Written By: Muhannad Al Mohamed (E&C DM)
Table of Contents
The Arxterra 3DoT App training had a goal of teaching E&C and MST members how to use their phones to communicate with their projects through Remote Control Mode. The ArxRobot Application has two different modes of communication with the Robot’s Microcontroller. The Remote Control Mode (covered in this training) and the Community mode (Covered in the next training session). The user, through the ArxRobot App, should be able to send commands to the microcontroller either through predefined commands or custom made ones.
The communication in the RC mode is done wirelessly through Bluetooth with an easy pairing process at the initialization of the RC mode. Commands are sent to the microcontroller as packets that consist of bytes that have specific identifiers to indicates whether the command is a command or telemetry. The packets contain data bytes that can be processed by the pre-coded microcontroller.
The user interface in the RC mode is user-friendly. The default setting shows the controls of two motors in a strip type command. The strip can be changed to a D-pad looking control. Custom commands can be set to show on the user’s interface when enabled.
During the training session, members were taught how to use the user interface to control motors by giving specific input, moving motors at the same time, and steering trim to maintain desired speeds.
ArxRobot App’s Settings
The commands used in the app can be changed in the settings of the app. To access the predefined and custom commands users needed to be in Developer Mode.
The Phone Configuration window in the setting enables the user to choose the way to connect to 3DoT board, show phone’s battery percentage on Control Panel, and flip Camera’s position.
The predefined commands are commands and telemetry functions defined by the Robot3DoTBoard and saved in the app as default commands to operate a Mar’s Rover. These commands, if needed, can be used by the user by enabling each command in the Robot Capabilities configuration.
The Custom Command & Telemetry Configuration window allows the user to create new commands to be sent the 3DoT Board and receive Telemetry from it.
Custom Commands & Telemetry
Options for commands and telemetry is created by adding an option and giving it a specific address from (0x40) to (0x5F). Each option should be chosen to be either for commands to be sent to the 3DoT or Telemetry to be sent by the 3DoT. Commands can be controlled by the ArxRobot App; however, not all telemetry options are shown on the app. Each option should be enabled to show in either RC mode or Community Mode.
There are 7 options the user can choose while creating a custom command:
This option enables the user to send a byte in the data packet to the 3DoT board with a value of either (0x00) or (0x01). In the user’s interface, it can be seen as a switch that can be changed. The user can choose a default value of either of the previous options. This option can be used to turn an LED on and off for example.
This option enables the user to have multiple outputs to switch to. It is similar to the Boolean switch; however, it can have as many options the user wants to switch into. It sends a 1 byte of data parameter with the packet that is sent to 3DoT board; however, the values sent can be modified by the user. The select option shows in the user’s interface as radio buttons.
This option can be used to send a byte in the data packet but with a wide range that can be changed by the user. It has a default range from -127 to 128 where the user can control which value sent by moving a strip in the user’s interface. These values can be changed by the user in the Byte settings to the desired range but it would still be a byte range. The steps between each value can be modified as well. This option can be used to move a servo motor for example.
4- Unsigned Byte:
This option is similar to the Byte command. The only difference would be the default range that starts from 0 up to 255.
This option is also similar to the Byte/Unsigned Byte; however, this option sends two bytes in data packet. Because it sends two bytes, the short command has a wider range than Byte/Unsigned Byte. The default value of this options ranges from -32768 to 32767.
6- Unsigned Byte:
This option is similar to the short option; however, the default range for it goes from 0 to 65535.
This option does not send any data in packets sent to the 3DoT; however, it is used to make the interface more user-friendly. titles to commands can be given using this option and it can be used to as separator if it was used without writing anything to it.
Arxterra RC Mode training document can found at this link.
Optimizing RC Mode in Projects
Room Showing Telemetry Command
By creating custom commands and telemetry, engineers can create commands that can enable them to control their projects through the maze. For example, the path taken by a robot can be sent back to the phone connected to the MCU using telemetry options to show which room the robot is in on the phone’s display using RC mode. By optimizing the translated code from EE346/EE444 written by Mark Huffman (Goliath Project Manager) and Matt Shellhammer (ModWheels E&C Engineer), the variable “room” value can be sent as telemetry to the ArxRobot app. In the ArxRobot app, a telemetry Select command should be created and called room where it shows the byte value on the phone.
Phase Selecting Command
The same process can be implemented to apply choosing the phase each robot is taking. In her blog Mission Definition, Elizabeth Nguyen (Pete-Bot Project Manager) explained how there are four planned phases each project can take:
- Phase 1: Record
- Phase 2a: individual playback
- phase 2b: 4 Robots, 1 maze
- Phase 2c: Individual playback, predefined
This custom command can be applied by also creating a select command with the four options where the user can switch easily between phases.
Whenever Phase 1: Record is selected, the robot should start saving its path in the EEPROM. The EEPROM library can be very useful to record data when the system shuts down, which is essential in keeping data. The process of saving the path the robot is taking is explained in Write to EEPROM blog written by Matt Shellhammer (ModWheels E&C Engineer).