Amateur Robot Building (help with PICs)

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by BloodSuckingGerbile, Jun 22, 2002.

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  1. BloodSuckingGerbile Master of Puppets Registered Senior Member

    If anybody here builds robots (amateur or pro), I have a question for you.
    Which PIC are you working with?
    Which one do you recommend?
    I'm new in this hobby so I'll need someone to direct me.
    I've allready looked for PICs on the web and I've found two well documented PICs (OOPIC and the Basic Stamp series) but there are a few problems: OOPIC is perfect but it's not distributed internationally (only in the US and UK and some other countries). I live in Israel and there is no OOPIC ditributor here.
    The basic stamp, although it has a distributor in Israel, the facts that it doesn't support multitasking, that it has a limited code storage space and that its' programming language is not object-oriented suck...
    Well, I just want to look for more.
    Please help me. I need your help!
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  3. BloodSuckingGerbile Master of Puppets Registered Senior Member

    PIC = Programmable Integrated Circuit (a programmable computer chip)

    OOPIC = Object Oriented Programmable Integrated Circuit.

    Please... somebody... answer...
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  5. esp Registered Senior Member


    Depending on the size of robot you want to construct and the payloads it will need to manipulate, I would personally drop PIC chips like hot potatoes.

    Most heavy industrial robotics (the industry I work in) use PLC's.
    The thing with a Programmable Logic Controller is that firstly you need to be able to guarantee a reasonably stable power supply and secondly the space and weight of a fully functional PLC is usually much more than a PIC and it's driver assembly.

    Even so, it is possible to obtain reduced specification PLC's not much bigger than a coffee cup, PSU included.

    Don't get me wrong, PIC chips are useful.
    It's just the last time I saw one being used in a robot was about seven years ago, in college.

    If size is a real problem, or you need to perform exceptionally complex operands, then maybe a true EEPROM (Erasable Electronic Programmable Read Only Memory) would be more suited.

    I would avoid PIC's though. They are prickly little things and If you don't watch them closely, a compilation error somewhere will have your robot trying to rip off its own head.
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  7. BloodSuckingGerbile Master of Puppets Registered Senior Member

    First, thanx for answering. I've been waiting for an answer for a month...
    Now, what you say is that I shouldn't use PICs.

    I'm a beginner and I've never worked with a programmable chip before so I'm not planning to build heavy industrial robots...
    Do PLCs still suite my cause?
    The OOPIC sounds great with its' features (virtual circuits and stuff like that).
    You sound like an expert in the field and I really need advice from someone like you.

    Anyway, which PLCs can you recommend?
    And if you can, please post a link or two to a PLC manufacturer.

    Thx again.
  8. esp Registered Senior Member

    Not so much that you shouldn't use PIC's but that you should thoroughly investigate the options in relation to your design spec.

    Once you have a complete mechanical and operational design you can decide upon the factors which will need to be considered when chosing a control system.

    For example will you be monitoring feed back from the inverter or other drive controller or even tho motors themselves.
    Will size be a major factor or can you build the mechanics around your controller?
    Will there be other sensory inputs? Do you want the robot to run completely automaticly or will it be semi- or even completely manual. And if so, will it be controlled from a pendant or by radio, ultrasonics or infrared?

    Some PLC manufacturers:

    Keyence make good training PLC's but the GUI leaves a little to be desired. A basic 4 i/p 4o/p model retails at about £400.

    Harland Simon
    produce excellent full specification PLC's with upwards of 128 i/p 128 o/p but are much more bulky and difficult to program because the programming of the device is accomplished with key words and not a true GUI.

    make good PLC's but again the programming is accomplished with key words, this time through a programming module. The are quite versatile with average specification.

    Allen-Bradley also produce good mid level PLC's, so I'm told, but I have no personal experience with them.

    To find specific information on manufacturers I would try a search on Dogpile or some such for Programable Logic Controllers or check a Radio Spares Components catalogue.
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