comp.robotics.* Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) part 5/5

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Kevin Dowling

Sep 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/16/96

Archive-name: robotics-faq/part5
Last Modified: Mon Sep 16 01:00:38 EDT 1996

This FAQ was compiled and written by Kevin Dowling with numerous
contributions by readers of comp.robotics. Acknowledgements are listed
at the end of the FAQ.

This post, as a collection of information, is Copyright 1995 Kevin
Dowling. Distribution through any means other than regular Usenet
channels must be by permission. The removal of this notice is

This FAQ may be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service, or
BBS as long as it or the section is posted in its entirety and
includes this copyright statement. This FAQ may not be distributed for
financial gain. This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections
or compilations without express permission from the author.

Please send changes, additions, suggestions and questions to:
Kevin Dowling tel: 412.268.8830
Robotics Institute fax: 412.268.5895
Carnegie Mellon University net: [2]
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 url: [3]

This FAQ may be referenced as:

Dowling, Kevin (1995) "Robotics: comp.robotics Frequently Asked
Questions" Available as a hypertext document at 90+ pages.

Last-Modified: Thu Dec 7 16:40:11 1995

[4]Kevin Dowling <>


[11] Whatever happened to Heathkit Hero Robots?


Benton Harbor, MI
tel: 800.253.0570 (Heathkit Educational Systems)

Heros are no longer being made but Heath (Zenith) still offers some
replacement parts. They had about 8 years of sales: 4,000 Hero Jr's,
3,000 Hero 2000's, 14,000 assembled Hero 1's. Ones with less
capability didn't do as well but higher priced ones did ok in the
market. Service and maintainability are a problem due to the sheer
number of bolts, pulleys, boards, sensors, cables etc. Used ones can
be picked up cheap - but caveat emptor. Heath still sells electronics
training kits but nothing in robotics

There is a mailing group for hero owners managed by Dave Goodwin:
Send the following command in the message body:
Subscribe Hero-owners

You may also want to include a HELP command line to get the commands
and their syntax. Note that the subject on the message is irrelevant.
Of course, to post a message to the group, just send it to hero-owners
at the same host.

The Mailserv software can handle files as well, but none are currently
available. Hopefully, list subscribers will start to provide any nifty
code they write for the archive.

Finally, the list of subscribers is available from the Mailserv. See
the help file for how to get it. Questions or problems should be
addressed to [4], not at the waldo address.

San Francisco Robotics Society of America ( used to
have a Hero robot group meeting every month.

Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:51:12 1996

[5]Kevin Dowling <>



[12] What's available for Puma Manipulators?

Pumas are probably the most common robot in university laboratories
and one of the most common assembly robots. Designed by Vic Schienman
and financed by GM at MIT in the mid-70's, the Puma (Programmable
Universal Machine for Assembly) was produced for many years by
Unimation (later purchased by Westinghouse and sold at a loss later to
Staubli, a Swiss company) These robots and their progeny are found in
many university labs.

Staubli Unimation, Inc.
201 Parkway West
Hillside Park
Duncan, SC 29334
tel: 803.433.1980
fax: 803.486.9906

Staubli Unimation Ltd
Unit G, Stafford Park 18
Telford, Shropshire, TF3 3Ax


_PUMA singularities_

The PUMA has three singularities: the ``alignment'' singularity (wrist
is as close to the axis of joint 1 as it can get), the ``elbow''
singularity (elbow is fully extended or folded up; the latter is not
possible because of joint limits), and the wrist singularity (the axes
of joints 4 and 6 are aligned).

The angles corresponding to these depend on the Denavit-Hartenburg
(DH) parameter assignment. For the PUMA, the definitions given in [1]
are perhaps the most commonly used Using these, and letting A2, A3,
D3, and D4 denote the translational DH offsets, the singularities
occur when the following are true:

Alignment: D4*sin(ang2+ang3) + A2*cos(ang2) - A3*cos(ang2+ang3) == 0

Elbow: sin(ang3 - atan2(A3,D4)) == 0

Wrist: sin(ang5) == 0

Typical offset values for the PUMA 560 are

A2 = 431.80
D3 = 149.09
A3 = 20.32
D4 = 433.070

Information provided by John Lloyd [3]

Puma Gear Ratios

Joint # Gear Ratio
-------- -----------
1 0.01597
2 0.00931
3 0.01884
4 0.01428
5 0.01391
6 0.01303


Puma Quirk

[Gary McMurray] There is an undocumented bug in the tool mode of the
PUMA robot under real-time path control. It's found by trying to
control the robot in tool mode using the alter command. Unimation
(Westinghouse at that time), has confirmed the bug.

Basically, the bug consists of this: during real-time control, such as
alter mode, the controller does not update the rotation matrix for the
tool coordinate system as the robot moves. Thus, motion commands
issued to move along the new y axis, result in a motion along the
original y axis. The same goes for rotations as well.

Tech Report and Matlab Toolbox

[Peter Corke] A technical report is available which provides details
of the Unimation Puma servo system, including details of interfacing
via the arm-interface board, digital board firmware, and analog
board/motor dynamics. (54 pages) It can be found at

A Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB which provides functions for homogeneous
transformations, quaternions, forward and inverse kinematics,
trajectories, forward and inverse dynamics, and graphical animation.
The Toolbox uses a very general method of describing the kinematics
and dynamics of any serial-link manipulators. Descriptors for the
Unimate Puma 560 and the Stanford arm are included. Location at

That directory contains an extensive manual, (72 pages), as
well as all the M-files.

_Trident Robotics and Research, Inc._
2516 Matterhorn Drive
Wexford, PA 15090-7962
tel: 412.934.8348
net: [6]

Hardware for older LSI/11 based Puma's.

A board for replacing the PUMA LSI/11 controller with the CPU of your
choice: The board is basically an I/O board with D/A's, A/D's, encoder
counters and some digital I/O lines and is available to connect to
several bus architectures including VMEbus, IBM-PC bus, Multibus and
IndustryPack bus. (with others under consideration) It comes as a
two-board set: A PUMA board and a bus interface board. This allows
several buses to be supported and keeps the analog electronics away
from the noise of the bus. (It also makes switching buses cheap, if
the need ever arises.) Since it is primarily an I/O board set, it can
be used in applications other than controlling a PUMA.

The user's manuals are available by anonymous ftp at
[7] and

This is a PostScript file that can be printed or viewed (to conserve
paper) and describes the remote board that mounts inside the Unimate
controller, replacing the VAL computer. The file shows the
board arrangement diagrammatically.

_Useful Puma references_

Richard Paul, Brian Shimano, and Gordon Mayer, _Kinematic Control
Equations for Simple Manipulators_. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man,
and Cybernetics, Vol SMC-11, No. 6, June 1981.

B Armstrong, O Khatib, and J. Burdick The Explicit Dynamic Model and
Inertial Parameters of the PUMA 560 Arm Proceedings IEEE Int.
Conference on Robotics and Automation, April 1986 San Francisco, CA

P.I. Corke and B. Armstrong-Helouvry. _A search for consensus among
model parameters reported for the Puma 560 Robot._ Proc. IEEE Conf.
Robotics and Automation, 1994 pp. 1608-1613
It is also available via anonyous ftp from

Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:51:29 1996

[10]Kevin Dowling <>


1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html

[13] What kinds of Robotics Simulators are there?

Simulation allows researchers, designers and users to construct robots
and task environments for a fraction of the cost and time of real
systems. They differ significantly from traditional CAD tools in that
they allow study of geometries, kinematics, dynamics and motion
planning. This list is NOT a comparative analysis of the different
systems but rather a list of systems that are available.

[3][13.1] Commercial Simulators

[4][13.2] Shareware and Freeware Simulators


[13.1] Commercial Simulators

_Auto Simulations, Inc._

655 Medical Drive
Bountiful, UT 84010
tel: 801.298.1398
contact: Teresa Francis, ext 330

Products: AutoMod II Platforms: ? Cost: ?


2651 Crosspark Rd
Coralville, IA 52241
tel: 319.626.6700
tel: 319.626.3488
net: [5]
url: [6]

DADS - kinematics and dynamics package. Have ProEngineer to CADSI
interface. Supports rigid and flexible body analysis. Animation and
interfaces to FEA/FEM and CAD programs.

_Deneb Robotics, Inc._

3285 Lapeer Road West
PO Box 214687
Auburn Hills, MI
tel: 810.377.6900
fax: 810.377.8125
url: [7]

See the URL or send email for offices all over the world.

Deneb Robotics, was founded in 1985 develops 3D graphics-based factory
simulation, telerobotic, and virtual reality software.

Products include IGRIP, ENVISION, Deneb/ERGO, UltraArc, UltraFinish,
UltraPaint, UltraSpot, QUEST, Virtual NC, and TELEGRIP suite of
simulation software packages utilize geometrically exact data to
develop the models used in simulation, analysis, programming, and
control applications.

Platforms include UNIX workstations from HP, SGI and Sun and Window NT
(486/Pentium) machines.

_Mechanical Dynamics Inc._

2301 Commonwealth Blvd
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
tel: 313.944.3800
fax: 313.994.6418

ADAMS is a general purpose dynamics simulator: it can be used to
simulate any mechanism. You input the model you want to simulate, and
ADAMS builds the system of equations, and solves it through time. You
can do kinematic, static, quasi-static and dynamic simulations. And
then, you can study the results (forces, accelerations and so on).

It has a good graphical interface, although it's non-standard (it
doesn't use OpenLook or Motif, but it's own windowing system). But if
you want to study something not very common, you will have to deal
with the text interface, and perhaps Fortran programming. It's not
very easy to learn.


1601 Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road
Cupertino, California 95014
tel: 408.725.8908




SGI-4D, SUN SparcStation, Apollo, Intergraph, Computervision, HP, IBM
Risc6000 and DEC.


Base system around $55K (commercial license) They also have a
University Partnership Program to enable universities to purchase
CimStation for around $20K US and $25K International.


Silma offers application solutions for Spot Welding, Arc Welding,
Painting, Stamping and Assembly, as well as Robot Calibration Tools.
Also, SILMA has direct CAD interfaces to Computervision CADDS,
Parametric Technology Corporation Pro/ENGINEER, IBM CATIA ans MCS
ANVIL5000. We also support VDAFS and SET in addition to IGES. Finally,
in addition to CimStation Robotics, we also offer SILMA(R) CimStation
Inspection - used to create, simulate and edit DMIS programs for
coordinate measuring machines- (CMMs) and SILMA(R) CimStation NC
Verification- used to simulate and verify NC part programs.

Provides: Basic CAD Tools: 2D and 3D solid and wireframe, IGES
interface, Robot Modelling: generate the required governing equations
(iterative or closed form) automatically for "many" classes of robots
Path Generation Kinematic Simulation with Collision Detection Dynamic
Simulation (CimStation only at this point) I/O Operations.

John Craig, who wrote the book, Introduction to Robotics is head of
Silma's R and D. Silma has a programming environment called SIL
complete with its own PASCAL-like iterative language with graphics and
robotics extensions. CimStation is built out of this language. This
allows you to add your own functionality. E.g. your own path planner.
You can also write C-code, compile it, and add it to the system.

Robot Simulations Ltd.

Lynnwood Busines Centre
Lynnwood Terrace
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE4 6UL
tel: +44 (0)91 272 3673
fax: +44 (0)91 272 0121
net: [8]
or [9]
url: [10]

US contact:

John Lapham
Applications Engineer
International Business Link
17105 San Carlos Blvd. Suite A6151
Ft. Myers Beach, FL 33931
tel: 813.466.0488
fax: 813.466.7270
net: [11]

[12]Robot Simulations (RSL) develops and markets the world's first
microcomputer based industrial robot simulation software named
Workspace. The package has been selling since 1989. The package uses
3d graphics to simulate robots and their associated machinery in a
workcell, and is capable of offline programming industrial and
educational robots in many different robot languages. It runs on a PC
and is $5K to educational institutions. $26K for industrial version.

Workspace 3 robot simulation: Kinematic modeller
Discrete event simulation Interactive creation of new mechanimsm
Library of standard robots
Advanced robot languages Dynamics simulator
Variables Forces and torques calculated
Subroutines Graphical representation of results
Loop structures
Sophisticated motion commands Text editor
Accurate representation of mechanisms Integral editor for track and
Calculation of cycle times teachpoint files
Collision detection
Solid 3-d rendering
Integrated CAD system Fast shaded animations in 256 colours
Constructive solid geometry
Library of standard 3d primitives Computer Aided Learning
Extruded polylines Simple authoring of training exercises
Cones Calibration
Cylinders In-built robot and fixture
Boxes calibration system
Solids of rotation User Manuals
DXF and IGES import facilities Tutorial exercises
Example robots and workcells

The system is in use throughout Europe and the Far East in both
Industry and Education with several hundred seats. Sales in the USA
are relatively recent.

_Tecnomatix Technologies/Robcad_

39750 Grand River Avenue Suite A-3 Novi, MI 48375 tel: 313.471.6140
fax: 313.471.6147

Platforms: HP, Silicon Graphics, IBM and Sun.

Tecnomatix makes several packages for simulation including ones for
Spot welding, Arc welding, Painting, Teleoperation (Martel), CMM and
Drilling. They also have an open systems environment, ROSE, that
allows user customization and interface design. ROBCAD itself allows
robot modeling (library of 100 robots is supplied), collision free
path generation, importation of IGES, VDAFS and SET files and direct
interface with Catia and ComputerVision.

[GMF - the entry that used to be here, no longer supports OLPW-200,
instead they are a Robcad reseller]

[13.2] Sharware and Freeware Simulators

Many university groups and individuals have developed simulators for
their own work and made them available via the net.

Ars Magna:

The ARS MAGNA robot simulator provides an abstract world in which a
planner controls a mobile robot. The simulator also includes a simple
graphical user-interface which uses the CLX interface to the X window
system. Version 1.0 of the ARS MAGNA simulator is documented in Yale
Technical Report YALEU/DCS/RR #928, "ARS MAGNA: The Abstract Robot
Simulator". This report is available in the distribution as a
Postscript(tm) file, as well as from:

Paula Murano
Yale University
Department of Computer Science
P.O. Box 2158 Yale Station
New Haven, CT 06520-2158

Comments to Sean Engelson. net:

ARS MAGNA is available by anonymous ftp from

EROS [Erann's RObot Simulator]

EROS is a mobile robot simulator. Unlike other simulators, EROS does
not simulate any particular robot. Instead, EROS is a sort of robot
simulation construction kit. It is designed to allow users to assemble
their own robots from reusable software components, and to run those
robots in user-designed environments. EROS draws inspiration from
Hanks and Firby's truckworld simulator, but EROS operates at a lower
level of abstraction than truckworld, and so it is by some measure
more realistic. EROS has been used to simulate actual physical robots,
and the behavior produced by EROS has, in some cases, made plausible
predictions and accurate postdictions of the behaviors of the real

NOTE: This is a beta-test version of EROS. It runs only under
Macintosh Common Lisp version 2.0. Many of its features have not been
tested (although it has been used in a few applications, so parts of
it work quite well!) and the documentation is not very coherent.

EROS is available by anonymous ftp at:

This is an early version for beta testing only. It runs only under MCL
2.0. It will not run under any other version of Common Lisp, including
MCL 1.3. (EROS relies heavily on Macintosh graphics and CLOS.) It also
includes only a single example robot, so out of the box it doesn't do
very much. You have to be willing to do a little hacking to use it as
it currently stands. A future release will have more turnkey
functionality, but it's pretty much an OEM product at this point.

Contact: Erann Gat net:


A mobile robot simulator and controller. Contact: Kurt Konolige of SRI
A Preliminary version of a mobile robot simulator and controller. All
written in C, but you need Motif to run the graphics.

This is essentially the same software run on Flakey, (robot at SRI
used for research in AI), behaviors using fuzzy control (there's lots
more on Flakey in terms of sensor interpretation and higher-level
control, but I haven't ported that from LISP to C yet). There are
three example behaviors implemented, showing dumb obstacle avoidance
and goal achievement. There's not much documentation yet, but I will
get some out over the next few months.

The intent is to make the simulator/controller suitable for a course
in mobile robotics, and to have eventually a cheap physical platform
that will imitate the simulator (or vice versa).

Available by anonymous ftp from:
[15] Uncompress,
untar and check the README file for installation.

A collection of five tech reports on Flakey's fuzzy controller is also
available at:

_MATLAB Robotics Toolbox_ [Peter Corke] A Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB
which provides functions for homogeneous transformations, quaternions,
forward and inverse kinematics, trajectories, forward and inverse
dynamics, and graphical animation. The Toolbox uses a very general
method of describing the kinematics and dynamics of any serial-link
manipulators. Descriptors for the Unimate Puma 560 and the Stanford
arm are included. Location at

That directory contains an extensive manual, (72 pages), as
well as all the M-files.

_Simderella 2.0_ Simderella is a robot simulator consisting of three
* connel: the controller
* simmel: the simulator
* bemmel: the X-windows oriented graphics back-end

Simmel is the part which actually simulates the robot. It performs a
few matrix multiplications, based on the Denavit Hartenberg method,
calculates velocities with the Newton-Euler scheme, and communicates
with the other two programs.

Bemmel only displays the robot. It is a fast general-purpose display
method which places separate objects in space depending on the
homogeneous matrices it receives from simmel.

Connel is the controller, which must be designed by the user (in the
distributed version, connel is a simple inverse kinematics routine. I
didn't include my neural networks.)

The three programs use Unix sockets for communication. This means that
1. you need sockets
2. all the programs can run on different machines

Since data communication is high-level (meaning, in this case, that I
do not send doubles, integers, and so on, but encode them first),
running the programs on different architectures is no problem. In
fact, it was thus designed that connel can, at the same time, control
a real robot _and_ the simulated one.

Simderella likes to sleep; that is, when nothing happens, no processor
time will be used.

Version 2.0 of simderella is here. Major adaptations:
* now features Imakefiles
* compiles & runs on Solaris and DEC Alpha
* some C bugs squashed
* bemmel can grab robot with mouse
* major improvements to documentation (i.e., an introductory article
describing the package).
* includes a stand-alone version of bemmel for drawing geometrical
objects, with viewoint rotation. Figures can be dumped to xfig for
later inclusion in your papers.

The software is available as a compressed tar file from:
Z [IP] Extract the simulator from the tar file by typing
at the Unix command line:

zcat simderella.2.0.tar.gz | tar xf -

or use your favourite extracting commands. In the simderella/
directory, type


make Makefiles

make depend


The sub-directories are recursively visited and executables are
compiled and linked.

Supported architectures: Sun (SunOS and Solaris), SGI, DEC Alpha,
HP700, 386 et al running Linux)

If you're impatient, execute the thing as follows:

cd bemmel; Zoscar & cd ..

cd simmel; source env; simmel1 ns & cd ..

cd connel; connel s

all on one machine. Then type commands like

fix-target 50 50 50
inverse 50 50 50

or move the mouse pointer in the bemmel window and press an `l' or `r'
or `u' or `d' or .... [CMU used Simderella recently to facilitate
software development and testing of the Shuttle servicing robot before
the hardware and mechanics are available to test the various parts of
the controller. it has also been linked to TCA calls and worked very
well - nivek]

_Public Domain SGI based simulator_

This is a Silicon Graphics based delux robot simulator with lots of
graphics Stuff. It was written by Andrew Conway and Craig Dillon as
undergraduates for an electrical engineering project at the University
of Melbourne. Not much in installation instructions. There is a latex
manual with usage instructions and the mathematics. Warning: It is
4.3Mbytes compressed, and the US-Australia link is quite slow.

Disclaimer: I [Andrew] haven't used this software for years. If it
malfunctions, don't sue me or Craig, we don't guarantee it.


The complete programe is divided into three menus: Main, Drawing and
Robot Menus. features such as selecting elements or the complete
screen, rotating, translating, zooming, enlarging or reducing the
scale and passing to the two dimensional drawing window from the three
dimensional one are available.

The Drawing Menu also offers many other possibilities like drawing
three dimensional circles, ellipses, arcs, elliptical arcs, cylinders,
cones, prisms, ellipsoids, toroids, etc. In addition to these, it is
also possible to obtain hidden line drawing and to change the point
numbers of the circular drawing elements. Whereas in Robots Menu,
operations like selecting modules from the sub-menus, containing
graphics, which concern body, wrist, hand systems and work spaces of
robots, finding direct and inverse kinematics solution of these
systems, point by point simulation of the robot motions, changing
Denavit-Hartenberg parameters and joint freedom extremums from the
menus can be performed. WSMR-SIMTEL20.Army.Mil/pd1:/
OAK.Oakland.Edu/pd1:/MODULSH2.ZIP MODULSH1.ZIP is the design and
animation of robots, 1 of 2. MODULSH2.ZIP is the design and animation
of robots, 2 of 2 Author:

Dr. Hikmet Kocabas
Istanbul Technical University



Contact: Mark W. Spong
Coordinated Science Lab
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1308 W. Main St.
Urbana, IL 61801
tel: 217.333.4281
fax: 217.244.1653


Robotica is a trademark of The Board of Trustees of the University of

Robotica is a collection of useful robotics problem solving functions
encapsulated in a Mathematica package. Utilizing Mathematica's
computational features allows results to be generated in purely
symbolic form.

Robotica requires inputing the form of a table of Denavit-Hartenberg
parameters describing the robot to be analyzed. Once the table has
been entered, Robotica can generate the forward kinematics for the
robot. The A and T matrices as well as the velocity Jacobian, J, are
generated. Of course, it is possible to display and save to an
external file all of the data generated. If the dynamics equations of
the robot are also to be generated, the input must include the
dynamics description data.

Once the forward kinematics are produced, Euler-Lagrange dynamics
equations can be calculated. The inertia matrix, Coriolis and
centrifugal terms, Christoffel symbols and gravity vectors are all
available to the user once the dynamics routines have run.

Utilizing the forward kinematics results, Robotica can calculate the
manipulability ellipsoids when supplied with a range of joint variable
values. It is possible to generate and save a list of manipulability
measures as well as display the ellipsoids with the robot on the

In addition, Robotica has the capbability of reading external
simulation (e.g., SIMNON) output files and displaying the motion of
the robot when sbjected to the sequence of joint variables described
in the file. This requires that the robot has been input as a table of
Denavit-Hartenburg parameters, and that the foward-kinematics routines
have been executed.

Robotics contains several functions that can be used to draw the robot
in a specific configuration, or show the robot moving through a range
of joint parameter values. Most of the graphics output can be animated
if the Animation.m package is loaded The animations can be saved and
later restored and viewed again.

To simplify interactation with Robotica, an X-Windows based interface
has been designed. This interface insulates the user from the
inconvenient textual interface Mathematica provides.

Requirements: Mathematica 2.0 or better. X-windows requires 2.1 or

The University has requested that all users of Robotica sign and
return a license agreement. This is mainly to keep a record of
Robotica users for future upgrades, etc. The license agreement states
that you may freely use and modify Robotica as you wish but that you
may not sell it.

You can obtain a postscript copy of this license agreement via
anonymous [21] Please print out
the license agreement, sign and date it, and FAX it to me [Mark Spong]

It is important that you also include your email address on the
license agreement. As soon as I receive your FAX I will send you the
Robotica package and the X-windows GUI.

Also in the directory /pub/robotica is a postscript file containing
the Robotica users manual which you may freely copy and distribute.
Any comments that you have after using Robotica would be greatly
appreciated. In addition, any questions you have or bugs you find can
be reported to me and we will do our best to address them.


Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 12:25:28 1996

[22]Kevin Dowling <>


1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
3. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/13.html#13.1
4. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/13.html#13.2

[14] What Real-Time Operating System should I use?

[3][14.1] Commerical RTOS
[4][14.2] Research RTOS

For general discussion of this topic see [5]news:comp.real-time and
[6]news:news.answers for the complete RTOS FAQ.


Below is a list of both commercial and research Real-Time Operating
Systems (RTOS) which are being used around the world for implementing
robotic systems. Only the names and addresses of the distributors are
included. Since the available features of each are constantly
changing, and the advantages and disadvantages of each are greatly a
matter of opinion and target application, no such descriptions are

[14.1] Commerical RTOS

Chimera and Onika

Chimera is a next generation multiprocessor real-time operating system
(RTOS) designed especially to support the development of dynamically
reconfigurable software for robotic and automation systems. Chimera is
being used by several institutions outside of Carnegie Mellon,
including university, government, and industrial research labs.

Chimera provides most of the features available in commercial
real-time operating systems, plus advanced support for the rapid
deployment of reconfigurable sensor-based control systems based on
reconfigurable and reusable software modules.

* advanced support for the creation of applications based on
reconfigurable and reusable real-time software modules
* supports multiple general purpose CPUs in a VMEbus backplane
* static and dynamic scheduling
* default scheduler may be replaced with custom code
* global error handling and detection
* full-featured standard libraries (stdio, strings, math, time)
* additional libraries useful for creating reconfigurable software
(command-interpreter framework, configuration file reading
utility, matrix functions)
* rich set of multiprocessor communication and synchronization
primitives (shared memory, semaphores, message queues)
* high-performance local (uniprocessor) semaphores
* fully integrated host workstation environment
* standard GNU development tools
* support for special purpose processors (i.e. DSPs, FPPs)
* flexible interface for I/O device access

Chimera currently runs on MC68020, MC68030 and MC68040 VMEbus single-
board computers (currently, the only models supported are the Ironics
IV-3220, Ironics IV-3230 and the Ironics IV-3207). The '020 and '030
boards all require the MC68881/2 floating-point coprocessor.

Chimera itself is not available for anonymous FTP as it has become a
commercial product marketed by Pittsburgh-based K2T Inc. (pronounced
K-squared-T). Onika is tightly bound to advanced features in Chimera
and hence is not currently suited for use on other platforms. However,
users of Chimera do receive a free copy of Onika.

_Obtaining Chimera and Onika_ A selection of sample Chimera
applications and reconfigurable modules will be made available in a
public FTP site to help new users get started. The applications and
modules will be available in both source and binary forms.

The one condition of this free release is that any module or
application that an institution develops under Chimera must be placed
on a public FTP site for use by other research institutions.

Chimera will be licensed on a per-installation basis, and will be
released free only to qualified institutions (i.e. universities or
research labs). Commercial ventures are welcome to contact CMU and
arrange appropriate licensing of this technology.

Chimera will be made available primarily by FTP. For institutions
which lack Internet access, the software may be supplied on tape. If
requested on tape, a small fee will be charged to cover CMU's media
and handling costs.

_For More Information_ For info on Chimera, you may browse Chimera's
WWW page at: [8]chimera.html

Or you may obtain a text document with the same information by: finger

For more information on Onika, please consult Onika's WWW page at:
[9]Onika.html For information on obtaining Chimera and Onika for your
university or research lab, please send email to

Technical questions about the internals of Chimera and Onika may be
mailed to [11]

If you are interested in purchasing Chimera, please contact Eric
Hoffman of K2T Inc. directly:

Eric Hoffman, Chief Engineer
K2T Inc.
Suite 205, One Library Place
Duquesne, PA 15110
tel: 412.469.3150
fax: 412.469.8120



_Real-Time Innovations, Inc._
954 Aster, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
tel: 408.720.8312
fax: 408.720.8419
contact: Stan Schneider

ControlShell is an Object-Oriented Framework for Real-Time System

* Complete object-oriented real-time software environment.
* Graphically build your system from reusable components.
* Readily include powerful rule-based event responses.
* Easily share data between networked processors.

ControlShell is a next-generation CASE environment for real-time
system software development. ControlShell's modular, component-based
structure, powerful graphical tools, and integrated data management
provide a unique approach to real-time software development.

With ControlShell, you can:
* Build your system from reusable components with the graphical
Data-Flow Editor. Select and connect your components, set
parameters, and build your run-time system with a few mouse
* Add new components with the graphical Component Editor.
Automatically generate C++ source code to interface your new
component to the system.
* Create structured strategic programs with the graphical
State-Machine Editor. Combine rule-based transition conditions,
true callable sub-chain hierarchies, task synchronization and
event management.
* Manage complex system mode changes with the graphical execution
Configuration Manager.
* Perform real-time mathematics with the complete real-time matrix
* Take advantage of an ever-expanding library of generic and
reusable components, including controllers, estimators, filters,
signal generators, trajectory generators, and more.



Runs on Intel 80X86-based computers.

_Intel Corporation_
3065 Bowers Avenue
Santa Clara, California 95051
tel (408) 987-8080



Runs on wide variety of platforms, including Motorola, Intel, Sun, and
Hewlett Packard.

_Lynx Real-Time Systems, Inc_
16780 Lark
Los Gatos, CA 95030
tel (408) 354-7770
fax (408) 354-7085



Runs on Motorola MC680X0-based single board computers.

_Microware System Corporation_
1900 N.W. 114th St.
Des Moines, Iowa 50322
tel (515) 224-1929



Runs on a variety of Motorola 680X0 and 88100, and Intel 80386
computers. Requires a host workstation or personal computer if
pASSPORT+ real-time programming environment is to be used.

_Software Components Group, Inc._
1731 Technology Drive
San Jose, CA 95110
tel (408) 437-0700
fax (408) 437-0711



VenturCom Inc
215 First St.
Cambridge, MA. 02142
tel: 617.661.1230

Product runs on ix86 platforms and PC/104 systems.
Product is real UNIX, SVR3.2 and SVR4.2.
Workstation version requires ~4MB, 120MB, 80{3|4}86 processor.
Embedded version requirements vary depending on features used.
Embedded product allows for completely ROMed UNIX systems, from
read-only root to stand alone applications.



Runs on a wide variety of processors, including Motorola 680X0, Intel
80X86 and 80960, National Semiconductor series 3200.

2350 Mission College Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95054
tel: 408.980.1300
tel: 800.950.5554
fax: 408.982.8266
net: [12]
url: [13]



Runs on a wide variety of MC680X0 and SPARC-based single board
computers. Requires a workstation for program developments. Widely
used in Unix environments for realtime work.

_Wind River Systems Inc._
1000 Atlantic Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501
tel: 510.748.4100 or 800.545.WIND (9463)
fax: 510.814.2010

Tools related to VxWorks:

_Real-Time Innovations, Inc._
954 Aster, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
tel: 408.720.8312
fax: 408.720.8419
contact: Stan Schneider

Product name:

Real-time networked graphical monitoring and data acquisition.

Software, Development tools


Real-time data collection and display.

Monitor any program variables.

Export data to MATLAB and MatrixX.

Friendly multi-window environment.

Gain insight into what's happening in your system.

StethoScope is a real-time graphical monitoring, performance analysis,
and data collection tool for VxWorks. Use it to watch any of your
program variables evolve in real time; any value in memory can be
monitored. StethoScope opens a window into your application; it shows
you what's really happening.

Product name:

Real-time dynamic execution profiler.

Software, Development tools


Detailed procedure-by-procedure analysis of CPU usage.

Tree or flat structure model.

Quickly spot performance bottlenecks.

Minimally intrusive. Run your code at full execution speed.

No special compilation. Analyze already running code.

ScopeProfile is a dynamic execution profiler for VxWorks. It shows you
exactly where you're spending your CPU cycles.

Product name:

VxWorks tool and utility package.

Software, Development tools

Memory integrity and leak testing
Re-entrant shell program
Execution tracing utility
Fast buffer management

RTILib is a collection of focused utilities and debugging tools.


Distributed, POSIX, real-time microkernel for Intel x86 processors.
Supports fault tolerance and also hosts MS-Windows in Standard mode.

_QNX Software Systems_
175 Terrence Matthews Cr.
Kanata, Ontario K2M 1W8, Canada
tel: 613.591.0931 x111
fax: 613.591.3579

_QNX Software Systems_
Westendstr.19 6000 Frankfurt, Germany
tel: 49 69 97546156 x299
fax: 49 69 97546110

Two QNX papers are available via anonymous FTP:
* [14]An Architectural Overview of QNX
* [15]A Microkernel POSIX OS for Realtime Embedded Systems


[14.2] Research RTOS



Runs on MC680X0-based single board computers. reference: NRCC Tech
Report No. 30081

In Canada:

Division of Electrical Engineering
National Research Council of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0R6



REXIS (Real-time EXecutive for Intelligent Systems) is a small
multi-tasking preemptive real-time executive for implementing control
programs for intelligent systems such as robotics and distributed
networks. It provides functions for managing tasks, memory allocation,
message ports, timers, and event processing.

It is distributed as shareware at a low cost to hobbyists / students.
The current requirements for compiling and running REXIS is an ANSI C
HC11 cross compiler and a HC11 target with at least 24K of RAM. Other
targets are under consideration. For more information, please contact:

_Richard Man_
P.O. Box 6
North Chelmsford, MA 01863
tel: 508.452.5203
net: or


Robot Control C Library (RCCL)

A robot programming environment embedded in C/UNIX. A graphics
simulator is provided which supports the PUMA, Stanford, and `Elbow'
manipulators. The system can be compiled on SGIs (so the Indigo should
be fine), and the graphics runs under either X or GL. You can get the
system from RCIM for a small fee to cover copying and shipping. If you
are interested send mail to:

_John Lloyd_
Research Center for Intelligent Machines
McGill University, Montreal
tel: 514.398.8281
fax: 514.398.7348


Last-Modified: Mon Aug 19 02:57:23 1996

[16]Kevin Dowling <>


1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
3. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/14.html#14.1
4. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/14.html#14.2
5. news:comp.real-time
6. news:news.answers
10. mailto:
11. mailto:

[15] What is NuTank?

NuTank stands for NeuralTank. It is a program to simulate complex
networks and interactions. In this program one is given the shell of a
2 dimensional robotic tank. The tank has various I/O devices like
wheels, whiskers, optical sensors, smell, fuel level, sound and such.
These I/O sensors are connected to Neurons. The player/designer uses
more Neurons to interconnect the I/O devices. One can have any level
of complexity desired (640k memory limited) and do subsumptive
designs. More complex design take slightly more fuel, so life is not
free. All movement costs fuel too. One can also tag neuron connections
as "adaptable" that adapt their weights in accordance with the target
neuron. This allows neurons to learn.

The Neuron editor can handle 3 dimensional arrays of neurons as single
entities with very flexible interconnect patterns. One can also design
a Glyph or drawing to represent the robot and/or obstacle. (or bug,
worm, whatever) One can then design a scenario with walls, rocks, fat
(fuel) sources (that can be smelled) and many other such things.

Robot tanks are then introduced into the Scenario and allowed to
interact or battle it out. The last one alive wins, or maybe one just
watches the motion of the robots for fun. While the scenario is
running it can be stopped, edited, zoom'd, and can track on any robot.
One can designate a neuron group as the probe group and get a display
of the neural activity of that group. This helps debug designs.

The entire program is mouse and graphically based. It uses DOS and VGA
and is written in TurboC++

There will also be the ability to download designs to another computer
and source code will be available for the core neural simulator. This
will allow one to design neural systems and download them to real
robots. This feature may be in the Beta release, around August 94. The
design tools can handle three dimensional networks so will work with
video camera inputs and such.

Eventually I expect to do a port to UNIX and multi thread the program.
I also expect to do a Mac port and maybe NT or OS/2

The theory that I eventually want to test has to do with the self
oscillating nature of combined subsumptive and standard neural nets.
One can also work on flock and pack behavior.

I have a paper I've written called Artificial Cognition that discusses
a theory of the combination of regular neural nets and subsumptive
networks. In the shareware file it is called and will need to
be printed on a PostScript printer. You may get copies of it by
sending $5 to Keene Educational Software.

_Getting NuTank:_ NuTank now has a shareware version. It is about 300k
bytes compressed. The file is nutank.exe and is a PKZip executable for
dos machines. It must be put in a directory called C:\nutank

To unpack nutank first put nutank.exe in C:


mkdir nutank

cd nutank

..\nutank.exe -d

After it unpacks _nutank.exe_ is the program If anyone would like to
put it on their server feel free to do so. If you put the shareware on
your sever please tell me so I can send you updates.

Nutank shareware is available at these ftp sites:
[3] or
[4] The shareware
version has the ability to write to disk disabled. Feel free to pass
the shareware version around. The regular version costs $50 (includes
a printed copy of the paper) and can be had by sending $50 US to

Richard Keene
Keene educational Software
8155 Lone Oak Court
Littleton, CO 80124

I am at the Park City Group and can be reached at 801-649-2221

NuTank, Copyright Richard Keene 1994, All rights reserved.

Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:52:14 1996

[5]Kevin Dowling <>



[16] Survey of Mobile Robot Development Environments

This list provides a look at mobile systems that people are using. The
list includes robot base information, as well as hardware and software
environments used in the systems.

This is an updated and abridged survey compiled by Willie Lim The
complete file, which includes a list of organizations and the original
messages can be ftp'd from

;;; ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; Updated: Tue Dec 6 08:59:45 1994 ;;;
;;; Created: Sat May 23 09:37:24 1992 ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; Maintained by: (for now) ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; Please send updates, additions, corrections, etc. to: ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; ;;;
;;; A complete version of this survey including detailed ;;;
;;; descriptions of the various projects is available via ;;;
;;; anonymous ftp from the host as the file ;;;
;;; /pub/mobot-survey.text. ;;;

Organization Robot Development Languages &
Type HW Environment SW Enviroment
============= ==== ============== =============
Alcatel Alsthom Indoor robot SPARC II, VME proc VxWorks, MOTIF

Recherche (AAR) Outdoor robot

Brown U. a)Mobile robots SPARC I & II, OS/9, GNU Emacs, Xlib,
VME 68030 MOTIF, Forth, C, C++
b)2 RWI B12's Sparc 10s/Solaris offboard UNIX, Motif, C++
, Lisp, Rex, X

c)2 RWI B24's 486 Linux onboard, arms

CMU a) SM^2(walker) VME 68020 & 68030, Chimera II RTOS, C,
Sun Sun too
b) AMBLER VME 68020 & 68030, MOTIF, VxWorks,

SPARC II, Iris X windows, C
c) Mobile Mani- Z8088s, Sun IPC & ELC, X Window, Lisp, C, Hero
pulator NeXT Basic

d) Mobile robot SPARC, Iris, Mac, X windows, Openwindows,
VME, Maspar, Titan VxWorks, Chimera RTOS,
e) Navlab Sun-4 X windows, C

Colorado Sch. Denning MRV-3 Sparc IIs, IPXs, C, X11, Khoros, potenti
al fields
of Mines IBM RS/6000s X11 visualization tool

Colorado St. 6-legged robot 68HC11EVM, AT C

Cornell U. 2 mobile robots Gespak 68000, Intel Scheme, Lucid Lisp
(robot with 80c196, Sun(?)
base coming)

Cray Research(?)Mobile robot MC68HC16EBV, 386 Assembler
Georgia Tech Denning DRV-1 SUN IPC, Decstation, X windows, C,
& MRV-II Microvax II Lisp

Grumman CRC SmartyCat Mac II's/IIci's, C, CLOS, LISP, SAL
(Cybermotion uExplorer, SGI VxWorks(soon)
K2A) 68030 VME board(soon)
LLV (Grumman SGI, 68030 VME board, C, CLOS, LISP, SAL
Long Life Veh., mini-boards.
the US Postal

IBM TJ Watson TJ, TJ2 Symbolics, RS/6000, LISP, CLOS, CLIM,
(1989?-1992) 286, 386, Suns C, X-windows, MOTIF,
GNU Emacs

ISX Corp Subsumption Mac II cx's/ci's C(?)

JPL 7 robots Suns to 6811 RCCL, ALFA

McGill U Mobile robot Sparcs, mc68hc11, PC GNU, X, Small-C
C, C++
QUADRIS SUNs, Macs, C-40, 68K C, X-windows, IRIS GL

Michigan Tech. Tracy 6502, Apple IIe, SUN, C, Assembly
U. 68HC11
Minirobots 6811

MIT 20 robots Mac II & IIsi, HC6811 Behavior Language
GOPHER (ISR R2) 68332, Mac, Sun GCC, Behavior Language,
Lisp, X-windows
Polly VME, 6811, Mac Senselisp(Scheme)
SOZZY(homemade) 6811, Mac Lisp, Behavior Language

MITRE Denning MRV-1 MacQuadra, uExplorer Lisp, REX/GAPPS, C, C++
Northeastern U. Lobster Robot HC11, Mac C, Pascal, Assembly
Phaeton Sun 4/330, Mac C, epsilon (Cognex),
(Denning MRV3) X-windows

NRC of Canada EAVE Mac II's, 68020's C, HARMONY OS, MacAPP

NC State Mobile robot VME 68020 & 68040, OS/9, P/NET

Osaka U. Homemade VME 68030, SUN IPX, C, X-windows
Sparc 2

Purdue U. PETER Sun4, 68030 C, VxWorks

SRI FLAKEY Sparc10/30, Z80 Lucid Lisp, C, X-window
Stanford Landmark based Mac IIci C, LISP

Swiss FIT Mobile robot Mac MacMETH, Modula-2

U of Central a) 6-leg walker Commodore 64 SuperC, C
b) 6-leg walker Amiga 500 C

U of Edinburgh a) ALDER 8052, SUN, PC Basic
c) Bill (RWI) PC, transputers C
d) Ben Hope(RWI) transputers C
e) (LEGO based) 68000 C, CPL

U of Mass., Denning DECstation 5000, C, LISP
Amherst Sparcstation

U of Michigan BORIS (TRC) 486, Decstations, SGI, Borland C++, FORTH, DOS
CARMEL (K2A) 286, 486, (ditto) Borland C++, FORTH, DOS
MAVERIC 486, Sparc 10, Lisp, GCC, Borland C++,
Datacube, (ditto)

U of New Underwater Sparcstation, VxWorks, C(?)
Hampshire robots CMOS VME boards

U of South Cybermotion K2A Z-80, 68000 PASM, GEHPL, UNIX,
Carolina & K3A, Heathkit DOS/Windows
Hero 1 ET-18

U Wash. Denning HP 9000 series 300's, Gensym G2, OS/9
68000 LLAMA (Forth), Lisp, C

Worcester Poly- James NEC 76310, 68HC11, Assembly, Small-C (DOS)
technic Inst. (RWI B12) Gateway 2000 PC

Wright Lab, Hero 2000 286 MS C (DOS), Assembly
Wright-Pat. Air
Force Base

VTT (Technical Akseli HP-1100, 386 MS-DOS, LynxOS (soon)
Research Center C
of Finland)


Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:52:44 1996

[4]Kevin Dowling <>


[17] Robot Controllers

[3][17.1] What is the Miniboard?

[4][17.2] What is the F1 Board?

[5][17.3] What is the Bot Board?

[6][17.4] What is the Handyboard?

[7][17.5] Other Controllers


This section describes both industrial robot controllers and small
inexpensive single board controllers. A few companies are now
specializing in robot controllers. They can be used to upgrade
controllers for older robots or provide greater flexibility or better
fit with existing computing environments.

_Cimetrix, Inc._
2222 South 950 East
Provo, UT 84606
tel: 801.344.7000
fax: 801.344.7077
net: [8]

Cemetrix is a manufacturer of PC-based real-time open-architecture
robot controllers. Their software architecture allows a user to select
kinematics for virtually every commercial robot ever manufactured, as
well as write your own kinematic solution.

Application programming is done in C or with a "non-programmers
language" automated programming environment called CIMBuilder. They
are on the verge of releasing a WindowsNT product that will allow
programming in Visual C++ too. Their client/server architecture allows
the application program to be run on either a control server or
simulation server. So you can develop your code offline with a
graphical simulation concurrent to your workcell hardware development.
This can save weeks in project timelines.

They currently have a turn-key hardware solution for many commercial
robots including the PUMA 762.


A variety of small and inexpensive controller boards for robotics have
developed by a number of groups. These boards are becoming widely used
and a number of discussions on the robotics bboards center around the
design, use and programming of these controllers.

Several including the Miniboard, F1 board and Bot board are listed
here. Many small micro-controller boards are available from different
companies. A small micro-processor, some memory and I/O can all be had
for $40-$100 dollars (US).

Robotic Systems plans to offer other parts and kits including the
Miniboard, 6.270 board, Handyboard, Rug Warrior board, and a wide
selection of motors, batteries, sensors and software for building

Robotic Systems, Inc
1102 West Glen River Road
Glendale, Wisconsin 53217
tel: 414.821.7675
fax: 414.963.4825
url: [9]
Clint Laskowski, President

[17.1] What is the Miniboard?

The Mini Board is an outgrowth of the MIT 6.270 robot course and
design project. It is a small and inexpensive design for a controller
board based on the ubiquitous (yet sometimes hard to find) 68HC11

The Mini Board 2.1 Extended is the latest version of the Mini Board.
It is based on the Mini Board 2.0 Extended (see file
[10]pub/projects/miniboard/docs/mbextend.txt ), and includes the
following new features:

* full six-wire SPI jacks include power, ground, and all four SPI
* optional diode protection prevents reverse-polarity voltage input
when using DC power jack.
* power and ground on Port A headers may be bridged to motor power
and ground, allowing RC servos to be plugged directly into the
Port A header (when using a 5.5 to 6v power supply).
* extra space between PLCC socket and female header connectors to
allow for newer, slightly larger PLCC sockets.
* mounting holes drilled for single RJ11 jack (for RS-232 serial),
saving money on triple RJ11 jack if SPI ports are not to be used.

Download the file [11]pub/projects/miniboard/docs/mb21ext.PS.Z to see
the silkscreen of the new board.

The MINI BOARD 2.1 is a complete embedded computer board for robotic
applications. It can directly power four DC motors and receive inputs
from numerous sensors. Its miniature size (smaller than a business
card) makes it suited well for mobile applications as well as other
embedded control.

It can be programmed in 6811 assembler code or C for stand-alone
operation, or it can serve as a serial-line based controller operated
by a desktop computer.

overall dimensions: 3.3" by 1.86", smaller than a business card. If
desired, an off-board serial connector can be used, allowing an
additional .6" of board length can be chopped off.

nearly all parts can be purchased from Digikey (including all
connectors and switches). Extensive use of resistor packs minimizes
component count.

uses Motorola 68hc811e2 microprocessor with 2048 bytes of internal,
electrically erasable PROM and 256 bytes of RAM.

four motor drivers for bidirectional control of small DC motors (up
to 600 mA current, 36 volts each motor).

eight analog inputs; eight digital inputs or outputs; several timer
and counter I/O pins, all broken out to convenient header ports.

on-board 5v regulator allows board to be powered by any DC power
source from 5.6 to 36 volts.

RS-232 compatible RJ-11 port for communication/program download
between host computer.

two modular high speed serial jacks, allowing networks of multiple
MB 2.0's to be constructed using common 4-wire phone cable.
Multiple-mastering bus protocols supported.

optional battery level monitoring using voltage divider from supply
voltage before regulation.

XIRQ line broken out to a pad: when this line is given 12.5v, an
'hc711e9 chip with 12K of EPROM can be programmed in place.

MS-DOS, Macintosh, and Unix software provided for downloading
programs to board. 6811 monitor program provided for recording changes
in sensor state, controlling motors and interacting with other board
features over serial line.

C/assembler libraries provided for code development using Dunfield
Development Systems' Micro-C compiler, and ImageCraft's freeware icc11
C compiler. A fifty-page manual describing how to build and operate
the Mini Board is on-line on the FTP server:

People who don't have access to anonymous FTP can do FTP-by-mail,
provided as a public service by DEC. Send a message containing the
single word _help_ to _ftp...@decwrl.dec.com_ for instructions.

Also on-line is software for programming the Mini Board from MS-DOS,
Macintosh, and Unix machines.

_Douglas Electronics, Inc._
2777 Alvarado Street
San Leandro, California 94577 USA
tel: 510.483.8770
bbs: 510.483.6548
fax: 510.483.6453

Douglas Electronics has been a manufacturer of prototyping
"breadboards" for over 40 years, and we also manufacture hundreds of
custom order printed circuit designs every month for people using our
Macintosh-based CAD/CAM software. One such user of our software is
Fred Martin, of MIT, who is the designer of the MiniBoard. We have had
several requests from people wanting a few MiniBoards of their own
over the years, so we figured we might as well stock them if we could.
Douglas Electronics, a Macintosh PCB CAD software house and a
commercial PCB fab facility, is a distributor of blank Mini Board
PCBs. [Thanks to Bill]

Pricing for the new mini-board is as follows:

1 board only ................. $ 10.00

2 to 9 boards ................ 7.50 ea.

10 to 50 boards .............. 6.25 ea.

50 and over .................. 5.00 ea.

Shipping is specified by and paid by the customer, and California
residents are subject to state sales tax. These are bare boards only
(we don't sell assembled units or kits) but all of the parts you need
to populate the MiniBoard should be available from common parts
suppliers such as Digi-Key, Newark, etc. and a silkscreened legend on
the board helps you put everything where it belongs. Douglas accepts
all major credit cards. There is also a dollar volume discount on
Douglas' breadboard products, that applies over and above the
per-board quantity discounts, as follows:

$500 5%

$1000 10%

$2500 15%

$5000 20%

For more info see:

Three individuals are independent suppliers of Mini Board technology:

* Gregory Ratcliff , 1763 Hess Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43212;
(614) 487-0695 Greg sells blank boards for $6, parts kits, and
assembled boards. Please contact him for information. You can also
send him an order directly.
Make checks out to The Progressive Solution and mail them to him
at 1763 Hess Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43212; call him at (614)
487-0695 for more information.
$66.00 Parts kit of all parts that mount on the PCB, less PCB (see
above). Assembled boards will also continue to be available....
$82.00 Assembled and Tested with DLM 2.0 downloaded (we need that
in to test...of course you could overwrite the dlm)
$2.00 Fred's 45 page document set...only with board order.
Shipping in the USA: $3.00 per order... regardless of quantity.
Delivery is based upon demand.
* Mark Reeves 1117 Braemar Court, Cary, NC 27511; BBS and voice
(919) 481-3170 (voice hours from 5-7 pm EST). Shipping - all
orders will be shipped ASAP, we do not need to wait for a certain
number of orders (although there may be delays while certain parts
are gotten). If a delay happens you will be notified by email or
postcard. No check or MO will be cashed until the order is ready
to ship.
PRICES (subject to change without notice) All kits include a PCB,
a kit without a PCB will be $5.00 less. A kit without the 1 RJ11
adpt will be $2.50 less, a kit without the 3 RJ11 adpt will be
$5.00 less.
K0 - a super basic kit, does not include any RS232 stuff, or motor
drive items, inductors, or most of the other discrete components,
it does have a PCB, CPU, socket, one 36 pin header, and a few
other items. Good for TTL level RS232, via some other chip, for
the person wants to use the board for expansion purposes, or
whatever. Contact us for price.

* K1 - basic kit all parts needed to get a board up and going, one
RJ11 jack, no headers, for the true hobby person $41.00
* K2 - same as above, but has all header connectors (3 female, 2
male - 36 pin header connectors) $46.50
* K3 - basic + motor controller the full kit with all needed parts,
with all LED's and motor controller chips, one RJ11 jack $57.50
* K4 - full kit same as K3, but has the 3 RJ11 jacks for
interconnecting with other boards $60.00
* B1 - bare PCB board, double sided, extended version silk screened
parts location, etc. $5.00
* J1 - a DC power jack and power switch for the board. Use if the
screw power connector is not used; this would work with a plug in
power supply. Note- these items are sold at cost, they are not
cheap $6.50

Add $25 to any kit to get it built, add an B to the kit number, i.e.
K4-B or K4-B-A for the 68hc11A1 version of the kit. All assembled
boards will have all parts soldered on them, but to meet FCC
requirements there will be minor work to be done ( you have to install
on chip)

NOTE: the basic kits do NOT include the motor controller chips or the
motor LED's, they do have the RS232 parts, they are for people who
want to use the board for things other than robotics. No speaker or
sensors are included. All motor controller chips are the TI version,
1A drive current. All prices are subject to change without notice;
please e-mail to check if prices have gone up or down since this

Mark is a supplier of the recent board revision called the "Mini Board
2.0 Extended." This version of the Mini Board includes a power switch
and DC power jack for ease of use. Please see the file
[14]pub/miniboard/mbextend.txt for more information.

[15]CW Technology, Wally Blackburn

Miniboard 2.1 Extended Kit: $84US
Miniboard 2.1 Extended Assembled/Tested: $109US NOTE TO INSTITUTIONS:
Any order to a school, company, or any other large institution will
ONLY be shipped via FedEx at an additional $10US. This is to avoid the
"lost in the receiving department syndrome" that often occurs in these

Send orders to: CW Technology, 7328 Timbercreek Court, Reynoldsburg,
OH 43068-1181. COD orders can be sent via e-mail or by calling

Hard copies of the Mini Board manual may be ordered by sending a check
payable for U.S. $5 to "MIT Epistemology and Learning" at:

_Epistemology and Learning Publications_
MIT Media Laboratory
20 Ames Street
E15-301, Cambridge MA 02139.

There is now a mailing list for discussing the board. The purpose of
the mailing list is to discuss robot controller boards, and robot
control in general. In particular, the list will be used to support
the Mini Board 2.0 and 6.270 board design by Fred Martin and Randy
Sargent of MIT. However, any and all traffic related to robot
controllers is welcome.

Administrative address:

(send a message containing the word "help" for directions) Mailing
list address:

Please DO NOT send administrative things to the main mailing list
address, as then everyone will get annoyed.


[17.2] What is the F1 Board?

A PCB board set designed around the 68HC11f1 microprocessor, which I
have made available as a non-profit enterprise to all you folks on the
net. To help those of you in the US, Daniel Mauch of the Seattle
Robotics Society agreed to act as a distributor.

Well, my first shipment of these PCB's to Daniel lasted about a week,
I didn't realise they were going to be so popular! He has now received
the second shipment from me, so if anyone is interested in these
boards please Email Daniel at

_'F1 Board:_
118 x 80 mm (4.6" x 3.2")

Power 6.5 - 35vdc (or 5vdc if you jumper the 7805 socket)

RS485 serial communications
RS232 serial communications
SPI interface (Same as Miniboard connectors but
Master/Slave switchable)
8 Analog inputs
Port A connector
Control bus connector for additional boards

Configuration: 32K Ram memory 32K EPROM (or another 32K Ram -
switch select) MODA and MODB jumpers Analog Vrh and Vrl jumper
to +5 and 0v or user selectable

Motor Board:
107 x 59 mm ( 4.2" x 2.3")
8 Digital inputs
8 Digital outputs
4 x DC motors
2 x Stepper motors (less than 1.5 Amps each)
2 x R/C servo motors

5 x base address selections (allows for multiple boards to be
Stepper / Servo switch selectable
Separate power supply for DC and Stepper motors.

F1 board $17
Motor board $13
EPROM (w/Buffalo) $11
Postage $5

This board was designed primarily for embedded control and small
robotics applications, and as such it is as versatile as I could get
it. For more details there is complete documentation (in postscript
format) in the file [16] at mit. A number of other F1
related files are available in the same directory.

Pete Dunster
Dept. of Mech. Eng.
University of Wollongong
Northfields Ave
tel: +61-42-213597
fax: +61-42-213101


[17.3] What is the Bot Board?

The BOTBoard is a single chip microcomputer board designed for general
use, and robotics applications. The BOTBoard uses the popular 68HC11
microcontroller in a minimum configuration, and is easily programmed
from your PC. Engineered to be small, the BOTBoard is also powerful
and flexible. Each BOTBoard is 2" X 3" with a 1" X 2" prototyping

Special BOTBoard Features:
* Four R/C Servo Ports.
* Auto start jumper.
* Reset Switch and low voltage circuitry.
* 1" X 2" proto-typing area, with power bus strips.
* Easy to use Networking Port (SPI). With Master/Slave selection.
* Powered RS232 Port (TTL level) for serial communication.
* Pull up resistors on IRQ and XIRQ.
* All I/O pins on .100 grid headers.
* Single sided circuit board design.
* Uses either the MC68HC11 or MC68HC811 .
* Mounting holes that can be used for stacking.
* Power supply connector.

The BOTBoard is a bare circuit board that was designed to give the
most amount of flexibility for the least cost. The BOTBoard manual
contains parts list, building instructions, ordering information,
schematics, and application notes. You can assemble the BOTBoard in
less than a half hour, with a total cost of parts being about $20.

BOTBoard = $5.95 each or three for $15.

Shipping = $1.25 plus .25 for each board.

_Marvin Green_
821 SW 14th
Troutdale, OR 97060
tel: 503.666.5907

The Bot Board is also sold by Zorin and they sell Marvin Green's
BOTBoard in kit form.

They provide BOTBoard kits, programming software and servo motors. A
complete single board controller for only $87. They also supply power
supplies and cases for professional looking projects. They are also
adding peripherals and other products as well. Visa and MC now

The BOTBoard is a low cost and powerful single board computer based on
the Motorola HC11E series Microcontroller. The Zorin kits make it easy
to create many types of computer controlled applications. Get the
optional servo motors to create walking machines, robotic arms,
animated art and more! Program the on-chip memory from any computer or
terminal using the Buffalo monitor, or use the PC software included
with the kit. The eight page assembly man includes example code to
operate the servo motors. See their web page at:

Christopher Nielsen
net: [18]
PO Box 30547
Seattle, WA 98103
tel: 206.282.6061
fax: 206.282.9579


[17.4] What is the Handyboard?

The Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
announces the Handy Board, a new microcontroller board ideal for
experimental and educational robotics projects. The Handy Board
features the Motorola 68HC11 CPU with 32K of battery-backed RAM, a
16x2 character LCD screen, four DC motor outputs, sixteen powered
sensor inputs, infrared I/O, and a built-in rechargeable battery, all
in a convenient hand-held size. The Handy Board runs Interactive C, a
multi-tasking development system for MS-DOS, Macintosh, and Unix host
computers. [19]News release

The Handy Board is the latest in a series of boards released under
MIT's free licensing policy, in which the printed circuit board
artwork, schematics, and driver software may be freely licensed for
personal, educational, and commercial use. Past designs disseminated
under this policy include the 6.270 Robot Controller System and the
Mini Board.

Handy Board kits and assembled systems are distributed by Gleason
Research ([20], 617-641-2551), CW Technology
([21], 800-547-7479), and Digital Micro Systems
([22], 614-299-2566). Blank printed circuit boards are
sold by Douglas Electronics ([23], 510-483-8770).

Fred Martin, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Media Laboratory, is the
creator of the Handy Board. Dr. Martin is presently writing a textbook
for an undergraduate engineering course based on mobile robotics
project work. The text (working title, The Art of Engineering by
Robotics) will make extensive use of the Handy Board, and is scheduled
for publication in late 1996 by Addison-Wesley.

For more information, contact one of the distributors, or see the
Handy Board home page on the World-Wide Web:

[17.5] Other Robot Controllers

Jerry Burton

Jerry Burton offers a number of boards including controller boards,
controllers boards, and I/O boards:
* The main board is based on a 68hc11 running in external mode with
32K ram and 32K ROM. The ROM contains the Buffalo monitor (with a
assembler/dissasembler added), plus a module called ROBOTMON which
is a menu driven exerciser for all functions (including motors,
sonars, steppers, servos), a ROBOT.UTL module which contains a
number of routines for converting input data from dec/hex and
output routines for displaying data in various formats (e.g
decimal, hex, binary, etc.), and ROBOT.INT provides all of the
interrupt routines for 2 channels of PWM. a 10 msec TOK_COUNT, IC
routines to measure wheel encoder speed and sonar elapsed time.
The unique feature of this system is the addition of an 8 bit
memory mapped bi-directional port This allows you to talk directly
to any one of 16 slaves and send/receive data from them. The data
is latched into the slaves which allows the slaves to operate
autonomously without further main board intervention. Each slave
has jumpers to set the board type to 0-15 and the slave channel
address 0-15.
* A motor control slave that uses a LM298 (2 amps continuous, 5 amps
max with thermal shut-down) H-bridge for driving 2 motors with PWM
from OC2,3. provision for bi-phase encoder input via IC1,2
* A sonar slave using the Polaroid 6500 module multiplexed to up to
8 transducers. The amplitude of the returned energy is also
available through AD0 (this from a capture and hold circuit which
can be read to determine the energy vector). Range is reported in
0.01 ft. units from 0.5 to 32.00 ft.
* A stepper control slave that allows simultaneous stepper of up to
4 stepper motors. Either uni-pole or bi-polar (i.e. 4 or 6 wire
stepper). Uses SAA1042 (500 milli-amp max) drivers with Full/Half
step and direction independent for each stepper.
* A prototype slave that provides the interface logic to the 34 pin
bus and a 4x4" prototyping area. New designs can be easily
protyped. Jumper settable board address as well as slave channel
0-15 allow multiple prototype boards to be used to implement
whatever devices you wish.
* A super prototype slave that has its own 68HC11 running in
internal mode. This allows commands to be sent to the slave MCU
and control to proceed totally in parallel with anything the other
slaves/main board are doing. Slave has races for implementing an 8
servo control logic. The main board merely selects servo 0-7 and
then sends 0-255 value (represents 4 micro-second resolution) to
control the servo with pulses from 1-2 msec.

Detailed information and price lists may be obtained from :

_Jerry Burton_
net: or
10471 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804
tel: 714.535.8161
fax: 714.535.6629


Last-Modified: Thu Aug 22 10:07:48 1996

[25]Kevin Dowling <>


1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
3. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.1
4. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.2
5. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.3
6. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.4
7. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.5
14. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/pub/miniboard/mbextend.txt

[18] What is the XXX Microcontroller?

Which microcontroller should I use and what are the differences
between them? What about motor controllers and motor drivers?

There are a wide variety of microcontrollers that can be used in
robotics projects. Some of the most popular are 6811's (Miniboard and
many single board computers), 80186, and PIC's. This topic engenders
hot debates of the merit of one chip over the other. Therefore, the
best way for you to decide is to understand your problem requirements
and see which devices fit your needs. At that point, you can look at
issues of support platforms, cross-compilers, cost etc to make the
best decision.

Related newsgroups include:
* [3]
* [4]comp.realtime
* [5]sci.electronics
* [6]alt.comp.hardware.homebuilt

A FAQ devoted to Microcontrollers can be found at the following:
er The maintainer is Russ Hersch,

In this FAQ, just brief overviews and pointers are provided for these
families of microcontrollers and related devices.

[8][18.1] Motorola 68XX

[9][18.2] Motorola 683xx

[10][18.3] Intel 80C186

[11][18.4] Intel 8051

[12][18.5] Intel 8096

[13][18.6] Microchip PIC16/17

[14][18.7] Parallax BASIC Stamp

[15][18.8] National Semiconductor LM628/629

[16][18.9] Hewlett-Packard HCTL 1000, 2000

[17][18.101] Motor Drivers


Basically there are three kinds of "boards" out there that are of
interest to design engineers and the definitions are necessarily
1. The evaluation board. This is a board designed by the manufacturer
of a part to demonstrate its features. Using such a board a DE can
decide whether the part will meet their needs for the design they
are creating. Generally somewhat expensive (because they are
produced in relatively small numbers) except when the part is
being 'pushed' by the manufacturer and there is some sort of
promotional deal going on. Often the evaluation board will have
some sort of breadboard area on the board for custom circuitry.
2. The Single Board Computer or SBC. These are generally produced by
a third party using some manufacturers chip. The are generally
pretty flexible but may not 'expose' all features. SBCs come in
all sizes and price ranges, some are availabe in kit form. Many
have development tools available for them.
3. The Embedded processor. These are generally boards dedicated to
some particular function (like driving a stepper motor, running a
modem etc) and are usually available pretty cheaply on the surplus
market. Unlike SBCs there are rarely any design tools available to
use with them but they can be quite inexpensive.


[18.1] Motorola 68XX

A 68HC11 is an 8-bit data, 16-bit address microcontroller from
Motorola, with an instruction set similar to the older 68xx (6801,
6805, 6809) parts. It has several on-chip resources including digital
I/O, timers, PWM, A/D RAM, various types of ROM, and synchronous and
asynchronous communications channels (RS-232 and SPI). It can easily
be integrated into single-chip applications. Less than 20ma current
draw. Good freeware assembly-language tools are available, as well as
several good commercial C compilers. It is widely used because it is
very inexpensive and the availability of developments tools makes it
very attractive.

Moto nows offers an evaluation kit that includes DOS and Mac
compatible software, low-power design tutorial and extensive technical
literature. M68EBLPIIKIT has batteries included and has 68HC11E9
microcontroller, LCD display, Moto LCD driver, RS232 line
driver/receiver chips, wire-wrap area for custom work, simple
development platform and development code. Includes assembler, several
examples, and extra crystals. $199.11 through 4/22/94.

For a lot more detail see the 68HC11 FAQ at:
_FAQ The FAQ is also regularly posted to several newsgroups.

To subscribe to a listserv mailing list for 68HC11's send the
following message to

subscribe mc68hc11

There is also a FAQ on news:comp.sys.m68k. This FAQ covers the
Motorola M680x0 and the MC68300 series of microprocessors. There are
sections on the VME bus and PowerPC parts. Sources for software for
all Motorola products including the HC11 series is included. This list
also points to resources provided by Motorola to its customers. Much
of this FAQ is applicable to parts other than the M68K.

The 68k FAQ is available on the World Wide Web at
* [19]
* [20]*
* [21]
* [22]*.gz

Although there are reports of shortages of the 68HC11, presumably
because of large customers, here is one vendor who is reported to have
significant stock:

Contact Beall and Glenn at 800-874-4797.
MC68HC11A1 - $2.50 each.
MC68HC11E1 - $3.00 each.
MC68HC11E1 - $3.00 each. ( This is a 12Mhz version.)
If you order over $20 the shipping is free. They also take VISA.


[18.2] Motorola 683xx

The 683xx family from Moto are highly integrated CPU's. Several have
onboard RAM (eg, up to 2K), none have on-board ROM, but they do have
timers, software programmable chip selects, etc, making it possible to
build very small but complete systems.

68302: Designed for communications, especially ISDN. On-board nice
serial controller. 68000 CPU, some memory.

68330: Has CPU32, which is in between a 68000 and a 68020. Not much

68331: Add standard async serial controller.

68332: Add separate Time Processing Unit and some RAM. The TPU can do
things like off-line PWM processing. Nice general package.

68340: Delete TPU, add DMA controller.


[18.3] Intel 80C186

An 80C186 is a evolution from the 8086. It is an embedded processor
sold by Intel, and has the same instruction set as the 8086, with the
additional "real-mode" instructions of the 286. It has the same 16-bit
data and 20-bit address bus structure of the 8086. The 80C188 is an
8-bit data bus version, just like the 8088 (of PC and PC/XT fame). For
embedded systems, it is much easier to use than the 8086.

It has an on-chip timer system, interrupt controller, DMA controller,
and clock generator. For DRAM operation, it also has an integrated
DRAM refresh generator. However, it has no on-chip I/O, nor does it
have any memory on-chip. There is, however, extra circuitry for
selecting external memory with a minimum of extra logic. Can be
programmed using most DOS compilers and assemblers, but requires a
linker that knows about locating code in absolute memory.

The '186 is not as accessible; it is harder to set up, the tools cost
more, and robotics and control resources have to be added externally.
The timers can be configured for PWM or pulse timing, It does,
however, run at higher speeds, have more accessible memory, and can be
hooked up to a floating-point co-processor (C187). It looks a lot like
a DOS machine. This may be important when software is run on multiple
platforms and also helps with the learning curve.


[18.4] Intel 8051

A typical 8051 contains:

CPU with boolean processor
5 or 6 interrupts: 2 external, 2 priority levels
2 or 3 16-bit timer/counters
programmable full-duplex serial port (baud rate provided by one
of the timers)
32 I/O lines (four 8-bit ports)
RAM and ROM/EPROM in some models

The 8051 and varients are now sourced by more than a half-dozen
companies including Intel, AMD, Dallas, Signetics, Siemans and others.
The 8051 FAQ can be found at:


It includes 8051 ftp sites, public domain langauges, commercially
available software and publications for the 8051.

[18.5] Intel 8096

It is 16 bit, many registers, internal RAM, the usual compliment of
on-board peripherals (serial, A/D, pwm, timer/counters, etc)

[18.6] Microchip PIC16/17

_Microchip Technology_
Corporate Office
2355 West Chandler Blvd
Chandler, AZ 85224-6199
tel: 602.786.7200
fax: 602.899.9210


_Arizona Microchip Technology _
tel: 44 062-885-1077
fax: 44 062-885-0178


_Microchip Technology_
tel: 81 45/471-6166
fax: 81 45/471-6122

CMOS field-programmable microcontrollers - PIC16/17. high performance
low cost and small package size. Large numbers are used in consumer
electronics and automotive applications, computer peripherals,
security and telecommunication applications.

A FAQ on the PIC exists and is posted regularly to the following
newsgroups: comp.realtime, comp.robotics, sci.electronics Maintainer:
Tom Kellett A PIC list address is: Administrative
matters go to: Internet PIC sites are at:



PIC16CXX and PIC17Cxx are 8-bit microcontrollers that use a high-speed
RISC architecture.The PIC17CXX is probably the faster 8-bit
controller. 16-bit instruction word and vectored interrupt
capabilities.You can add external program memory, up to 64K words. The
PIC17C42 has a number of counter/timer resources and I/O handling

Features include: timers, embedded A/D, extended instruction/data
memory, inter-processor communication and ROM, EPROM and EEPROM
memories. assemblers, linkers, loaders, libraries and source-level
debuggers are available. Digi-Key carries PIC's (See Parts Suppliers)

A simulator is available from Compuserve from the MicroChip BBS. The
simulator is and the assembler is You do
not have to be a member of CompuServe to get to the MicroChip BBS.

1. Set modem to 8N1
2. Dial your local Compuserve phone number.
3. Type and a garbage string will appear because compuserve is
expecting a 7E1 setting.
4. Type + and Host Name: will appear.
5. Type MCHIPBBS and you wil be connected to the Microchip BBS.

_Vendors of PIC boards:_
These are from reviews by Chuck McManis :

_Micro Engineering Labs_
P.O. Box 7532,
Colorado Springs, CO 80933
tel: 719.520.5323
contact: Jeff Schmoyer

MEL has designed a couple of PC boards for prototyping PIC systems
PICProto 18 - $9.95 US including shipping in the US. This board is
1.5" by 3", double sided, solder masked, and has plated through holes.
the top 7/8" x 1.5" of the board (oriented with the narrow side "up")
consists of an 18 pin socket print, holes to conviently mount either a
crystal or RC oscillator and a set of holes to mount a 5v regulator,
either the TO-220 type or the low power TO-92 type as used on the
Miniboard. All of the PIC I/O pins, RB0 - 7, RA0 - 3, RTC, Vdd and Gnd
are brought out to a dual row of pads. they are followed by 15 rows of
pads, with the outer pad on one side being the Vdd bus and the outer
pad on the other side being the Vcc bus. After this there are two rows
of pads, offset, that can accomodate a DB9, DB15, or DB25 connector.
This board will accept either the 16C5x series (in the 18 pin package)
or a 16C71 PIC.

The PICProto Dual - $14.95 US

Is similar except it has pads for 1 18 pin PIC and 1 24 pin (or
another 18 pin) PIC. It is 3" x 3" and shares all of the same
properties of the PICproto 18 with respect to setting up crystal or RC
timing for the PICs. It has pads for 1 DB connector that is 25 pins or
less. It adds about 50% more prototyping pads so you can put two or
three more chips on it. The nice thing about this one is that one PIC
can do asynchronous things like be a serial interface while the other
provides I/O pins and monitoring functions.

PIC Prototype-1 - $195.00 from Digikey

This gizmo is made by Depew Engineering ( and
is sold by Digikey and Parallax and possibly others. It is a
breadboarding system for testing out PIC designs. If you have a
Digikey catalog you can look at the picture there, but it is basically
a circuit board with a 28/18pin ZIF socket in the upper left corner, a
9 pin DB-9 connector that is attached to a MAX232 chip to provide
RS-232 levels and a 25 pin DB-25 connector at the top center which is
wired as a "parallel" port like you might find on a PC. Continuing
across the top, now in the right hand corner there is a coaxial power
plug and switch. Along the right side are five 7 segment displays that
are permanently wired to display the value of PORTA, PORTB, and PORTC
(when available) in hex notation, along the lower right are a set of
dip switches for setting the clock rate (500Khz - 32 Mhz in 32Khz
increments). Along the bottom edge are green LEDs showing the state of
all the PORT pins (in binary :-)) and taking up roughly 45% of the
circuit board is a solderless breadboard section. The solderless
breadboard has two primary sections, an upper bus section containing
connectors attached to all of the PIC pins and some useful pins on the
board (like inputs to the MAX chip and outputs from it), and a lower
section which is a standard breadboard with two rows of 5 pin
connectors spaced .3" apart.

Additionally, the circuit has support for Parallax's PBASIC
interpreter PICs and a serial EEPROM for storing your BASIC program.
(Sort of a giant BASIC STAMP). Note you have to buy a PBASIC PIC ($18
from digikey or Parallax) separately. Overall my impression is of a
product, that does a lot of neat stuff but fails to be the killer
product it could have been. Consequently I'll first discuss the
weaknesses of the board before going on to the stronger aspects.

The board claims to be a 16c5x prototyper, but the manual suggests it
supports 16C71, and 16C84 parts as well. What it didn't do was add the
parts to make it an optional 16C84 programmer. Given how easy this is
I'm guessing that they just didn't think of it or had the design
"done" before they had access to 16C84 parts.

The next weakness is that while they have the EEPROM socket for BASIC
users, they don't bring the pins out the protoboard so it is not
possible to take advantage of the EEPROM in your prototype designs.

On the prototype board, +5/Gnd are available in the bus section on two
connectors but there aren't two strip connectors that you find on all
other breadboards for carrying Vcc and ground. This means that you end
up either daisy chaining your power and ground connections, or
dedicating some of the connectors on the main bread board for Vcc and

Another area that could, in my opinion, be improved is the
availability of non-dedicated I/O devices, at the least it would be
nice to have a 4 position dip switch and 4 available LEDs that could
be used in the circuit as needed. A neat feature that would be by no
means required would be using two color LEDs to display the state of
the output as true (green), false (red), or floating (yellow).

Finally there is the issue of cost, at $195.00 this is a fairly pricey
system for what it does. Now I realize that similar systems for other
microcontrollers are similarly priced although the nearest direct
equivalent would be the Heathkit ET trainer series that were much more
oriented to learning about microcontrollers. IF I could program and
emulate PICs with it (like the Parallax tools do) in addition to using
it as a breadboard that would be wayyy cool, but I don't know how much
that would effect the price. I'd probably pay another $50 for that

Ok, so all that grousing aside what did I like about it? I liked the
fact that I can now prototype PIC designs (hardware wise) in minutes
as opposed to hours. Prior to this device I would get a
MicroEngineering Labs PicProto board, wire up the PIC section,
wirewrap my I/O hardware or a connector that connected to my hardware,
and then start programming. If I had to redo the hardware that would
be fairly long delay. With this thing I can put the hardware on the
prototype strip or, using the 26 pin IDC connector, connect it over to
my "big" breadboard. I don't have to worry whether or not the PIC is
working and I can do a 10mhz design on a breadboard.

In terms of value for the money my guess is that I'll need to do at
least four and possibly six different designs on it before I've made
back my investment.

If it were part of a PIC seminar, it would be a wonderful teaching
-Chuck McManis

[18.7] Parallax BASIC Stamp

The Stamp is a 1x2" (2.5x5cm) computer that runs BASIC programs
written on a PC. 8 I/O lines which can be used for serial
communications, potentiometer inputs, pulse measurement, switches,
speaker drivers etc. Usually you'll have to add no more than a
resistor or capacitor at most. A BASIC editor on the PC converts
instructions into token that are downloaded to the Stamp via a
3-conductor cable and stored in EEPROM. Whenever the Stamp is powered
up, the on-board interpreter runs the program. Battery clips are built
in for a 9V battery (Stamp has 5V supply built in.) and the Stamp has
a small prototyping area as well. From Digikey the Development Kit
(including a Stamp) is $139, and a Stamp is $39.

There is a BASIC STAMP Mailing List (NOT a newsgroup) Subscribe to it by sending mail to with a line of text saying

subscribe stamp-list There is also an FTP site at "" that
has a STAMP directory structure. It contains (so far) all the stuff
from the Parallax BBS, plus a few other goodies.


[18.8] National Semiconductor LM628/629

Small motor control chip. Does PWM for motion control at a very low
cost. A couple of H-bridges on the outputs. Good reference for using
the 628/9 for motion control is in: Closing the Loop on DC Motor
Control by Tom Dahlin and Don Krantz The Computer Applications
Journal, Issue #28 Aug/Sept, 1992

[18.9] Hewlett-Packard HCTL 1000, 2000

HP's motor and encoder interface chips. Widely used and widely

[18.10] Motor Drivers

This section primarily addresses chip-level devices for controlling
motors. See [26][10.2.5] Controllers for more complete motion
controller products.


115 Northeast Cutoff, Box 15036
Worcester, MA 01615
tel: 508.853.5000

Formerly Sprague, Allegro makes a full line of motor drivers for
steppers, DC motor drivers, brushless DC motors, voice-coil actuators
(used in disk drives) etc.

ILC Data Device Corporation (DDC)

105 Wilbur Place
Bohemia, NY 11716-2482
tel: 516.567.5600
fax: 516.567.7358

DDC makes a number of motor drivers (mil-spec) including the PWR-82333
drives for 28 and 270V brushed and brushless motors. Output currents
from 5A to 50A. -55C to 125C operating temperatures. Works in
trapezoidal or sinusoidal power systems.


The L293D, motor driver on a chip, is an SGS-Thomson part and is
second sourced by Unitrode. In spite of its utility it is not readily
available in small quantities. This part is a dual full H-bridge that
can drive motors up to 0.6A.

The significance of the 'D' in L293D is that it is diode protected.
There is a reverse biased diode that shunts the reverse EMF from a
motor to the V+ supply. The L293B doesn't have this diode so it must
be provided externally.

National Semiconductor

National has an LM18293 which they say is a cross for an L293B. The
price should $4.00 or less and they need the external diodes. A
replacement for the D part is the Texas Instruments 754410 which
actually has a bit better current capacity (1A vs .6A) this latter
part is available from Arrow electronics in the US.


An alternative part is the UDN2998. This is a 3A bridge in an inline
package, it is limited to motor supplies greater than 10V. You can
also build your own H-bridge out of either bipolar chips or MOSFETs.

Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:53:25 1996

[27]Kevin Dowling <>


1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
4. news:comp.realtime
5. news:sci.electronics
6. news:alt.comp.hardware.homebuilt
8. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.1
9. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.2
10. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.3
11. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.4
12. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.5
13. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.6
14. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.7
15. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.8
16. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.9
17. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.10

[19] Acknowledgements

Thanks to those who responded with updates, new material, corrections,
suggestions etc. Some of the names are indirect; that is, they replied
to queries on the newsgroup:

Hans Moravec, Maki Habib, Ken Goldberg, David Stanton, John Nagle,
Sean Graves, Sjur Vestli, Mark Yim, Rich Wallace, Dan Hudson, Sanjiv
Singh, Matt Stein, Dave Stewart, Ed Cheung, Ron Fearing, Klaus
Biggers, Lisa Rendleman, Nobuhiko Mukai, Paul Sharkey, Fred Martin,
Willie Lim, Allen Brown, Erann Gat, Judd Jones, Tony Sprent, Richard
Seldon, Brian Richardson, Ross McAree, Nathan Stratten, Chuck McManis,
Ben Brown, Terry Fong, Jeff Fox, Bill Lye Patrick Arnold, David
Novick, Stephen Klueter Chris Malcolm, Frank Hausman, Sam Miller, Rich
Voyles, Jean-Pierre Merlet, Karl Altenburg, Dave Hrynkiw, Ken Baker,
Vic Callaghan, Gerhard Weiss, Ambarish Goswami, Peter Turner, Peter
Corke, Michael Bakula, Andrew Whitwell, Brian Richardson, Mark Copley,
Bob Bonitz, Karl Altenburg, Mike Cleary, Martin Boyer, Prabal Dutta,
Shane Bouslough, Chris Peters, Carl Wall, John Strohm, Jerry Ethridge,
Gary R. Porter, Mark Kantrowitz, Larry Bradley, Richard LeGrand, Jeff
Collins, Vic Callaghan, Scott Anderson, drsharp, Warrick Wilson, Jan

...and many others who dropped off suggestions, comments and changes.
Thank you!


Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:53:45 1996

[3]Kevin Dowling <>

aka: Kevin Dowling, <> address: Carnegie Mellon University
tel: 1.412.268.8830 The Robotics Institute
fax: 1.412.268.5895 5000 Forbes Avenue
url: Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA
aka: Kevin Dowling, <> address: Carnegie Mellon University
tel: 1.412.268.8830 The Robotics Institute
fax: 1.412.268.5895 5000 Forbes Avenue
url: Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA

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