Picking a computer

Hello All
I looking for some help in picking the computer that going to run my lastest robot? This is the third robot I have built. The past two
where kits that I just put the parts together. This time I going to try to built this one from the ground up.
The platform is going to be two drive wheels in the back with two casters in front. Along the lines of a zero turn mover ( 5 inch wide and 4 inch wide) using a 6 volt dc motor and gear box as the drive.
I have been looking at several differnt computer to control the robot. I like to use Visual Basic for the programing the robot. also USB ports for uploading and download. Blue tooth to see what the robot see.
Any help would be weclome
Paul
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Given your desires,VB and Bluetooth, there are very few options. Running Visual Basic, you need some sort of PC Clone. Mini-ITX is probably as close as you can get, although I don't know if they have Bluetooth. They do have USB and you could add a Bluetooth Dongle.
-- Randy M. Dumse www.newmicros.com Objects in mirror are more confused than they appear.
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Coming back from an off list reply:
If you aren't married to Visual Basic your options widen considerably. There are many single boards which have or can have Bluetooth capabilities. Sparkfun sells a Bluetooth adapter for ~$60 that has TTL serial out. That works well with many single board computers. I've used that adapter for my Introduction to Robotics university course, and it worked quite well. But since my company has developed XBee interfaces to our boards, as well as USB dongles for the PC, and we like them even better. More power, more range, more operating mode possibilities.
It really comes down to what you want to do with your robot. If you aren't concerned with beautiful and precise motion, roughly any micro will do. To get that beautiful motion, you need quadrature decoders and PID motion controllers. I recommend our DSP based boards for that, although PICs and AVRs can also do the job (albeit to a lessor degree with little processing power left over - but others would disagree).
On the other hand, if you want to do vision, for instance, those single boards are really out of the question, and again you need something system level with huge memory addressing capabilities.
My current thinking is it is best to have a DSP controlling the motors and motion and odometry, and something Linux (or windows) doing vision, and other higher level functions.
Of course, ask 10 roboteer's about which computers, and you'll get at least 15 opinions.
In the end the best computer is the one you want to use. That may not be the one you know best, as I have previously said, but the next one you want to learn, picking so you can stick with your choice for several years into the future without having to again relearn another one right away.
-- Randy M. Dumse www.newmicros.com Objects in mirror are more confused than they appear.
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Have you thought of an TI-83+ Graphic Calculator. You could access your control software much easier and it would make mounting it to your base easier too.
Try here:
http://www.smallrobot.com/scimath.html
They make a small footprint bot that only costs a few hundred in parts thats calc and kit included. You might be able to break the kit down a rebuild it to you needs. Those clacs turn up on e-bay all the time.
Good luck.

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