newbie question : buying a robot

Hi,
I'm a complete newbie at robotics but I'm very interested in it. As a CS-student I'm going to do a project whith robots using A.I.
techniques. That's why I'd like to buy a programmable robot. Now I need to figure out wich one.
The problems the robot will need to solve are mazes, preferably without bumping into the obstacles. At first the situations will be fairly simple but they will gradually be made more difficult.
I prefer to program in a high level language such as C/C++ or java. But I'll be happy enough if I don't have to use goto's. I was thinking about de lego mindstorms set, but I've read on some sites it is rather limited. I've seen so many models on the web I don't know wich one to choose. I want to spend no more than 600$ on it, and preferably less. Which robots are suitable and what would you recommend me?
Thanks in advance
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Hello Karel,
I recommend the RoboScout. It costs around $400.00 and does have the ability not to bump into things, (something to do with sences all around it).
You can have a look at the promotional video at www.roboscout.com
Have Fun!
Regards - Kevin

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I would suggest finding some of Gordon McComb's books on robots and peruse them for ideas his Robot Builder's Sourcebook is a must have for everyone. His other books are great too. Getting a already prebuilt robot for what you want is expensive. www.acroname.com has the nice Garcia Robot which is prebuilt and can be configured for different purposes easily. www.whiteboxrobotics.com uses the Via Mini-ITX boards so you can run Linux, Windows, et cetera on it. www.arrickrobotics.com also has a nice robot you can use for these purposes.
Probably better and more in your price range is to get a kit and build it up and program it. Lots of fun there as that's what most people do. A good starting point is www.budgetrobotics.com and get a Scooterbot, and maybe get a JAVALIN STAMP from www.parallax.com this would give you a nice embedded JAVA system to play with. Since you new at this getting a ISOPOD or SERVOPOD from www.newmicros.com is the way to go. The NewMicros chips offer tremendous power for robotics projects, you'd likely never outgrow the ISOPODS or SERVOPODS in your robots.

it
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Earl Bollinger wrote:

If you are going for Java, I would *strongly* suggest the Systronix JStamp (http://www.jstamp.com /) over the Javalin.
The price difference is fairly small and the JStamp has 512k RAM and 512k Flash. Not to mention the speed. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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it up

and
a
NewMicros
And the existing knowledge base you have available for JStamp and Bstamp and other micros is vastly different too. Its practically impossible to find example working code driving two hobby servos simultaneously for JStamp, for instance.
Dont get me wrong, its a cool fast and very capable processor and everything, but right now, the learning curve is very steep. Im an experienced programmer, with strong background in eletrronics and all kinds of high and low-level programming, plus industrial robotics. After couple of weeks of experience with it, i still must say that JStamp is not for the faint of heart. PICs and AVRs are simpler just because of vastly larger user base and freely available information on net. BStamps and its kin are designed and built for simplicity.
-kert
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Kaido Kert wrote:

http://enerd.ws/robots/code /
My GPIOServoMotor class drives up to four, but without a lot of resolution. There is code out there that will drive up to 8 with a lot of precision.
I cheated and use Kronos Robotics (http://www.kronosrobotics.com/) coprocessors to run my servos.

If you know both Java and microcontrollers, the learning curve isn't bad at all.

I'll admit that the JStamp/JStick are only sparsely documented. You need to read Ajile's AJ-100 documentation in order to fully understand the JStamp. As a programmer you have to understand the differences between the CLDC and normal Java.
However, even before I did that I had it communicating with PICs via SPI and some other interesting low-level stuff.
I'll admit that the timers can be quite daunting. I haven't tackled them yet. I would think that either Ajile or Systronix could have written a more user-friendly timer class.

Yes. A Basic Stamp is less powerful than a JStamp, but it is easier to start up running with.
However, for the price, you can get a Kronos Robotics Dios or Athena chip which is programmed in Basic and is *much* cheaper than the stamps. -- D. Jay Newman http://enerd.ws/robots /
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I am in Earl's camp here,
I like having a development environment that I can grow into. People espouse the virtues one processor over another, so you will have to evaluate for yourself. I have yet to find the perfect product, because it doesn't exist. Some people need easy, some people need memory, some people need low power, some need small. I like the pod for it's sheer amout of I/O and processing speed. The downside is that IsoMax, the natice, onboard language, is not a highly popular language.
As an example, I have never used all the functionality of an IsoPod. I am working on a project with the following:
It reads 5 quadrature encodes ( still have one in reserve ) It takes highly accurate velocity readings off the encoders It does a lot of floating point trig and calculus. It takes commands in on the serial port, and outputs on the same serial port. It uses less than 1/3 of the processors' s speed and memory, and it has a LOT of redundant stuff, since I haven't optimized it yet.
It is basicly an inverse kinematics engine.
What I still have not tapped into is: Analog to digital converters PWM modules Second serial port CANbus SPI bus the remaining speed and memory.
I plan on using the CAN bus for user interface controls, and the SPI for a D/A converter running in current mode.
I program in IsoMax, but you can also program in Pete Grey's SmallC, which is friendlier than code warrior.
just my $0.02
Mike

out
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On Sat, 06 Dec 2003 16:02:17 GMT, "Blueeyedpop"

Heh. Having teeth removed without anesthetics is also friendlier than Code Warrior. Powerful, yes; friendly, <shudder>.
--
Rich Webb Norfolk, VA

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I wonder to myself, who wants to do battle with their code?
wrote:

which
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Thanks for all the suggestions, I think I'll start with the books, since there is a lot to choose from. Unfortunately I alse live in Europe (Belgium to be more precise), and many of the interesting items aren't easy to get here. Could the lego mindstorms kit do the trick?
snipped-for-privacy@comcast.com...

Linux,
purposes.
up
out
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On Sun, 7 Dec 2003 19:36:21 +0100, "Karel Van Laer"

Check out the Merkur construction sets. I don't have a Euro-link but here's one from over on this side that has a good intro to them http://www.girdersandgears.com/merkur.html .
They are manufactured in the Czech Republic and so the parts are metric- and not imperial-based for the pitch and fastener sizes.
Probably a bit sturdier than plastic press-fit components.
--
Rich Webb Norfolk, VA

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Hi Karel, I think that most people around here, and probably most of the recommendations you will get, are concerned mainly with controllers and robot bases, which are kind of do-it-yourself. Heavy emphasis on motors, sensors, mechanical, etc - practical aspects.
If your interest is more in the AI software end, rather than the mechanical and electronics end, and you have the money to spend, you might check the stuff from k-team - they seem to have a significant emphasis on AI software, and what looks like sophisticated graphical design software. Just a suggestion, as I'm not personally familiar with their goods.
http://www.k-team.com / http://www.hemisson.com /
In america,
http://www.roadnarrows.com /
- dan michaels www.oricomtech.com =============================
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