Posts tagged with “robots”

Thu 26 Feb

Roomba iCreate Unresponsive with Player/Stage

I am working on a research project that uses an iCreate, the hacker's version of the Roomba. It's a nice litle platform, particularly when you extend its functionality with Player/Stage. We have a laptop mounted on top of the robot, which gives us a lot of flexibility with what we can do with it. However, until recently, we'd been seeing some very erratic behavior from the robot.

Scenario: iCreate plus Command Module running Player/Stage 2.1.2, connected via USB-to-serial cable from a laptop to the robot's serial port. Player runs fine and properly accepts clients (such as playerjoy). However, the robot seemingly randomly will stop responding to input from client programs, apparently getting "stuck" on the last command you gave it.

Solution: The problem is actually the command module. For some reason, even when the command module is turned off, the robot exhibits this strange behavior. Removing the Command Module resolved the problem for us.

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Fri 31 Oct

Halloween Geekiness

In a few hours darkness will descend over Chapel Hill and the Halloween revelries will begin. Instead of going out partying this year (since I've come to realize I just don't enjoy the party scene) I'm going to be volunteering with StudGov as a spotter. My understanding is that mostly means I will be helping drunk people back to their dorms and generally helping people stay safe. Hopefully my evening will be uneventful.

Last night I set up a new server in my apartment: It's a FreeBSD system running on some old hardware I had laying around (I mean old: Celeron 400 with 128mb RAM). I had tried putting Ubuntu on it in the past, but that was just a bad idea since it was far too slow to do anything interesting. Instead, I have it set up in my living room. I'm thinking of it as a long term "get better with UNIX" project.

My impetus for setting up forbin was actually because I'm going to be helping coach a FIRST robotics team for Durham Public Schools. My friend Maggie and I are the "programming mentors" for the team, and we will provide inspiration and guidance to the next generation of computer scientists.


Since the high school students who will be on team will have to be programming in C, I decided they should have easy access to a UNIX environment in which to write their code. Perhaps the FIRST robotics people will give everyone a nice IDE and everything to use to develop C on Windows, but in my experience it's much, much easier to write C in a UNIX environment than in Win32.