Welcome to the Can-Do Challenge

By Dolores Thomas,2014-06-18 03:06
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Welcome to the Can-Do Challenge

    What is ROBOLAB?

    The Concept of Programming and Control

The new ROBOLAB System prepares students for careers in engineering and science with

    excitement and enthusiasm. With the ROBOLAB System students will learn about today’s world

    of robotics, confined only by their imaginations.

Students develop computer and engineering skills through hands-on experiences that relate back

    to the real world.

    The core of the construction is the RCX, a programmable LEGO brick which is used as the basis for the models and used to control their actions.

    It controls motors & lamps and takes input from sensors. LEGO Dacta sensors include touch

    sensors, light sensors, temperature sensors and rotation sensors.

    Working with ROBOLAB!

    Users first build their inventions using the RCX and the LEGO pieces

    included in the RCX Building Sets. They then create a program for

    their invention using the ROBOLAB software, an easy to use powerful

    programming language. Next, they download their program to the

    RCX using a special infrared transmitter. Their creation can now

    interact with the environment, fully autonomous without the need for a


The LEGO Mindstorms RCX

    The RCX is a LEGO microcomputer used to create, build and program real

    robots and automated devices that can move, act and think on their own. You

    can program your robots to unleash their behavior and functions with the

    ROBOLAB software.

    The RCX can be programmed to respond to its environment through a variety of

    inputs (sensors) and outputs (motors and lamps).

    The RCX has 3 input ports, 3 output ports, four control buttons, an LCD display, an AC adapter

    connector, and an infrared transmitter/receiver. It operates with either 6 AA batteries or an AC


    Input Sensors

    Light / Angle / Temperature Touch Sensor Reflectance Rotation Sensor Sensor Sensor

    The 3 input ports are connection points for sensors such as touch sensors, light sensors, temperature sensors, and rotation sensors.

    The 3 output ports are connection points for LEGO output devices such as motors and lamps. The 4 control buttons are used to turn the RCX on or off, select a program, view the RCX operation, and run the selected program.

    Students build models and robots using the RCX as the brain of their models/ robots. After being programmed with ROBOLAB, the robots take action in their environment by interacting and making decisions based on the inputs that are around them. Two RCXs can even communicate with each other! The robots are fully autonomous, acting on their own with no support from the computer. If the behavior of the robot does not match the desired behavior, then they can be easily reprogrammed using the ROBOLAB software.

    The RCX communicates with the PC via an Infrared (IR) Transmitter. This transmitter is attached to the serial port of the computer and sends the program that was written in the ROBOLAB software to the RCX. This communication is via infrared communication, similar to the operation of your television remote control.

    The Software

    The ROBOLAB software for programming and controlling the RCX is an icon-based diagram building programming environment. ROBOLAB is based on LabVIEW, a software product from National Instruments. In ROBOLAB, this powerful, real-life professional software is made accessible for students. It utilizes a special edition of LabVIEW which has fewer options available and contains specific RCX information as well as the unique user interface that is appropriate for students. Each element of ROBOLAB is easy to learn and gives you a proportional amount of programming power. It encompasses a logical linear learning process, quite unlike other programming software that typically requires a large learning curve.

     To ensure programming success, the software is built around two levels: PILOT and INVENTOR.


    The Pilot level is comprised of templates that have a fixed

    format associated with them. This is an effective way to

    introduce the logical sequencing to anyone. It is impossible to

    create a program in Pilot that will fail.


    Inventor uses similar icons as Pilot. Additionally, there are

    several more command icon options added as the user moves

    up through the levels. The strength of the Inventor level

    provides the greatest potential of the the RCX. Inventor is set

    up in a less structured way, allowing the powerful LabVIEW

    capabilities to be used as desired by the programmer.


    The Basis of ROBOLAB

    LabVIEW: Real Life Control ROBOLAB is based on LabVIEW, a programming environment created by

    National Instruments (Texas, US). In 1997, when NASA monitored the

    Sojourner Rover's location and position in relation to the landing craft, its

    orientation to the ground, its overall physical health and more, they used the

    LabVIEW software. LabVIEW is a powerful programming environment used by

    engineers and scientists in colleges and industry. It is the leading software

    development tool for measurement and control. It is used to analyze and

    compute real results for biomedical, aerospace, energy research applications

    and numerous other applications.

    ROBOLAB Programs

    THE ROBOLAB PROGRAMMING STRUCTURE: LEVELS The ROBOLAB programming software has two levels for programming the RCX- PILOT and

    INVENTOR. Divided into 4 levels each, with stepped logical progression from one level to the

    next, there is a smooth progression from PILOT 1 to PILOT 4 and then from INVENTOR 1 to

    INVENTOR 4. All of the levels are available through the ROBOLAB Main Menu.


    ROBOLAB programs are designed as a string of icon commands. The strings visually describe

    the response and action of the inputs and outputs of the RCX.



    PILOT is a very fast, simple, template-based programming


INVENTOR offers additional flexibility, allowing full use of

    the RCX capabilities.

PILOT, the fast and simple template-based programming environment

    PILOT is the introductory programming level in ROBOLAB.

    ? It uses a ’Click and Choose’ interface to program

    ? The program template changes when you ’Click and Choose’

    ? It has 4 levels to work with

    ? A beginning Level 1 leads to a flexible Level 4

    The PILOT program template has a green traffic light which anchors the beginning of the

    programming. A matching red traffic light is located at the end of the program. The commands are

    located on the pink string between the traffic lights.


    A PILOT 1 program which has a motor located on Output Port A of the RCX will turn in the

    reverse direction for 4 seconds. The program waits for 4 seconds after the motor turns on.

    To change a command, simply use the mouse pointer to

    move over a command and click. All of the options for that

    command are shown. Simply choose the one that is desired.

    Watch as the commands are changed to the left.

    To download the program to the RCX, click the large Run arrow button. This sends the program through the computer port to the IR Transmitter and to the RCX. Pressing Run on the RCX will start your program in the RCX.


    To get help on any (and all) of the icons in ROBOLAB click on the HELP button. A new help window appears. Now by moving

    the cursor over any of the icons, a text description will appear.


    PILOT is divided into four progressive levels. The four levels build on each other, making it easy

    to advance to the next level as the user becomes familiar with the previous level’s options. Not all

    of the advanced capabilities of the RCX are available with PILOT programming.

     PILOT 1 has one output and one time waitfor command in the template.

     PILOT 2 has two outputs available and a time and touch sensor waitfor.

     PILOT 3 has two sequential steps of 3 outputs and time, touch and light sensor waitfors.

     PILOT 4 lets you create a long string by adding or deleting steps. All three outputs as well as the sensor waitfors are available.

    Inventor Programming

    INVENTOR: Unleashing the total power of the RCX

    Inventor programming is by ’Picking and

    Placing’ the command icons from a

    Functions palette onto a programming

    window and stringing them together.

    Inventor has 4 levels, each level adding

    features and functionality.

    Inventor programs can have features not

    available in Pilot.

    Here’s how you program in Inventor!

    Step 1: Pick the icons that are desired for the program from the icon palette.

    Step 2: Place the icons on the program


    Step 3: String the icons together in the order that they should


     Step 4: Download the

    program to the RCX.

    Inventor Palettes

    INVENTOR: Unleashing the total power of the RCX

    The different Inventor levels have progressively new RCX commands


    Here is the Inventor 1 palette.

    Subsequent Inventor levels (2,3, and 4) increase the capabilities of the RCX

    by putting additional commands onto the functions palettes.

This chart explains the progressive features allowed at the different levels.

    Feature List/ Inventor 1 Inventor 2 Inventor 3 Inventor 4 Commands Motor & Lamp Yes Yes, with Power Yes, with Power Yes, with Power Control Control Control Control Waitfors Time Time Time Time, Touch, Light, (1,2,4,6,8,10s), (Variable, Random), (Variable, Random), Temperature, Touch Sensor Touch, Light Touch, Light Rotation Sensors, Sensors Sensors Timer, Container, RCX Mail Forks - - Touch, Light Touch, Light, "IF statements" Sensors Temperature, Rotation Sensors, Timer, Container, RCX Mail RCX Tones 1 6 6 6 RCX Musical - Yes Yes Yes Notes Program JUMPS - 1 5 20 "GOTO statements" Program LOOPS - Yes Yes Yes "FOR/NEXT statements" Multitasks - - 10 10 Containers - - - 3 "Variables" Other - - - RCX Mail (RCX to RCX Communication)

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