Speaker to Robots

Raven’s Point builds applications that speak to robots.

Larry Niven’s science fiction stories feature a character named Chmee who is the alien ambassador to Earth.  His title, when translated into English, is Speaker-To-Animals.

The formal term for this is SCADA , meaning supervisory control and data acquisition. A PC is connected to another device, interpreting the data that the device transmits and issuing appropriate commands to the device. The connection is usually USB, but can be ethernet or RS232. The fun part is the weird and wonderful devices that must be communicated with: video camera, GPS, thermostat, a tiny remote controlled submarine. Each device speaks its very own language, usually called a protocol. These languages are incredibly stilted, more like Latin than Italian, so the application code must translate the communication into a graceful GUI that the human operator can use comfortably to control and monitor the device – hence Speaker-To-Robots.

Real time data from movement sensor integrated and displayed

Real time data from movement sensor integrated and displayed

  • PowerHeater.  This application controls and records wind turbine blade production.  The strength of the composite materials used depends critically on a precise temperature profile imposed during a curing process lasting several days.  Hundreds of heaters, coolers, thermostats and temperature gauges are placed across the surface of the turbine blade, every one individually monitored, controlled and recorded by PowerHeater using the Modbus protocol.
  • eCrew.  A modern sailboat has instruments measuring depth, wind speed and direction, and compass bearing.  Occasionally these readings are of vital importance, but usually the captain must watch wind and waves, sails and other sailboats, not the instruments.   eCrew monitors all the instruments using the NMEA protocol, warning when a critical situation arises.
  • VisControl.  The chair of a state senate chamber recognizes one of the senators. When the senator begins to speak, one of three cameras has already swung into position and is webcasting the perfect image. VisControl stores over 50 preset positions for each camera, automatically selecting and moving the cameras into position whenever the speaker changes, using the VISCA protocol over RS232.
  • Proteus.  A tiny submersible on the end of a long cable threads its way through a pipe and into a huge concrete oil storage container under the North Sea.  Once in position, sonar scans the interior looking for damage and silt build up.  Proteus controls and records the sonar, calculating a real time three dimensional picture.   Proprietary protocol over boosted RS232.
  • SLReader.  A wireless detector is used to identify isotopes.  SLReader configures, monitors, and downloads data from the device using the ZigBee protocol.
  • RTLink.  Connect the different instruments ( seven models from three manufacturers ) used to measure the optical properties of a patient’s eyes and eyeglasses, each with its own protocol, to a database server so the ophthalmic doctor can keep everything straight, helping to ensure that all the measurements are connected to the correct patients.  Here are more details on this project.
  • GrindOMeter. Application controlling feed cycle of crankshaft grinding machine. A Solartron Orbit 3 digital gage measures the crankshaft diameter in real time with micron precision during grinding. The grinder is controlled with an ACCESS relay output device.
  • RFID Reader Client.  Application to read and write data to RFID tags via the LLRP ( Low Level Reader protocol ) to the Motorola FX9500 RFID reader Ethernet port.
  • LSD ( LED & Switch Driver ).  Application to control LED status lights and monitor switch settings using DLP232PC.
  • PS510. Configure an audio-visual switch over RS232 using the AMX/AutoPatch standard protocol.

Open Source Tools

  • Simodbus.  A Modbus master / slave simulatior.  Read more …
  • HIDExplorer. List details of installed Human Interface Devices ( HIDs ). Read More …
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One Response to Speaker to Robots

  1. Juliet says:

    Speaker To Robots: What fun! Lovely to have your most interesting projects explained this way.

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