I have not done it yet, but I have a plan for my new robot. I plan to
use an ITX mobo with a 802.11 PCI card w/ external antenna. The ITX
mobo can be powered with 12 VDC using a DC-to-DC converter. My ITX
board will talk to my main PIC controller with RS232.
Similar thing could be done with a PDA too - wifi compact flash card and
serial out to controller. The advantage is the PDA is smaller and
lighter and has its own built in power supply.
I was thinking of miniitx but I'm now leaning towards pda.
Thanks for the replies. I did do some research the past few weeks on this
issue and came up with some... more questions. Thank you Internet! I hope
you all can give me some feedback to give me a jumpstart on this.
The basic question was, How do you connect your controller with a WiFi?
First, I don't want to use ITX Mobo or Mini-ITX or PDA's because they are
too expensive for what I'm trying to do. I don't want to use an OS as an
underlying system. The reason for this is that I'm hoping that I can produce
these robots in a cheap way and that i don't want the OS's capriciousness in
development and running mode. Sorry for that, I just want a clean robot
(don't shoot me for this).
Second, I want to build some small stuff with an AVR Atmel controller (yep,
good old asm). But I don't think that Atmel doesn't got any controllers that
are Ethernet enabled and for the record Java is not my kind of stuff (so I
forgetting JStik, but it was nice to hear about it Jay, was new for me)
I must say, I never heard about "Ethernet<->WiFi bridges" in controller
land. Is there some way of a "Serial<->WiFi bridge" or "Serial<->USB<->WiFi
bridge". And how can you control this, some samples would be nice! A shot
under my azz in a good direction will do also :)
Some companies sell some "Serial<->WiFi<->WiFi<->Serial" connections, but
again these are not cheap.
The reason for the WiFi implementation is to
a) Send all my robots debugging info to my laptop
b) Change some values into robots running mode
c) (in very small caps... let robots see(WiFi) each other and send there
values to each other... very very small caps! it's more a caps dream)
Hoop to get some reactions on this
PS: if you read it like : let robots WiFi each other... it's kind of nice to
Given you're parameters, I would forget WiFi (802.11).
Go for some rather inexpensive radio modems. Check the adds in
SERVO, Nuts and Vots, or Circuit Cellar for suppliers.
Serial in, radio out. Radio in, serial out.
Linksys makes them. They don't sell a lot so their price is *higher*
than a WiFi access point with a 4 port router and firewall. :(
All of this can be done with radio modems. WiFi means TCP/IP
which means a lot of overhead.
D. Jay Newman
ZWorld/Rabbitsemiconductor has a WiFi application kit, which includes
devboard, CPU module, CompactFlash adapter, CF WiFi Card and software.
This allows you to design/build WiFi enabled embdded controllers
suitable for mobile robotics. Rabbits even have quadrature encoder
inputs (2) an PWM outputs (4), suitable for motor control.
Netburner also has a WiFi solution.
but I have not used either.
WiFi is a bit of a power hog (300-400mA for transmit), but having the
ability to connect your (or collection of) robot to 'net and being able
to talk to it from a Laptop/PDA is pretty cool. Besides, the actuators
in robotics applications are likely to be a bigger concern.
I have build a WiFi solar powered datalogger. An article about it should
be out in the November issue of Circuit Cellar.
See ya, -ingo
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