This is news section of the RoboBricks projects. It is currently a work in progress.

RoboBricks Project News

The current RoboBricks News is:

Wayne is scambling to get the µCL compiler rewritten and ported to the Microsoft® before the next RoboBRiX article is published in Servo magazine.
The third article on RoboBRiX is published in Servo magazine.
The second article on RoboBRiX is published in Servo magazine.
The first article on RoboBRiX is published in Servo magazine.
Robobricks are renamed to RoboBRiX to make acquiring a register trademark easier. The first batch of RoboBRiX go on sale at the RobotStore. RobotStore is run by Mondo-tronics, Inc.
Contract negociations complete and contract is signed.
Contract negociation impass resolved and negociations continue.
Contract negociations with vendor reach an impass.
Selected a vendor to manufacture and market RoboBricks.
Dealt with a 50 day delivery time with our replacement PCB vendor. It was not really their fault though.
Dealt crappy boards from our PCB vendor. Ultimately wound up ordering replacement boards from another PCB vendor. Scratch one PCB vendor off our list. 2002-Aug-10
Finished ordering parts for RoboBrick alpha program from AcroName, DigiKey, and Jameco. We were able to get a 10% discount from Jameco through our membership with the Robotics Society of America. The price of the sonar modules from Acroname was increased from $25 to $30.
The boards from CustomPCB have arrived back. No silkscreen was applied to the boards.
Ordered 20 copies of panel5 for the RoboBrick alpha program from CustomPCB in Mylasia for $265.
Sent out last call for the RoboBricks alpha program.
Sent a message to the Home Brew Robotics Club mail list announcing the RoboBricks alpha program.
Shipped Panel 4 off to OliMex for fabrication.
By the way, RoboBrick development is currently awaiting the completion of my newCNC motion controller board. This board is needed so that we can take panels that contain several RoboBricks and cut out the individuale RoboBricks under computer control.
The first of 4 RoboBricks talks was give at the Home Brew Robotics Club. Again, there is great interest in getting them. The talk slides are available.
The RoboBricks project was on display at the Tech Museum for a second day.
The RoboBricks project was on display at the Tech Museum. One of the most commonly asked questions was `How can we get some?'
The panel3 boards have come back, been cut into smaller boards and the assembly process continues.
The panel3 files have been sent off to Alberta Printed Circuits. Yeah!
The Light4-B and Servo4-C and are now panel3 ready. Added panels directory.
The MotorScan-A is now panel3 ready.
The IRSense2-A is now panel3 ready.
The SpeechQV1-A is now panel3 ready.
The OOPicHub15-A is now panel3 ready.
The IRBeacon8-A is now panel3 ready.
The LCD32-A is now panel3 ready.
The Motor3-A is now panel3 ready.
The SonarDT1-A and CompassDT1-A are now Fab3 ready.
The Motor2-C and Shaft2-C are now panel3 ready.
The Laser1-B is now panel3 ready.
The ProtoPIC-B and PIC876Hub10-B are now panel3 ready.
The Tether-C, Switch8-C, LaserHead1-B, and IRRemote1-A are now panel3 ready.
The LED10-B is now panel3 ready.
The InOut10-B is now panel3 ready.
The Harness-C is now panel3 ready.
The Compass8-B, Compass360-B, and BS2Hub8-B are now panel3 ready.
Both AnalogIn4-C and BIROD5-A are now panel3 ready.
AIROD4-A is now panel3 ready.
Starting to prepare RoboBricks for Fab3. Activity9-B is now panel3 ready.
Pretty much done with Laser1-A RoboBrick. panel2 is basically done. Panel3 will start shortly.
Got the Light4-A RoboBrick working.
Added the IRRemote1-A RoboBrick that Bill is working on. Got the AIROD2-A RoboBrick working.
The AnalogIn4-B RoboBrick is done.
The BIROD2-B RoboBrick is done.
The LaserHead1-A RoboBrick is done. We are now getting a usable signal from across the room with very inexpensive IR sensors.
The Activity9-A, PIC876Hub10-A, Tether-B RoboBricks are done.
The Shaft2-B RoboBrick is done.
The InOut10-A RoboBrick is done.
The Servo4-B and Compass8-A RoboBricks are done. The Servo4-B boards have problems whenever the servo runs up against a stop; the next revision will need a separate power supply.
The LED4-B, Switch8-B, Motor2-B RoboBricks are now done. Unfortuately, the Motor2 board required some trace rerouting; so a revision C will definitely be necessary. Also, the BS2Hub8 RoboBricks has been successfully programmed to talk to both a LED10-B and a Switch8-B. A working robot is sure to be on-line soon.
The panel2 order has been sliced and diced and at least one of most of the boards have been built. The LED10-B board is the first one to burned into a OTP (One Time Programmable) device.
The panel2 order has arrived back from Alberta Printed Circuits.
The RoboBrick Specifications have been updated.
The panel2 order was sent off to Alberta Printed Circuits.
The panel2 order is ready to go. I will have to wait until I get back from a two week vacation before I submit it to Alberta Printed Circuits though.
All of the master and slave RoboBricks are now in ready for panel2. There are some changes that need to be made to HobECAD, but that should only take a day or two. After I come back from a two week vacation, the panel2 run will take place.
The various master and slave RoboBricks are now panel2 ready. The debug RoboBricks still need to be processed.
The Activity4 RoboBrick and the BIROD2 RoboBricks are now panel2 ready.
The Shaft2 RoboBrick is now panel2 ready.
The LED10 and Out10 RoboBricks are now panel2 ready.
The Switch8 and In8 RoboBricks are now 100% done. The release 0.46 version of µCL fixes yet another subtraction bug that was encountered.
The Motor2 RoboBrick is 100% done. It was necessary to do some clock adjustment to get the Motor2 Robobrick to work every time. Thus, the clock adjust commands in the shared protocol really payed off. The release 0.45 version of µCL fixes yet another register bank swapping problem that was encountered (produces tighter code too.)
At long last the Servo4 RoboBrick is 100% done. This is a big milestone, since Servo4 is one of the very hardest of the RoboBricks to implement. The release 0.44 version of µCL fixes some problems that were found along the way. Bill is working the bugs out of the LED10 RoboBrick.
At long last the Threshold4 RoboBrick is 100% done. Most of the RoboBrick module ppages have been reorganized to leave the artwork out. This makes the resulting PDF files smaller. Also, the PIC12C509 programmer code was the µCL programming environment. The Parallel Port Server that Wayne uses to run his PIC Programmer got some modifications as well.
The specification for Stepper1 is done. Now only the code needs to be written. (Heh-heh ;-)
Worked on software for AnalogIn4 and InOut4. Now there is only Stepper1 left to be done.
Worked on software for BIROD2, In8, LED10, Motor2, Out10, Shaft2, and Switch8. Only three modules left to finish up -- AnalogIn4 (easy), InOut4 (easy), and Stepper1 (very hard). In addition, the 0.36 release of the µCL compiler improves code generation for the PIC16C505 along with improved array indexing with constants.
Rearranged the web pages into an introduction, news (i.e. this document), specifications, and modules. All of the underlying module directories now generate PDF files. The top level directory has two PDF files -- robobricks.pdf and rebobricks_all.pdf.
Rewrote the RoboBrick Interrupt protocol stuff. There are now some shared commands for supporting interrupts. Improved string handling and fixed another register bank switching bug in µCL. Upgraded Threshold4 to use the new interrupt protocol stuff. Also, there is now a test program for testing Threshold4.
Updated the led4.ucl code to be a complete implementation of the LED4 specification. Renamed Activity to be Activity4. Wrote the code for activity4.ucl.
Updated the servo4.ucl code to be a complete implementation of the Servo4 specification. Better comments too. This version needs the 0.30 version of the µCL compiler.
Fixed output to GPIO2 for PIC509's in µCL (release 0.29.) Also, added the assembly directive. The servo4.ucl code is working inside of a PIC12C509.
Improved code generation for switch statements in µCL.
Updated the µCL compiler to contain random number generation, oscillator calibration initialization, A/D converter initialization, and fixed array and string constant access from different code and data banks. Updated Threshold4 to contain a very complete implementation of the code.
Updated the programming specifications for AnalogIn4, In8, Shaft2, Switch8, Threshold4, and Activity4 RoboBricks.
Showed CDBot following a line of black electrical tape using RoboBricks at the Home Brew Robotics Club meeting. Some folks at the Tech Museum showed up and were quite interested in RoboBricks. Apparently there is some sort of similar technology called Stackable Core Modules being developed over at Twin Cities Robotics Group (TCRG).
Added links to CDBot.
Updated Activity4, Harness, PIC16F876, and Tether to get the directions of SIN and SOUT properly oriented. The programming specifications for the Motor2 RoboBrick have been updated. There is still a bug in µCL that causes the delay routine to have a non-uniform delay.
The boot loader for PIC16F876 is almost working with the [download] button in the µCL graphical user interface. The boot loader is residing in code bank 3 (0x1800) and uses register bank 3 (0x180).
Updated programming specification of In8 RoboBrick.
Added the last remaining pictures for Threshold4 and PIC16F876. The µCL compiler now has support to directly program a Microchip microcontroller.
Added most of the remaining pictures (Activity4, AnalogIn4, Bench, Hub8, LED4, Motor2, ProtoPIC8Pin, Stepper1, and Switch8.) We're only missing PIC16F876 and Threshold4 pictures now. We've got LED4 working with a UV erasable PIC12CE674. Motor2 is starting to work. There are some command transmission reliability problems being worked on. Sometimes the RoboBricks do not reset properly on power up. Our short term goal is to get a Line following robot working using a battery and the Hub8, PIC16F876, Threshold4, and Motor2 RoboBricks.
Added a whole bunch of pictures of individual RoboBricks (Birod2, Harness, In8, InOut4, LED10, out10, Servo4, Shaft2, and Tether). We're still missing a picture of LED4. Updated the source files for harness and LED4. Continued bug fixing in µCL. LED4 code is now working using the PIC16F876 emulator. Stand-alone execution using a PIC12CE764 UV erasable part should occur soon. Starting to add PIC programmer support to µCL development environment.
Rearranged the µCL language specification to be in its own file. Documented the emerging µCL programing environment. Added a whole bunch of issue sections to the revision A RoboBricks as they get built out. There is now an over-arching RoboBrick Software Protocol. Also, because Bill wired up a cable backwards, I added a Cable Mechanical Specification.
The following RoboBricks are starting to work -- Tether (100% done), Harness (100% done), Bench (100% done), Hub8 (100% done), PIC16F876 (Needs lots of software), Emulate (100% done), and LED10 (50% done; more software needed). There is still a bunch of software development to do, but the hardware seems to be working fairly well. The Revision B boards are going to switch from a 4-wire bus to a 6-wire RoboBrick interconnect standard. We had a heck of a time finding a 4-wire crimper; we figure most people will have a much easier time finding a 6-wire crimper. Lastly, the latest version of µCL now has the beginnings of an integrated development environment (sorry, no documenation yet.)

Copyright (c) 2000-2002 by Wayne C. Gramlich. All rights reserved.