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Thread: The S2: Impressive!

  1. #1

    Default The S2: Impressive!

    Looks like Parallax has now designed the bot for a Propeller addict like myself!

    www.parallax.com/ProductInfo/Robotics/TheScribbler2/tabid/826/Default.aspx

    @Ken, Why isn't this Parallax frontpage news? I didn't know about this until you mentioned it last night!

    Details on the "hacker-port?"

    /me adds the S2 to his wishlist..

    OBC

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
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    Visit the: PROPELLERPOWERED SIG forum kindly hosted by Savage Circuits.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:33 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  2. #2

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    The S2 page looks very nice!

    A couple of comments:

    1. First bullet: "which now enables the variety of robot tasks" should be
    "which now enables a variety of robot tasks"

    2. Second sentence after the bullets: "has enabled us to provide a highly
    capable that brings forward so many new capabilities." should be
    "has enabled us to provide a highly capable platform that brings forward
    many new capabilities."

    3. Following paragraph: "loose" should be "lose".

    Having said all that -- the new Propeller-based S2 looks very capable,
    even compared to the Mindstorms platforms.

    Post Edited (allanlane5) : 4/16/2010 3:05:02 PM GMT
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:33 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  3. #3

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    Hacker port: 6 digital I/O's (w/ voltage translators) and 2 analog inputs, arranged in a 3x8 header array (i.e. 8 servo-style headers: Vss, +5V, Signal).

    This set of headers is accessible by opening the enclosure. As before, the user has to make his own provisions for bringing cables to the outside.

    -Phil
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  4. #4

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    @OBC - for us robot folks this news has been out for while. Before the last of the original Scibblers sold - Parallax made an end of life announcement. The old ones sold much more quickly than expected (lots of people use them in different programs). The good news is that the S2 will be fantastic. I believe that it has all the new features Scribbler users were hoping for.

    I can't wait to get my hands on one. One of the greatest things (if it is like the old Scribbler - which I am sure it will be) will be the GUI programming interface. Phil Pilgrim wrote the code on the old one and is doing it for the new. Essentially, you programmed to original Scribbler with the GUI - using simple but very powerful control icons. You could then toggle into the Basic Stamp Editor and see the code in Basic. The GUI S2 will let this happen with the Prop Tool! It should be fantastic.

    There are many other great new features. One will be the encoders - it should allow very accurate contol of the Scribbler. Another will be the adjustable line following sensors. In short, there will be a lot new to play with and learn about. And, of course, it is Prop powered!

    You are right to be excited! I think it could be a great intro to the Prop for even the least skilled user.

    @Phil - thanks for the insight! I am more excited the more I hear.

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

    Post Edited (Whit) : 4/16/2010 4:31:55 PM GMT
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  5. #5

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    The original Scribbler GUI was how I learned PBASIC. I would enter programs into the GUI and then read the PBASIC output. Once I got the hang of PBASIC I stopped using the GUI, but once in a while I'll use it to generate code which I cut and paste. At one point I looked through the GUI code to see how easy it would be to do a Linux port, but since it was written for Active State PERL decided it would be too much work.

    Does the new GUI generate Spin or go straight to assembler?
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  6. #6

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    Martin_H said...

    Does the new GUI generate Spin or go straight to assembler?
    Martin_H,

    That is a great question. I do not know the answer. Perhaps Phil or some of the folks at Parallax can give us a hint. I am like you - I agree that the GUI is a great way to learn. I look forward to seeing how the GUI, the Prop and all the S2's new features work together. It will certainly be fantastic.

    I am also excited about introducing students to the Prop and the S2 is a simple and accessible way.

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  7. #7

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    And Parallax (ebay ID pbasic1) has a Scibbler up for auction. Wonder how much that will go for, being its discontinued.

    Jim
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  8. #8

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    The GUI will generate Spin code. That code will consist largely of method calls to the S2.spin object that I'm currently writing. Much of the real work in the S2 object is done in assembly cogs, but the casual user will be shielded from that, just as we are from having to understand TV.spin.

    -Phil
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  9. #9

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    God bless you, PhiPi!



    a casual user

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    "If you build it, they will come."
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  10. #10

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    @Phil - sounds great!

    @erco - and Amen!

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  11. #11

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    For S2 users that will be good because they can call the S2 object in their own Spin programs for S2. But since the object is in assembly they will be much faster.

    I probably used the old GUI in a manner that it wasn't intended. Before I learned PBASIC I would use GUIgenerated code to get an understanding of how to set pins high, low, test inputs, loop,and so forth.Which I then used for applications besides Scribbler.

    Do you think that even with the encapsulation the new GUI can be a way to learn Spin? Learning syntax isn't the hard part, but learning the ins and outs of getting stuff done is.

    At some point Iplan to buy the prop proto board and learn to use it. I know there are books, but I tend to learn new languages best by reading programs.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  12. #12

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    @Phil

    Does the Propeller design of the S2 mean that the GUI and related code might be made
    available openly for us for use with other robotics projects?

    The documentation refers to "stronger" which makes me ask, is this the robot I might want
    to base my mini "hero" type robot on? (I'm picturing some vertical mounts with PCB boards)
    An addition of a few ounces. Any testing done on just how much this new bot will carry?

    Details on the hacker port are appreciated. Thank!

    OBC

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Are you Propeller Powered? PropellerPowered.com
    Visit the: PROPELLERPOWERED SIG forum kindly hosted by Savage Circuits.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  13. #13

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    OBC,

    The GUI has always been open. I know of at least one project team who has taken my Perl source code (downloaded from Parallax's website) and adapted it for something else.

    Mechanically, the S2 uses the same housing (with a few minor modifications) as the original Scribbler. The motors and gearboxes are different, but they still have to fit within the existing housing bulkheads. Although motor load and lifetime testing has been done, I doubt tha any vertical payload testing has been performed or contemplated. (I haven't even had my S2 on the floor yet to roll around. It's been confined to a static test stand and powered by a wall wart for the entire month that I've had it.) The vertical load is going to be limited by the wheel linkages that come after the motor, since they take all the stress, and those have not changed.

    All,

    Here's a little insight into how the S2 development is taking place. The electronic and mechanical hardware are being designed (and modified from the original) by Ben Wirz of Element Products in Colorado. Element also designed the original Scribbler. Ben has done the component selection, circuit design, and board layouts, and will coordinate the manufacturing and testing in China. He and I have consulted from the beginning on things like Propeller pin allocation. (You'd think that with 32 I/O ports, compared to 16 for the BS2, this would've been easy. It's amazing how fast they got used up!) I've been tasked with writing the low-level driver firmware (S2.spin object), along with modifying the GUI to make it look-alike/work-alike compatible with the S1's. Ben is doing the programming for its out-of-the-box, set-it-on-the-floor-and-go functionality. How much additional functionality the GUI encompasses, compared to the original (i.e. how much mission-creep takes place), will depend on how much time is available before roll-out (and on the dev budget, of course, since Parallax is footing the bill). One of my bigger jobs will be editing the graphics for the GUI so that every depiction of the bot is changed from S1 blue to S2 red. There are a scary number of images that have to be modified in this fashion. Some were actually done in Rhino CAD and rendered in 3D before being converted to image files. These may have to be re-rendered from scratch.

    Ben and I are in constant phone and email communication, which has resulted in several hardware and software mods (i.e. change a resistor value here, add a cap there, double sample the idler wheel encoder to cancel any ambient light influence -- that type of thing). Yesterday, for example, our concern was a faint background hiss and hum from the speaker when there was no audio playing, and audible pops when it was turned off. (It turns out that it can be solved in software by ramping the audio pin's DUTY cycle to zero, then tri-stating it.)

    Both of our efforts are being managed and coordinated by Ken Gracey of Parallax, with support from Parallax's amazing staff. (Jen Jacobs of Parallax's art department came up with that great S2 logo, BTW.) As the project advances, other Parallax staff will be brought to bear to make the roll-out a successful one. Ken, Ben, and the Parallax crew are a joy to work with. We have a great team, and I can't say enough good things about their supportiveness.

    -Phil
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  14. #14

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    Here's a sneak peek into the S2's innards (including some circuit board mods):



    The hacker port is in the lower-right corner of the main PCB (the one on the left). You may also notice the motor encoders. Each motor shaft is extended from the rear and has a four-blade encoder "disk" pressed onto it, which is read by an integrated optical break-beam detector. Each encoder pulse represents about 0.02" (0.5mm) of wheel travel.

    The rear board includes the power switch, LEDs, "reset" button, microphone, and RS232 interface. The three user LEDs are programmable for any blend of red and green (e.g. yellow, orange, chartreuse). All the LEDs are programmable for intensity and automatic blinking, including the blue "power" LED. The "reset" button isn't really a hardware reset button but, rather, just an input. The reset function can be specified (or not) at startup and can count button presses, which are stored in auxillary EEPROM for reading on restart. Not shown in the photo are the light sensors and speaker (in the top shell), the line sensors (under the main board), or the idler wheel stall detector encoder (under the rear board).

    Here's the program that was used to program the LEDs for the photo:

    Code:
    CON
    
      _clkmode      = xtal1 + pll16x
      _xinfreq      = 5_000_000
    
    OBJ
    
      s2 : "s2_v1a"
    
    PUB start | i, j, t0
    
      s2.start(0, 0)
      s2.button_mode(true, true)
      s2.set_led(s2#LEFT, s2#RED)
      s2.set_led(s2#CENTER, s2#YELLOW)
      s2.set_led(s2#RIGHT, s2#GREEN)
      s2.set_led(s2#POWER, $40)


    -Phil
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  15. #15

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    /me rubs his hands together...

    Nice! I can see that mine will never have it's cover attached!
    Looks like there are some nice mount points for vertical standoff for a few additional PCB boards.

    OBC

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Are you Propeller Powered? PropellerPowered.com
    Visit the: PROPELLERPOWERED SIG forum kindly hosted by Savage Circuits.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  16. #16

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    That hacker port is almost exactly like the switchboard mod I made to my Scribbler! All you would need to do is route those pin to a hole in the bottom like I cut in my Scribbler and you're off to the races. The shaft encoders on the wheel motors are quite neat and much higher resolution than my wheel encoders. Those are some pretty large transistors on the mother board too, I assume they're for switching power to the motors. Those still look like Solarbotics gear motors, but I assume they're the higher current versions?
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  17. #17

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    Those "transistors" you're referring to (the metal can thingies, right?) are surface-mounted electrolytic caps. The motors are driven with a monilithic dual H-bridge IC. That's next weeks project, BTW: PWMing the motor drivers and coordinating with the encoders and stall sensor. (I always save the hardest for last, it seems.)

    -Phil
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  18. #18

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    Oops, yes I was referring to the metal can thingies. They looks a little like power transistors I've seen in metal cans. But now that you mention it the black strip on the side should have tipped me off they were caps.
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  19. #19

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    Caught this photo in an e-mail exchange between S2 developers. It shows the benefit of encoders and far-improved motor control for drawing!

    Drawing with precision, or even crude characters wasn't very practical with the original Scribblers.



    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Ken Gracey
    Parallax Inc.

    Follow me at http://twitter.com/ParallaxKen for some insider news.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

  20. #20

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    I must of been a sleep at the wheel! How did I miss all this new info. Thanks for sharing Phil and Ken! All very impressive - from the inards to the great Scribbling.

    The guts look just like the original Scribbler - except for the hundred or so places that they aren't!
    I love the original blue bearing at the wheel ports!

    Can't wait to play with one of these. My son will not let ours sit on the bench for a month - I promise you!

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    Whit+


    "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

    Post Edited (Whit) : 4/28/2010 6:55:57 PM GMT
    Last edited by ForumTools; 10-02-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forum Migration

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