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

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 )
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Archive-name: robotics-faq/part5
Last Modified: Mon Sep 16 01:00:38 EDT 1996

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

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

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

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

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
    This FAQ may be referenced as:
   Dowling, Kevin (1995) "Robotics: comp.robotics Frequently Asked
   Questions" Available as a hypertext document at 90+ pages.
   Last-Modified: Thu Dec 7 16:40:11 1995
    [4]Kevin Dowling <>

                [11] Whatever happened to Heathkit Hero Robots?
    Benton Harbor, MI
    tel: 800.253.0570 (Heathkit Educational Systems)
   Heros are no longer being made but Heath (Zenith) still offers some
   replacement parts. They had about 8 years of sales: 4,000 Hero Jr's,
   3,000 Hero 2000's, 14,000 assembled Hero 1's. Ones with less
   capability didn't do as well but higher priced ones did ok in the
   market. Service and maintainability are a problem due to the sheer
   number of bolts, pulleys, boards, sensors, cables etc. Used ones can
   be picked up cheap - but caveat emptor. Heath still sells electronics
   training kits but nothing in robotics
   There is a mailing group for hero owners managed by Dave Goodwin:
   Send the following command in the message body:
   Subscribe Hero-owners
   You may also want to include a HELP command line to get the commands
   and their syntax. Note that the subject on the message is irrelevant.
   Of course, to post a message to the group, just send it to hero-owners
   at the same host.
   The Mailserv software can handle files as well, but none are currently
   available. Hopefully, list subscribers will start to provide any nifty
   code they write for the archive.
   Finally, the list of subscribers is available from the Mailserv. See
   the help file for how to get it. Questions or problems should be
   addressed to [4], not at the waldo address.
   San Francisco Robotics Society of America ( used to
   have a Hero robot group meeting every month.
   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:51:12 1996
    [5]Kevin Dowling <>


                 [12] What's available for Puma Manipulators?
   Pumas are probably the most common robot in university laboratories
   and one of the most common assembly robots. Designed by Vic Schienman
   and financed by GM at MIT in the mid-70's, the Puma (Programmable
   Universal Machine for Assembly) was produced for many years by
   Unimation (later purchased by Westinghouse and sold at a loss later to
   Staubli, a Swiss company) These robots and their progeny are found in
   many university labs.
    Staubli Unimation, Inc.
    201 Parkway West
    Hillside Park
    Duncan, SC 29334
    tel: 803.433.1980
    fax: 803.486.9906
    Staubli Unimation Ltd
    Unit G, Stafford Park 18
    Telford, Shropshire, TF3 3Ax
   _PUMA singularities_
   The PUMA has three singularities: the ``alignment'' singularity (wrist
   is as close to the axis of joint 1 as it can get), the ``elbow''
   singularity (elbow is fully extended or folded up; the latter is not
   possible because of joint limits), and the wrist singularity (the axes
   of joints 4 and 6 are aligned).
   The angles corresponding to these depend on the Denavit-Hartenburg
   (DH) parameter assignment. For the PUMA, the definitions given in [1]
   are perhaps the most commonly used Using these, and letting A2, A3,
   D3, and D4 denote the translational DH offsets, the singularities
   occur when the following are true:
 Alignment:     D4*sin(ang2+ang3) + A2*cos(ang2) - A3*cos(ang2+ang3) == 0

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

 Wrist:         sin(ang5) == 0

 Typical offset values for the PUMA 560 are

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

   Information provided by John Lloyd [3]
  Puma Gear Ratios
   Joint #         Gear Ratio
   --------        -----------
    1               0.01597
    2               0.00931
    3               0.01884
    4               0.01428
    5               0.01391
    6               0.01303

  Puma Quirk
   [Gary McMurray] There is an undocumented bug in the tool mode of the
   PUMA robot under real-time path control. It's found by trying to
   control the robot in tool mode using the alter command. Unimation
   (Westinghouse at that time), has confirmed the bug.
   Basically, the bug consists of this: during real-time control, such as
   alter mode, the controller does not update the rotation matrix for the
   tool coordinate system as the robot moves. Thus, motion commands
   issued to move along the new y axis, result in a motion along the
   original y axis. The same goes for rotations as well.
  Tech Report and Matlab Toolbox
   [Peter Corke] A technical report is available which provides details
   of the Unimation Puma servo system, including details of interfacing
   via the arm-interface board, digital board firmware, and analog
   board/motor dynamics. (54 pages) It can be found at
   A Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB which provides functions for homogeneous
   transformations, quaternions, forward and inverse kinematics,
   trajectories, forward and inverse dynamics, and graphical animation.
   The Toolbox uses a very general method of describing the kinematics
   and dynamics of any serial-link manipulators. Descriptors for the
   Unimate Puma 560 and the Stanford arm are included. Location at
   That directory contains an extensive manual, (72 pages), as
   well as all the M-files.
    _Trident Robotics and Research, Inc._
    2516 Matterhorn Drive
    Wexford, PA 15090-7962
    tel: 412.934.8348
    net: [6]
   Hardware for older LSI/11 based Puma's.
   A board for replacing the PUMA LSI/11 controller with the CPU of your
   choice: The board is basically an I/O board with D/A's, A/D's, encoder
   counters and some digital I/O lines and is available to connect to
   several bus architectures including VMEbus, IBM-PC bus, Multibus and
   IndustryPack bus. (with others under consideration) It comes as a
   two-board set: A PUMA board and a bus interface board. This allows
   several buses to be supported and keeps the analog electronics away
   from the noise of the bus. (It also makes switching buses cheap, if
   the need ever arises.) Since it is primarily an I/O board set, it can
   be used in applications other than controlling a PUMA.
   The user's manuals are available by anonymous ftp at
   [7] and
   This is a PostScript file that can be printed or viewed (to conserve
   paper) and describes the remote board that mounts inside the Unimate
   controller, replacing the VAL computer. The file shows the
   board arrangement diagrammatically.
   _Useful Puma references_
   Richard Paul, Brian Shimano, and Gordon Mayer, _Kinematic Control
   Equations for Simple Manipulators_. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man,
   and Cybernetics, Vol SMC-11, No. 6, June 1981.
   B Armstrong, O Khatib, and J. Burdick The Explicit Dynamic Model and
   Inertial Parameters of the PUMA 560 Arm Proceedings IEEE Int.
   Conference on Robotics and Automation, April 1986 San Francisco, CA
   P.I. Corke and B. Armstrong-Helouvry. _A search for consensus among
   model parameters reported for the Puma 560 Robot._ Proc. IEEE Conf.
   Robotics and Automation, 1994 pp. 1608-1613
   It is also available via anonyous ftp from
   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:51:29 1996
    [10]Kevin Dowling <>


   1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
   2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
               [13] What kinds of Robotics Simulators are there?
   Simulation allows researchers, designers and users to construct robots
   and task environments for a fraction of the cost and time of real
   systems. They differ significantly from traditional CAD tools in that
   they allow study of geometries, kinematics, dynamics and motion
   planning. This list is NOT a comparative analysis of the different
   systems but rather a list of systems that are available.
   [3][13.1] Commercial Simulators
   [4][13.2] Shareware and Freeware Simulators
  [13.1] Commercial Simulators
   _Auto Simulations, Inc._
    655 Medical Drive
    Bountiful, UT 84010
    tel: 801.298.1398
    contact: Teresa Francis, ext 330
   Products: AutoMod II Platforms: ? Cost: ?
    2651 Crosspark Rd
    Coralville, IA 52241
    tel: 319.626.6700
    tel: 319.626.3488
    net: [5]
    url: [6]
   DADS - kinematics and dynamics package. Have ProEngineer to CADSI
   interface. Supports rigid and flexible body analysis. Animation and
   interfaces to FEA/FEM and CAD programs.
   _Deneb Robotics, Inc._
    3285 Lapeer Road West
    PO Box 214687
    Auburn Hills, MI
    tel: 810.377.6900
    fax: 810.377.8125
    url: [7]
   See the URL or send email for offices all over the world.
   Deneb Robotics, was founded in 1985 develops 3D graphics-based factory
   simulation, telerobotic, and virtual reality software.
   Products include IGRIP, ENVISION, Deneb/ERGO, UltraArc, UltraFinish,
   UltraPaint, UltraSpot, QUEST, Virtual NC, and TELEGRIP suite of
   simulation software packages utilize geometrically exact data to
   develop the models used in simulation, analysis, programming, and
   control applications.
   Platforms include UNIX workstations from HP, SGI and Sun and Window NT
   (486/Pentium) machines.
   _Mechanical Dynamics Inc._
    2301 Commonwealth Blvd
    Ann Arbor, MI 48105
    tel: 313.944.3800
    fax: 313.994.6418
   ADAMS is a general purpose dynamics simulator: it can be used to
   simulate any mechanism. You input the model you want to simulate, and
   ADAMS builds the system of equations, and solves it through time. You
   can do kinematic, static, quasi-static and dynamic simulations. And
   then, you can study the results (forces, accelerations and so on).
   It has a good graphical interface, although it's non-standard (it
   doesn't use OpenLook or Motif, but it's own windowing system). But if
   you want to study something not very common, you will have to deal
   with the text interface, and perhaps Fortran programming. It's not
   very easy to learn.
    1601 Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road
    Cupertino, California 95014
    tel: 408.725.8908
   SGI-4D, SUN SparcStation, Apollo, Intergraph, Computervision, HP, IBM
   Risc6000 and DEC.
   Base system around $55K (commercial license) They also have a
   University Partnership Program to enable universities to purchase
   CimStation for around $20K US and $25K International.
   Silma offers application solutions for Spot Welding, Arc Welding,
   Painting, Stamping and Assembly, as well as Robot Calibration Tools.
   Also, SILMA has direct CAD interfaces to Computervision CADDS,
   Parametric Technology Corporation Pro/ENGINEER, IBM CATIA ans MCS
   ANVIL5000. We also support VDAFS and SET in addition to IGES. Finally,
   in addition to CimStation Robotics, we also offer SILMA(R) CimStation
   Inspection - used to create, simulate and edit DMIS programs for
   coordinate measuring machines- (CMMs) and SILMA(R) CimStation NC
   Verification- used to simulate and verify NC part programs.
   Provides: Basic CAD Tools: 2D and 3D solid and wireframe, IGES
   interface, Robot Modelling: generate the required governing equations
   (iterative or closed form) automatically for "many" classes of robots
   Path Generation Kinematic Simulation with Collision Detection Dynamic
   Simulation (CimStation only at this point) I/O Operations.
   John Craig, who wrote the book, Introduction to Robotics is head of
   Silma's R and D. Silma has a programming environment called SIL
   complete with its own PASCAL-like iterative language with graphics and
   robotics extensions. CimStation is built out of this language. This
   allows you to add your own functionality. E.g. your own path planner.
   You can also write C-code, compile it, and add it to the system.
    Robot Simulations Ltd.
    Lynnwood Busines Centre
    Lynnwood Terrace
    Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE4 6UL
    tel: +44 (0)91 272 3673
    fax: +44 (0)91 272 0121
    net: [8]
    or [9]
    url: [10]
   US contact:
    John Lapham
    Applications Engineer
    International Business Link
    17105 San Carlos Blvd. Suite A6151
    Ft. Myers Beach, FL 33931
    tel: 813.466.0488
    fax: 813.466.7270
    net: [11]
   [12]Robot Simulations (RSL) develops and markets the world's first
   microcomputer based industrial robot simulation software named
   Workspace. The package has been selling since 1989. The package uses
   3d graphics to simulate robots and their associated machinery in a
   workcell, and is capable of offline programming industrial and
   educational robots in many different robot languages. It runs on a PC
   and is $5K to educational institutions. $26K for industrial version.
Workspace 3 robot simulation:           Kinematic modeller
Discrete event simulation               Interactive creation of new mechanimsm
   Library of standard robots
   Advanced robot languages             Dynamics simulator
      Variables                            Forces and torques calculated
      Subroutines                          Graphical representation of results
      Loop structures
      Sophisticated motion commands     Text editor
   Accurate representation of mechanisms   Integral editor for track and
   Calculation of cycle times                  teachpoint files
   Collision detection
                                        Solid 3-d rendering
Integrated CAD system                   Fast shaded animations in 256 colours
   Constructive solid geometry
   Library of standard 3d primitives    Computer Aided Learning
      Extruded polylines                Simple authoring of training exercises
      Cones                             Calibration
      Cylinders                            In-built robot and fixture
      Boxes                                   calibration system
      Solids of rotation                User Manuals
   DXF and IGES import facilities          Tutorial exercises
                                           Example robots and workcells

   The system is in use throughout Europe and the Far East in both
   Industry and Education with several hundred seats. Sales in the USA
   are relatively recent.
   _Tecnomatix Technologies/Robcad_
    39750 Grand River Avenue Suite A-3 Novi, MI 48375 tel: 313.471.6140
    fax: 313.471.6147
   Platforms: HP, Silicon Graphics, IBM and Sun.
   Tecnomatix makes several packages for simulation including ones for
   Spot welding, Arc welding, Painting, Teleoperation (Martel), CMM and
   Drilling. They also have an open systems environment, ROSE, that
   allows user customization and interface design. ROBCAD itself allows
   robot modeling (library of 100 robots is supplied), collision free
   path generation, importation of IGES, VDAFS and SET files and direct
   interface with Catia and ComputerVision.
   [GMF - the entry that used to be here, no longer supports OLPW-200,
   instead they are a Robcad reseller]
  [13.2] Sharware and Freeware Simulators
   Many university groups and individuals have developed simulators for
   their own work and made them available via the net.
    Ars Magna:
   The ARS MAGNA robot simulator provides an abstract world in which a
   planner controls a mobile robot. The simulator also includes a simple
   graphical user-interface which uses the CLX interface to the X window
   system. Version 1.0 of the ARS MAGNA simulator is documented in Yale
   Technical Report YALEU/DCS/RR #928, "ARS MAGNA: The Abstract Robot
   Simulator". This report is available in the distribution as a
   Postscript(tm) file, as well as from:
    Paula Murano
    Yale University
    Department of Computer Science
    P.O. Box 2158 Yale Station
    New Haven, CT 06520-2158
   Comments to Sean Engelson. net:
   ARS MAGNA is available by anonymous ftp from
    EROS [Erann's RObot Simulator]
   EROS is a mobile robot simulator. Unlike other simulators, EROS does
   not simulate any particular robot. Instead, EROS is a sort of robot
   simulation construction kit. It is designed to allow users to assemble
   their own robots from reusable software components, and to run those
   robots in user-designed environments. EROS draws inspiration from
   Hanks and Firby's truckworld simulator, but EROS operates at a lower
   level of abstraction than truckworld, and so it is by some measure
   more realistic. EROS has been used to simulate actual physical robots,
   and the behavior produced by EROS has, in some cases, made plausible
   predictions and accurate postdictions of the behaviors of the real
   NOTE: This is a beta-test version of EROS. It runs only under
   Macintosh Common Lisp version 2.0. Many of its features have not been
   tested (although it has been used in a few applications, so parts of
   it work quite well!) and the documentation is not very coherent.
   EROS is available by anonymous ftp at:
   This is an early version for beta testing only. It runs only under MCL
   2.0. It will not run under any other version of Common Lisp, including
   MCL 1.3. (EROS relies heavily on Macintosh graphics and CLOS.) It also
   includes only a single example robot, so out of the box it doesn't do
   very much. You have to be willing to do a little hacking to use it as
   it currently stands. A future release will have more turnkey
   functionality, but it's pretty much an OEM product at this point.
   Contact: Erann Gat net:
   A mobile robot simulator and controller. Contact: Kurt Konolige of SRI
   A Preliminary version of a mobile robot simulator and controller. All
   written in C, but you need Motif to run the graphics.
   This is essentially the same software run on Flakey, (robot at SRI
   used for research in AI), behaviors using fuzzy control (there's lots
   more on Flakey in terms of sensor interpretation and higher-level
   control, but I haven't ported that from LISP to C yet). There are
   three example behaviors implemented, showing dumb obstacle avoidance
   and goal achievement. There's not much documentation yet, but I will
   get some out over the next few months.
   The intent is to make the simulator/controller suitable for a course
   in mobile robotics, and to have eventually a cheap physical platform
   that will imitate the simulator (or vice versa).
   Available by anonymous ftp from:
   [15] Uncompress,
   untar and check the README file for installation.
   A collection of five tech reports on Flakey's fuzzy controller is also
   available at:
   _MATLAB Robotics Toolbox_ [Peter Corke] A Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB
   which provides functions for homogeneous transformations, quaternions,
   forward and inverse kinematics, trajectories, forward and inverse
   dynamics, and graphical animation. The Toolbox uses a very general
   method of describing the kinematics and dynamics of any serial-link
   manipulators. Descriptors for the Unimate Puma 560 and the Stanford
   arm are included. Location at
   That directory contains an extensive manual, (72 pages), as
   well as all the M-files.
   _Simderella 2.0_ Simderella is a robot simulator consisting of three
     * connel: the controller
     * simmel: the simulator
     * bemmel: the X-windows oriented graphics back-end
   Simmel is the part which actually simulates the robot. It performs a
   few matrix multiplications, based on the Denavit Hartenberg method,
   calculates velocities with the Newton-Euler scheme, and communicates
   with the other two programs.
   Bemmel only displays the robot. It is a fast general-purpose display
   method which places separate objects in space depending on the
   homogeneous matrices it receives from simmel.
   Connel is the controller, which must be designed by the user (in the
   distributed version, connel is a simple inverse kinematics routine. I
   didn't include my neural networks.)
   The three programs use Unix sockets for communication. This means that
    1. you need sockets
    2. all the programs can run on different machines
   Since data communication is high-level (meaning, in this case, that I
   do not send doubles, integers, and so on, but encode them first),
   running the programs on different architectures is no problem. In
   fact, it was thus designed that connel can, at the same time, control
   a real robot _and_ the simulated one.
   Simderella likes to sleep; that is, when nothing happens, no processor
   time will be used.
   Version 2.0 of simderella is here. Major adaptations:
     * now features Imakefiles
     * compiles & runs on Solaris and DEC Alpha
     * some C bugs squashed
     * bemmel can grab robot with mouse
     * major improvements to documentation (i.e., an introductory article
       describing the package).
     * includes a stand-alone version of bemmel for drawing geometrical
       objects, with viewoint rotation. Figures can be dumped to xfig for
       later inclusion in your papers.
   The software is available as a compressed tar file from:
   Z [IP] Extract the simulator from the tar file by typing
   at the Unix command line:
          zcat simderella.2.0.tar.gz | tar xf -
   or use your favourite extracting commands. In the simderella/
   directory, type
   make Makefiles
   make depend
   The sub-directories are recursively visited and executables are
   compiled and linked.
   Supported architectures: Sun (SunOS and Solaris), SGI, DEC Alpha,
   HP700, 386 et al running Linux)
   If you're impatient, execute the thing as follows:
   cd bemmel; Zoscar & cd ..
   cd simmel; source env; simmel1 ns & cd ..
   cd connel; connel s
   all on one machine. Then type commands like
          fix-target 50 50 50
          inverse 50 50 50
   or move the mouse pointer in the bemmel window and press an `l' or `r'
   or `u' or `d' or .... [CMU used Simderella recently to facilitate
   software development and testing of the Shuttle servicing robot before
   the hardware and mechanics are available to test the various parts of
   the controller. it has also been linked to TCA calls and worked very
   well - nivek]
   _Public Domain SGI based simulator_
   This is a Silicon Graphics based delux robot simulator with lots of
   graphics Stuff. It was written by Andrew Conway and Craig Dillon as
   undergraduates for an electrical engineering project at the University
   of Melbourne. Not much in installation instructions. There is a latex
   manual with usage instructions and the mathematics. Warning: It is
   4.3Mbytes compressed, and the US-Australia link is quite slow.
   Disclaimer: I [Andrew] haven't used this software for years. If it
   malfunctions, don't sue me or Craig, we don't guarantee it.
   The complete programe is divided into three menus: Main, Drawing and
   Robot Menus. features such as selecting elements or the complete
   screen, rotating, translating, zooming, enlarging or reducing the
   scale and passing to the two dimensional drawing window from the three
   dimensional one are available.
   The Drawing Menu also offers many other possibilities like drawing
   three dimensional circles, ellipses, arcs, elliptical arcs, cylinders,
   cones, prisms, ellipsoids, toroids, etc. In addition to these, it is
   also possible to obtain hidden line drawing and to change the point
   numbers of the circular drawing elements. Whereas in Robots Menu,
   operations like selecting modules from the sub-menus, containing
   graphics, which concern body, wrist, hand systems and work spaces of
   robots, finding direct and inverse kinematics solution of these
   systems, point by point simulation of the robot motions, changing
   Denavit-Hartenberg parameters and joint freedom extremums from the
   menus can be performed. WSMR-SIMTEL20.Army.Mil/pd1:/
   OAK.Oakland.Edu/pd1:/MODULSH2.ZIP MODULSH1.ZIP is the design and
   animation of robots, 1 of 2. MODULSH2.ZIP is the design and animation
   of robots, 2 of 2 Author:
    Dr. Hikmet Kocabas
    Istanbul Technical University
    Contact: Mark W. Spong
    Coordinated Science Lab
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    1308 W. Main St.
    Urbana, IL 61801
    tel: 217.333.4281
    fax: 217.244.1653
   Robotica is a trademark of The Board of Trustees of the University of
   Robotica is a collection of useful robotics problem solving functions
   encapsulated in a Mathematica package. Utilizing Mathematica's
   computational features allows results to be generated in purely
   symbolic form.
   Robotica requires inputing the form of a table of Denavit-Hartenberg
   parameters describing the robot to be analyzed. Once the table has
   been entered, Robotica can generate the forward kinematics for the
   robot. The A and T matrices as well as the velocity Jacobian, J, are
   generated. Of course, it is possible to display and save to an
   external file all of the data generated. If the dynamics equations of
   the robot are also to be generated, the input must include the
   dynamics description data.
   Once the forward kinematics are produced, Euler-Lagrange dynamics
   equations can be calculated. The inertia matrix, Coriolis and
   centrifugal terms, Christoffel symbols and gravity vectors are all
   available to the user once the dynamics routines have run.
   Utilizing the forward kinematics results, Robotica can calculate the
   manipulability ellipsoids when supplied with a range of joint variable
   values. It is possible to generate and save a list of manipulability
   measures as well as display the ellipsoids with the robot on the
   In addition, Robotica has the capbability of reading external
   simulation (e.g., SIMNON) output files and displaying the motion of
   the robot when sbjected to the sequence of joint variables described
   in the file. This requires that the robot has been input as a table of
   Denavit-Hartenburg parameters, and that the foward-kinematics routines
   have been executed.
   Robotics contains several functions that can be used to draw the robot
   in a specific configuration, or show the robot moving through a range
   of joint parameter values. Most of the graphics output can be animated
   if the Animation.m package is loaded The animations can be saved and
   later restored and viewed again.
   To simplify interactation with Robotica, an X-Windows based interface
   has been designed. This interface insulates the user from the
   inconvenient textual interface Mathematica provides.
   Requirements: Mathematica 2.0 or better. X-windows requires 2.1 or
   The University has requested that all users of Robotica sign and
   return a license agreement. This is mainly to keep a record of
   Robotica users for future upgrades, etc. The license agreement states
   that you may freely use and modify Robotica as you wish but that you
   may not sell it.
   You can obtain a postscript copy of this license agreement via
   anonymous [21] Please print out
   the license agreement, sign and date it, and FAX it to me [Mark Spong]
   It is important that you also include your email address on the
   license agreement. As soon as I receive your FAX I will send you the
   Robotica package and the X-windows GUI.
   Also in the directory /pub/robotica is a postscript file containing
   the Robotica users manual which you may freely copy and distribute.
   Any comments that you have after using Robotica would be greatly
   appreciated. In addition, any questions you have or bugs you find can
   be reported to me and we will do our best to address them.
   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 12:25:28 1996
    [22]Kevin Dowling <>


   1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
   2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
   3. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/13.html#13.1
   4. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/13.html#13.2
[14] What Real-Time Operating System should I use?

   [3][14.1] Commerical RTOS
   [4][14.2] Research RTOS 
   For general discussion of this topic see [5]news:comp.real-time and
   [6]news:news.answers for the complete RTOS FAQ.
   Below is a list of both commercial and research Real-Time Operating
   Systems (RTOS) which are being used around the world for implementing
   robotic systems. Only the names and addresses of the distributors are
   included. Since the available features of each are constantly
   changing, and the advantages and disadvantages of each are greatly a
   matter of opinion and target application, no such descriptions are
[14.1] Commerical RTOS

  Chimera and Onika
   Chimera is a next generation multiprocessor real-time operating system
   (RTOS) designed especially to support the development of dynamically
   reconfigurable software for robotic and automation systems. Chimera is
   being used by several institutions outside of Carnegie Mellon,
   including university, government, and industrial research labs.
   Chimera provides most of the features available in commercial
   real-time operating systems, plus advanced support for the rapid
   deployment of reconfigurable sensor-based control systems based on
   reconfigurable and reusable software modules.
     * advanced support for the creation of applications based on
       reconfigurable and reusable real-time software modules
     * supports multiple general purpose CPUs in a VMEbus backplane
     * static and dynamic scheduling
     * default scheduler may be replaced with custom code
     * global error handling and detection
     * full-featured standard libraries (stdio, strings, math, time)
     * additional libraries useful for creating reconfigurable software
       (command-interpreter framework, configuration file reading
       utility, matrix functions)
     * rich set of multiprocessor communication and synchronization
       primitives (shared memory, semaphores, message queues)
     * high-performance local (uniprocessor) semaphores
     * fully integrated host workstation environment
     * standard GNU development tools
     * support for special purpose processors (i.e. DSPs, FPPs)
     * flexible interface for I/O device access
   Chimera currently runs on MC68020, MC68030 and MC68040 VMEbus single-
   board computers (currently, the only models supported are the Ironics
   IV-3220, Ironics IV-3230 and the Ironics IV-3207). The '020 and '030
   boards all require the MC68881/2 floating-point coprocessor.
   Chimera itself is not available for anonymous FTP as it has become a
   commercial product marketed by Pittsburgh-based K2T Inc. (pronounced
   K-squared-T). Onika is tightly bound to advanced features in Chimera
   and hence is not currently suited for use on other platforms. However,
   users of Chimera do receive a free copy of Onika.
   _Obtaining Chimera and Onika_ A selection of sample Chimera
   applications and reconfigurable modules will be made available in a
   public FTP site to help new users get started. The applications and
   modules will be available in both source and binary forms.
   The one condition of this free release is that any module or
   application that an institution develops under Chimera must be placed
   on a public FTP site for use by other research institutions.
   Chimera will be licensed on a per-installation basis, and will be
   released free only to qualified institutions (i.e. universities or
   research labs). Commercial ventures are welcome to contact CMU and
   arrange appropriate licensing of this technology.
   Chimera will be made available primarily by FTP. For institutions
   which lack Internet access, the software may be supplied on tape. If
   requested on tape, a small fee will be charged to cover CMU's media
   and handling costs.
   _For More Information_ For info on Chimera, you may browse Chimera's
   WWW page at: [8]chimera.html
   Or you may obtain a text document with the same information by: finger
   For more information on Onika, please consult Onika's WWW page at:
   [9]Onika.html For information on obtaining Chimera and Onika for your
   university or research lab, please send email to
   Technical questions about the internals of Chimera and Onika may be
   mailed to [11]
   If you are interested in purchasing Chimera, please contact Eric
   Hoffman of K2T Inc. directly:
    Eric Hoffman, Chief Engineer
    K2T Inc.
    Suite 205, One Library Place
    Duquesne, PA 15110
    tel: 412.469.3150
    fax: 412.469.8120
    _Real-Time Innovations, Inc._
    954 Aster, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
    tel: 408.720.8312
    fax: 408.720.8419
    contact: Stan Schneider
   ControlShell is an Object-Oriented Framework for Real-Time System
     * Complete object-oriented real-time software environment.
     * Graphically build your system from reusable components.
     * Readily include powerful rule-based event responses.
     * Easily share data between networked processors.
   ControlShell is a next-generation CASE environment for real-time
   system software development. ControlShell's modular, component-based
   structure, powerful graphical tools, and integrated data management
   provide a unique approach to real-time software development.
   With ControlShell, you can:
     * Build your system from reusable components with the graphical
       Data-Flow Editor. Select and connect your components, set
       parameters, and build your run-time system with a few mouse
     * Add new components with the graphical Component Editor.
       Automatically generate C++ source code to interface your new
       component to the system.
     * Create structured strategic programs with the graphical
       State-Machine Editor. Combine rule-based transition conditions,
       true callable sub-chain hierarchies, task synchronization and
       event management.
     * Manage complex system mode changes with the graphical execution
       Configuration Manager.
     * Perform real-time mathematics with the complete real-time matrix
     * Take advantage of an ever-expanding library of generic and
       reusable components, including controllers, estimators, filters,
       signal generators, trajectory generators, and more.
   Runs on Intel 80X86-based computers.
    _Intel Corporation_
    3065 Bowers Avenue
    Santa Clara, California 95051
    tel (408) 987-8080
   Runs on wide variety of platforms, including Motorola, Intel, Sun, and
   Hewlett Packard.
    _Lynx Real-Time Systems, Inc_
    16780 Lark
    Los Gatos, CA 95030
    tel (408) 354-7770
    fax (408) 354-7085
   Runs on Motorola MC680X0-based single board computers.
    _Microware System Corporation_
    1900 N.W. 114th St.
    Des Moines, Iowa 50322
    tel (515) 224-1929
   Runs on a variety of Motorola 680X0 and 88100, and Intel 80386
   computers. Requires a host workstation or personal computer if
   pASSPORT+ real-time programming environment is to be used.
    _Software Components Group, Inc._
    1731 Technology Drive
    San Jose, CA 95110
    tel (408) 437-0700
    fax (408) 437-0711
    VenturCom Inc
    215 First St.
    Cambridge, MA. 02142
    tel: 617.661.1230
          Product runs on ix86 platforms and PC/104 systems.
          Product is real UNIX, SVR3.2 and SVR4.2.
          Workstation version requires ~4MB, 120MB, 80{3|4}86 processor.
          Embedded version requirements vary depending on features used.
          Embedded product allows for completely ROMed UNIX systems, from
          read-only root to stand alone applications.
   Runs on a wide variety of processors, including Motorola 680X0, Intel
   80X86 and 80960, National Semiconductor series 3200.
    2350 Mission College Blvd.
    Santa Clara, CA 95054
    tel: 408.980.1300
    tel: 800.950.5554
    fax: 408.982.8266
    net: [12]
    url: [13]
   Runs on a wide variety of MC680X0 and SPARC-based single board
   computers. Requires a workstation for program developments. Widely
   used in Unix environments for realtime work.
    _Wind River Systems Inc._
    1000 Atlantic Avenue
    Alameda, CA 94501
    tel: 510.748.4100 or 800.545.WIND (9463)
    fax: 510.814.2010
   Tools related to VxWorks:
    _Real-Time Innovations, Inc._
    954 Aster, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
    tel: 408.720.8312
    fax: 408.720.8419
    contact: Stan Schneider
   Product name:
          Real-time networked graphical monitoring and data acquisition.
          Software, Development tools
        Real-time data collection and display.
        Monitor any program variables.
        Export data to MATLAB and MatrixX.
        Friendly multi-window environment.
        Gain insight into what's happening in your system.
   StethoScope is a real-time graphical monitoring, performance analysis,
   and data collection tool for VxWorks. Use it to watch any of your
   program variables evolve in real time; any value in memory can be
   monitored. StethoScope opens a window into your application; it shows
   you what's really happening.
   Product name:
          Real-time dynamic execution profiler.
          Software, Development tools
        Detailed procedure-by-procedure analysis of CPU usage.
        Tree or flat structure model.
        Quickly spot performance bottlenecks.
        Minimally intrusive. Run your code at full execution speed.
        No special compilation. Analyze already running code.
   ScopeProfile is a dynamic execution profiler for VxWorks. It shows you
   exactly where you're spending your CPU cycles.
   Product name:
          VxWorks tool and utility package.
          Software, Development tools
          Memory integrity and leak testing
          Re-entrant shell program
          Execution tracing utility
          Fast buffer management
   RTILib is a collection of focused utilities and debugging tools.
   Distributed, POSIX, real-time microkernel for Intel x86 processors.
   Supports fault tolerance and also hosts MS-Windows in Standard mode.
    _QNX Software Systems_
    175 Terrence Matthews Cr.
    Kanata, Ontario K2M 1W8, Canada
    tel: 613.591.0931 x111
    fax: 613.591.3579
    _QNX Software Systems_
    Westendstr.19 6000 Frankfurt, Germany
    tel: 49 69 97546156 x299
    fax: 49 69 97546110
   Two QNX papers are available via anonymous FTP:
     * [14]An Architectural Overview of QNX
     * [15]A Microkernel POSIX OS for Realtime Embedded Systems
[14.2] Research RTOS

   Runs on MC680X0-based single board computers. reference: NRCC Tech
   Report No. 30081
   In Canada:
    Division of Electrical Engineering
    National Research Council of Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    K1A 0R6
   REXIS (Real-time EXecutive for Intelligent Systems) is a small
   multi-tasking preemptive real-time executive for implementing control
   programs for intelligent systems such as robotics and distributed
   networks. It provides functions for managing tasks, memory allocation,
   message ports, timers, and event processing.
   It is distributed as shareware at a low cost to hobbyists / students.
   The current requirements for compiling and running REXIS is an ANSI C
   HC11 cross compiler and a HC11 target with at least 24K of RAM. Other
   targets are under consideration. For more information, please contact:
    _Richard Man_
    P.O. Box 6
    North Chelmsford, MA 01863
    tel: 508.452.5203
    net: or
  Robot Control C Library (RCCL)
   A robot programming environment embedded in C/UNIX. A graphics
   simulator is provided which supports the PUMA, Stanford, and `Elbow'
   manipulators. The system can be compiled on SGIs (so the Indigo should
   be fine), and the graphics runs under either X or GL. You can get the
   system from RCIM for a small fee to cover copying and shipping. If you
   are interested send mail to:
    _John Lloyd_
    Research Center for Intelligent Machines
    McGill University, Montreal
    tel: 514.398.8281
    fax: 514.398.7348
   Last-Modified: Mon Aug 19 02:57:23 1996
    [16]Kevin Dowling <>


   1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
   2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
   3. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/14.html#14.1
   4. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/14.html#14.2
   5. news:comp.real-time
   6. news:news.answers
  10. mailto:
  11. mailto:
                             [15] What is NuTank?
   NuTank stands for NeuralTank. It is a program to simulate complex
   networks and interactions. In this program one is given the shell of a
   2 dimensional robotic tank. The tank has various I/O devices like
   wheels, whiskers, optical sensors, smell, fuel level, sound and such.
   These I/O sensors are connected to Neurons. The player/designer uses
   more Neurons to interconnect the I/O devices. One can have any level
   of complexity desired (640k memory limited) and do subsumptive
   designs. More complex design take slightly more fuel, so life is not
   free. All movement costs fuel too. One can also tag neuron connections
   as "adaptable" that adapt their weights in accordance with the target
   neuron. This allows neurons to learn.
   The Neuron editor can handle 3 dimensional arrays of neurons as single
   entities with very flexible interconnect patterns. One can also design
   a Glyph or drawing to represent the robot and/or obstacle. (or bug,
   worm, whatever) One can then design a scenario with walls, rocks, fat
   (fuel) sources (that can be smelled) and many other such things.
   Robot tanks are then introduced into the Scenario and allowed to
   interact or battle it out. The last one alive wins, or maybe one just
   watches the motion of the robots for fun. While the scenario is
   running it can be stopped, edited, zoom'd, and can track on any robot.
   One can designate a neuron group as the probe group and get a display
   of the neural activity of that group. This helps debug designs.
   The entire program is mouse and graphically based. It uses DOS and VGA
   and is written in TurboC++
   There will also be the ability to download designs to another computer
   and source code will be available for the core neural simulator. This
   will allow one to design neural systems and download them to real
   robots. This feature may be in the Beta release, around August 94. The
   design tools can handle three dimensional networks so will work with
   video camera inputs and such.
   Eventually I expect to do a port to UNIX and multi thread the program.
   I also expect to do a Mac port and maybe NT or OS/2
   The theory that I eventually want to test has to do with the self
   oscillating nature of combined subsumptive and standard neural nets.
   One can also work on flock and pack behavior.
   I have a paper I've written called Artificial Cognition that discusses
   a theory of the combination of regular neural nets and subsumptive
   networks. In the shareware file it is called and will need to
   be printed on a PostScript printer. You may get copies of it by
   sending $5 to Keene Educational Software.
   _Getting NuTank:_ NuTank now has a shareware version. It is about 300k
   bytes compressed. The file is nutank.exe and is a PKZip executable for
   dos machines. It must be put in a directory called C:\nutank
   To unpack nutank first put nutank.exe in C:
   mkdir nutank
   cd nutank
   ..\nutank.exe -d
   After it unpacks _nutank.exe_ is the program If anyone would like to
   put it on their server feel free to do so. If you put the shareware on
   your sever please tell me so I can send you updates.
   Nutank shareware is available at these ftp sites:
   [3] or
   [4] The shareware
   version has the ability to write to disk disabled. Feel free to pass
   the shareware version around. The regular version costs $50 (includes
   a printed copy of the paper) and can be had by sending $50 US to
    Richard Keene
    Keene educational Software
    8155 Lone Oak Court
    Littleton, CO 80124
   I am at the Park City Group and can be reached at 801-649-2221
   NuTank, Copyright Richard Keene 1994, All rights reserved.
   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:52:14 1996
    [5]Kevin Dowling <>


             [16] Survey of Mobile Robot Development Environments
   This list provides a look at mobile systems that people are using. The
   list includes robot base information, as well as hardware and software
   environments used in the systems.
   This is an updated and abridged survey compiled by Willie Lim The
   complete file, which includes a list of organizations and the original
   messages can be ftp'd from

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

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

Recherche (AAR) Outdoor robot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JPL             7 robots        Suns to 6811            RCCL, ALFA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purdue U.       PETER           Sun4, 68030             C, VxWorks

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

Swiss FIT       Mobile robot    Mac                     MacMETH, Modula-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:52:44 1996
    [4]Kevin Dowling <>

                            [17] Robot Controllers
   [3][17.1] What is the Miniboard?
   [4][17.2] What is the F1 Board?
   [5][17.3] What is the Bot Board?
   [6][17.4] What is the Handyboard?
   [7][17.5] Other Controllers
   This section describes both industrial robot controllers and small
   inexpensive single board controllers. A few companies are now
   specializing in robot controllers. They can be used to upgrade
   controllers for older robots or provide greater flexibility or better
   fit with existing computing environments.
    _Cimetrix, Inc._
    2222 South 950 East
    Provo, UT 84606
    tel: 801.344.7000
    fax: 801.344.7077
    net: [8] 
   Cemetrix is a manufacturer of PC-based real-time open-architecture
   robot controllers. Their software architecture allows a user to select
   kinematics for virtually every commercial robot ever manufactured, as
   well as write your own kinematic solution.
   Application programming is done in C or with a "non-programmers
   language" automated programming environment called CIMBuilder. They
   are on the verge of releasing a WindowsNT product that will allow
   programming in Visual C++ too. Their client/server architecture allows
   the application program to be run on either a control server or
   simulation server. So you can develop your code offline with a
   graphical simulation concurrent to your workcell hardware development.
   This can save weeks in project timelines.
   They currently have a turn-key hardware solution for many commercial
   robots including the PUMA 762.
   A variety of small and inexpensive controller boards for robotics have
   developed by a number of groups. These boards are becoming widely used
   and a number of discussions on the robotics bboards center around the
   design, use and programming of these controllers.
   Several including the Miniboard, F1 board and Bot board are listed
   here. Many small micro-controller boards are available from different
   companies. A small micro-processor, some memory and I/O can all be had
   for $40-$100 dollars (US).
   Robotic Systems plans to offer other parts and kits including the
   Miniboard, 6.270 board, Handyboard, Rug Warrior board, and a wide
   selection of motors, batteries, sensors and software for building
    Robotic Systems, Inc
    1102 West Glen River Road
    Glendale, Wisconsin 53217
    tel: 414.821.7675
    fax: 414.963.4825
    url: [9]
    Clint Laskowski, President
  [17.1] What is the Miniboard?
   The Mini Board is an outgrowth of the MIT 6.270 robot course and
   design project. It is a small and inexpensive design for a controller
   board based on the ubiquitous (yet sometimes hard to find) 68HC11
   The Mini Board 2.1 Extended is the latest version of the Mini Board.
   It is based on the Mini Board 2.0 Extended (see file
   [10]pub/projects/miniboard/docs/mbextend.txt ), and includes the
   following new features:
     * full six-wire SPI jacks include power, ground, and all four SPI
     * optional diode protection prevents reverse-polarity voltage input
       when using DC power jack.
     * power and ground on Port A headers may be bridged to motor power
       and ground, allowing RC servos to be plugged directly into the
       Port A header (when using a 5.5 to 6v power supply).
     * extra space between PLCC socket and female header connectors to
       allow for newer, slightly larger PLCC sockets.
     * mounting holes drilled for single RJ11 jack (for RS-232 serial),
       saving money on triple RJ11 jack if SPI ports are not to be used.
   Download the file [11]pub/projects/miniboard/docs/mb21ext.PS.Z to see
   the silkscreen of the new board.
   The MINI BOARD 2.1 is a complete embedded computer board for robotic
   applications. It can directly power four DC motors and receive inputs
   from numerous sensors. Its miniature size (smaller than a business
   card) makes it suited well for mobile applications as well as other
   embedded control.
   It can be programmed in 6811 assembler code or C for stand-alone
   operation, or it can serve as a serial-line based controller operated
   by a desktop computer.
     overall dimensions: 3.3" by 1.86", smaller than a business card. If
   desired, an off-board serial connector can be used, allowing an
   additional .6" of board length can be chopped off.
     nearly all parts can be purchased from Digikey (including all
   connectors and switches). Extensive use of resistor packs minimizes
   component count.
     uses Motorola 68hc811e2 microprocessor with 2048 bytes of internal,
   electrically erasable PROM and 256 bytes of RAM.
     four motor drivers for bidirectional control of small DC motors (up
   to 600 mA current, 36 volts each motor).
     eight analog inputs; eight digital inputs or outputs; several timer
   and counter I/O pins, all broken out to convenient header ports.
     on-board 5v regulator allows board to be powered by any DC power
   source from 5.6 to 36 volts.
     RS-232 compatible RJ-11 port for communication/program download
   between host computer.
     two modular high speed serial jacks, allowing networks of multiple
   MB 2.0's to be constructed using common 4-wire phone cable.
   Multiple-mastering bus protocols supported.
     optional battery level monitoring using voltage divider from supply
   voltage before regulation.
     XIRQ line broken out to a pad: when this line is given 12.5v, an
   'hc711e9 chip with 12K of EPROM can be programmed in place.
     MS-DOS, Macintosh, and Unix software provided for downloading
   programs to board. 6811 monitor program provided for recording changes
   in sensor state, controlling motors and interacting with other board
   features over serial line.
     C/assembler libraries provided for code development using Dunfield
   Development Systems' Micro-C compiler, and ImageCraft's freeware icc11
   C compiler. A fifty-page manual describing how to build and operate
   the Mini Board is on-line on the FTP server:
   People who don't have access to anonymous FTP can do FTP-by-mail,
   provided as a public service by DEC. Send a message containing the
   single word _help_ to _ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com_ for instructions.
   Also on-line is software for programming the Mini Board from MS-DOS,
   Macintosh, and Unix machines.
    _Douglas Electronics, Inc._
    2777 Alvarado Street
    San Leandro, California 94577 USA
    tel: 510.483.8770
    bbs: 510.483.6548
    fax: 510.483.6453
   Douglas Electronics has been a manufacturer of prototyping
   "breadboards" for over 40 years, and we also manufacture hundreds of
   custom order printed circuit designs every month for people using our
   Macintosh-based CAD/CAM software. One such user of our software is
   Fred Martin, of MIT, who is the designer of the MiniBoard. We have had
   several requests from people wanting a few MiniBoards of their own
   over the years, so we figured we might as well stock them if we could.
   Douglas Electronics, a Macintosh PCB CAD software house and a
   commercial PCB fab facility, is a distributor of blank Mini Board
   PCBs. [Thanks to Bill]
   Pricing for the new mini-board is as follows:
   1 board only ................. $ 10.00
   2 to 9 boards ................ 7.50 ea.
   10 to 50 boards .............. 6.25 ea.
   50 and over .................. 5.00 ea.
   Shipping is specified by and paid by the customer, and California
   residents are subject to state sales tax. These are bare boards only
   (we don't sell assembled units or kits) but all of the parts you need
   to populate the MiniBoard should be available from common parts
   suppliers such as Digi-Key, Newark, etc. and a silkscreened legend on
   the board helps you put everything where it belongs. Douglas accepts
   all major credit cards. There is also a dollar volume discount on
   Douglas' breadboard products, that applies over and above the
   per-board quantity discounts, as follows:
   $500 5%
   $1000 10%
   $2500 15%
   $5000 20%
   For more info see:
   Three individuals are independent suppliers of Mini Board technology:
     * Gregory Ratcliff , 1763 Hess Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43212;
       (614) 487-0695 Greg sells blank boards for $6, parts kits, and
       assembled boards. Please contact him for information. You can also
       send him an order directly.
       Make checks out to The Progressive Solution and mail them to him
       at 1763 Hess Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43212; call him at (614)
       487-0695 for more information.
       $66.00 Parts kit of all parts that mount on the PCB, less PCB (see
       above). Assembled boards will also continue to be available....
       $82.00 Assembled and Tested with DLM 2.0 downloaded (we need that
       in to test...of course you could overwrite the dlm)
       $2.00 Fred's 45 page document set...only with board order.
       Shipping in the USA: $3.00 per order... regardless of quantity.
       Delivery is based upon demand.
     * Mark Reeves 1117 Braemar Court, Cary, NC 27511; BBS and voice
       (919) 481-3170 (voice hours from 5-7 pm EST). Shipping - all
       orders will be shipped ASAP, we do not need to wait for a certain
       number of orders (although there may be delays while certain parts
       are gotten). If a delay happens you will be notified by email or
       postcard. No check or MO will be cashed until the order is ready
       to ship.
       PRICES (subject to change without notice) All kits include a PCB,
       a kit without a PCB will be $5.00 less. A kit without the 1 RJ11
       adpt will be $2.50 less, a kit without the 3 RJ11 adpt will be
       $5.00 less.
       K0 - a super basic kit, does not include any RS232 stuff, or motor
       drive items, inductors, or most of the other discrete components,
       it does have a PCB, CPU, socket, one 36 pin header, and a few
       other items. Good for TTL level RS232, via some other chip, for
       the person wants to use the board for expansion purposes, or
       whatever. Contact us for price.
     * K1 - basic kit all parts needed to get a board up and going, one
       RJ11 jack, no headers, for the true hobby person $41.00
     * K2 - same as above, but has all header connectors (3 female, 2
       male - 36 pin header connectors) $46.50
     * K3 - basic + motor controller the full kit with all needed parts,
       with all LED's and motor controller chips, one RJ11 jack $57.50
     * K4 - full kit same as K3, but has the 3 RJ11 jacks for
       interconnecting with other boards $60.00
     * B1 - bare PCB board, double sided, extended version silk screened
       parts location, etc. $5.00
     * J1 - a DC power jack and power switch for the board. Use if the
       screw power connector is not used; this would work with a plug in
       power supply. Note- these items are sold at cost, they are not
       cheap $6.50
   Add $25 to any kit to get it built, add an B to the kit number, i.e.
   K4-B or K4-B-A for the 68hc11A1 version of the kit. All assembled
   boards will have all parts soldered on them, but to meet FCC
   requirements there will be minor work to be done ( you have to install
   on chip)
   NOTE: the basic kits do NOT include the motor controller chips or the
   motor LED's, they do have the RS232 parts, they are for people who
   want to use the board for things other than robotics. No speaker or
   sensors are included. All motor controller chips are the TI version,
   1A drive current. All prices are subject to change without notice;
   please e-mail to check if prices have gone up or down since this
   Mark is a supplier of the recent board revision called the "Mini Board
   2.0 Extended." This version of the Mini Board includes a power switch
   and DC power jack for ease of use. Please see the file
   [14]pub/miniboard/mbextend.txt for more information.
     [15]CW Technology, Wally Blackburn
   Miniboard 2.1 Extended Kit: $84US
   Miniboard 2.1 Extended Assembled/Tested: $109US NOTE TO INSTITUTIONS:
   Any order to a school, company, or any other large institution will
   ONLY be shipped via FedEx at an additional $10US. This is to avoid the
   "lost in the receiving department syndrome" that often occurs in these
   Send orders to: CW Technology, 7328 Timbercreek Court, Reynoldsburg,
   OH 43068-1181. COD orders can be sent via e-mail or by calling
   Hard copies of the Mini Board manual may be ordered by sending a check
   payable for U.S. $5 to "MIT Epistemology and Learning" at:
    _Epistemology and Learning Publications_
    MIT Media Laboratory
    20 Ames Street
    E15-301, Cambridge MA 02139.
   There is now a mailing list for discussing the board. The purpose of
   the mailing list is to discuss robot controller boards, and robot
   control in general. In particular, the list will be used to support
   the Mini Board 2.0 and 6.270 board design by Fred Martin and Randy
   Sargent of MIT. However, any and all traffic related to robot
   controllers is welcome.
   Administrative address:
   (send a message containing the word "help" for directions) Mailing
   list address:
   Please DO NOT send administrative things to the main mailing list
   address, as then everyone will get annoyed.
  [17.2] What is the F1 Board?
   A PCB board set designed around the 68HC11f1 microprocessor, which I
   have made available as a non-profit enterprise to all you folks on the
   net. To help those of you in the US, Daniel Mauch of the Seattle
   Robotics Society agreed to act as a distributor.
   Well, my first shipment of these PCB's to Daniel lasted about a week,
   I didn't realise they were going to be so popular! He has now received
   the second shipment from me, so if anyone is interested in these
   boards please Email Daniel at
   _'F1 Board:_
          118 x 80 mm (4.6" x 3.2")
                Power 6.5 - 35vdc (or 5vdc if you jumper the 7805 socket)
                RS485 serial communications
                RS232 serial communications
                SPI interface (Same as Miniboard connectors but
                Master/Slave switchable)
                8 Analog inputs
                Port A connector
                Control bus connector for additional boards
          Configuration: 32K Ram memory 32K EPROM (or another 32K Ram -
          switch select) MODA and MODB jumpers Analog Vrh and Vrl jumper
          to +5 and 0v or user selectable
   Motor Board:
          107 x 59 mm ( 4.2" x 2.3")
          8 Digital inputs
          8 Digital outputs
          4 x DC motors
          2 x Stepper motors (less than 1.5 Amps each)
          2 x R/C servo motors
          5 x base address selections (allows for multiple boards to be
          Stepper / Servo switch selectable
          Separate power supply for DC and Stepper motors.
          F1 board $17
          Motor board $13
          EPROM (w/Buffalo) $11
          Postage $5
   This board was designed primarily for embedded control and small
   robotics applications, and as such it is as versatile as I could get
   it. For more details there is complete documentation (in postscript
   format) in the file [16] at mit. A number of other F1
   related files are available in the same directory.
    Pete Dunster
    Dept. of Mech. Eng.
    University of Wollongong
    Northfields Ave
    N.S.W. 2522 AUSTRALIA
    tel: +61-42-213597
    fax: +61-42-213101
  [17.3] What is the Bot Board?
   The BOTBoard is a single chip microcomputer board designed for general
   use, and robotics applications. The BOTBoard uses the popular 68HC11
   microcontroller in a minimum configuration, and is easily programmed
   from your PC. Engineered to be small, the BOTBoard is also powerful
   and flexible. Each BOTBoard is 2" X 3" with a 1" X 2" prototyping
   Special BOTBoard Features:
     * Four R/C Servo Ports.
     * Auto start jumper.
     * Reset Switch and low voltage circuitry.
     * 1" X 2" proto-typing area, with power bus strips.
     * Easy to use Networking Port (SPI). With Master/Slave selection.
     * Powered RS232 Port (TTL level) for serial communication.
     * Pull up resistors on IRQ and XIRQ.
     * All I/O pins on .100 grid headers.
     * Single sided circuit board design.
     * Uses either the MC68HC11 or MC68HC811 .
     * Mounting holes that can be used for stacking.
     * Power supply connector.
   The BOTBoard is a bare circuit board that was designed to give the
   most amount of flexibility for the least cost. The BOTBoard manual
   contains parts list, building instructions, ordering information,
   schematics, and application notes. You can assemble the BOTBoard in
   less than a half hour, with a total cost of parts being about $20.
   BOTBoard = $5.95 each or three for $15.
   Shipping = $1.25 plus .25 for each board.
    _Marvin Green_
    821 SW 14th
    Troutdale, OR 97060
    tel: 503.666.5907
   The Bot Board is also sold by Zorin and they sell Marvin Green's
   BOTBoard in kit form.
   They provide BOTBoard kits, programming software and servo motors. A
   complete single board controller for only $87. They also supply power
   supplies and cases for professional looking projects. They are also
   adding peripherals and other products as well. Visa and MC now
   The BOTBoard is a low cost and powerful single board computer based on
   the Motorola HC11E series Microcontroller. The Zorin kits make it easy
   to create many types of computer controlled applications. Get the
   optional servo motors to create walking machines, robotic arms,
   animated art and more! Program the on-chip memory from any computer or
   terminal using the Buffalo monitor, or use the PC software included
   with the kit. The eight page assembly man includes example code to
   operate the servo motors. See their web page at:
    Christopher Nielsen
    net: [18]
    PO Box 30547
    Seattle, WA 98103
    tel: 206.282.6061
    fax: 206.282.9579
  [17.4] What is the Handyboard?
   The Media Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
   announces the Handy Board, a new microcontroller board ideal for
   experimental and educational robotics projects. The Handy Board
   features the Motorola 68HC11 CPU with 32K of battery-backed RAM, a
   16x2 character LCD screen, four DC motor outputs, sixteen powered
   sensor inputs, infrared I/O, and a built-in rechargeable battery, all
   in a convenient hand-held size. The Handy Board runs Interactive C, a
   multi-tasking development system for MS-DOS, Macintosh, and Unix host
   computers. [19]News release
   The Handy Board is the latest in a series of boards released under
   MIT's free licensing policy, in which the printed circuit board
   artwork, schematics, and driver software may be freely licensed for
   personal, educational, and commercial use. Past designs disseminated
   under this policy include the 6.270 Robot Controller System and the
   Mini Board.
   Handy Board kits and assembled systems are distributed by Gleason
   Research ([20], 617-641-2551), CW Technology
   ([21], 800-547-7479), and Digital Micro Systems
   ([22], 614-299-2566). Blank printed circuit boards are
   sold by Douglas Electronics ([23], 510-483-8770).
   Fred Martin, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Media Laboratory, is the
   creator of the Handy Board. Dr. Martin is presently writing a textbook
   for an undergraduate engineering course based on mobile robotics
   project work. The text (working title, The Art of Engineering by
   Robotics) will make extensive use of the Handy Board, and is scheduled
   for publication in late 1996 by Addison-Wesley.
   For more information, contact one of the distributors, or see the
   Handy Board home page on the World-Wide Web:
  [17.5] Other Robot Controllers
  Jerry Burton
   Jerry Burton offers a number of boards including controller boards,
   controllers boards, and I/O boards:
     * The main board is based on a 68hc11 running in external mode with
       32K ram and 32K ROM. The ROM contains the Buffalo monitor (with a
       assembler/dissasembler added), plus a module called ROBOTMON which
       is a menu driven exerciser for all functions (including motors,
       sonars, steppers, servos), a ROBOT.UTL module which contains a
       number of routines for converting input data from dec/hex and
       output routines for displaying data in various formats (e.g
       decimal, hex, binary, etc.), and ROBOT.INT provides all of the
       interrupt routines for 2 channels of PWM. a 10 msec TOK_COUNT, IC
       routines to measure wheel encoder speed and sonar elapsed time.
       The unique feature of this system is the addition of an 8 bit
       memory mapped bi-directional port This allows you to talk directly
       to any one of 16 slaves and send/receive data from them. The data
       is latched into the slaves which allows the slaves to operate
       autonomously without further main board intervention. Each slave
       has jumpers to set the board type to 0-15 and the slave channel
       address 0-15.
     * A motor control slave that uses a LM298 (2 amps continuous, 5 amps
       max with thermal shut-down) H-bridge for driving 2 motors with PWM
       from OC2,3. provision for bi-phase encoder input via IC1,2
     * A sonar slave using the Polaroid 6500 module multiplexed to up to
       8 transducers. The amplitude of the returned energy is also
       available through AD0 (this from a capture and hold circuit which
       can be read to determine the energy vector). Range is reported in
       0.01 ft. units from 0.5 to 32.00 ft.
     * A stepper control slave that allows simultaneous stepper of up to
       4 stepper motors. Either uni-pole or bi-polar (i.e. 4 or 6 wire
       stepper). Uses SAA1042 (500 milli-amp max) drivers with Full/Half
       step and direction independent for each stepper.
     * A prototype slave that provides the interface logic to the 34 pin
       bus and a 4x4" prototyping area. New designs can be easily
       protyped. Jumper settable board address as well as slave channel
       0-15 allow multiple prototype boards to be used to implement
       whatever devices you wish.
     * A super prototype slave that has its own 68HC11 running in
       internal mode. This allows commands to be sent to the slave MCU
       and control to proceed totally in parallel with anything the other
       slaves/main board are doing. Slave has races for implementing an 8
       servo control logic. The main board merely selects servo 0-7 and
       then sends 0-255 value (represents 4 micro-second resolution) to
       control the servo with pulses from 1-2 msec.
   Detailed information and price lists may be obtained from :
    _Jerry Burton_
    net: or
    10471 S. Brookhurst St.
    Anaheim, CA 92804
    tel: 714.535.8161
    fax: 714.535.6629
   Last-Modified: Thu Aug 22 10:07:48 1996
    [25]Kevin Dowling <>


   1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
   2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
   3. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.1
   4. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.2
   5. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.3
   6. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.4
   7. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/17.html#17.5
  14. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/pub/miniboard/mbextend.txt
                     [18] What is the XXX Microcontroller?
   Which microcontroller should I use and what are the differences
   between them? What about motor controllers and motor drivers?
   There are a wide variety of microcontrollers that can be used in
   robotics projects. Some of the most popular are 6811's (Miniboard and
   many single board computers), 80186, and PIC's. This topic engenders
   hot debates of the merit of one chip over the other. Therefore, the
   best way for you to decide is to understand your problem requirements
   and see which devices fit your needs. At that point, you can look at
   issues of support platforms, cross-compilers, cost etc to make the
   best decision.
   Related newsgroups include:
     * [3]
     * [4]comp.realtime
     * [5]sci.electronics
     * [6]alt.comp.hardware.homebuilt
   A FAQ devoted to Microcontrollers can be found at the following:
   er The maintainer is Russ Hersch,
   In this FAQ, just brief overviews and pointers are provided for these
   families of microcontrollers and related devices.
   [8][18.1] Motorola 68XX 
   [9][18.2] Motorola 683xx
   [10][18.3] Intel 80C186
   [11][18.4] Intel 8051
   [12][18.5] Intel 8096
   [13][18.6] Microchip PIC16/17
   [14][18.7] Parallax BASIC Stamp
   [15][18.8] National Semiconductor LM628/629
   [16][18.9] Hewlett-Packard HCTL 1000, 2000
   [17][18.101] Motor Drivers
   Basically there are three kinds of "boards" out there that are of
   interest to design engineers and the definitions are necessarily
    1. The evaluation board. This is a board designed by the manufacturer
       of a part to demonstrate its features. Using such a board a DE can
       decide whether the part will meet their needs for the design they
       are creating. Generally somewhat expensive (because they are
       produced in relatively small numbers) except when the part is
       being 'pushed' by the manufacturer and there is some sort of
       promotional deal going on. Often the evaluation board will have
       some sort of breadboard area on the board for custom circuitry.
    2. The Single Board Computer or SBC. These are generally produced by
       a third party using some manufacturers chip. The are generally
       pretty flexible but may not 'expose' all features. SBCs come in
       all sizes and price ranges, some are availabe in kit form. Many
       have development tools available for them.
    3. The Embedded processor. These are generally boards dedicated to
       some particular function (like driving a stepper motor, running a
       modem etc) and are usually available pretty cheaply on the surplus
       market. Unlike SBCs there are rarely any design tools available to
       use with them but they can be quite inexpensive.
[18.1] Motorola 68XX

   A 68HC11 is an 8-bit data, 16-bit address microcontroller from
   Motorola, with an instruction set similar to the older 68xx (6801,
   6805, 6809) parts. It has several on-chip resources including digital
   I/O, timers, PWM, A/D RAM, various types of ROM, and synchronous and
   asynchronous communications channels (RS-232 and SPI). It can easily
   be integrated into single-chip applications. Less than 20ma current
   draw. Good freeware assembly-language tools are available, as well as
   several good commercial C compilers. It is widely used because it is
   very inexpensive and the availability of developments tools makes it
   very attractive.
   Moto nows offers an evaluation kit that includes DOS and Mac
   compatible software, low-power design tutorial and extensive technical
   literature. M68EBLPIIKIT has batteries included and has 68HC11E9
   microcontroller, LCD display, Moto LCD driver, RS232 line
   driver/receiver chips, wire-wrap area for custom work, simple
   development platform and development code. Includes assembler, several
   examples, and extra crystals. $199.11 through 4/22/94.
   For a lot more detail see the 68HC11 FAQ at:
   _FAQ The FAQ is also regularly posted to several newsgroups.
   To subscribe to a listserv mailing list for 68HC11's send the
   following message to
   subscribe mc68hc11
   There is also a FAQ on news:comp.sys.m68k. This FAQ covers the
   Motorola M680x0 and the MC68300 series of microprocessors. There are
   sections on the VME bus and PowerPC parts. Sources for software for
   all Motorola products including the HC11 series is included. This list
   also points to resources provided by Motorola to its customers. Much
   of this FAQ is applicable to parts other than the M68K.
   The 68k FAQ is available on the World Wide Web at
     * [19]
     * [20]
     * [21]
     * [22]*.gz
   Although there are reports of shortages of the 68HC11, presumably
   because of large customers, here is one vendor who is reported to have
   significant stock:
   Contact Beall and Glenn at 800-874-4797.
   MC68HC11A1 - $2.50 each.
   MC68HC11E1 - $3.00 each.
   MC68HC11E1 - $3.00 each. ( This is a 12Mhz version.)
   If you order over $20 the shipping is free. They also take VISA.
[18.2] Motorola 683xx

   The 683xx family from Moto are highly integrated CPU's. Several have
   onboard RAM (eg, up to 2K), none have on-board ROM, but they do have
   timers, software programmable chip selects, etc, making it possible to
   build very small but complete systems.
   68302: Designed for communications, especially ISDN. On-board nice
          serial controller. 68000 CPU, some memory.
   68330: Has CPU32, which is in between a 68000 and a 68020. Not much
   68331: Add standard async serial controller.
   68332: Add separate Time Processing Unit and some RAM. The TPU can do
          things like off-line PWM processing. Nice general package.
   68340: Delete TPU, add DMA controller.
[18.3] Intel 80C186

   An 80C186 is a evolution from the 8086. It is an embedded processor
   sold by Intel, and has the same instruction set as the 8086, with the
   additional "real-mode" instructions of the 286. It has the same 16-bit
   data and 20-bit address bus structure of the 8086. The 80C188 is an
   8-bit data bus version, just like the 8088 (of PC and PC/XT fame). For
   embedded systems, it is much easier to use than the 8086.
   It has an on-chip timer system, interrupt controller, DMA controller,
   and clock generator. For DRAM operation, it also has an integrated
   DRAM refresh generator. However, it has no on-chip I/O, nor does it
   have any memory on-chip. There is, however, extra circuitry for
   selecting external memory with a minimum of extra logic. Can be
   programmed using most DOS compilers and assemblers, but requires a
   linker that knows about locating code in absolute memory.
   The '186 is not as accessible; it is harder to set up, the tools cost
   more, and robotics and control resources have to be added externally.
   The timers can be configured for PWM or pulse timing, It does,
   however, run at higher speeds, have more accessible memory, and can be
   hooked up to a floating-point co-processor (C187). It looks a lot like
   a DOS machine. This may be important when software is run on multiple
   platforms and also helps with the learning curve.
[18.4] Intel 8051

   A typical 8051 contains:
          CPU with boolean processor
          5 or 6 interrupts: 2 external, 2 priority levels
          2 or 3 16-bit timer/counters
          programmable full-duplex serial port (baud rate provided by one
          of the timers)
          32 I/O lines (four 8-bit ports)
          RAM and ROM/EPROM in some models
   The 8051 and varients are now sourced by more than a half-dozen
   companies including Intel, AMD, Dallas, Signetics, Siemans and others.
   The 8051 FAQ can be found at:
   It includes 8051 ftp sites, public domain langauges, commercially
   available software and publications for the 8051.
[18.5] Intel 8096

   It is 16 bit, many registers, internal RAM, the usual compliment of
   on-board peripherals (serial, A/D, pwm, timer/counters, etc)
[18.6] Microchip PIC16/17

    _Microchip Technology_
    Corporate Office
    2355 West Chandler Blvd
    Chandler, AZ 85224-6199
    tel: 602.786.7200
    fax: 602.899.9210
    _Arizona Microchip Technology _
    tel: 44 062-885-1077
    fax: 44 062-885-0178
    _Microchip Technology_
    tel: 81 45/471-6166
    fax: 81 45/471-6122
   CMOS field-programmable microcontrollers - PIC16/17. high performance
   low cost and small package size. Large numbers are used in consumer
   electronics and automotive applications, computer peripherals,
   security and telecommunication applications.
   A FAQ on the PIC exists and is posted regularly to the following
   newsgroups: comp.realtime, comp.robotics, sci.electronics Maintainer:
   Tom Kellett A PIC list address is: Administrative
   matters go to: Internet PIC sites are at:
   PIC16CXX and PIC17Cxx are 8-bit microcontrollers that use a high-speed
   RISC architecture.The PIC17CXX is probably the faster 8-bit
   controller. 16-bit instruction word and vectored interrupt
   capabilities.You can add external program memory, up to 64K words. The
   PIC17C42 has a number of counter/timer resources and I/O handling
   Features include: timers, embedded A/D, extended instruction/data
   memory, inter-processor communication and ROM, EPROM and EEPROM
   memories. assemblers, linkers, loaders, libraries and source-level
   debuggers are available. Digi-Key carries PIC's (See Parts Suppliers)
   A simulator is available from Compuserve from the MicroChip BBS. The
   simulator is and the assembler is You do
   not have to be a member of CompuServe to get to the MicroChip BBS.
    1. Set modem to 8N1
    2. Dial your local Compuserve phone number.
    3. Type and a garbage string will appear because compuserve is
       expecting a 7E1 setting.
    4. Type + and Host Name: will appear.
    5. Type MCHIPBBS and you wil be connected to the Microchip BBS.
   _Vendors of PIC boards:_
   These are from reviews by Chuck McManis :
    _Micro Engineering Labs_
    P.O. Box 7532,
    Colorado Springs, CO 80933
    tel: 719.520.5323
    contact: Jeff Schmoyer
   MEL has designed a couple of PC boards for prototyping PIC systems
   PICProto 18 - $9.95 US including shipping in the US. This board is
   1.5" by 3", double sided, solder masked, and has plated through holes.
   the top 7/8" x 1.5" of the board (oriented with the narrow side "up")
   consists of an 18 pin socket print, holes to conviently mount either a
   crystal or RC oscillator and a set of holes to mount a 5v regulator,
   either the TO-220 type or the low power TO-92 type as used on the
   Miniboard. All of the PIC I/O pins, RB0 - 7, RA0 - 3, RTC, Vdd and Gnd
   are brought out to a dual row of pads. they are followed by 15 rows of
   pads, with the outer pad on one side being the Vdd bus and the outer
   pad on the other side being the Vcc bus. After this there are two rows
   of pads, offset, that can accomodate a DB9, DB15, or DB25 connector.
   This board will accept either the 16C5x series (in the 18 pin package)
   or a 16C71 PIC.
    The PICProto Dual - $14.95 US
   Is similar except it has pads for 1 18 pin PIC and 1 24 pin (or
   another 18 pin) PIC. It is 3" x 3" and shares all of the same
   properties of the PICproto 18 with respect to setting up crystal or RC
   timing for the PICs. It has pads for 1 DB connector that is 25 pins or
   less. It adds about 50% more prototyping pads so you can put two or
   three more chips on it. The nice thing about this one is that one PIC
   can do asynchronous things like be a serial interface while the other
   provides I/O pins and monitoring functions.
    PIC Prototype-1 - $195.00 from Digikey
   This gizmo is made by Depew Engineering ( and
   is sold by Digikey and Parallax and possibly others. It is a
   breadboarding system for testing out PIC designs. If you have a
   Digikey catalog you can look at the picture there, but it is basically
   a circuit board with a 28/18pin ZIF socket in the upper left corner, a
   9 pin DB-9 connector that is attached to a MAX232 chip to provide
   RS-232 levels and a 25 pin DB-25 connector at the top center which is
   wired as a "parallel" port like you might find on a PC. Continuing
   across the top, now in the right hand corner there is a coaxial power
   plug and switch. Along the right side are five 7 segment displays that
   are permanently wired to display the value of PORTA, PORTB, and PORTC
   (when available) in hex notation, along the lower right are a set of
   dip switches for setting the clock rate (500Khz - 32 Mhz in 32Khz
   increments). Along the bottom edge are green LEDs showing the state of
   all the PORT pins (in binary :-)) and taking up roughly 45% of the
   circuit board is a solderless breadboard section. The solderless
   breadboard has two primary sections, an upper bus section containing
   connectors attached to all of the PIC pins and some useful pins on the
   board (like inputs to the MAX chip and outputs from it), and a lower
   section which is a standard breadboard with two rows of 5 pin
   connectors spaced .3" apart.
   Additionally, the circuit has support for Parallax's PBASIC
   interpreter PICs and a serial EEPROM for storing your BASIC program.
   (Sort of a giant BASIC STAMP). Note you have to buy a PBASIC PIC ($18
   from digikey or Parallax) separately. Overall my impression is of a
   product, that does a lot of neat stuff but fails to be the killer
   product it could have been. Consequently I'll first discuss the
   weaknesses of the board before going on to the stronger aspects.
   The board claims to be a 16c5x prototyper, but the manual suggests it
   supports 16C71, and 16C84 parts as well. What it didn't do was add the
   parts to make it an optional 16C84 programmer. Given how easy this is
   I'm guessing that they just didn't think of it or had the design
   "done" before they had access to 16C84 parts.
   The next weakness is that while they have the EEPROM socket for BASIC
   users, they don't bring the pins out the protoboard so it is not
   possible to take advantage of the EEPROM in your prototype designs.
   On the prototype board, +5/Gnd are available in the bus section on two
   connectors but there aren't two strip connectors that you find on all
   other breadboards for carrying Vcc and ground. This means that you end
   up either daisy chaining your power and ground connections, or
   dedicating some of the connectors on the main bread board for Vcc and
   Another area that could, in my opinion, be improved is the
   availability of non-dedicated I/O devices, at the least it would be
   nice to have a 4 position dip switch and 4 available LEDs that could
   be used in the circuit as needed. A neat feature that would be by no
   means required would be using two color LEDs to display the state of
   the output as true (green), false (red), or floating (yellow).
   Finally there is the issue of cost, at $195.00 this is a fairly pricey
   system for what it does. Now I realize that similar systems for other
   microcontrollers are similarly priced although the nearest direct
   equivalent would be the Heathkit ET trainer series that were much more
   oriented to learning about microcontrollers. IF I could program and
   emulate PICs with it (like the Parallax tools do) in addition to using
   it as a breadboard that would be wayyy cool, but I don't know how much
   that would effect the price. I'd probably pay another $50 for that
   Ok, so all that grousing aside what did I like about it? I liked the
   fact that I can now prototype PIC designs (hardware wise) in minutes
   as opposed to hours. Prior to this device I would get a
   MicroEngineering Labs PicProto board, wire up the PIC section,
   wirewrap my I/O hardware or a connector that connected to my hardware,
   and then start programming. If I had to redo the hardware that would
   be fairly long delay. With this thing I can put the hardware on the
   prototype strip or, using the 26 pin IDC connector, connect it over to
   my "big" breadboard. I don't have to worry whether or not the PIC is
   working and I can do a 10mhz design on a breadboard.
   In terms of value for the money my guess is that I'll need to do at
   least four and possibly six different designs on it before I've made
   back my investment.
   If it were part of a PIC seminar, it would be a wonderful teaching
   -Chuck McManis
[18.7] Parallax BASIC Stamp

   The Stamp is a 1x2" (2.5x5cm) computer that runs BASIC programs
   written on a PC. 8 I/O lines which can be used for serial
   communications, potentiometer inputs, pulse measurement, switches,
   speaker drivers etc. Usually you'll have to add no more than a
   resistor or capacitor at most. A BASIC editor on the PC converts
   instructions into token that are downloaded to the Stamp via a
   3-conductor cable and stored in EEPROM. Whenever the Stamp is powered
   up, the on-board interpreter runs the program. Battery clips are built
   in for a 9V battery (Stamp has 5V supply built in.) and the Stamp has
   a small prototyping area as well. From Digikey the Development Kit
   (including a Stamp) is $139, and a Stamp is $39.
   There is a BASIC STAMP Mailing List (NOT a newsgroup) Subscribe to it by sending mail to with a line of text saying
   subscribe stamp-list There is also an FTP site at "" that
   has a STAMP directory structure. It contains (so far) all the stuff
   from the Parallax BBS, plus a few other goodies.
[18.8] National Semiconductor LM628/629

   Small motor control chip. Does PWM for motion control at a very low
   cost. A couple of H-bridges on the outputs. Good reference for using
   the 628/9 for motion control is in: Closing the Loop on DC Motor
   Control by Tom Dahlin and Don Krantz The Computer Applications
   Journal, Issue #28 Aug/Sept, 1992
[18.9] Hewlett-Packard HCTL 1000, 2000

   HP's motor and encoder interface chips. Widely used and widely
[18.10] Motor Drivers

   This section primarily addresses chip-level devices for controlling
   motors. See [26][10.2.5] Controllers for more complete motion
   controller products.
    115 Northeast Cutoff, Box 15036
    Worcester, MA 01615
    tel: 508.853.5000
   Formerly Sprague, Allegro makes a full line of motor drivers for
   steppers, DC motor drivers, brushless DC motors, voice-coil actuators
   (used in disk drives) etc.
    ILC Data Device Corporation (DDC)
    105 Wilbur Place
    Bohemia, NY 11716-2482
    tel: 516.567.5600
    fax: 516.567.7358
   DDC makes a number of motor drivers (mil-spec) including the PWR-82333
   drives for 28 and 270V brushed and brushless motors. Output currents
   from 5A to 50A. -55C to 125C operating temperatures. Works in
   trapezoidal or sinusoidal power systems.
   The L293D, motor driver on a chip, is an SGS-Thomson part and is
   second sourced by Unitrode. In spite of its utility it is not readily
   available in small quantities. This part is a dual full H-bridge that
   can drive motors up to 0.6A.
   The significance of the 'D' in L293D is that it is diode protected.
   There is a reverse biased diode that shunts the reverse EMF from a
   motor to the V+ supply. The L293B doesn't have this diode so it must
   be provided externally.
    National Semiconductor
   National has an LM18293 which they say is a cross for an L293B. The
   price should $4.00 or less and they need the external diodes. A
   replacement for the D part is the Texas Instruments 754410 which
   actually has a bit better current capacity (1A vs .6A) this latter
   part is available from Arrow electronics in the US.
   An alternative part is the UDN2998. This is a 3A bridge in an inline
   package, it is limited to motor supplies greater than 10V. You can
   also build your own H-bridge out of either bipolar chips or MOSFETs.
   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:53:25 1996
    [27]Kevin Dowling <>


   1. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/copyright.html
   2. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/TOC.html
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  10. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.3
  11. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.4
  12. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.5
  13. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.6
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  17. file://localhost/usr/nivek/faq/HTML/18.html#18.10
                             [19] Acknowledgements
   Thanks to those who responded with updates, new material, corrections,
   suggestions etc. Some of the names are indirect; that is, they replied
   to queries on the newsgroup:
   Hans Moravec, Maki Habib, Ken Goldberg, David Stanton, John Nagle,
   Sean Graves, Sjur Vestli, Mark Yim, Rich Wallace, Dan Hudson, Sanjiv
   Singh, Matt Stein, Dave Stewart, Ed Cheung, Ron Fearing, Klaus
   Biggers, Lisa Rendleman, Nobuhiko Mukai, Paul Sharkey, Fred Martin,
   Willie Lim, Allen Brown, Erann Gat, Judd Jones, Tony Sprent, Richard
   Seldon, Brian Richardson, Ross McAree, Nathan Stratten, Chuck McManis,
   Ben Brown, Terry Fong, Jeff Fox, Bill Lye Patrick Arnold, David
   Novick, Stephen Klueter Chris Malcolm, Frank Hausman, Sam Miller, Rich
   Voyles, Jean-Pierre Merlet, Karl Altenburg, Dave Hrynkiw, Ken Baker,
   Vic Callaghan, Gerhard Weiss, Ambarish Goswami, Peter Turner, Peter
   Corke, Michael Bakula, Andrew Whitwell, Brian Richardson, Mark Copley,
   Bob Bonitz, Karl Altenburg, Mike Cleary, Martin Boyer, Prabal Dutta,
   Shane Bouslough, Chris Peters, Carl Wall, John Strohm, Jerry Ethridge,
   Gary R. Porter, Mark Kantrowitz, Larry Bradley, Richard LeGrand, Jeff
   Collins, Vic Callaghan, Scott Anderson, drsharp, Warrick Wilson, Jan
   ...and many others who dropped off suggestions, comments and changes.
   Thank you!
   Last-Modified: Sun Aug 11 08:53:45 1996
    [3]Kevin Dowling <>

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

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