22 September 2008

Xbee Sounds Good

Although the Orangutan has an 8-character x 2-line liquid crystal display, I'm finding it tough to debug my AI and sonar troubles. I write messages to the screen but without history, I miss the important stuff and end up having to repeat the test over and over and over. I'm looking at using the serial port for writing debug messages.

I tried Atmel's AVR Studio that's an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for writing and debugging AVR® applications in Windows® 9x/NT/2000/XP environments. But since I use Linux, not Windows I've had a few difficulties getting it going using Wine. I need to spend some time getting this going cause I'd much rather use an IDE than an editor, Make files, and print statements. On my to-do list.

In the mean time ... Why spend time fixing a problem when another interesting gadget is waiting to be played with?

When I was mucking with the Gumstix controller, the idea of using Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi to remotely communicate was pretty cool. Alas, the Orangutan doesn't have cheap wireless options. Or does it?

Digi's Xbee RF Modules sound really interesting. Low-cost, low-power mesh networking for about ~$25 each. Sparkfun has a good selection of the various Xbee flavours. The 2mW Series 2.5 Wire Antenna version has a 400' range and is the one that I have my eye on.

Here's today's plan:
The Xbee shield is cheap, about $14, and will allow me to interface the +3.3V Xbee to the +5V Orangutan. The Explorer will run with my PC. As the Hummer-bot moves around, I'll have the Orangutan send status messages so I can understand why it turned and slammed into the wall. I'll use the PC bee to view the status and then be able to remotely send control commands to Hummer-bot.