comp.robotics.* Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) part 4/5

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Kevin Dowling

Jun 16, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/16/96

Archive-name: robotics-faq/part4
Last Modified: Mon Jun 10 01:00:40 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 <>


[10] What Robotics related products are there?

[3][10.1] Sensors
[4][10.1.1] Cameras
[5][10.1.2] Inertial, Acceleration and Heading sensors
[6][10.1.3] Rangefinding devices
[7][10.1.4] Force/torque, accelerometers, tactile
[8][10.1.5] Sonar sensors
[9][10.1.6] Pan/tilt mechanisms
[10][10.1.7] Measuring 3 or 6DOF position
[11][10.1.8] Measuring linear motion
[12][10.1.9] Interfacing sensors

[13][10.2] Actuators
[14][10.2.1] RC-Servos
[15][10.2.2] Shape Memory Materials
[16][10.2.3] Other Actuators
[17][10.2.4] Stepper Motors
[18][10.2.5] Controllers

[19][10.3] Imaging for Robotics

[20][10.4] Wireless Communication
[21][10.4.1] RF Modems
[22][10.4.2] RF Video
[23][10.4.3] RF Ethernet

[24][10.5] Robot Parts: Suppliers and Sources


[10] What Robotics related products are there?

Robots are amazingly interdisciplinary; systems are comprised of
mechanics, electronics, hardware and software and issues germane to
all these catagories. As a result, the design and constructions of
such systems requires a corresponding variety of components and parts.

This section provides information about products available for some of
these areas.

[10.1] Sensors This list covers only the most frequently requested
types of robot sensors. These include point-range sensors, cameras,
and acoustic devices. See Sensors magazine directory for a large and
comprehensive list. This list covers the following:

[25][10.1.1] Cameras
[26][10.1.2] Inertial measurement devices and gyros
[27][10.1.3] Rangefinding devices
[28][10.1.4] Force/torque, accelerometers, tactile
[29][10.1.5] Sonar sensors
[30][10.1.6] Pan/tilt mechanisms
[31][10.1.7] Measuring 3 or 6DOF position
[32][10.1.8] Measuring linear motion
[33][10.1.9] Interfacing sensors

[10.1.1] Cameras

There are a large number of cameras on the market and even many
consumer products such as the smaller camcorders are inexpensive and
suitable for some imaging applications. I'll try to list some
different and unusual ones here. Note that although some of these
cameras are very small many of them are appended to a large box of
electronics via a cable that supplies power and transmits video. For
mobile applications DC power inputs may be an issue as well. I've also
included servo-lens products as well in this section.

_CCTV Corporation _

280 Huyler St. South Hackensack, NJ 07606 tel: 201.489.9595 tel:
800.221.2240 fax: 201.489.0111

CCTV makes a number of small CCD surveillance cameras. Some as small
as a pack of cigarettes that sell for less than $300. Small cameras --
'Pincam' 1.5"x1.5"x.75" pinhole camera for $200. MOD-250 and MOD-275
are all single PC board cameras with wide angle 3.6 mm lenses 514x491V
resolution, and composite outputs. Other cameras come in unique
enclosures for surveilance (e.g. cigarette packs, clocks, smoke


P.O. Box 85623
San Diego, CA 92186-5623
tel: 619.277.6700 X225
fax: 619.277.0221

Cohu makes a number of solid state cameras including board level and
remote head devices. The 1100 series is designed for OEM use. It
outputs standard RS-170 with 768x494 CCD resolution. 10cmx4.5cmx1.6cm
w/o lens. Other units include the 550 series Intensified Monochrome
CCD Camera for low-light applications. The 4110 has digital output
(eliminates pixel jitter), The 6X00 series are small monochrome remote
head cameras and the 8000 series cameras are color remote head
devices. A variety of ouputs are available includeing NTSC, RGB,
PAL/Y-C. A high resolution unit, the 8410 series, provides 1134x486
pixels (850 horz TV lines)

_DAK Industries_

8200 Remnet Ave
Canoga Park, CA 91304
tel: 800.325.0800 (ordering)
tel: 800.888.9818 (technical)
fax: 818.888.2837

DAK sells all kinds of gadgets for the home and business. One device
is a security camera that is smaller than a credit card (length and
width) and 38mm deep. B/W 251,904 pixels, 60 degree lens and built-in
microphone. Has built-in IR transmitters for seeing in total darkness.
$199 for camera, 20m cable, AC adapter and stands. Other packages
include monitors and two-camera switcher for $299 total. Extra cable
is $29.90

_Dalsa Inc_

605 McMurray Rd.
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2V 2E9
tel: 519.886.6000

Modular cameras -- you choose the entire configuration from the CCD
device to the video output format. Known for their large selection of
high speed, high sensitivity and high resolution CCD chips (up to 25
million pixels on a single chip CCD).

_Edmund Scientific _

101 E. Gloucester Pike
Barrington, NJ 08007-1380
tel: 609.573.6250 order
tel: 609.573.6260 customer service

Edmund Scientific Catalog has some very nice looking minature CCD
cameras. They have several models ranging from $230 to $495 list, b/w
and color with 1/2" or 1/3" CCD's. All are board level and require
external power supply.

_Electrim Corp. _

P.O. Box 2074
Princeton, NJ. 08543
tel: 609.683.5546
fax: 609.683.5882

Offers digitial cameras and acquisition cards in an integrated system
for use with PC's. The EDC-1000C is a complete image acquisition
system with a 751x488v resolution camera that supports 24 bit color
for $950 (including the PC interface card). The EDC-1000HR is the
monochrome version. A recently released system (11/94) offers a
ADSP2101 DSP on board the acquisition card.

_Elmo Mfg Corp _

70 New Hyde Park Rd.
New Hyde Park, NY 11040
tel: 516.775.3200
tel: 800.974.ELMO
fax: 516.775.3297

Micro-sized cameras including a 12mm color unit, the UN411E. The
ME441E is a remote head B&W ccd camera for machine vision
applications. 17mm, 14g. Wide variety of features including
electronics shuttering, field/frame modes, interlace and non-interlace

_Christian Fortunel_

103 Ivywood Lane
Cary, NC 27511
tel: 919-851-9524
fax: 919-851-9524

Servolens is a video-based computer-controlled motorized lens designed
for active vision. It is connected to the computer through a standard
RS232 serial port. Each axis (field of view, focusing distance, iris
opening) is independently controlled and fully calibrated (encoder
feedback). The following auto functions are supported: auto-iris,
auto-focus and auto-zoom (keeps apparent size of object constant). Two
models are available, based on zoom factor: x6 and x10. A C++ class
library in source code format is also available to control the lens on
DOS and UNIX platforms.

8123 Page Blvd. _Gateway Electronics, INC. _
St. Louis, MO 63130
tel: 314.427.6116

Ultra Minature Camera $149.50. 1.6" X 1.8" X 1" with a 3.6 mm wide
angle lens a 1/3 CCD sensor 380 lines of resolution and electronic
sutter time of 1/60 - 1/50,000 sec. 12 VDC Video Camera and monitor
combination 9" solid state monitor. This is a closed circuit camera
monitor system that runs on 115 VAC. There is also a microphone in the
Camera. $125.00

360 Foothill Road _Hamamatsu Corp. _
Bridewater, NJ 08807-0910
tel: 908.231.1116
fax: 908.231.0852

Offers a linup of general purpose single CCD cameras. The C4200 is a
768x493V single CCD color camera. The C3967 is a 3 CCD remote head
color camera with 786x493V resolution. They also offer off-the-shelf
image improvement/enhancing hardware and CCD chips (1024x1024V)

P.O. Box 140742 _Images Company _
Staten Island, NY 10314
tel: 718.698.8305

Microminature B/W video camera $200.00. TV Transmitter (KIT) $45.00


_Marshall Electronics _

Culver City, CA
Contact: Steve Kraig
tel: 310.390.6608

World's smallest low-cost digital camera on a single chip; under $10
for volume users. It is the first commercially available image sensor
to have a built-in A/D converter. The Digital Video Camera Chip,
VVL1070 delivers a digitized B&W image through processor-compatible
serial and parallel ports. The IC uses a proprietary CMOS sensor
technology developed by VLSI Vision Ltd., which also is developing a
whole series of single-chip EIA cameras that will be shortly
introduced to the American market.

The chip features a 160 x 160 pixel array. Pixel size is 10.5 x 10.5
microns. All circuitry to drive and sense the array is packaged in a
single Optical Quad Flatpak. The digital converter provides an 8-bit
digital output for serial or parallel interface. Other features
include an analog output with sync pulses, wide-range electronic
exposure control for use with a variety of low-cost fixed-aperture
lenses and automatic black level circuitry. Power consumption is less
than 100mw.

An Engineering Level Evaluation Kit is available to reduce development
costs and allow designers to rapidly develop a prototype using their
own defined interface circuitry. The kit includes a fully operational
PCB using an LCC with glass lid mounted in an anodized aluminum
enclosure with both a "C" mount 12mm lens and a wide-angle 4.3mm
fixed-focus lens.

Also offers both a 330 line and 510x492v resolution miniature color

_Micro Video Products _

16201 Osborne
St. Westminster, CA 92683
tel: 714.842.4648
tel: 800.473.0538

Mini B/W camera $179.00 2.5x2.5x5cm and 70g. 7-14 VCD and 80 milliamps
Also carry underwater cameras, and transmitter/recievers for video.

_NEC America _

1555 Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75038
tel: 214.751.7000
tel: 800.323.6656

Offers many types of general purpose monochrome cameras as well as a
811x508V resolution color camera with a variety of output formats
(RGB, NTSC, Y/C). The TI-324A is a small high-res B/W CCD camera
designed for machine vision and robotics applications. A variety of
other B/W and Color CCD cameras are also made.

_Panasonic _

tel: 201.392.4576

John Gregler - sales rep

Sells a complete line of monochrome cameras and a high performance
broadcast quality 3 CCD RGB color camera.

_Patrick McGuire_

tel: 800-335-9777

A small company (4) making cameras, wireless video transmitters.

_Pulnix America Inc. _

1330 Orleans Dr.
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
tel: 408.747.0300
tel: 800.445.5444 x127 Katie McVeigh - sales rep

Offers gereral purpose, reasonably priced CCD cameras. The TMC-7RGB is
a 768x494V resolution color camera with electronic shutter for $1100.
Many monochrome cameras are available including a high resolution
1024x1024V. The 'Card-Cam' line of cameras are small PC board cameras
with simple C-mount remote heads.

_Resources UN-LTD. _

8030 South Willow Street, Bldg 2
Manchester, NH 03109
tel: 603.668.2499

CCD Micro Camera From Chinon. $159.00 B/W 1/3" CCD with a full
250,000+ pixels. 350 lines of resolution. Auto gain control and
electronic shutter. 9 VDC at 80 milliamps. Adjustable focus 4mm, f 1.8
lens (provides 78 degree FOV, 10mm to infinity). Standard Composite
video out. Weighs 14g, IR Sensitive. Also reportedly sold by by
Creative Micro Electronics in Colorado. tel: 303.770.8928, fax:

_Sony Electronics Inc. _

1200 N. Arlington Heights Road
Itasca, IL 60143
tel: 708.773.7604

Sony XC/999/999P is a nice small color CCD camera the size of a
microphone. CCD resolution is 768Hx493V. The 999 is NTSC and the 999P
is the PAL format. XC-75 has small camera head and separate
electronics. The XC711 is a nice general purpose single CCD color
camera with 768x493V resolution, but not as expensive as to XC999. The
XC-711 RR is the remote head version. An appreciable lineup of
monochrome cameras are offered as well.

_Supercircuits _

13552 Research Blvd #B
Austin, TX 78750
tel: 512.335.9777
fax: 512.335.1925

Electronic timers and beepers, miniature cameras and transmitters.
Super Circuits specializes in affordable microvideo products. One of
the tiny cameras, the PC-9XS is about the size of a silver dollar, has
380 lines resolution, 1 lux rating at a price of only $149. Some of
the cameras go down to .2 lux. Other products include small color
cameras, ATV UHF transmitter kits, Short range transmitter sets, and
other specialty video products.

_Texas Instruments _

TI makes a $35 CCD Imager, the TC-211, with 192x165 resolution.
Following article is on a design for a camera using this chip over a
parallel port from a PC. Telescope Making, Issue 46, Winter 91/92
Newark Electronics sells the TC211-M for around US$50.00 See TI's
Array Image Sensor Products data manual for more details. Update:
Unfortunately, Telescope Making Magazine went out of business with the
issue mentioned above and may be hard to find. Hope to find copy and
contact author wrt to posting it.

_Toshiba America _

Information and Imaging Technologies Group
1010 Johnson Drive
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089-6900
tel: 800.253.5429
fax: 708.541.1927

Toshiba IK-M40A high resolution microminiature color camera. Camera
head is 39mm long, 17mm diameter and weighs 16g. 1/2" CCD w/ 410,000
pixels, high sensitivity (5 lux at F1.6) and electronic shutter. RGB
output standard. uses cables up to 30m. Several lenses available.
About $2K.

Toshiba also makes a very small C-mount Lens color CCD camera, the
IK-C40A. It is only slight larger than a 30mm cube.

_Wintriss Engineering Corp _

6342 Ferris Square
San Diego, CA 92121
tel: 619.550.7300
tel: 800.733.8089

Wintriss makes a 2048 pixel line scan camera that can be used for
object imaging, velocity measurement and positioning with multiple
cameras. Can be used to determine spped and trajectory of objects in
flight. This has been used in archery applications. RS485 interface
with 8Mb/sec serial data rate. Can be linked directly with Wintriss
DSP boards for post-processing and communications. Price $1250.

_Xillix Technologies Corporation _

Suite 200
2339 Colombia Street
Vancouver B.C. V5Y 3Y3
tel: 604.875.6161
fax: 604.872.3356

Specializing in High-res CCD cameras. Product line includes a 12-bit
1317x1035 pixel resolution. Target market has been medical imaging.
Full computer control and compatible with a number of image capture
and display boards.

[10.1.2] Inertial, Acceleration and Heading sensors

An excellent summary technical report on this area can be found at:
[34]CMU-RI-TR-94-15 (compressed)
_Modern Inertial and Satellite Navigation_ by Alonzo Kelly, May 1994.
Inertial measurement includes such devices as accelerometers, gyros,
and devices for measuring orientation or acceleration of moving
vehicles. Accelerometers are devices for measuring the rate of change
in velocity and can provide estimations of distance or be used to
detect high forces.

Much of the initial research, development and marketing in this area
were for military applications. However, markets and commercial units
are now found in mass market and even consumer applications these
days. This has brought the price of systems down significantly. There
are several inexpensive gyros used in radio controlled helicopters.
These are rate gyros, used to sense the rate of turn about a
particular axis (usually vertical, for tail rotor control), and are
designed to connect between an R/C receiver and a servo.

These gyros work by modifying the PWM signal that the rx produces,
before it gets to the servo. The sensing is usually done by a linear
hall effect device, which senses the position of a magnet on the
bottom of the flywheel assembly. The gyros have both sensitivity and
gain controls, and some can be switched on and off remotely. They have
been used for sensing rotation about an axis for a VR headset, with
some success. The big advantage is they are relatively cheap, the big
disadvantage is high drift rate.


_Analog Devices_

One Technology Way
P.O. Box 9106,
Norwood, MA 02062-9106
tel: 617.329.4700
fax: 617.326.8703

Analog Devices ADXL50 accelerometer.

Power Supply........................... +5V (+/- 5%)
Measurement Range...................... +/- 50g
Pre-Amp Zero-g output level............ +1.8V
Pre-Amp output span.................... +1.8V (+/-1.2V) at +/-50g
Uncommitted amp output range........... +0.25V to +4.75V
Overall Accuracy....................... 5% of Full Scale
Linearity.............................. 0.5% of Full Scale
Bandwidth.............................. DC to 1kHz
Voltage Noise (p-p)
at BW = 0.3kHz..................... +/-0.24% of Full Scale
at BW = 1.0kHz..................... +/-0.48% of Full Scale
Transverse Sensitivity................. 2%
Unpowered Shock Survival............... 2000g

Distributed by Newark, Hamilton-Hallmark and Active.

_Andrew Corporation_

10500 W. 153rd Street
Orland Park, IL 60462
tel: 708.349.5957
fax: 708.349.5294
fax: 800.349.5444

Fiber-optic gyro. 77mm diameter by 88mm high. Analog out porportional
to rotation rate. Also digital version available. Rate +/- 100
degrees/sec. Stable over -40C to +85C. Power 8-13.5VDC at 250mA. Bias
drift 0.005 deg/sec (18 deg/hr). 0.63kg $1100.00 for digital version,
$950 for analog.


P.O. Box 799
Valley Forge, PA 19482
tel: 610.666.3500
fax: 610.666.3509

Piezo Film Accelerometer Sensors

AHC-04-08 accelerometer/shock sensor contains three sensing elements
oriented to measure acceleration in two linear axes and one angular
axis. Each sensor has a dedicated channel with adjustable gain, an
adjustable comparator, and selectable output control to provide either
a digital or analog signal. It is a low profile surface mount chip
with 14 pins. It has internal eeprom for programming the adjustable
gains, and output modes.

Lower limit on the frequency response is typically about 7-13 Hz. This
means if it were subjected to a steady 10 G acceleration for example,
the output would rise to 10 G's then decay down to zero even though it
were still at 10 G's. This is good for measuring shocks but not steady
accelerations. About $30 for a single unit.

_BEI - Systron Donner_

2700 Systron Drive,
Concord, CA 94518-1399
tel: 510.682.6161
fax: 510.671.6590

GyroChip - a very small solid state angular rate sensor. Based a
quartz tuning fork device - all support electronics are included. Max
range available: +/-10 deg/sec to +/-1000 deg/sec. Input +/- 5VDC
Output scale +/- 2.5VDC. Systron Donner also makes a variety of linear
accelerometers and inertial measurement products. Solid state six axis
inertial sensor. It provides analog signals for 3 axis acceleration
and 3 axis rate. The package is 7.5cmx7.5cmx8cm, weighs ~600grams and
takes +-15V unreg in (7W). Bias drift is on the order of 0.005 deg/sec
short term (0.1deg/sec long term). Cost is $12,000 for one or $10,000
for 2-9 (a good single axis rate gyro usually costs $6K+). Various
acceleration and rate range combinations are available (up to +- 20g).
Delivery is about 6wks. A new Gyrochip two is available as well. Specs
aren't quite as good but it is cheaper.

_Endevco Corporation_

30700 Rancho Viejo Road
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
tel: 714.493.8181
fax: 714.661.7231

Variable Capacitance and Piezoresistive Accelerometers. Many models,
contact Endevco for literature.

_Gyration Inc._

Saratoga CA
tel: 408.255.3016
fax: 408.255.9075

Sells small vertical and directional gyros for ~$500. These are
standard gimballed gyros, but the drift specs probaly aren't as good
as aircraft-quality gyros. Now also sell innovative computer pointers
and devices termed 'Gyroengines' that provide quadrature outputs from
heading devices. Gyroengines are $3.5K


11601 Roosevelt Blvd
St. Petersburg, FL 33716
tel: 813.579.6604
fax: 813.579.6696

Honeywll manufactures the modular azimuth and postioning system (MAPS)
and utilizes ring-laser gyros. (RLG). The RLG uses two beams of laser
light rotating in opposite directions along a path within a sealed and
enclosed cavity. As the unit changes heading, the distances the beams
travel differ. This difference is can be measured and is directly
related to heading. When combined with linear accelerometers the unit
provides position and orientation. MAPS has an RS-422 interface, is
approx 22x27x38cm and is 20kg. 100W power draw. [Rad hard and rated
for howitzer gunfire!]


9212 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
tel: 619.565.6631
fax: 619.565.6873

Wide variety of gyros, north seekers, vertical indicators, position
transducers, pendulums, magnetometers, dynamic stabilization systems,
and accelerometer devices.


1701 McCarthy Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035-7416
tel: 800.767.1888
tel: 408.432.1800
fax: 408.434.6687

Model 3145. Signal Conditioned Temperature Compensated 0.5 to 4.5 Vdc
Output. 2g, 5g, 10g, 20g, 50g, 100g, 200g ranges. $230 for 1.

Model 3140: Instrumentation grade Signal Conditioned Temperature
Compensated 0.5 to 4.5 Vdc Output. 2g, 5g, 10g, 20g, 50g, 100g, 200g
ranges. $295 for 1.

Model 3031: OEM Accelerometer Piezoresistive low cost Surface mount
package. 2g, 5g, 10g, 20g, 50g, 100g, 200g, 500g ranges. $74 for 1.

Model 3021 and 3026: OEM Accelerometer Piezoresistive low cost. 2g,
5g, 10g, 20g, 50g, 100g, 200g, 500g ranges. Price ranges from $98-141
for 1, depending on g range.

_KVH Industries _

110 Enterprise Center
Middletown, RI 02840
tel: 401.847.3327
fax: 401.849.0045

also in Europe:

KVH Europe A/S
Ved Klaedebo 12
2970 Hoersholm
tel: +45(42)86 82 89
fax: +45(42)86 70 77

Nice small well-designed units that provide heading data. About $1K w/
RS232 adapter.

_Lucas Control Systems Products_

1000 Lucas Way
Hampton, VA 23666
tel: 800.745.8008
fax: 800.745.8004

Schaevitz Sensors, a division of Lucas, makes a variety of
inclinometers and accelerometers. the S05E is a compact, lightweight,
solid state accelerometer. NEMA 4 housing. DC -1KHz freq response,
+/-5vdc output, vibration to 20grms, less than 500mW power.

Other linear servo inclinometers and accelerometers: acceleration
ranges: +/-0.5g to +/-20g, inclinometer ranges +/-1 deg to +/- 90 deg.
Operating temperatures -55C to 95C.

_Lucas NovaSensor_

1055 Mission Court
Fremont, CA 94539
tel: 510.490.9100

Lucas makes a 1"x1"x0.5" accelerometer for about $200. Good noise
immunity but fragile.

_Murata Erie North America_

2200 Lake Park Drive
Smyrna, GA 30080
tel: 800.831.9172
fax: 404.436.3030

Gyrostar piezoelectric vibrating gyroscope. Uses equilateral
triangular prism with PE elements attached to faces of prism. High
precision compared to other vibration gyroscopes. Measures augular
velocity with good linearity. Max augular vel +/- 90 deg/sec, No
hysteresis, 58x25x25mm, 45g, output is DC voltage porportional to
angular rate. 22.2mV/deg/sec scale factor.

Gerhard Weiss has provided some results of experiments with the unit
at []: [35]

_Pewatron AG_

Hertistr. 27
CH-8304 Wallisellen, Switzerland
Tel: +41 1 830 29 44
Fax: +41 1 830 51 57

Two-axis Inclinometer. Weight: 2.3gr, voltage: 5V, current: 20mA,
dimension: 12 x 12 x 7 mm, Output: 2 analog output. Sine and cosine
for 360 degree, voltage swing: +/- 0.4V, Price: about $100. Rumored to
have a US distributor: Dinsmore. _Dinsmore Instrument Company_

1814 Remell Street
Flint MI 45806
tel: 810.744.1330
fax: 810.744.1790


_Precision Navigation_

1235 Pear Avenue
Suite 111
Mountain View, CA 94043
tel: 415.962.8777
fax: 415.962.8776

TCM2 Electronic Compass Sensor Module. Digital compass - incorporates
2-axis tilt sensor. NOT A FLUXGATE COMPASS - Magneto-inductive
magnetometer technology. Electronic gimbaling, full 3-axis
information, low power consumption 5vdc @ 6-12mA. Accuracy +/- 1
degree up to 20 degrees tilt. Approx. 6x5x3 cm. -20to70C operating
temperature. RS232 interface or analog. 0-2.5V linear. 16Hz output
rate. $700.

Precision's Vector-2X electronic compass module is about $50 and
provides 2 deg accuracy, 1 deg resolution, 10Hz smapling, serial
ouput. Another product the Wayfinder is targeted for VR tracking


_Silicon Designs, Inc._

1445-NW Mall Street
Issaquah, WA. 98027-5344
tel: 206.391.8329
fax: 206.391.0446

Capacitive Accelerometers

Model 1010, Digital output:
Produces Digital pulse train in which the density of pulses (number of
pulses a second) is proprtional to applied acceleration. It operates
with a single +5 volt power supply and requires a clock of 100kHz -
1MHz. The output is ratiometric to the clock frequency and independent
of the power supply voltage. Two forms of digital signals are provided
for direct interfacing to a microprocessor or counter. This devices
comes in a PLCC package that is smaller than a penny.

Model 1210, Analog output:
Provides two analog outputs, 1-4 volts, or 4-1 volt, with O g's at 2.5
volts. The outputs can be used either differentially or single ended
referenced to 2.5 volts. Two reference voltages, +5.0 and +2.5 volts
(nominal), are required; the output scale factor is ratiometric to the
+5 volt reference voltage.

_Silicon Microstructures_

46725 Fremont Boulevard
Fremont CA. 94538
tel: 510.490.5010
fax: 510.490.1119

Model 7170 series and 7130 series capacitive accelerometers. These are
relatively large devices with built in ASIC signal processing.They
have very good accuracy specs and are pre-calibrated. They also make
pressure sensors.

_Summitt Instruments _

tel: 216.659.3312

Three-axis accelerometer. A tiny cube just under 2.5cm on a side.
Approx $1K

_Sundance Model Products _

2427 W. Adrian St.
Newbury Park, CA 91320
tel: 805.498.8857

Lists a solid state gyro for model helicopters. The SSG/1 is 38mm x
38mm x 13mm and weighs 43g. Completely solid state with no motor or
moving parts. Claims to draw 10% of the power of a gyro with moving
parts. No drift specs.

_Inclination and Tilt Sensing_ There are Electrolytic tilt sensors or
clinometers that use a a conductive fluid, not mercury, whose
resistance across various electrodes provides an analog signal
proportional to tilt angle. They're not too expensive, although they
do tend to have long settling times (up to a few seconds). A couple of
US sources:

_The Fredericks Company _

tel: 215.947.2500
fax: 215.947.7464


_Applied Geomechanics _

tel: 408.462.2801
fax: 408.462.4418

The smallest, cheapest model is 5x5x2 cm and about $250. It has a
5-terminal electrolytic cell that can measure tilt in two axes to +-20
degrees (optional +-45 degrees). The characteristic "slosh" frequency
is about 10 Hz, and it exhibits sub-second settling times and a
resolution of 0.01 degrees. The output is two analog signals (X and Y,
or Roll and Pitch, if you prefer). It runs off of a 9-volt battery.

[10.1.3] Rangefinding devices

_Principles_ There are four basic techniques for distance measurement
using electro magnetic radiation. These are:
1. Pulse Timing
2. Phase Comparison
3. Doppler Methods
4. Interferometry

All are used in practice for distance measurement depending on the
particular application.

Pulse timing, as the name suggests, involves measuring the round time
for a signal to be transmitted to a reflective surface and return.

This is the principle used in Radar, DME for aircraft, LORAN,
Satellite Altimetry, Airborne RADAR Altimetry, Lunar Laser Ranging
etc. Some of the newer EDM instruments used by surveyor are also using
pulse timing and accuracies of +/- 5mm are possible. Most of the
military range finders also use pulse timing. The GPS system uses
pulse timing for coarse distance measurement. Very Long Base
Interferometry (VLBI) is also a pulse timing technique where signals
>from pulsars are timed from two or more radio telescopes and the
difference in times of arrival are converted to intercontinental
distances with a precision of a few centimetres.

Phase difference involves the use of a carrier wave which may be
modulated at different wavelengths. By measuring the difference in
phase between the transmitted signal and the received signal after it
has been reflected from the other end of the target, the distance can
be determined as an integer number (unknown) of wavelengths plus a
fraction of a wavelength which is known from the phase comparison. By
using a range of modulation frequencies the ambiguity can be resolved.
There are many applications of this technique. A wide range of carrier
frequencies are used ranging from visible through infra red to
microwave and right down to VLF. Typical instruments used by surveyors
have accuracies of +/-(1to2 mm +1to3 parts per million) and use infra
red as the carrier. Precise positioning using GPS can be achieved by
phase comparison of the carrier wave signals of the various
satellites. Accuracies in position of better than 1 part per million
can be achieved.

Doppler techniques were used in the earlier satellite positioning
systems. The received frequency of a low orbit satellite is compared
with the actual transmitted signal as a function of time. The rate of
change of frequency gives the slant range between the satellite and
the observer while the instant when the two freqencies are the same
gives the point of closest approach. By knowing the orbital parameters
of the satellite which are transmitted, the observers position can be

Interferometric methods are the same as those used in the original
Michelson Interferometer. It is used for metrology, high precision
distance measurement over short distances (up to 60 metres) and in the
definition of the metre.

There are a variety of laser rangefinding devices that have been built
and used over the past decade for robotics use. The 3D devices are
still large, power hungry and heavy but give very nice images suitable
for fast map building and navigation work. Expect to pay over $50K for
these time-of-flight devices. Most AM Lidars measure phase shift
between outgoing and reflected beams. A mirror system rasters the beam
forming a video-camera-like image. Some devices supply the reflectance
image as well as range which is nice for corresponding the two.
Comprehensive references include:

* Electronic Distance Measurement by JM Rueger, Springer-Verlag
* P. Besl, ``Active, Optical Range Imaging Sensors'', Machine Vision
and Applications, v. 1, p. 127-152, 1988.
A longer version of Besl's paper appears in ``Advances in Machine
Vision: Architectures and Applications'', J. Sanz (ed.),
Springer-Verlag, 1988.
* Other good surveys are Ray Jarvis' article in IEEE TPAMI v5n2 and
Nitzan's article in IEEE PAMI v10n2.

A good report on the characterization of a particular scanner is:
* Experimental Characterization of the Perceptron Laser Rangefinder,
In So Kweon, Regis Hoffman, and Eric Krotkov. Carnegie Mellon
University Technical Report, CMU-RI-TR-91-1. 1991.
* M. Hebert and E. Krotkov. 3-D Measurements from Imaging Laser
Radars: How Good Are They? Int. Journal of Image and Vision
Computing, 10(3):170-178, April 1992
* International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol. 13, No. 4, Aug.
1994, pp 305-314. {get title}

A number of laboratory works have also demonstrated FM or chirp
systems which can be highly accurate (e.g. high resolution elevation
maps of coins) but these are very specialized and I don`t know of
commercial devices currently.

_Acuity Research_

20863 Stevens Creek Blvd. #200
Cupertino, Ca. 95014
tel: 408-252-9639
fax: 408-725-1580
net: or Bob Clark,

The AccuRange 400 is an optical distance measurement sensor with a
range of 0 to 16m for most diffuse reflective surfaces. It operates by
emitting a collimated laser beam that is reflected from the target
surface and collected by the sensor. 0.5mm short-term repeatability,
RS-232 output and optional 4-20mA current loop. Also PW and analog
indication of range available. Visible or IR output available. (670nm
and 780nm respectively) Around $2500. 5VDC@300mA. 50KHz sampling rate.

_Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL)_

contact: Narinder Bains (
net: 905.823.9040 x6120

Laser Eye ranging system. It consists of a robotic head with a
combined vision / range sensor. The sensor provides colour images and
distance to an object in the centre of the camera field of view. There
is of course software to process images from the camera and detect a
target, to control the head, communication, nice GUIs, etc. Is being
used for vehicle navigation.

From the head position you get the bearing to the target and the
rangefinder provides you with the distance. Angular resolution is
better than 0.05 degree, the distance can be measured up to 100m with
accuracy of ~5 cm. Note that the range measurement is 1D along the
camera axis.

The cost of the vision system and complexity of the software depends
on your specific application: how difficult is it to detect and track
your vehicle, how fast is it moving, is it possible to use special
markers, is illumination constant, etc.

_BCT GmbH _

Martin-Schmeisser-Weg 9
D-44227 Dortmund

BCT in Germany makes laser-3D-scanners with a CAD-interface

_ERIM (Environmental Research Institute of Michigan) _

ERIM has built a number of custom AM laser rangefinders including
those used in the ALV (Autonomous Land Vehicle) program. CMU and
Martin Marietta have both used this systems in extensive work. Basic
system was a 128x64 2fps 20m (ambiguity interval) system.

_Erwin Sick GmbH. _

Erwin Sick
Optic-Electronic Ltd.
Waldrich House
39 Hedley Road
St. Albans
Herfordshire AL1 5BN
tel: 0727/831121
fax: 0727/856767

in US:

Sick Optic-Electronic, Inc.
7694 Golden Triangle Drive
P.O.-Box 444-240
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
tel: 612.941.6780
fax: 612.941.9287

PLS-100: This device measures distance by TOF from 4 cm up to 80 m,
guaranteed range of 4 m (at a black lether target), is eye-safe (IEC
Class 1), takes a 180 degree scan in 20 ms, total 25 scans a second,
angle resolution 0.5 degree (361 scan points in a scan). This device
is build in a industrial IP65 case. And it is rather cheap (6.900,- DM
+ VAT, in Germany).

_ESP Technologies _

21 LeParc Drive
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
tel: 609.275.0356
fax: 609.275.0356

$15K LED based IR ranging system. 15cm diameter rotating scanning
device with collimated LED light beam that uses phase differences to
calculate distance. Range 0.6 to 6m. 2.5cm resolution, 15cm accuracy.
1Khz update rate

_Hammamatsu Corp. _

New Jersey
tel: 908.231.0960
fax: 908.231.1539

Hamamatsu S4282 Light Modulation Photo IC The size of a normal
transistor (approx 1/4" square). It has 4 leads, Vcc, Gnd, Vout, LED.
All you do is attach an IR LED to the LED lead to give you an instant
IR proximity detector (the photo diode detector is built into the
part). Two can be aimed at each other and they won't interfere since
they'll be out of phase. They have another model with a lens over the
photo diode that is claimed could be used up to 30 feet! Hammamatsu
also sells a number of photo sensors like color sensors, position
sensitive detectors, pyroelectric sensors.

* S4282-11 short range $7.75 single unit
* S4282-72 long range $19.00 single unit



5-38 Auriga Drive
Ottawa, ON, Canada K2E 8A5
tel: 613.727.1584
fax: 613.727.0441
net: [36]

Hyscan laser digitizing systems. High speed 3D surface mapping. Hyscan
probe retrofits to any CMM, CNC, or any other translation device.
10,000 points/sec.

Model 25 Model 50
Accuracy +/-0.025mm +/-0.050mm
Resolution (Z) 0.003mm 0.003mm
Depth of field 40mm 80mm
Scan width 70mm 80mm
Stand-off 100mm 100mm
Size 260x110x65mm
Weight 2.2kg


_IBEO Lasertechnik _

Ingenieurburo fur
Elektronik + Optik
Fahrenkron 125
D 2000 Hamburg 71
tel: 040 645 87 - 01
fax: 040 645 87 - 101

2D and 3D laser scanners. 8frame/sec, 220 degree view, 4600
points/sec. Accuracy +/- 20mm (1 sigma) from 0.5 - 500? 24W power.
System specs can be configured for variety of applications

_LaserMax _

Rochester, NY
tel: 716.272.5420

Manufactures semiconductor laser diode packages and cylindrical
lenses. Packages and small and rugged.

_Odetics _

1515 South Manchester Ave
Anaheim, CA 92802-2907
tel: 714.758.0300

Odetics has made a number of smaller laser scanners. That is, smaller
than their larger ERIM and Perceptron brethren. I have not heard any
independent reviews of the product however.

_Origin Instruments _

854 Greenview Drive
Grand Praire, TX 750750-2438
tel: 214.606.8740
fax: 214.606.8741

The Dynasight sensor is a 3-D optical radar that provides real-time
3-D measurements of passive targets with sub-millimeter resolution.
Automatic search and track is provided, eye-safe operation and no
adjustments or alignment required. Original application was head
tracking of computer users but end- effector tracking is also viable.
Operatin range depends on target size 0.1-1.5m for 7mm target, 0.3-4m
for 25mm target and 1 to 6m for 75mm targets. RS-232 interface.
Accuracies 1mm cross range and 4mm down range, resolutions 0.1mm cross
range and 0.4mm down range.

A number of labs have built light stripe devices using projected light
LCD shutters and laser line projectors determine distance through
geometry (as opposed to directly measuring distance through
time-of-flight means) One common need is that of generating the laser

_Perceptron _

23855 Research Drive
Farmington Hills, MI 48335-2643
tel: 313.478.7710
tel: 800.333.7753
fax: 313.478.7059

A spin-off of ERIM, Perceptron has also built a number of AM laser
rangefinders. CMU and Caterpillar have used these for map building and
obstacle avoidance work in rough terrain navigation.

LASAR product - provides range and reflectance. Programmable field of
view (15 to 60 deg) Vertical viewing angle from 3 to 72 degrees. Depth
of field from 2 to 40 meters. Up to 1024 x 2048 pixels per image
(programmable) and 360,000 pixels/second data acquisition. VME and
PC-compatible interface cards available. Windows software provides
starting point for custom applications. Less than $50K with a variety
of performance and interface options.

_Riegl Laser Measurement Systems _

Riegl USA
8516 Old Winter Garden Road
Suite 101
Orlando, FL 32835
tel: 407.294.2799
fax: 407.294.3215

[company HQ is Dr. Johannes Riegl GmbH, 85 km, NW of Vienna, Austria]

Laser range finders, laser speed sensors, laser distance meters, motor
scanners, laser radar systems. Pulsed laser devices. One of the
neatest is the Laser Scout, which gives range, azimuth and inclination
to the target and can be used with GPS to give position coordinates of
the device you are pointing at. $10K. Accuracy up to +/- 10cm
(depending on model)

Laser Radar Scanner (LRS 90-3) is a 1D scanner with 36 deg field of
view and a +/- 3cm accuracy. 2-80m distance, $10K. There are several
other distance models as well.

_Schwarz Electro-Optics _

3404 N. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32804
tel: 407.298.1802
fax: 407.297.1794

Schwarz makes some very nice point range laser ranging devices. These
devices are slightly bigger than a soda can. About $6-12K. CMU
experience for use in simulated unmanned air vehicle platform worked
well. Their MARS (marine angle range system) is a rotating laser
device that reflects off targets in the environment. Max range up to
1000meters using corner prisms. Accuracy +/- 1m. Erebus (Dante)
Scanner used Schwarz device as base.

_Zoller+Frohlich Elecktrotechnik_

Postfach 1565
88231 Wangen im Allgau
Simoniusstrabe 22
88239 Wangen im Allgau
tel: (07522) 3064-67
fax: (07522) 200 36

Z+F are a spinoff from the Technical Univeristy of Munich and have
developed some nice 2 and 3D scanning devices but primarily devlop the
laser electronics. Initially for tunnelling inspection and
verification. Two-frequency phase shift device (10/80MHz) with 15m
depth of field. Resolution to .45mm, accuracy to 5mm, and 500KHz
smapling rate. scanner mechanism provides 360 degree profiles and 2500
pixels/profile and 200 profiles/second. 4.5mW laser (Class 1 >3m). 3D
camera provides 58 deg horz (321 pixels) and 52 deg vert (232 lines)
15-bit range value, 12bit gray level value from reflection signal.
12kg 3D unit.

[10.1.4] Force/torque, accelerometers, tactile

Force measurement provides indications of magnitude and direction of
forces for use in manipulation or locomotion. A variety of control
schemes have been implemented in force controlled systems to allow
smooth and accurate control in situations that would otherwise be
precluded without such devices. A number of load cells and
acceleration measuring devices are described here:

Rich Voyles embarked on a force/torque sensor comparison many months
ago and compiled some of the results in a paper that is available via
the web or anonymous ftp.

tml [38] The
paper is woefully incomplete. The JR3 sensor we borrowed was broken so
we borrowed another and got limited data. The old Lord data collection
is incomplete and the Assurance Technologies data is not fully
included in the report. There is some data from California
Cybernetics. If there is sufficient interest, we can finish the
compilation. By the way, we only seek to provide the data we gathered
an make no claims as to its accuracy or completeness. Use at your own
risk. The opinions expressed do not represent those of Carnegie Mellon
University nor any of its sponsors. Send e-mail to
with the subject "More Force Data" if you read the report and would
like to see it expanded. Any other comments can be put in the body.
-Richard Voyles

_Analog Devices_

tel: 617.937.1426

Analog Devices have the ADXL50 accelerometer which comes in a 10-pin
TO-5 can. It is primarily used with air-bags and has a 1994 projected
price of $5 in quantities. In the Electronic Design August 8, 1991
issue it quoted the current price as $21.75 for 1000 off quantities.
Analog Devices ADXL50 accelerometer.

Power Supply........................... +5V (+/- 5%)
Measurement Range...................... +/- 50g
Pre-Amp Zero-g output level............ +1.8V
Pre-Amp output span.................... +1.8V (+/-1.2V) at +/-50g
Uncommitted amp output range........... +0.25V to +4.75V
Overall Accuracy....................... 5% of Full Scale
Linearity.............................. 0.5% of Full Scale
Bandwidth.............................. DC to 1kHz
Voltage Noise (p-p)
at BW = 0.3kHz..................... +/-0.24% of Full Scale
at BW = 1.0kHz..................... +/-0.48% of Full Scale
Transverse Sensitivity................. 2%
Unpowered Shock Survival............... 2000g


_Assurance Technologies (ATI) _

(formerly Lord Industrial Automation)
503D Highway 70 East
Garner, North Carolina 27529
tel: 919.772.0115
fax: 919.772.8259

Largest supplier of multi-axis force sensors. Use silicon rather than
foil strain gages for lower strain levels and increased life. F/T
sensor ratings from +/- 15lbs to +/- 150lbs (+/- 15 in-lbs to +/- 600
in-lbs) weights are 0.4 and 2.2 lbs for the 4 available sensors.
Serial or parallel digital interface or analog interface. ATI also
makes robotic tool-changers and an RCC device for assembly operations.
An ATI sensor is also incorporated in the Hughes SMARTee end-effector.

_Bonneville Scientific _

1849 W. No. Temple, Bldg E.
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
tel: 801.359.0402
fax: 801.359.0416

Array sensor system that uses PVDF ultrasonic emmitter/detector
attached to an elastomer material. Time-of-flight of the pulse as it
bounces off of other side of the material is porportional to distance
through the elastomer. The distance is porportional the pressure on
the pad. Bonneville claims it can be made thin enough for a skin and
they have pictures of it being used on a robot finger picking up a
washer which can be recognized on their output graphics. Example

Model 300 - 16x16 tactile sensor system - $5K

TOF resolution - 12.5 ns

Sheet thickness resolution - 6 microns

Pressure resolution - 0.5 psi (3.4 kPa)

Force resolution - 1g

Rubber linearity - 5-15% deviation

Overload - > 1000PSI (7000kPa)

Spatial resolution - 1.8mm

Scan rate on 16x16 pad - 240 Hz

An evaluation kit is available SE-1 Evaluation Kit - $99.00 includes
SE-1 sensor and electronics. SE-1 Sensor is $42 in single quantity.

_California Cybernetics _

10322 Sherman Grove
Sunland, CA 91040
tel: 818.353.5991
fax: 818.951.3889

Six DOF F-T devices. Up to 1000Hz sampling rate, reportedly easy to

_Cybernet _

1919 Green Road
Suite B-101
Ann Arbor, MI 48105
tel: 313.668.2567
fax: 313.668.8780

PER-force - A 6dof compact force-reflecting controller. Can be used
for teleoperationor interactive graphics applications.

_Ercon _
Need addresses
Somewhere in MA

Conductive rubber and conductive inks. You build a semi-rigid circuit
board with inter-digitated fingers to apply to one side of the rubber.
The rubber has a rough surface that under increasing load allows more
rubber to contact. They can make rubber with all sorts of conductive

_Force Imaging _

3424 Touhy Avenue
Chicago, IL 60645-2717
tel: 708.674.7665
tel: 800.348.3240
fax: 708.674.6355

Uniforce Force Sensors. They function similiar to a variable resistor
in an electrical circuit. As a force is exerted on the sensor, the two
layers of pressure sensitive material compress together and cause a
change in resistance which corresponds to a change in pressure. As
force increases, resistance decreases. A Uniforce experimenters kit is
available for $550 and includes PC-AT card, cables, software, manual
and nine Uniforce sensors in three force ranges. They have ISA boards,
PCMCIA version and a PPIO version as well. Sensors available in ranges
from 0-500g to 0-400kg. Uniforce sensors can be provided in a wide
variety of shapes, sizes and force ranges. Software is also available
to display force values in real-time.

_Hughes STX _

4400 Forbes Blvd
Lanham, MD 20706
tel: 301.794.5016
fax: 301.306.0963

A 6-dof end-effector with automatic load sensing and compensation.
Control modes include position control (cartesian with user spec-ed
poses and frames), impedence and force control modes. Programmable
behaviors (sliding, hinge, move-to-touch, guarded move, follow etc),
open architecture (VxWorks, VME, user-linakable libraries) and a lot
more. Interfaces available included RS-232, ethernet, RS-422 and SCSI.
Pretty amazing end-effector!

_Interlink Electronics _

1110 Mark Ave.
Carpinteria, CA 93013
tel: 805.484.8855
805.484.1331 (product support)
fax: 805.484.8989

Force Sensing resistors made from polymer thick films. Very thin.
Response is approx. 1/R to force. Article in March 1993 issue of
Electronics Now/Radio Electronics.

_JR3 _

22 Harter Avenue
Woodland, CA 95695
tel: 916.661.3677

6-DOF force-torque sensors. Strain gage technology. Newer packages
have all electronics built into the sensor. Make some high-force
devices as well. CMU's Ambler used JR3's on all the feet with good
success. Complete force torque data at 8Khz, signal digitization
within sensor body, low noise susceptibility, synch serial at 2MHz,
inexpensive cabling.

_Merritt Systems, Inc._

P.O. Box 2103
Merritt Island, FL 32954-2103
Contact: Dr. Dan Wegerif
tel: 407.452.7828
fax: 407.452.3698

Sensor Skin for Robots. The Skin is designed to assist robots working
in constrained, hazardous, dynamic, or high cost environments. The
system uses a whole-arm proximity sensing systems for articulated
robots that provides complete voverage of the entire manipulator to
ensure that every obstacle in the robots path can be detected and
avoided. The proximity sensing technology is based on IR arrays which
they call "SensorCells". It allows the use of IR, acoustic and
capacitive (under-development) sensors in the same sensor skin. The
two main components of the Skin are smart sensor modules and the
flexible printed circuit board skin. Module sockets are placed at
regular intervals on the flexible skin and simply plugged in by the
user where required. Redundant cables carrying data and power are
connected to each panel. But a minimum of four cables can be used for
up to 1024 sensors.

_Silicon Designs, Inc. _

1445-NW Mall Street
Issaquah, WA. 98027-5344
tel: 206.391.8329
fax: 206.391.0446

Silicon Designs makes capacitive accelerometers.

Model 1010, Digital output:
Produces Digital pulse train in which the density of pulses
(number of pulses a second) is proprtional to applied
acceleration. It operates with a single +5 volt power supply
and requires a clock of 100kHz - 1MHz. The output is
ratiometric to the clock frequency and independent of the power
supply voltage. Two forms of digital signals are provided for
direct interfacing to a microprocessor or counter. This devices
comes in a PLCC package that is smaller than a penny.

Model 1210, Analog output:
Provides two analog outputs, 1-4 volts, or 4-1 volt, with O g's
at 2.5 volts. The outputs can be used either differentially or
single ended referenced to 2.5 volts. Two reference
voltages--+5.0 and +2.5 volts (nominal)-- are required; the
output scale factor is ratiometric to the +5 volt reference

Prices start at about $100 and they offer a digital accelerometer
evaluation board for $200.

_Silicon Microstructures, Inc. _

46725 Fremont Boulevard
Fremont CA. 94538
tel: 510.490.5010
fax: 510.490.1119

Model 7170 series and 7130 series capacitive accelerometers. These are
relatively large devices with built in ASIC signal processing. They
have very good accuracy specs and are pre-calibrated. They also make
pressure sensors.

_Spectra Symbol_

3101 West 2100 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84119

Bend sensor for glove device. Their business is custom membrane
controls: switches, membrane potentiometers, and the bend sensors.

[10.1.5] Sonar sensors

The time it takes for an acoustic pulse to propagate through air or
water, reflect from the environment and return to a detector is
porportional to the distance.

Acoustic time-of-flight devices have been around for awhile now. The
ubiquitous Polaroid device is cheap and easily integrated and has has
found wide use in robotic devices. Other companies have developed nice
complete turnkey sonar devices though and Polaroid is no longer the
only choice.


_Polaroid Corporation _

119 Windsor St,
Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 617.386.3961
fax: 617.386.3966
tel: 800.225.1000 ordering
tel: 800.225.1618 technical assistance

Polaroid Ultrasonic Components Group offers two ultrasonic ranging


Distance range: 0.26 to 10.7 meters

Resolution: Nominal +- 3mm to 3m, +-1% over entire range

Sonar acceptance angle: approx. 20 degrees

Power Requirement: 6VDC, 2.5 Amps (1 ms pulse), 150mA quiescent

Weight: Transducer, 8.2gm, Ranging module, 18.4 gm

Designer's Kit:
1 transducer, 1 ranging module, electronics display accurate to
1/10th meter. Cost is $169

OEM kit:
2 transducers, 2 ranging modules. $99.

Piezotransducer kit
2.5cm-1500cm +/- 1%, RS-232 port and analog output, extra real
estate, $299

Polaroid has several new products as well: K-series piezo transducers
and 9000 Series Environmental Transducer.

Modifying the drive circuitry:

This section describes a simple addition to the drive circuitry, the
Polaroid ranging system can detect objects as close as 10cm.

The board has two extra signals: BLNK and BINH. Asserting BLNK
(driving it HIGH) resets the ECHO RS-latch, and asserting BINH
shortens the internal blanking interval (which is 2.38 ms by default).
Thus, the solution would seem to lie in asserting BINH after a
reasonable amount of time (less than 2.38 ms after asserting INIT) to
detect objects closer than 1.3 feet. This doesn't work very well
because BINH is very susceptable to noise, and attaching a driver to
it wreaks havoc possibly because of the anomalous current sink during
the transmit phase. This can be fixed by asserting BLNK during the
blanking period (ie the new blanking period) while negating BINH and
asserting BIHN after the blanking period while negating BLNK. This can
be done easily with a one-shot or some other timing device (eg
computer timer, etc).

A computer timer can be used. The timer goes HIGH tblank ms after INIT
is asserted, where tblank=0.15*dist and dist is the threshold distance
in inches). The timer output goes to BINH and the inverted timer
output goes to BLNK. The timer output should be inverted with an
LS/TTL inverter to delay the negation of BLNK, otherwise the RS latch
may do weird things. [From Richard LeGrand]




Nice complete sensor package, 5 degree cone angle

_Massa _


_Texas Instruments _

At one point TI made a Type SN28827 Sonar Ranging Module. See TI
Applications Notes D2780. Under $50, needs only 5VDC Not sure if these
units are still manufactured but they are often in surplus catalogs.
However some other products include these: See data sheets at:
[39] Data sheets
available in several formats. 1. TL851, SONAR RANGING CONTROL 2.

[10.1.6] Pan/tilt mechanisms

A common robotic need. Most pan-tilts sold today by companies such as
Pelco and Vicon are for CCTV applications for continuous scanning or
remote operation. At most these will have potentiometers for feedback.
A number of undersea companies make pan-tilt devices as well that are
rugged and nicely packaged, but these tend to be heavier and more
expensive than their terrestrial counterparts.

_Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) _

contact: Narinder Bains (
net: 905.823.9040 x6120

P02 pan/tilt head. High speed with digital servos (120 deg/sec),
encoders and continuous rotation. Controller as well.

_Brooks Support Systems _

Williamson, NY
tel: 800-836-0285 contact: Frank Dickey

BSS makes a small pan/tilt unit:

4.5" high by 3.5" wide x 3.5" long

40 oz.

12V dc

operating current 150 mA

pan 359 degrees

tilts 160 degrees

Price: $3100


_CameraMan _

CameraMan is a pan/tilt device built to support any camcorder and has
a wireless interface to an external remote control. 360 deg pan and 50
deg of tilt. The unit is made by ParkerVision and sold through
Columbia AudioVideo (and probably other suppliers)

_CCTV Corporation _

315 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
tel: 800.221.2240
fax: 212.463.9758

Standard CCTV pan-tilt devices like those from Vicon and others.
Inexpensive but no computer control. $557 - $1400

_Directed Perception _

1451 Capuchino Avenue,
Burlingame, CA 94010
tel: 415.342.9399

Small computer controlled pan-tilt unit Model PTU-46-17.5 Weighs 1kg
and can support ~1.5kg camera payload. Very nice specs: 330 deg/sec
slew, 3.06 arcmin accuracy, on-the-fly position and speed changes.
11-40VDC unregulated power input, RS-232 interface. Can use RS-485
using RJ-11 to provide control of multiple PT units. Cost: $1935
Includes PT unit, controller, cable and power supply. $1800 w/o power

_Efston Science Inc_

3350 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M6A 3A4
tel: 416.787.4581
fax: 416.787.5140

Efston is the Canadian Distributor for Edmund Scientific

Motorized Pan/Tilt platform with remote control:
(mounts upon a camera tripod)
- auto pan mode
- variable speed
- 2.75"W x 2.25"L platform with .25-20 mount screw
- independent +- 15 degree max vertical pan
- independent +- 90 degree max horizontal pan
- autopan switch selectable +- 30, +- 60, +-90 degree scans
- remote control has 20 foot cord
- cat # B38,485 US$215.00
- ac adapter B38,486 US$33.95

[1995 Catalog, page 111]

_Emco Intertest Inc _

27-1 Ironia Road
Flanders, NJ 07836
tel: 201.927.2900
fax: 201.927.8004

MicroPan PTX-400 very small P/T designed for remote viewing with
micro-CCD cameras. Weight 115g. Height under 7cm.

_Fujinon _

10 High Point Drive
Wayne, NJ 07470
tel: 201.633.5600
fax: 201.633.5216

Fujinon CPT-10. 300 deg pan, =/- 95deg tilt. 15 deg/sec speed. 2kg.
Payload 4kg. Analog input control.

_Omniview _

tel: 615.690.5600

Instead of a conventional camera, you use one with a very wide
fish-eye lens. The (very distorted) image is then sent thru a box that
digitizes and processes the data in order to simulate a regular
camera. You can (completely in software) pan, tilt, rotate, and zoom
the image with great flexibility. $10K.

_Photosea _

6377 Nancy Ridge Drive
San Diego, CA 92121
tel: 619.452.8903

Underwater pan-tilts including Cobra, very small design.

_Remote Ocean Systems _

5111-L Santa Fe Street
San Diego, CA 92109
tel: 619.483.3902
fax: 619.483.2407

Underwater P/T systems, expensive but very nicely packaged. PT-5 is a
new subminature P/T device that can accomodate a small CCD color
camera and mini wet&dry lights. The P/T is 13.5cm high and 10cm wide.
Uses small brushless motors with harmonic drives. Radiation tolerant
and corrosion resistant. 360 scan on both axes.

_RSI Research Ltd. _

Pacific Marine Technology Center
#3-203 Harbour Road
Victoria, BC. CANADA V9A 3S2
tel: 604.360.1025
fax: 604.360.1161

Underwater Pan/tilt devices.

_Hammacher Schlemmer_

Operations Center
9180 Le Saint Drive
Fairfield, OH 45014-575
tel: 800.543.3366

H-S is an upscale mail-order outfit that's been around since 1848 and
has stores in New York City, Beverly Hills and Chicago. They currently
show a wireless pan-tilt unit in their catalog. IR remote control, +/-
20 deg tilt and +/-90deg pan. Can be set to do continuous 90 deg
panning and can even control power zoom on many camcorder models.
Powered by 6V batteries built into Sony, Panasonic and Sanyo-Fisher or
JVC camcorders. 8.75cmH x 11cmW x 14.5cmL AND .45kg. Item 63201B in
H-S $149.95. The Picture shows the label SUNPAK and AP 200W (model
number?) - [If anyone has further information on the manufacturer or
other sales outlets let me know - nivek]

_Telemetrics _

Hawthorne, NJ
tel: 201.423.0347

Computer controlled P/T devices - fairly large though.

_TeleRobotics International, Inc. _

7325 Oak Ridge Hwy Suite 104
Knoxville, TN 37931
tel: 615.690.5600
fax: 615.690.2913

An all-electronic pan/tilt/zoom resampler. That is, they put a box
behind a camera with a fish-eye lens. The box has digital inputs for
pan, tilt, zoom, rotation. The box resamples the video signal and
produces an output as though the image were acquired by a camera with
those parameters. Used as an alternative to pan/tilt devices.

_Zebra Kinesis _

tel: 415.328.8884
contact:Jeff Kerr

Small Pan/tilt head.

[10.1.7] Measuring 3 or 6DOF position

How do I measure the postion of my manipulator or my mobile robot?

In many applications there is a need to accurately measure the
position of an end-effector (hand or gripper) or find coordinate
locations on objects, or track motion, or give a time and position
history of a moving object. Virtual reality applications need this
kind of device to provide realtime adjustments to views that are
projected to VR users. See [40]sci.virtual-worlds for discussions on
this topic. Robotics people have needed this to provide accurate
assessments of manipulator motions and mobile robot positions.

An excellent paper on the subject of sensing and methods of using that
information is: "Where Am I? Sensors and Methods for Autonomous Mobile
Robot Localization." Technical Report, The University of Michigan
UM-MEAM-94-21, December 1994." It is a comprehensive survey on Mobile
Robot Positioning. This survey is over 200 pages long, has 130
illustrations and nearly 300 references, and took well over one
man-year to complete. The survey is entitled "Where Am I? Sensors and
Methods for Autonomous Mobile Robot Localization" A description and
table of contents can be found [41]here. To download the report go
[42]here and read [43]this file first. Alternatively, you can look at
a detailed Table of Contents from within Johann Borenstein's WWW
Homepage at: [44]Johann's Home Page Before you download the actual
survey, you should read the "readme.txt" file for compatibility tips,
and you should read the "um_index.wp5" file to see if you want to
download all or only selected chapters of the report. The Global
Positioning System (GPS) is an excellent positioning system that is
useful in outdoor settings, although recent developments in
Psuedolites (Pseudo Satellities) may bring GPS technology indoors and
to urban envrionments. While accuracy is intentionally degraded by the
US Military recent advances in differential systems and innovative
tracking techniques can give 20cm real-time accuracy. Even newer
techniques such as carrier-phase are bringing this figure into the mm
range for real-time. See [45]news:sci.geo.satellite-nav for full
discussions of this technology.

_Papers:_ Useful papers to solve for transforms from positioning
devices for multiple reference frames:
* Roger Tsai and Rainer Lenz, IEEE Trans. on Robotics and
Automation, Jun 1989.
* C. C. Wang, IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, April
1992. Useful papers for evaluating 3 ad 6 DOF human input devices:
* Shumin Zhai, Investigation of Feel for 6 DOF Inputs: Isometric and
Elastic Rate Control for Manipulation in 3D Environments, Proc.
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 37th Annual Meeting,Seattle,
WA, October 1993.
* Shumin Zhai and Paul Milgram, Human Performance Evalulation of
Manipulation Schemes in Virtual Environments", Proc. Virtual
Reality Annual International Symposium, IEEE, Seattle, WA,
September 1993.
* Shumin Zhai and Paul Milgram, Human Performance Evalulation of
Isometric and Elastic Rate Controllers in a 6 DOF Tracking Task,
Proc. SPIE vol. 2057, Telemanipulator Technology", Boston, MA,
September 1993.


_Commercial Devices:_

_Blevins Enterprises _

tel: 208-885-3805
contact: Nick Sewell

Blevins writes their own utilities and sell 3D digitizers starting @
around $2,400 on up to around $75,000. Software is compatible with
Lightwave and 3D Studio modelling programs and will be ported to SGI
and PC's soon. Provide software to talk with Polhemus, a sonic
digitizer and a jointed-arm unit from Immersion.

_Cyberware _

8 Harris Court 3D
Monterey, CA 93940
tel: 408.373.1441
fax: 408.373.3582
Italian distributor:

Has 3D scanner. Cyberware has software for editing 3D models, and
stitching multiple scans into a single coherent whole. Software is
$5-10K each. Cyberware 3030RGB/HIREZ scanner with MM motion platform,
complete with all software, training and one-year support costs [US]

_Intelligent Solutions Inc. _

One Endicott Avenue
Marblehead, MA 01945
tel: 617.639.8144
fax: 617.639.8144
contact: Jim Maddox

Intelligent Solutions Inc. was formed in Nov. of 1993 by four of the
former engineers of Denning Mobile Robotics. They are focusing on
building smart sensors and their first product is the EZNav Position
Sensor. EZNav is a precision optical position sensor that can be used
on moving platforms such as automated guided vehicles, robots, or
material handling equipment. EZNav uses an eye safe scanning laser
with a 360 degree field of view to measure the azimuth angle to wall
mounted reference reflectors. This angle data can be used to
triangulate the position and heading relative to the known target
locations. EZNav is unique in its ability to use passive reflectors as
well as coded electronic targets. Current work includes adding the
triangulation calculations to the EZNav sensor and a new Ultrasonic
based position sensor.


Target Range 30m passive up to 180m active

Abs. Accuracy +/- 0.03 degrees RMS

Scan Rate 12 per second

Data Rate 9.6k baud RS 232

Power 24 volts at 300 ma

Size 30cm Dia x 35cm High

Weight 4.5kg

An EZNav sensor with 10 passive targets costs $6,600. There is a ten
percent discount for educational uses.

_Kinetic Sciences_

3250 East Mall
Vancouver, BC, CANADA V6T 1W5
tel: 604.822.2144
fax: 604.822.6188
net: [46]

Eagle Eye (TM) is a Power Macintosh application that accurately tracks
specially designed passive optical targets. It can track multiple
targets simultaneously in visually cluttered environments using a
single video camera. For each target that it can see, it is able to
determine seven parameters:
* the target's identity (via the information encoded on the marker);
* the target's position (X, Y, and Z with respect to the camera);
* the target's orientation (roll, pitch, and yaw with respect to the

The approach we have taken is particularly well suited to docking and
inspection applications. For further information, check out the Eagle
Eye web page at:

_NES North Electronic Systems S.p.A._

via Nazionale, 62
1-17043 CARCARE (SV), Italy
tel: +39-19-510420
fax: +39-19-512198

Distributed Local Positioning System (DLPS) is a positioning system
for indoor applications in a multi-robot environment using active
beacons with modulated light beams (coherent red, non-coherent IR).
The localization system also allows communication by optical wireless
links between hosts and robots. The system utilizes and on-board
rotating unit and a set of active beacons distributed in the operating
area. The active beacons are optical transponders and, optionally,
transceivers connected to a IEEE 485 serial LAN.

Systems can operate up to 16m distance and with a localization
accuracy under 20mm in static and 70mm in dynamic localization. DLPA
was developed in cooperation with Laboratorium, DIST - University of
Genoa. email:, and URL

_Polhemus Inc._

Burlington, VT
tel: 802.655.3139
fax: 802.655.1439

3Space, Isotrak, FasTrak: Electromagnetic devices for sensing xyz and
rotations remotely. Limited to 1m or so radius. Sensitive to metallic
objects in vicinity. Approx $3k

_Ascension Technology Corporation _

PO Box 527
Burlington VT 05402 USA
tel: 802.860.6440
fax: 802.860.6439

Sales: Jack Scully Technical Support: Steven Work Product is called
Flock of Birds. A 6d0f measuring device. Ftp site is

Contains general literature on 6D motion tracking system.
Accuracy Specifications, comments from prominent users, list of
3rd party software vendors, FAQ on tracking system, etc. Ascii

Technical Description of Flock of Birds (TM) 6D tracking
system. In Binary WordPerfect 6.0 format.
Latest version of our User Software, including source code.
Enjoy. pkzipped binary file.

Latest version of our User Manual. In Binary WordPerfect 6.0

more info on files located in Ascension's FTP directory. Ascii

Sensitivity to metal is claimed to be on the order 5 to 10 times less
than Polhemus tracker. Range and specifications are much better as

The Ascension Flock of Birds tracker is DC pulsed, where the Polhemus
is AC magnetic field. The AC field set up standing waves in metal
(conduction and ferrous) which magnify the distortion effect.

Charts provided by Acension:

Parameter Ascension Polhemus Polhemus
Flock of Birds Isotrak II Fastrak
Measurement Rate
1 Receiver 144 60 120
2 Receivers 144 30 60
@ Max Number of Rcvrs 144 30 30
Maximum Number of Receivers 30 2 32
Number of Transmitters to 1 1 4
Support Max Number of Receivers
Maximum Data Output Rate 312K 115K 115K
(Baud or Bytes)
Lag Increase with Multiple No Yes Yes
Range - Standard Transmitter 3' 5'* 10'*
- Extended Transmitter 8' N/A N/A
Accuracy Degradation Due to:
Conductive Metals Low High High
Stainless Steel None High High
(300 series)
CRT Interference Rejection Yes No Yes
LCD Noise Susceptability No Yes Yes
Unit Cost (1 Receiver) $2,695 $2,875 $5,750

* Note 1: Polhemus specifies range at maximum transmitter-sensor
separation distances. At these ranges, outputs will contain
significant amounts of noise, which may render their measurements
worthless. We will provide you with a number of references who have
independently assessed actual range performance of both Ascension and
Polhemus trackers.

** Note 2: For a complete discussion of latency in competitive motion
trackers, contact Ascension.

Translation range: plus or minus 3'(8' optional) in any direction
Angular range: plus of minuw 180 degrees Azimuth & Roll
plus or minus 90 degrees Elevation
Translation accuracy: 0.1" RMS
Translation resolution: 0.03"
Angular accuracy 0.5 degrees RMS
Angular resolution 0.1 degrees RMS @ 12"
Update rate: Up to 144 measurements/second
Outputs: X,Y,Z positional coordinates and orientation
angles or rotation matrix
Interface: RS-232C with selectable baud rates to 115,200; or
RS-422/485 with selectable baud rates to 310,000
Format: Binary
Modes: Point or stream
Transmitter: 3.75-inch cube (internally mounted in Enclosure or
externally mounted with 10' cable) or extended range
transmitter option: 12-inch cube externally mounte with
20' cable
Receiver: 1.0" x 1.0" x 0.8" cube (or optional 3-button mouse)
with 10' or 25' cable
Enclosure: 9.5" x 11.5" x 2.6"
Power: User provided or optional external plug-in: US/European
Environment: Large metallic objects in operating volume may degrade


_RSI Research Ltd._

Pacific Marine Technology Center
#3-203 Harbour Road
Victoria, BC. CANADA V9A 3S2
tel: 604.360.1025
fax: 604.360.1161

RSI Research makes a 6 DOF joystick. It has a medium workspace (about
10 cm radius) and several buttons.

_Shooting Star Technology _

1921 Holdom Avenue
Burnaby, B.C.
Canada V5B 3W4
tel: 604.298.8574
fax: 604.298.8580

ADL-1 6DOF tracker. Gives position/orientation measurements up to 240
times/second, with low latency (0.35 to 1.88 milliseconds.)

_Abrams-Gentile Entertainment, Inc., _

244 West 54th Street,
9th Floor, New York, NY 10019
tel: 212.757.0700

Mattel marketed the PowerGlove for use in gaming (Nintendo). It
tracked finger motions through small bend sensors. The Mattel
PowerGlove was developed by Abrams-Gentile. The sensors themselves are
simple resistors varying from about 200K to 500K ohms depending on the
amount of flex.

_Denning Branch International Robotics _

1401 Ridge Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
tel: (412) 322-4412
fax: (412) 322-2040

email: Soon. Messages to will be forwarded.
Denning-Branch is a merger of Denning Mobile Robotics, once located in
the Boston area, and makers of human-size mobile robots since 1983,
and Branch and Associates, of Hobart, Australia, designers and
builders of smaller mobile robots since 1979. LaserNav Robot-mounted
scanning infrared laser unit that uses wall mounted bar-coded
retroreflectors or active transponders to navigate to centimeter
precision in 10-meter-scale areas. $8K

_Guidance Control Systems (GCS) _

tel: 011 44 203 39 3911
fax: 011 44 203 39 4211
Contact: Malcolm Roberts

GCS's core group developed the rotating scanner and passive target
system. Featured in several papers out of Oxford. Uses passive targets
with barcodes. Targets have unique ID's and surveyed positions.
Rotating laser gives angles between targets. Target positions combined
with angles gives vehicle position and heading. 2Hz scan rate but
clever use of dead reckoned information and kalman filtering gives
very impressive results. New products go to 200-300m ranges.

_Innovision Systems_

30521 Schoenherr, Suite 104
Warren, MI 48093-3129
tel: 810.751.0600
fax: 810.751.0646

Innovision specialized in non-contact measurements. 2-3 dimensions.
On-site, software development, leasing. They are representatives for
several non-contact measurement systems. See Below.

_MTI Research Inc. _

313 Littleton Rd.
Chelmsford, MA 01824
contact: Ed MacLeod
tel: 508.250.4949
net: [51]

Update speed: 20 hz Position accuracy: +/-0.05inches (1.27 mm) This
really depends on range as well. direction accuracy: +/- 0.05 degrees.
3D reference points covering up km distances. 1D, 2D or 3D feedback.
Cost: About $6K-$10K for positioning system. Custom software available
for graphing, updating etc. Accuracy available even when the robot is
moving at several meters/sec.

_Selcom Selective Electronics Inc _

21654 Melrose Avenue
Southfield, MI 48075
tel: 810.355.5900
In Sweden:
tel: +46-31-878110
fax: +46-31-278992

Selective markets optical triangulation laser-based devices and laser
gaging systems. They also make the Selspot tracking system. The
Selspot is a two camera system that registers 3D position of IR LED's
at very high data rates. Selspots Robot Check System can provide
non-contact 3D measurement and analysis of robot motion at 500 Hz
rate. System has been used for over 20 years. Used in motion studies
for people, animals and robots. Active markers are used (IR LEDs) Fast
sampling up to 10K Hz. Selspot is marketed by: _Innovision Systems _

30521 Schoenherr, Suite 104
Warren, MI 48093-3129
tel: 810.751.0600
fax: 810.751.0646


_Qualisys AB _

Ogardesvagen 4
S-433 30 Partille
41C New London Turnpike
Glastonbury, CT 06033
tel: 203.657.3585
fax: 203.657.3595

MacReflex system uses CCD-based cameras for non-contacting measurement
of robots. Two camera system is typical. Uses small passive targets
and IR LED's colocated with the cameras lens. Video processor
calculates centroid of markers and displays in real-time. Information
is used to provide data and analysis of position, velocity,
acceleration, angles, angle velocity and acceleration and position vs.
time. Specs: Noise level 1:200000, resolution 1:70000, Relative
accuracy: 1:30000, and absolute accuracy 1:10000. Accuracy is defined
as standard deviation of difference between measured and true
positions/longest diagonal in measurement volume. 50Hz and 120Hz and
high accuracies.

MacReflex is marketed by: _Innovision Systems _

30521 Schoenherr, Suite 104
Warren, MI 48093
tel: 810.751.0600
fax: 810.751.0646


Coordinate Measuring Machines

Coordinate Measuring Machines are now widely used for process control,
statistical monitoring, entering 3D from a physical part into a CAD
system and many other uses. CMM's tend to be large and expensive and
fixed but there are a number of devices now on the market to provide
accurate positioning information.

_Renishaw _

623 Cooper Court
Schaumburg, IL 60173
tel: 708.843.3666
fax: 708.843.1744

Renishaw makes a ballbar mechanism to measure and calibrate machine
tool motion errors including backlash, servo error, squareness,
straightness, axis reversal, vibration, scale mismatch etc. It uses a
precise linear measuring device and interpolates a circular profile
from which all the above information is calculated.

Renishaw also makes a high speed digitizing and scanning system for
the tool and die industry. It's a CMM style machine that can generate
NC programs from scanned parts. They also have a scanning system that
retrofits to existing CNC mills. _Supraporte Inc _

5145-I Avenida Encinas
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Portable 6-axis measuring system. Model 2000 now available with
battery power pack. Very accurate. Very expensive.

_Faro _

125 Technology Park
Lake Mary, FL 32746-6204
tel: 800.736.6063
tel: 407.333.9911
fax: 407.333.4181

Metrecom: 6DOF articulated pointer, like a portable CMM. Endpoint
accuracies are around .005" -> .025", depending on model.
Counterbalnaced design. Three models from 1.8m to 2.4m reach and
accuracies ranging from +/- .635mm to .127mm and prices from $14.4K to
$51.4K respectively.

_Chesapeake Laser Systems _

222 Gale Lane
Kennett Square, PA 19348
tel: 215.444.2300
fax: 215.444.2323

Laser metrology systems. CMS-3000 is a servo controlled tracking laser
interferometer measureing tool. The tracker follows a retroreflective
target whil providing real-time coordinate information of the retro
center location. Position of the target is provided in XYZ coordinates
via linear distance and two high accuracy angular encoders. CMS-3000
can provide measurements over a large volume. 30m radial, > 110
degrees elevation, > 270 horizontal. Down to 0.6 micron resolution, 2
parts in 10^5 accuracy for range. (1m/sec tracking) up to 6m/sec
tracking at 5 micron resolution. Lightweight and cost effective versus
CMM's and offers speed and accuracy advantages over theodolites and
photogrammetry equipment. System can be leased by hour/week/month.
About $180K to buy.

[10.1.8] Measuring linear motion

There are very few devices to directly give absolute position for
linear motions. Often rack and pinion drives are combined with geared
rotary encoders to give absolute position. Here are some manufacturers
of Magneorestrictive sensors for measuring absolute linear position.
Accuracy is usually around 0.05% of full scale. Futaba also makes an
absolute linear position glass scale device. _Magneostrictive Devices_
_Gemco Magnetek _

1080 N. Crooks Road
Clawson, MI 48017-1097
tel: 313.435.0700
fax: 313.435.8120

_Balluff _

PO Box 937
8125 Holton Drive
Florence, KY 41042
tel: 800.543.8390
fax: 606.727.4823

_MTS Systems Corporation (Temposonics) _

Sensors Division
Box 13218
Research Triangle Park, NC 27708
tel: 919.677.0100
fax: 919.677.0200

_Norstat _

PO Box 377
Hibernia, NJ 07842
tel: 201.586.2500
fax: 201.586.1590


[10.1.9] Interfacing sensors

_Atmos Technology,Inc _

1060 Lincoln Av,
San Jose Ca 95125
tel: 408.292.8066
fax: 408.292.8241

The AT1000A is a single chip sensor interface circuit that has been
used in pressure, acceleration, temperature and humidity applications.
20 PIN SOIC Package, 12-Bit A/D Converter, 64 Bits EEPROM memory.
Programmable pulsed current source via EEPROM memory. Three channel
A/D: Iout1,Iout2, and Vdiff.

[10.2] Actuators

Most actuation uses electro-magnetic motors and gears but there have
been frequent questions regarding other forms of actuation including
'muscle-wires' and inexpensive RC-servos. How do I get a motor under
computer control? What kind of motor should I use? What are the
differences between actuator types? What other types of actuation are

Types of motors:
* Synchronous
* Stepper
* AC servo
* Brushless DC servo
* Brushed DC servo


[10.2.1] RC-Servos

R/C servos for model airplanes, cars and other vehicles are light,
rugged, cheap and fairly easy to interface. Some of the units can
provide very high torques speed. For prices and specs see one of the
many Radio Control magazines on the market.

What is the wiring for R/C servos?

Three wire connector for RC-servos:

Pin 1 = White = Signal

Pin 2 = Red = +5

Pin 3 = Black = Signal and Power Ground

[Tang = pin 1]

The signal is a variable width pulse ranging from 1-2ms in duration
and repeating every 12-20 ms. The output shaft rotates to a position
porportional to the input pulse width. Input pulse width is compared
to an internal timer pulse. The timer period is controlled by a pot
coupled to the servo's output shaft. The difference between the two
pulse widths is an error signal. The servo attempts to reduce or
eliminate the error signal by driving the output shaft in the
appropriate direction. When the error signal is within about 5
micro-seconds the drivers are turned off to preventing oscillation or

___ ... ___
| | . | |
__| |__._____________________________________________| |____
1 to 2 ms width pulse goes from full CCW to full CW rotation
20 ms pulse to pulse.

How can you reverse a servo?

The easiest way to do this is to hit your R/C hobby shop and buy a
servo reverser. This is a dedicated electronic module that plugs
between the servo and the controller (usually the R/C receiver) and
processes the pulse to "reverse" it. Basically, the device uses a 3
msec one-shot and an XOR gate. If your local hobby shop doesn't have
them, check Ace R/C catalog. See ads in any R/C magazine.

A harder way is as follows: You have to reverse both the motor and the
potentiometer leads.

It would be much easier to reverse the control input. All modern
radios have "reverse" switches for all channels. In the past you could
have one of 3 solutions:

1. Live with the servo as-is. Design your model with the servo
direction in mind.
2. Some companies had "reversed" servos. Probably no longer
3. Use a gadget between the receiver and radio that reverses the
servo. Possibly a single 4538 (Motorola MC14538) with 2 resistors,
3 capacitors and a trimmer pot.
4. Modify the servo. This is the most difficult and least desired
solution. Impossible if the motor is soldered directly to the PCB
(seen in some servos). [from Itai Nashon]

The following article is an excellent source on servo facts and a
PIC-based circuit to control R/C Servos. (See the Microcontrollers
Section for more info on the PIC)

The Juggler's Delight: PIC-based Controller For Up To Eight Servos by
Scott Edward. The Computer Applications Journal, October 1994 p14 [A
kit is available as well for the circuit, including PC board, IC's

How can you control a servo from a parallel port?

From Stew Bailey (

With one of the PC's internal timers cranked up, it is possible to
control eight servos from a common parallel port with nothing but a
simple TSR interrupt service routine and a cable. In fact, power can
be pulled from the disk drive power connector and the PC can run all
servos directly with no additional hardware. The only down side is
that the PC wastes some processing power servicing the interrupt

How can you implement force servoing with RC servos?

From Dave Hershberger, [52]

I successfully built a force-feedback circuit for my Futaba hobby
servos. I took the back off the servo case to expose the solder
side of the control PC board, and using my scope with the servo
active, I looked for contacts whose signal looked like it varied
with how much work the motor was doing. I found 2 pulse-width
modulated signals which correspond to the difference between the
command signal and the current shaft angle, one for each rotation

The signals are not logic-level, but vary between, say, 1 and 2
volts, so I built a simple comparator circuit to convert these to
logic level. I fed these into my 68HC11 and used the Input Compare
feature to measure the timing.

To connect to these points, I used some thin stranded wire and
soldered directly to the PC board in the servo. Obviously you need
to be careful when doing this to avoid damaging the servo. Then I
threaded the pair out through the same hole that the control and
power wires use.

One thing to keep in mind with this setup is that it measures the
error signal, not the force. Therefore when you tell your servo to
move to a different angle, you'll get an error signal for a few
wavelengths until it is able to turn the shaft to the new position,
even if there is no resistance to the movement. If your software
can take this into account, it works fairly well.

There's also the problem of saturation - if the external torque on
the servo shaft is actually turning the shaft against the motor,
the error signal will be saturated, and you won't know how much
past saturation you are.

How to implement RC servo control from a Microcontroller like the HC11?

This is commonly done with the HC11. The simplist method uses a 32mS
pulse, which works with all RC servos I (Tom) have tried. This is the
natural roll-over time of the free-running clock (FRC) (assuming an
8MHz XTAL). The output-compare IO lines can be configured to go high
on the FRC roll-over, and then to go low when their set value matches
the FRC. With this set up, just place the correct value in the timer's
compare register and the PWM signal is generated; no interrupts

If you want to generate PWM with 20mS, you can set up an interrupt to
go off after 20mS, set the output line(s) high, and set the output
compare(s) to the current time plus the desired offset. Then set the
next interrupt to occur after another 20mS. Still pretty easy.

For code examples, check out the TRP2 and TRP3 files in:
[53] This is the
code for 2 articles Tom Dickens wrote in The Robot Practitioner.

Commercial controller for RC servos:

_Pontech _

401 E 17th St Suite B
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
tel: 714.642.8458

Pontech has a SV100 Servo Motor Controller which is based on the PIC
16C84 microcontroller. It accepts RS232 serial data signal from a host
computer and poutput PWM to control up to four RC servo motors.
Multiple boards can be parallel together to allow more servos. They
also sell FUTABA FP-S148 servos. boards: $49.95, servos: $16.95, +
$5.00 shipping and handling _Vantec _

460 Casa Real Pl.
Nipomo, CA 93444
tel: 805.929.5055

Design and manufacture of Electronic Systems for remote control mobile
robots and vehicles. Vantec makes a servo control that has been used
successfully in this type of application and can be used for velocity
or position closed loop control. We can also modify R/C transmitters
for operation on special frequencies. contact: Rich Howe

[10.2.2] Shape Memory Materials

Nickel-titanium alloys were first discovered by the Naval Ordinance
Laboratory decades ago and the material was termed NiTinOL. These
materials have the intriguing property that they provide actuation
through cycling of current through the materials. It undergoes a
'phase change' exhibited as force and motion in the wire.

At room temperature Muscle Wires are easily stretched by a small
force. However, when conducting an electric current, the wire heats
and changes to a much harder form that returns to the "unstretched"
shape - the wire shortens in length with a usable amount of force.

Nitinol can be stretched by up to eight percent of their length and
will recover fully, but only for a few cycles. However when used in
the three to five percent range, Muscle Wires can run for millions of
cycles with very consistent and reliable performance.

Table 1. Flexinol Muscle Wire Properties
Wire Linear Typical Deform. Recovery Typical
Wire Diameter Resist. Current Weight* Weight* Rate**
Name (microns) (ohm/m) (mA) (grams) (grams) (LT/HT)
Flexinol 037 37 860 30 4 20 52/68
Flexinol 050 50 510 50 8 35 46/67
Flexinol 100 100 150 180 28 150 33/50
Flexinol 150 150 50 400 62 330 20/30
Flexinol 250 250 20 1,000 172 930 9/13
* Multiply by 0.0098 to get force in Newtons
** Cycles per minute, in still air, at 20 Centigrade
LT = low temp 70 degrees C, HT high temp 90 degrees C

Research into shape memory alloys, polymer gels and micromechanism
devices is ongoing. Library browsing is a must to get recent
information on these areas.


_Mondotronics _

524 San Anselmo Ave.,
San Anselmo, CA 94960
tel: 415.455.9330
tel: 800.374.5764
fax: 415.455.9333

A number of muscle wire (nitinol) projects including a small walking
machine. Book and sample kit with 1m each of 50,100 and 150 um wire -
enough to build all 14 projects in book. [54]Mondo

_Memry Technologies _

57 Commerce Drive
Brookfield, CT 06804
tel: 203.740.7311
fax: 203.775.2359

Memry sell a Mitsubishi developed polyurethane based Shape Memory
Polymer. The material undergoes property changes in hardness,
flexibility, elastic modulus and vapor permeability under temperature
change. Medical applications is one focus for this material.

_Milford Instruments _

United Kingdom
tel: (0977) 683665
fax: (0977) 681465.

Importers of the Parallax BASIC Stamps and Muscle Wires into the UK.

_TiNi Alloy Company _

1621 Neptune Drive
San Leandro, CA 94577

Sheets and wire of NiTinOL alloys.

[10.2.3] Other Actuators


_Bridgestone Corporation _

3-2-25 Nishikubo,
Musashino City, Tokyo 180.
tel: 0422 54 5820

Rubbertuators: Rubber-based device that bends under applied pneumatic
pressure. For a rotation unit typical rotation angles are 360,120,90
degrees for linear unit the contraction rate cannot exceed 20%.

[10.2.4] Stepper Motors

Wally Blackburn has provided a stepper motor controller design that
easily connects to a parallel port:
This is the info file for the Opto-Isolated Stepper Motor Controller.
While the info is oriented towards control via a PC parallel port, the
controller can really interface to just about anything.

The controller uses a UCN5804B controller IC from Allegro. This chip
can control motors at up to 35V and 1.25A continuously. Peaks of up to
50V and 1.5A can be tolerated according to the data sheet.

The inputs to the UCN5804B are optically isolated from the control
circuitry. Input control voltages from 3 to 12V are acceptable. Diodes
are used to protect the UCN5804B from negative transients from the
motor windings. For efficient low-voltage operation, Schottky diodes
are used.

I have recently rewritten the instructions and included a simple
parallel port control program in QuickBASIC. The Turbo C source is
still included also. I still have kits for the controller. Wally
Blackburn Here are some files on the operation
and use of stepper motors from Steve Walz:
[56] Useful files include
stepper.viz, steppers.tut, ibmlpt.faq, and tomlpt.faq


There are many controllers for motors and vendors of controllers for
motors in the marketplace. There are only a few here that might be of
interest because of low cost or flexibility. See also [57][18.10]
Motor Drivers

_Animatics Corporation_

3050 Tasman Drive
Santa Clara, CA
tel: 408.748.8721
fax: 408.748.8725

Animatics makes an RS-232 based communications motor controller. The
Series 5000 Servo Control can drive from 1-4 servo motors either as a
stand alone unit or slaved to a host computer via RS232. Includes
fully digial automatic PID filter (no pots) All tuning and config
parameters can be sent in the form of a file transfer. Can control
brushed or brushless motors. Does not need a host for control. Up to 3
Amps continuous current per axis. Full 4axis model is about $3K.

[10.2.6]DC Motors

This is a huge industrial area. A typical new autmobile might have 30
motors these days and there are a lot of motor manufacturers. See the
Thomas Register for a listing. It is beyond the scope of this FAQ to
provide addresses for all manufacturers, but I'll provide a list of
those who've been mentioned and might be of interest.

_Mabuchi Motor America Corp._

475 Park Avenue South (32 St.)
New York, NY 10016
tel: 212.686.3622
fax: 212.532.4263

One of the largest manufacturers of small motors. Found in R/C cars.

[10.3] Imaging for Robotics

[This is a new and incomplete section - need more information here]

There are a wide variety of frame grabbers, computer vision systems
and image processing tools available. For VME, Multibus, PC Bus, even
SBUS and STD, there are a number of options for getting images into
your computer.


_Analogic Corporation_

8 Centennial Drive
Peabody, MA 01960
tel: 508.977.3000 Howard Cohen
fax: 508.977.6813


RGB, Y/C, NTSC, RS-170A, CCIR, RS-343A

up to 16mb

SCSI (2.5 Mb/s asynch, or 5 Mb/s synch.) Can be interfaced to
PC/ISA via SCSI card.

TMS320C31 33.3 MHz, 33.3 MFLOPs, 16.7 MIPS. Analogic also
provides an 'ISA bus Floating-Point DSP Signal Processor' AP85c
with a SCSI port and 5 TMS320C31 processors for 200 MFLOPs, and
up to 16Mb of global DRAM and upt to 1Mb of local SRAM per

RS-343A, CCIR, NTSC, or S-Video display output. User programmed
RS-232 port for debugging, or whatever. An optional
multi-tasking realtime DSP operating system written by Analogic
is available. DASM-VIP with 16Mb costs $5995. The AP85c with
16Mb is $12,600.


_Cognex Corp._

One Vision Drive
Natick, MA 01760-2059
tel: 508.650.3000 Joseph B. Considine - sales rep
tel: 508.650.3332

Offers a vision system mostly targeted for industry. Good selection of
image processing routines. _5000 Series_

Up to 4 cameras multiplexed, RS-170 or CCIR 12 bit grey scale

Memory: up to 16Mb


25Mhz 68030, 68882 Floating point coprocessor, 'VC-1' custom
ASIC for 2D correlation, blob analysis, histograms, and various
transforms, 'VC-2' custom ASIC for character recognition, line
finding, edge detection, Gaussian and LaPlacian filtering.

Functions as VGA adapter eliminating the need for a separate
video card -- allows display of images. Also provides RGB and
monochrome video outputs.


_Coreco Inc._

6969 Trans-Canada Highway
Suite 113
St. Laurent Quebec
Canada H4T 1V8
tel: 514.333.1301
tel: 800.361.4914 (USA) Ralph Tesson - sales rep
fax: 514.333.1388

A variety of ISA DSP-based bus frame grabbers and imaging cards for
PCs. Inputs for many cards includes RGB, NTSC, RS-170, CCIR, or PAL 24
bit color, Y-C, RS-330, up to 16Mb VRAM and 64Mb DRAM. DSP-based
boards. Outputs include external display support, composite video etc.
Wide variety of convolutions and logical operations on images
available including histogramming.

_Current Technology Inc_

97 Madbury Road
Durham, NH 03824
tel: 603.868.2270
contact: Michael Glover
fax: 603.838.1352

_FF1 Frame Grabber_

RS-170 or CCIR

up to 1024x1024x16 bits image memory.

Half-size XT slot.

Analog Devices ADSP 2105 DSP (20 MOPs). Performs 3x3
convolution in 390 ms.

Library of C callable functions, and windows DLL. Very
inexpensive -- $995.


_Data Cube _

[real-time frame buffers and imaging analysis] [need address]

_Data Translation_

100 Locke Drive
Marlboro, MA 01752
tel: (508) 481-3700
tel: (800) 525-8528

fax: (508) 481-8627 Offers 8 different models of general purpose
monochome frame grabbers with various resolutions and memory sizes.

_Dipix Technologies Inc._

1051 Baxter Road
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K2C 3P1
tel: 613.596.4942
tel: 800.724.5929
contact: Paul Lamar X146 Regional Sales Mgr

Dipix offers 3 general purpose frame-grabbers:

_XPG-1000 Power Grabber_

RS-170, CCIR, digital, or programmable. Multiple input modules.

up to 256Mb of image memory, 512Kb cache

ISA/VL and PCI bus

50 Mhz TMS320C40 DSP from TI (which is programmable in C) and
'Power Processing Module' with on-board ALU, CONV, and HIST.

Optional real-time display

_P360 Power Grabber_

4 analog or one 8 or 16-bit digital input, programmable, or
RS-170, RS-330, CCIR.

up to 80Mb (4 min)


TMS320C30 DSP from TI (which is programmable in C). DT-Connect

Realtime display available

_FPG-44 Power Grabber_

Same as XPG-1000

512kb to 8 MB 0 wait state SRAM

TMS320C44 DSP from TI (programmable in C)

real-time display card available software compatible with above


_ImageNation Corporation_

P.O. Box 276
Beaverton, OR 97075-0276
tel: 503.641.7408
tel: 800.366.9131
fax: 503.643.2458
bbs: 503.626.7763

ImageNation makes video frame grabbers in a variety of configurations
and options.

ImageNations Website is located at [58]ImageNation

CX100 Precision Video Frame Grabber

The CX100 Video Frame Grabber is a precision image capture board in
the ISA bus configuration. It is an 8 bit, half slot card ideal for
compact applications. Compatible with monochrome video in either NTSC
or CCIR formats. Allows real time capture to dual port video RAM
mapped into the computer's memory. This provides fast, random access
to the captured image for even the most demanding image processing
needs. The image transfer rate is 1 Mbyte per second. The CX100 also
has a display output for viewing live video or a captured image on an
external monochrome monitor. Analog RGB, 30 Hz interlaced video output
is an option available for false color display (this is not VGA
compatible). In addition, there is a trigger input for synchronizing
image acquisition to an external event or for operation with an
asynchronous (resettable) camera.

The CX100 is a +5 volt only design. It consumes less than three watts
and has a power down mode. The all digital synchronization scheme
provides a rock solid image and an +/- 3 nS sampling jitter
specification. Video noise is less than one LSB (least significant
bit). The automatic detection of NTSC or CCIR video, coupled with the
excellent jitter performance, ensures operation with standard and
resettable cameras as well as video recorders. Hardware controlled
field or frame grab, software adjustable offset and gain, automatic
look up table (LUT) load and non-volatile configuration is supported.
Input and output LUTs allow gamma correction, contrast and brightness
adjustment, and thresholding in real time. The optional overlay RAM
allows text and graphics to be displayed on top of live video or a
captured image. The video overlay can display 15 LUT selectable colors
(gray levels).

Lots of software support is also provided. Software and examples are
available on ImageNation's BBS.

ImageNation ImageNation also offers versions of the CX frame grabber
in the compact PC/104 format. PC/104 is the familiar ISA bus in a
compact, low power, 3.6 X 3.8 inch format. It is ideal for embedded
applications. ImageNation supports multiple camera and display
applications with a four to one video multiplexor available in ISA or
PC/104 versions. Contact ImageNation today for more information.


_Imaging Technology Inc._

55 Middlesex Turnpike
Bedford, MA 01730-1421
tel: 617.275.2700
fax: 217.275.9590

Offers a modular vision system that can be taylored for the
application. Both VME and PC ISA/VL-bus platforms are supported. It
seems likely, however, that when all the required modules are
selected, the system will have a fairly large pricetag.

A system consists of an 'image manager' or IML which is either a VME
or PC ISA/VL-bus compatible board. It contains some framstore memory
and a slot for the 'acquisition module'. For the PC version, the IML
can be used as the system VGA adapter, eliminating the need for a
separate display card or module. To add one of the many available
computational modules, the 'Computational Module Controller' or CML
must be purchased, which also plugs onto (sort of) the IML. The CML
has slots for either one or two plug-on computational modules. So, as
you can see, it adds up quick. About $23k for a system with 2 C31 DSP
computational modules. Device drivers are available for DOS/Windows,
VxWorks, OS-9, and Solaris.

There are 4 available acquisition modules:
1. Variable Scan: interfaces to RS-170 and CCIR cameras
2. Fast Analog Acquisition: interfaces to high frame rate analog
3. Color Acquisition: interfaces to NTSC, PAL, RGB or multiple
RS-170/CCIR cameras. One interesting feature of this module is the
ability to program your own color space. Otherwise, it supports
HSI, YUV, YIQ and YCrCb color spaces.
4. Digital Acquistion: interfaces to RS-422 or TTL video sources.

There are 5 available computational modules:
1. Convolver/Arithmetic Logic Unit (CM-CLU): Accelerates convolution.
e.g. a 4x4 convolution on an 8-bit 512x512 image takes 7.5 ms.
2. Programmable Accelerator (CM-PA): Contains a TMS320C31 DSP from TI
(which can be programmed in C), 4Mb image memory and 1Mb of
3. Histogram/Feature Extraction Processor (CM-HF): Performs realtime
histograms and feature detection.
4. Median and Morphological Processor (CM-MMP): performs
morphological filtering, erosion, and dilation.
5. Binary Correlator (CM-BC): Performs high-speed template matching
and binary morphology.


_Mandex Technology, Inc._

1191 Chicago Road
Troy, MI 48083
tel: 810.585.1165
fax: 810.585.3745
contact: M. Gupte

SMART EYE I: DSP-based real-time image processing system designed
specifically for mobile and fixed base robotics systems. Stand-alone
image processing system on a single board. Low power consumption,
small form factor, and low weight. The single board system includes:
four monochrome camera inputs, video digitizer (gain and offset
software adjustable), input look-up table, two frame grabbers,
additional two video buffers, color mappable image display buffer,
color mappable graphics overlay buffer, RGB display driver, serial
communications port, and application program RAM and EPROM. Program
code can be burned into EPROM. Wide variety of language and
development platform support. Additional hardware expansion to provide
addtional I/O capabilities.

_Matrox International Corp._

1055 St. Regis Blvd. Dorval
Quebec, Canada H9P 2T4
tel: 514.685.2630
tel: 800.361.4903
contact:Spiro Plagakis - sales rep
fax: 514.685.2853

The IMAGE series consists of the following mutually compatible
* IMAGE-1280 Baseboard consists of a TMS34020 GSP, TMS34082 FPU, 4Mb
of DRAM, custom ASICS for fast data transfer, and a high
resolution RGB display driver.
* IMAGE-ASD is a monochrome acquisition card that plugs into the ISA
* IMAGE-CLD is a color acquisition card that does realtime RGB to
HSI conversion and also plugs into the ISA bus.
* IMAGE-RTP performs a whole slew of processing functions using a
bunch of ASICS (e.g. histograms, LaPlacians, morphologies, logical
operators, erosion, dilation, centroids, pattern matching, more)
* IMAGE-FPU accelerates large kernel convolutions and FFTs

Matrox also offers an extensive image processing library and utilities
that run under Windows.

_Sharp Electronics_

16841 Armstrong Ave.
Irvine, CA 92714
tel: 714.261.6224
tel: 800.562.7427
fax: 714.261.9321

The basic system that Sharp offers is the GPB-1

4 multiplexed RS-170 inputs 8 bit greyscale. Optional 'Incard'
allows 3 parallel camera inputs, or one RGB input, but occupies
another ISA slot.

12 512x512x8 bit framestores.


High-speed ASICS which perform convolution, histogram analysis,
feature extraction, connectivity analysis, more. These
operations all take place at 40 ns/pixel. Thus, for example, a
3x3 convolution takes 12 ms for a 512x512x8 bit image. Other
processing boards (see below) are available and external
interfaces are provided for the addition of a separate Alacron
i860 card with 80 Mflops of performance (available 2/95).

VGA output for displaying images. An optional 'Single monitor
adapter' acts as the system VGA adapter.

There are four function-specific computational cards that plug into
the GPB-1:
1. Alignment card: performs normalized correlation with model data.
2. Auxlut card: has dual 64k 16 bit input 8 bit output lookup tables.
A possible application would be RGB to HSI conversion.
3. Auxwarp Card: 'a pixel re-sampler that may be used to modify the
geometric shape of an object.'
4. Memory Mapping: Maps large amounts of image data to ISA bus and
allows random access of regions of interest, say. Also it allows
new GPB-1 commands to be loaded in and ready to go while the GPB-1
is busy with its current command. Occupies a separate ISA slot.

Sharp also has available a Windows algorithm development tool which
allows the user to develop algorithms using interpreted scripts --
thus eliminating the compiling step. The scripts can then be converted
to C-code and compiled, if appropriate. Over 250 C-callable image
processing functions are provided.

The basic GPB-1 system costs $11,000. A system with an Incard, and
Auxlut runs around $20,000.

_Teleos Research_

576 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA 94301, USA
tel: 415/328-8800
fax: 415/328-8880

URL: [59] Advanced Vision Platform, AVP-100
* stereo range measurements
* motion measurements
* 3D model-based object tracking
* video frame rate performance

AVP-100 consists of a video processing unit containing an embedded
processor, the new PRISM-4 accelerator board, and interface modules.
To use the system, all that is required is a camera and a host
processor with an Ethernet interface.

Connect to [60] for more information or send e-mail
to with the subject 'AVP-100'. _TIM-40 PC-based Vision
There are about a handful of companies that support TIM-40 module
platforms. (TIM-40 is a specification developed by TI and industry to
incorporate the TMS320C40 into a flexible, modular architecture. A
single TIM-40 module is 2.5" x 4.2".) The C40 is often referred to as
a 'next generation transputer' because of its six 20Mb per sec.
comports which make connecting multiple C40s together very easy. The
speed at which data can be exchanged makes it well suited for
multiprocessor image processing. A system consists of a computer
host-specific motherboard (that the TIM-40 modules plug into) and the
appropriate TIM-40 modules. All companies listed below support both
VME and PC/ISA daughter boards, however, only the PC/ISA boards are
described. Since these systems typically consist of more than one
processor, development software that supports multiple processors
would be nice. 3L Parallel C is an ANSI C compiler that allows you to
write multitasked software and divide the tasks between the available
processors at compile time. It's built ontop of the TI C compiler
which is known for its optimizing and efficient instruction
scheduling. Data is sent between arbitrary tasks (which may reside on
separate processors) by sending C structures. Thus, the development
environment is comfortable and intuitive. All companies listed offer
3L Parallel C.

_Transtech Parallel Systems Corp._
20 Thornwood Drive
Ithaca, NY 14850-1263
tel: 607.257.6502 Andy Stevens - sales rep
fax: 607.257.2980

TIM-40 PC/AT motherboard: 4 TIM-40 sites. Communication between one
TIM-40 slot and PC takes place through 1K FIFO buffer. JTAG support
for debugging. RGB/Composite framegrabber module: occupies 2 TIM-40
slots and accepts RS-170 RS-330, CCIR, NTSC, PAL, Y/C or RGB. Has an
onboard 50Mhz TMS320C40 (50 MFLOPs). 3Mb of VRAM and up to 4Mb of DRAM
is available. Flexible Memory TIM-40: occupies 1 TIM-40 slot, has
onboard 50 Mhz TMS320C40s (50 MFLOPs) and up to 4Mb of DRAM. Dual C40
TIM-40: occupies 1 TIM-40 slot, has 2 onboard 50 Mhz TMS320C40 (100
MFLOPs) and 512k SRAM per processor. Display TIM-40: allows display of
RGB images.

_Spectrum Signal Processing Inc. _

8525 Baxter Place, 100 Production Court
Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 4V7
tel: 604 421-5422
fax: 604 421-1764
508 366-7355 Mark Coutour
800 232 1842 Paul DeBruyn
800 663-8986

QPC40 Motherboard: 4 TIM-40 sites. Communication between any of the 4
TIM-40 slots and the PC takes place through 2 16 bit ISA bus locations
(one for transmit, one for receive) per TIM-40 slot. JTAG support for

RGB/Composite framegrabber module: occupies 2 TIM-40 slots and accepts
RS-170 or RGB. Has an onboard 50Mhz TMS320C40 (50 MFLOPs) and a RAMDAC
for displaying RGB images. 32kb of EEPROM, 512kb of SRAM, and up to
16Mb of DRAM is available. Currently, (11/94) this module is not
supported by 3L Parallel C, nor does it have framegrab software source

Several single C40 TIM-40 modules are offered that differ in memory
models -- some have EEPROM for boostrapping, or up to 8Mb of DRAM
offered on a single TIM-40, or up to 65Mb od DRAM on a double TIM-40.

Dual C40 TIM-40: occupies 1 TIM-40 slot, has 2 onboard 50 Mhz
TMS320C40 (100 MFLOPs) and 512k SRAM per processor.

Spectrum also offers ILIB -- an image processing library with routines
to perform convolution, LaPlacians, high and lowpass filtering, more.


_Traquair Data Systems Inc _

Tower Building, 112 Prospect St.
Ithaca, NY 14851
tel: 607.272.4417 Steve Bradshaw
fax: 697.272.6211

HEPC2 Motherboard: 4 TIM-40 Sites. Communication between one TIM-40
slot and the PC host takes place through 2 16 bit ISA locations (one
for transmit, one for receive). JTAG support for debugging.

CFG-RGB framegrabber module: occupies 2 TIM-40 slots and accepts
RS-170 or RGB. Has an onboard 50Mhz TMS320C40 (50 MFLOPs). 1Mb of VRAM
framestore and 4Mb of DRAM memory onboard. Frame grab software and
source is provided.

VIPTIM convolution accelerator: occupies 2 TIM-40 slots. Contains a
50MHz TMS320C40 and ASICs that can convolve at 12.5 million pixels per
sec. with kernels up to 7x6 or 14x3. 3, 1Mb VRAM framestores and 4Mb
DRAM memory onboard.

HETwin dual C40 TIM-40: occupies 1 TIM-40 slot, has 2 onboard 50 Mhz
TMS320C40s (100 MFLOPs) and 512kb SRAM per processor. Similar model
with 2 C44s and 1Mb SRAM per processor will be available early 95.

HEQUAD quad C44 TIM-40: occupies 1 TIM-40 slot, and has 4 onboard
TMS320C40s (200 MFLOPs) and 512kb SRAM per processor.

Traquair also offers the following software:

EYELIB: image processing library (different than ILIB (?)) that
performs convolution, histograms, logical operations, more.

CDSOFT: a utility that works with 3L Parallel C that allows the
display of RGB image data to the PC host's VGA monitor in less
than realtime.

Mathlib: a math library accelerator for the C40 that in many cases
more than doubles the speed of some floating point calculations
(e.g. sin).

Matlab interface: allows an arbritrary C40 processor to execute
functions in Matlab (that's running on the PC host).


[10.4] Wireless Communication

Tethers for supplying power and communication are sometimes
impractical and at best an annoyance. Digital communication via RF and
IR links is becoming cheaper and a number of companies are providing
off-the-shelf solutions. For basic serial line communication a wide
variety of radio modems are available that use fixed frequencies or
spread spectrum techniques. In many cases they are also transparent.
That is, you plug them directly into serial ports on the robot and
off-board computing directly. Higher bandwidths such as Ethernet or
high speed synchronous serial require different hardware. However,
with high speed serial communication you may even be able to SLIP
(Serial Line Internet Protocal) or PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol)
instead of using a LAN-based device.

This area of communication is changing very quickly and new products
and companies are appearing every day.

See also a nice list at: [LIST IS NO LONGER THERE - AWAITING NEW SITE] or
gopher:// List Maintained by David Kent,

[10.4.1] RF Modems

[David Kent] RF or wireless modems provide data communication without
tethers and cables. Wireless systems can be susceptible to noise, and
multipathing (echos) which will result in tranmission errors. A smart
wireless modem will guarantee error free data gets from one end to the
other. This is accomplished by an internal microprocessor which
packetizes and addresses data. It also checks received packets for
errors and automatically requests a retransmission from the sending
modem if there is an error. All this occurs transparently to the user.
The users' RS-232 data stream goes in one modem and comes out the
other. Another advantage of this method is that since packets are
addressed, more than two modems can share a single frequency without
interference, however throughput goes down accordingly. These work
well with RS-232 devices that you cannot run custom software on, eg.
printers, plotters, bar code scanners, as well as computers. Dumb
modems on the other hand simply transmit the data and hope it gets to
the other end. Since there is no addressing, any modems on the same
frequency and in range will receive all transmissions. Dumb modems are
often used where the equipment connected to the modem handles error
detection/ correction and addressing. Software libraries are available
that work with specific dumb modems to provide smart functionality. If
you are connecting a computer running custom software to the wireless
modem anyway, this may be the most cost effective solution. There are
also two main categories relating to the radio frequency (RF) portion
of the wireless modem. These are spread spectrum (unlicensed) and
VHF/UHF (licensed). Licensed means you need an FCC license. Costs a
couple hundred dollars to process the paperwork. Generally not a
problem getting one unless you live in some urban areas. A nice
collection of information and vendors of wireless modems written by
David Kent and archived by Tony Stieber is at [61] is
located in the directory [62]Wireless. The directory has a number of
files on wireless topics. _Comrad, Communications Research and
Development Corporation_

7210 Georgetown Road, Suite 300
Indianapolis, IN 46268
tel: 317.290.9107
fax: 317.291.3093

Comrad CCL901-DP 900 MHz Wireless Data Link. 500 meter range can be
extended through additional transponders. RS232 - 38Kbaud. Battery
pack available for portable applications. Two transceiver units,
software, power adapter, serial cables for $449.95. Modems. Two
channels: 1200-38,400 baud, 100m range, 20m range through two walls.
Easy to set up.

_Cylink _

310 N. Mary Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
tel: 408.735.5800
tel: 800.533.3958
fax: 408.735.6643

AirLink - series of highspeed synch or async modems to 256kb/s.
Interfaces include V.11, RS-232, EIA-530. Spread spectrum device
operating in 902-928Mhz range.

_GRE America, _

Belmont, CA,
tel: 800.233.5973

GINA 6000, spread spectrum, smart wireless modem, up to 128 Kbps,
902MHz, 1 watt

_Hamtronics, Inc. _

65-D Moul Rd.
Hilton, NY 14468-9535
tel: 716.392.9430
fax: 716.392.9420

1200 and 9600 baud units/modules for a few hundred dollars.

_Micrilor Inc _

17 Lakeside Park,
Wakefield, MA 01880
tel: 617.246.0130
fax: 617.246.0157

RS-232, T1221 and R1221 transmitters. 902-928MHz, no FCC license
required. Data rates to 64k-baud. >100m range. Power 35mA@3VDC,
Antenna is 60cm RG174 coax. Price: $550 ea.

_Monicor Electronics _

Fort Lauderdale, FL
tel: 305.979.1907
fax: 305.979.2611

System 310 two-card OEM set for use in palmtops and handheld
computing. System 310 board set transmits at 1mW to 2W for a range of
3 to 3km range. Priced at $660 in quantity. Model IC-15-48 - rugged
RS232 4800 baud modem. Can network a number of these portables. $1630.

_Motorola Radio-Telephone Systems Group _

Arlington Heights, ILL
tel: 708.632.5000

AltairNet: 18GHz-based system design for wireless, indoors networking.
The boxes are fairly large, about the size of a shoebox, and are
relocatable but not portable. Problem is that is that they really
aren't for mobile applications. The reception area has holes like
swiss cheese. Not a problem with some fine adjustment in stationary
applications but a big problem for mobile devices.

_Pacific Crest Corporation_

1190 Miraloma ay, Suite W
Sunnyvale, CA 94086-4607
tel: 408.730.5789
tel: 800.795.1001
fax: 408.730.5640

DDR-96 and RDDR-96 Radio modems. To 9600 baud. 2W. Point-to-point
communcations. Uses standard RS-232 9pin DB style connectors. Can also
be used in packet switching networks. Forward error correction
techniques and PLL synchronization. The RDDR is a ruggedized version.
Cost is about $1100 and $1230 respectively. FCC license required.

_Proxim, Inc. _

Mountain View, CA,
tel: 800-229-1630

Proxlink XR, spread spectrum, smart wireless modem, up to 256 Kbps,
902MHz, 500mW, 800 ft range. _Scientific Technologies_

31069 Genstar Road
Hayward, CA 94544

SpectraData 551 radio data link. Spread spectrum. Range to 1.5miles
(repeater for longer distances) RS232 to 38.4Kbaud. (900MHz or

Others with very little information:

_NCR_ sells the WaveLAN, which has about a 1Mbit/sec data rate. Not
exactly "ethernet", but interfaceable to most networks using MS-DOS
boxes as routers.

_Tetherlink_ in California is experimenting with a 2Mbit/sec cellular
system that is designed for roving portables. [Need address]

_O'Neil_ provides bidirectional 19.2Kps RS-232 links that you can run
a terminal emulator or SLIP over, range about 100 ft.

A number of articles have also been posted about the modification of
inexpensive walkie-talkies for wireless communication. Typical
bandwidths are limited to about 1200 baud. This may be sufficient for
simple command-level control of a mobile mechanism. See Archives.

[10.4.2] RF Video

For regular frame rate video over relatively short distances it's hard
to beat the price and availability of several consumer products in the
$100 range. Check local stores or place like the Sharper Image (Gemini
Rabbit is one of the companies making these units) Microwave systems
require line-of-site communication, licensing, and are expensive.

[10.4.3] RF Ethernet

_Aironet Wireless Communications_

367 Ghent Road, Suite 300
Akron, OH 44334-0292
tel: 216.665.7900
fax: 216.665.7922

ARLAN series of wireless products. Aironet has the largest installed
base of spread spectrum radios (>200,000) Up to 1Mbps at 900MHz and
2Mbps at 2.4Ghz. Ethernet and Token rings access points (630 and 631
series), wireless multipoint bridges (640 series ARLAN products),
wireless network adapter cards, PCMCIA cards and numerous software and
network management tools.

They are distributed through Anixter. For local Anixter offices call
708.677.2600. We've used a number of the ARLAN products for years at
CMU and it's been plug and play.

_Proxim Inc. _

295 North Barnardo Ave.
Mountain View, CA 94043
tel: 415.960.1630
fax: 415.964.5181

A product announcement for wireless LAN board on p.68 in May/92 Byte
Magazine Price: $495, Range: 800 ft. Data Rate: 242 Kbps Channels: 3

_Digital Ocean_

Lenexa, KN
tel: 913.888.3380

Grouper wireless networks. Spread-spectrum (no FCC license)
902-928MHz. Several products for Macintosh computer.

[10.5] Robot Parts: Suppliers and Sources

Many inquiries on comp.robotics are of the form: Where can I find X?
where X might be motors, gears, fasteners, connectors etc. The
following companies carry a wide selection of electronics and
mechanical parts. With the possible exception of computing these
companies should have all you need to build robot mechanisms.

Also see the file regularly posted to sci.electronics and a number of
the radio newsgroups:
[63] Roger Arrick also
has a web page listing supplies of gears, bearings and parts at:

_All Electronics Corporation_

P.O. Box 567
Van Nuys, CA 91408
tel: 800.826.5432

Electronics parts.

_Allied Devices_

2365 Milburn Avenue,
PO Box 502
Bladwin, NY 11510
tel: 516.223.9100
fax: 516.223.9172

Standard precision mechanical components

_American Science and Surplus_

3605 Howard St.
Skokie, IL 60076
tel: 708.982.0870
fax: 800.934.0722

These guys are a good source for motors, steppers, wire, and lots of
gears, pulleys, etc. stuff for robot people to roll their own robots
as well.

_Arrick Robotics_

2107 W. Euless Blvd.
Euless, Texas 76040 USA
tel: 817.571.4528
fax: 817.571.2317

Arrick makes a number of automation system including stepper motor
systems, positioning tables and robotic workcells.

_C&H Sales_

2176 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA
tel: 818.796.2628
tel: 800.325.9465

Surplus parts. Motors etc.

_Digi-Key Corp_

701 Brooks Avenue South
P.O. Box 677
Thief River Falls, MN 56701-0677
tel: 800.344.4539

Distributor of electronics components and semiconductors.

_Edmund Scientific _

101 E. Gloucester Pike
Barrington, NJ 08007-1380
tel: 609.573.6250 order
tel: 609.573.6260 customer service

Lots of optics, science and educational items. A little pricey but
nice selection. Edmund also has a Robotic Technology Curriculum with
lessons and tests featuring the Movit robots. Curriculum is $65.

_Electronic Goldmine _

PO Box 5408
Scottsdale, AZ 85261
tel: 602.451.7454

Sell the ROAMR Robot Kit - $39.95 Lots of electronics and small

_Fascinating Electronics _

P.O. Box 126
Beaverton, OR 97075
tel: 503.292.5233

Experimenter's kits and other electronics.

_Graymark _

Box 5020
Santa Ana, CA 92704
tel: 800.854.7393

Robot and electonics kits, tools and instruments.

_Herbach and Rademan Co. _

18 Canal St.
P.O. Box 122
Bristol, PA 19007-0122
tel: 800.848.8001 (orders)
tel: 215.788.5583 (office)
fax: 215.788.9577 (fax)

Electro-mechanical "surplus" parts, equipment and insturments.

_Hosfelt Electronics_


_JDR Microdevices _

1850 South 10th St
San Jose, CA 95112-9941
tel: 408.494.1400, 800.538.5000
fax: 800.538.5005
bbs: 408.494.1430

Surplus and lots of electronic components including cameras and some
sensors. Some recent components have included: TV transmitter (part #
RK-TV6, $19.95 US) transmits composite video + audio to any television
set withing 600' on one of channels 2 - 6. Runs on 12VDC.

Microwave doppler radar sensor. Claims to detect a person or animal up
to 12' away (part number RK-MD3, $19.95 w/o case. Claims to come with
complete circuit theory and instructions.

_Marlin P. Jones _

tel: 407.848.8236

Lots of neat surplus stuff.

_McMaster-Carr Supply Company _

PO box 440
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0440
tel: 908.329.3200
fax: 908.329.3772

An amazing catalog of hundreds of thousands of parts. Lots of
mechanical things but not much for electronics or computing.


tel: 800.344.4465

_Mendelson Electronics Co., Inc _

tel: 800.422.3525

_Newark Electronics _

500 N. Pulaski St.
Chicago, IL 60624-1019
tel: 312.784.5100 (check locally)

Major distributor of electronics components and equipment (1200+
pages) with branches throughout the US.

_Nordex _

50 Newton Road
Danbury, CT 06810-6216
tel: 203.792.9050

Gears, cams, universals etc.

_PIC Design _

PO Box 1004
Benson Road
Middlebury, CT 06762-1004
tel: 800.243.6125 (except CT)
tel: 203.758.8272

Bearings, clutches, brakes, couplings, tools, belts, pulleys, gears

_Radio Shack _

Electronic parts and kits. Local retail stores in just about every

_SECS, Inc. _

520 Homestead Avenue
Mt. Vernon, NY 10550
tel: 914.667.5600

Gears and gear assemblies, belt drives, couplings, bearings, small

_Seitz Corporation_

Box 1398
Torrington, CT 06790
tel: 800.261.2011
tel: 203.489.0696
tel: 203.489.0476
fax: 203.496.0307

Drive components, gears etc.

_Servo Systems _

115 Main Road
PO Box 97
Montville, NJ 07045-9299
tel: 201.335.1007
fax: 201.335.1661

Surplus pieces and prices, motors, actuators, geardrives, controllers,
robots, encoders, transducers, amplifiers.

_Small Parts Inc. _

6891 NE Third Ave
PO Box 381966
Miami, FL 33238-1966
tel: 305.557.8222
fax: 305.751.6217

Lots of neat small supplies including: materials, metal stock,
fasteners, tools etc. This company is the "misc parts" supplier to the
"U.S. FIRST" competetion where corporations and HS Students form
partnerships to build competing robots like Dr Flowers' ME class at

_Stock Drive Products _

2101 Jericho Turnpike
Bobx 5416
New Hyde Park, NY 11042-5416
tel: 516.328.3300
fax: 516.326.8827

Great set of handbooks of thousands of components.

_Surplus Center_

Lincoln, Nebraska
tel: 800.488.3407

They're good on medium to large scle stuff, hydraulics and pneumatics.
They seem to supply agricultural machine prototypers. _Winfred M. Berg

499 Ocean Ave.,
East Rockaway, LI, NY 11518
tel: 516.599.5010

Precision Mechanical Components

Any technical library should have catalogs from the larger
distributors. These include McMaster-Carr, Grainger, Allied, Newark,

Last-Modified: Tue May 28 17:03:35 1996

[65]Kevin Dowling <>


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aka: Kevin Dowling, <> address: Carnegie Mellon University
tel: 412.268.8830 The Robotics Institute
fax: 412.268.5895 5000 Forbes Avenue
url: Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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