies of Purchase Orders, Receipts of Goods, Sales Orders, etc. etc. etc.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on June 23, 2008, 03:20:42 PM
I got my 'order shipped' notice.

*dances*
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on June 25, 2008, 11:29:54 AM
I have an Axon now.  ;D

*dances*
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on June 25, 2008, 12:30:25 PM
I have an Axon now.  ;D

*dances*

Show off :P  So whatcha gonna build with it?  I have four more weeks of my business strategy class before I can start back up on my robotic projects, so I guess it is ok that Admin hasn't included me in his first round of shipments...
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on June 25, 2008, 02:16:11 PM
got one today

I'll be adding it into chives!!!

It will handle all the sensors and provide feedback to my laptop
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on June 26, 2008, 08:56:00 AM
I haven't done anything with mine yet; other than droll everywhere except on it.

It came on the same day I was planning on reinstalling Windows XP, and that took priority.  Nor have I had the chance to play around with the code... or even used C in 4 years. (I found VB.Net 2005 to be easiest for working with the Mini SSC II)  One of the first things I'll do is probably try and get the Axon to control the MiniSSC II.  8)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on June 26, 2008, 09:07:42 PM
Woot, I got my parents to spend the 100 $ today, google emailed me the confirmation, its on the way!!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: AndrewM on June 26, 2008, 09:20:58 PM
I should have my Axons in a few days.  Woot!  Now I really need to finish off this last college class (yes, graduation was not enough incentive on its own).
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Webbot on June 27, 2008, 01:13:24 PM
In the vain of Monty Python 'you lucky lucky lucky b*stards' !!!  :o

We in the UK, and everywhere else non-USA, can only twiddle our thumbs. So the next tutorial should be 'How to beam an Axon to a teleport near you!'.

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 27, 2008, 01:50:49 PM
Quote
Sounds like Admin could use a intro to business tut.
To be honest, I'm incredibly incompetent with business law, and slowly learning it . . . unfortunately societyofbusiness.com is registered to a domain squatter :P


I will begin shipping internationally next week to Canada and to Europe. More details in the coming days . . .


Oh and as I'm typing this, an Axon (an earlier 2560 version of it) is running a crude genetic algorithm to optimize my robot fish. At some point I'll make this code open source for everyone.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on June 28, 2008, 12:30:04 PM
Can someone advise me on the following for using the Axon and the Blackfin camera? I am going to be ordering both on Monday.
1)
Do I need this part The right-angle adapter is a 32-pin header with extra-long pins to securely mount the camera module to the SRV-1 Blackfin processor card to interface the Blackfin with the Axon?
2)
What baud rate should I have the SRV-1 Blackfin camera configured. Is it the default 115 kbps, 921 kbps, or 2500 kbps?

Thanks!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on June 28, 2008, 03:59:24 PM
hey admin, I was reading the Axon specs and a littl something popped out to me, it says the axon is capable of 29 servos but only is capable of
9 PWM, how does that work?

3sorry for.any problems with my post, don't have an actual computer and im posting from my phone)
 
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 28, 2008, 08:20:43 PM
Quote
What baud rate should I have the SRV-1 Blackfin camera configured. Is it the default 115 kbps, 921 kbps, or 2500 kbps?
38.4kpbs for now

Quote
hey admin, I was reading the Axon specs and a littl something popped out to me, it says the axon is capable of 29 servos but only is capable of
9 PWM, how does that work?
Well, the AVR has hardware PWM that you can 'set and forget about'. But there are only a limited number of those, so if you wanted more servos, you'd have to instead turn digital ports on/off in software with proper timing. The $50 Robot doesn't use PWM to control servos, but you could.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: silent069 on June 28, 2008, 09:05:41 PM
cant wait to order mine! :)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on June 29, 2008, 10:24:54 AM
I looked into converting the Google Checkout to allow for charging extra for international shipping . . . I had three options . . . integrate a shopping cart (too much trouble), program in XML (will take awhile), or adapt the existing code (has a serious bug on Google's end).

Sooooo . . . I'm going to do it another way as a short term solution.

Anyone who is in either Canada (+$10 shipping) or Europe (+$20 shipping) please send me an email directly as soon as you can to purchase an Axon. I'll then send you a secure invoice and have it shipped on Thursday together.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on June 30, 2008, 05:30:48 AM
also, I noticed you had replied to this post quoting yourself, but not saying anything else . . . so I deleted that post . . .

no he did add something in there . He quoted himself and then next to one of the questions he wrote down an answer.  However, it wasnt very obvious that something was added in there
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: hgordon on June 30, 2008, 08:57:43 AM
Can someone advise me on the following for using the Axon and the Blackfin camera? I am going to be ordering both on Monday.
1)
Do I need this part The right-angle adapter is a 32-pin header with extra-long pins to securely mount the camera module to the SRV-1 Blackfin processor card to interface the Blackfin with the Axon?
2)
What baud rate should I have the SRV-1 Blackfin camera configured. Is it the default 115 kbps, 921 kbps, or 2500 kbps?

Thanks!

Right - note 38.4kbps for the SRV-1 Blackfin configuration.  Also, at no additional cost for SOR Axon users, we'll include the base "radio board" with 3.3V regulator for mounting the Blackfin if that is likely to be the standard configuration.  This is the green board that sits under the red Blackfin board, as seen in this photo -

(http://www.societyofrobots.com/images/ERP_likes_fire.JPG)

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 02, 2008, 08:02:38 PM
Its about time to give another update on the Axon.

Over a dozen have been sold already!

A new quick demonstration video showing how to wire everything on the Axon was made. The video is temporary until I have time to make something better. Plus, I forgot to plug in the USB in the demo :P

[youtube]ih7aFHRqvaY[/youtube]


Also, a pic of everything you get with the purchase:

(http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/images/axon_kit.JPG)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on July 02, 2008, 08:03:42 PM
I also got two fancy SoR business cards with the purchase :D

In wiring vid #2, it might be worth noting that you can't plug a battery into one of the male connectors on the switch.  Also, on the left row of header pins, at the opposite end of the battery pins, is that indeed UART0?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 02, 2008, 08:19:10 PM
Yea, if anyone wants a bunch of SoR cards to give out free at competitions/events, just let me know and I'll mail you a bunch of them free.

Quote
Also, on the left row of header pins, at the opposite end of the battery pins, is that indeed UART0?
Yeap


Oh and I forgot to mention, you will start to see the Axon sold at popular online robot part retailers soon ;D


Im going to try and come out with more updates this week and next.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: R.O.B. 2.0 on July 03, 2008, 06:48:51 AM
I think you should contact Robot magazine and see if they will put you in the product news section.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on July 03, 2008, 08:40:57 AM
Yea, if anyone wants a bunch of SoR cards to give out free at competitions/events, just let me know and I'll mail you a bunch of them free.

Admin, I don't mind giving out SoR cards out at my competition/events. Also, I can put your logo/ad on our website for the competition. We are planning on having a public site soon. I have a computer graphics person helping me design it.

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 04, 2008, 09:56:01 PM
New source code has been released:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#software

An extra timer was added . . . and you might like sensors.c which handles sensor calibration for you. Like sharp IR's, sonar, phidgets, its all there. Version info is included in the .zip file as a .txt.

For example:
Code: [Select]
//read ADC pin 0, and convert
//the value into centimeters
distance=sharp_IR_interpret_GP2D12(a2dConvert8bit(0));

More examples of sensors.c in use can be found towards the bottom here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#adc

I didn't test most of the sensors, just read the datasheets. If anything doesn't work right, let me know. If there is a specific sensor you want included, let me know. Reasonable requests only, please ;)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: ed1380 on July 05, 2008, 05:39:03 AM
EH. ITS FINALY OUT. LOL

LOOKS AWESOME. VERY NICE JOB ADMIN :D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on July 05, 2008, 09:05:33 AM
If there is a specific sensor you want included, let me know. Reasonable requests only, please ;)

Here is my request:

Daventech compass
http://www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R117-COMPASS.html

Not a sensor, but I need to interface this: Sabertooth dual 10A motor driver
http://www.dimensionengineering.com/Sabertooth2X10.htm

And a timing mechanism for reading a ring of range-finding ultrasonic sonar. See my post here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4623.msg36354#msg36354


Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 05, 2008, 09:56:14 AM
Quote
Daventech compass
http://www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R117-COMPASS.html
If you look at the source code, you will find code for it already there. I haven't tested it though so its probably broken. I have this compass so when I get time I'll test it out . . . no promises on when I'll get it done . . .

Quote
Not a sensor, but I need to interface this: Sabertooth dual 10A motor driver
http://www.dimensionengineering.com/Sabertooth2X10.htm
ummmmm just send a servo signal ;)

Quote
And a timing mechanism for reading a ring of range-finding ultrasonic sonar. See my post here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4623.msg36354#msg36354
there are two timers you can use already there in the Axon source code (please read the documentation!) . . . since there is no datasheet available, and this is a rare obsolete sonar sensor, I won't be able to write source for it . . .

http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#timers
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on July 05, 2008, 11:45:24 AM
Quote
Daventech compass
http://www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R117-COMPASS.html
If you look at the source code, you will find code for it already there. I haven't tested it though so its probably broken. I have this compass so when I get time I'll test it out . . . no promises on when I'll get it done . . .

Quote
Not a sensor, but I need to interface this: Sabertooth dual 10A motor driver
http://www.dimensionengineering.com/Sabertooth2X10.htm
ummmmm just send a servo signal ;)

Quote
And a timing mechanism for reading a ring of range-finding ultrasonic sonar. See my post here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4623.msg36354#msg36354
there are two timers you can use already there in the Axon source code (please read the documentation!) . . . since there is no datasheet available, and this is a rare obsolete sonar sensor, I won't be able to write source for it . . .

http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#timers

I put some source code on how I might read the sonar from the ADC pins using the timer overflow mechanism here -->
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4623.msg36374#msg36374

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 05, 2008, 05:23:25 PM
I just discovered a mistake I made in all currently shipped Axons.

ADC pins 4-7 will not work under current fuse settings. I didn't realize the JTAG fuse took over those ports . . .

The easiest way to fix the problem is to hook up a hardware programmer and change the fuse in AVR Studio. Just uncheck the JTAGEN box and leave the rest alone:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_FAQ.shtml#fuses

It will give a warning, just click 'yes'.

This fix takes just seconds to do. Sorry for the hassle!

(unless of course you are me, who has to reprogram fuses for every single Axon :-\)


edit: I said 'ports' - its a typo I meant to say 'pins' ;D
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 05, 2008, 07:21:51 PM
New DAQ software added:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#software

Basically, upload the axon_DAQ.hex and it will convert your Axon into a DAQ. Whats a DAQ you say? A data acquisition device, typically used for data collection for testing and research. The typical DAQ with comparable features to the Axon cost between $100 and $300 ;D

Upload the code, plug in your ADC sensors, attach USB, load up hyperterminal to data log, then push the button to watch it go.

I'll be releasing the source code for it with the next code version release.

Next up, code to convert the Axon into a servo controller . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on July 05, 2008, 07:44:49 PM
one second admin

how do i fix my Axon for the ADC if I do not have a hardware programmer
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on July 05, 2008, 07:57:29 PM
one second admin

how do i fix my Axon for the ADC if I do not have a hardware programmer

As Admin would tell me, you have to read the documentation and the previous posts.
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_FAQ.shtml :-)
Order a hardware programmer as explained in the FAQ.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 05, 2008, 08:41:24 PM
I was afraid someone would say that . . .

airman00, I just started a new thread for you:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4628.0

Do you need more than 12 ADC at the moment? In the long term, you should get a programmer anyway . . .

Worst case, I can trade you for a correctly programmed one at no shipping cost to you . . .
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Kohanbash on July 05, 2008, 09:15:38 PM
Admin-
How do you like the CP2102 and would you recommend it?

Also any chance do you have any Axon motor control code for a DC brushed motor with quadrature encoders (maybe with a PID)?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 05, 2008, 11:03:09 PM
Quote
How do you like the CP2102 and would you recommend it?
In terms of using it, its a great chip and I'm happy with it. But the thing is insanely hard to solder by hand during prototyping . . . I probably wouldn't have used it knowing I would have had that much trouble . . .

Quote
Also any chance do you have any Axon motor control code for a DC brushed motor with quadrature encoders (maybe with a PID)?
At some point I'll be adding this, but its not at the top of my list for now. AVRlib has encoder and pwm code you can use, shouldn't be too hard to integrate . . . sorry!
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: gamefreak on July 06, 2008, 08:00:00 PM
Out of curiosity, why is that fuse set up that way?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Gertlex on July 13, 2008, 08:07:04 PM
Small correction for you:

http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#hardware_defines
In the "Analog ADC Ports (for Sensors)" section, at the end, you refer to the file adc.h. I think you mean a2d.h.  Certainly, the former doesn't exist in either of the two versions of main Axon source code.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: pomprocker on July 17, 2008, 09:49:21 AM
Admin, I have come up with a function that supports the Parallax Ping sensor that works on the $50 robot. You could probably use it on the Axon with a few minor changes.

It is using timer 0 and PORT C, but 'CommanderBob' suggested I break out PORTB-1 so I can use the capture feature and get a more accurate distance calculation.

http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4656.0 (http://www.societyofrobots.com/robotforum/index.php?topic=4656.0)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on July 18, 2008, 09:35:02 AM
airman00 and I have been working together to create an Axon CAD for Sketchup (and of course I compensated him for his time $$$ :P)

feel free to use it in your new robot designs!
http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=4761deb020b23e8a9494e7acda6a0394

If anyone is interested in developing a Solid Works model of the Axon, send me an email, I'll pay you.

If you write any really useful software for the Axon and write up a nice member tutorial on how to use it, I *might* send you a check for your time. Depending on the value added and hits generated, of course. (but no promises!)

Quote
In the "Analog ADC Ports (for Sensors)" section, at the end, you refer to the file adc.h. I think you mean a2d.h.  Certainly, the former doesn't exist in either of the two versions of main Axon source code.
thanks, fixed.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: vidam on July 24, 2008, 08:03:32 PM


Drum rolls please...

I'm finally opening my Axon.

I'm so scared that it is going to fail the first time.

 

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on August 11, 2008, 09:42:15 PM
I know, its been awhile since my last upgrade . . . the newest upgrade has had lots bugs I'm still working out . . .

So I've decided to release a beta for those who are adventurous or can't wait for additional features :P

You can download the beta code here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml

No promises that the new beta features work, or don't have bugs.

The new PWM functions *do* work however on pin H6 if you use the code here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/axon/axon_function_list.shtml#pwm

I'm still fixing the other PWM pins/commands. And I *think* all timers 0-4 work now, but haven't really tested them.



In other news, the Axon is selling fairly well. Sold tons in the first 2 weeks, none in the next 3 weeks (and I began to panic), then tons again after that. Selling a bit faster than I planned :)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: kam427 on August 12, 2008, 05:10:31 PM
I was wondering, are there any discounts to a high school's robotics team?  xD 

Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on August 12, 2008, 05:25:42 PM
Quote
I was wondering, are there any discounts to a high school's robotics team?  xD
Nope. But you have a chance of winning one (or getting reimbursed) here:
http://www.societyofrobots.com/free_robot_contest.shtml
(I run this contest twice a year)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: kam427 on August 12, 2008, 06:14:50 PM
Yes, I have taken a look at that, but it's physically impossible for us to complete it (let's just say school is not yet in session xD)

I've been looking at some microcontrollers at other retailers, and I do have to congratulate you... This does seem very well thought out, well designed, and definitely a worthwhile add-on.  Now, I doubt I'd purchase this just yet- it all depends on the status of our grant applications, as well as the final project that we decide on...

Just one question though: 

If the Axon is connected to a sensor, will it be able to process the information gathered, and then determine what to do with it?  Or does the sensor itself have to process the raw data, and the Axon just collect that? 
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Admin on August 12, 2008, 07:46:57 PM
Quote
If the Axon is connected to a sensor, will it be able to process the information gathered, and then determine what to do with it?  Or does the sensor itself have to process the raw data, and the Axon just collect that?
It can do either. Your choice.

For vision or GPS, you'd want the sensor to process it. But for like sonar or sharp IR's, the Axon would be best for processing.
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: sotu on August 13, 2008, 05:44:45 AM
What is the contest rewards for first, second and thirs place? Is Axon the first ?

Hopefully second and third place winners aren't allways the ones who got most cash to spend on the robot, making them most advanced, but also those who got good ideas, and can make them "stylish" and perhaps a bit funny  :D

And Kam427, if youre interested in robotics and youre friends (at your robotics team) why dont you work at a robot at youre free time/vacation? I did, alltough i made it alone i used the summer holliday ;)

By the way admin, do you have to have a member turtorial where you post all facts, or can i use my webpage to post documentation and pictures?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on August 13, 2008, 05:53:12 AM
http://www.societyofrobots.com/free_robot_contest.shtml


More cash does not mean more advanced  :P
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: kam427 on August 13, 2008, 07:48:52 AM
And Kam427, if youre interested in robotics and youre friends (at your robotics team) why dont you work at a robot at youre free time/vacation? I did, alltough i made it alone i used the summer holliday ;)

We are- we're currently in the design phase- working out the technical specifications, specifically what exactly we're going to use....
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: sotu on August 13, 2008, 09:59:29 AM
http://www.societyofrobots.com/free_robot_contest.shtml


More cash does not mean more advanced  :P

True :P But if you got a little cash you can also afford more/better parts, if you cant build everything from scratch :)
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Penth on August 18, 2008, 06:19:13 PM
Hey Admin, you mentioned you had an Atmega2560 version of the board at some point, what made you go with atmega640?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: airman00 on August 18, 2008, 06:24:32 PM
Hey Admin, you mentioned you had an Atmega2560 version of the board at some point, what made you go with atmega640?

price
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: Penth on August 21, 2008, 08:24:45 PM
Ohwell, anyone try using two Axon's as servo controllers/sensor stations and controlling them from a PC or a hand held device?
Title: Re: SoR annoucement: microcontroller product
Post by: PtMartins on August 25, 2008, 06:54:27 AM
As anyone tried to use freeRTOS on the Axon MCU ? (or other RT Kernel that can perform Multi Tasking? )

What problems do i have to consider when adapting the freeRTOS ATMEGA32 project to the Axon ?

Thanks,

P.S.: My Axon Finally got out this morning of the Portuguese Foreign Customs :)