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Help me get started


#1

Hello,

I want to build a wirelessly controlled robot, but I am confused as to what parts I need to get started. The way I envisioned it was to buy the following:

FEZ Mini Robot Kit
WiFi Extention (for wireless communication)
MicroSD card (for storing data, settings and other stuff)

I would write a web server inside the FEZ chip which would serve a small Silverligh app (stored on the MicroSD card) to the browser. Once the app is loaded into the browser, I’d make a direct socket connection to the FEZ and control it’s movements with some type of an interface in the browser.

The only issue is that WiFi extention is available on the FEZ Cobra page, but not FEZ Mini. My question is whether the WiFi extention is available for FEZ Mini or whether the existing one is compatible?

Or am I going about it all wrong?

Thanks.


#2

As of now, if you need a fully functional and commercially/professorially supported WiFi then the only option is to use FEZ Cobra. Actually FEZ Cobra (EMX and ChipworkX) is the only NETMF device with WiFi support on the market.

We are adding almost done adding commercial support for Ethernet and possible WiFi in the next few months.


#3

Thanks for the quick answer. Could you please clarify, I didn’t quite get it.

Are you saying that in the next few months you’ll have a WiFi device for the FEZ Mini (e.g. something that’s usable with the Robot Kit)?

On the other hand, is there a Robot Kit for the FEZ Cobra?


#4

No WiFi support for FEZ Mini robot kit for now.

If you want wireless communication with the FEZ mini robot I suggest that you use
Bluetooth:
http://www.tinyclr.com/hardware/2/fez-mini/#/grid/item/110/

or XBee:
http://www.tinyclr.com/hardware/2/fez-mini/#/grid/item/21/

These two communicate with FEZ mini through UART (serial port).
On the other side ( probably your PC). You can use Bluetooth dongle to connect to the robot in case you are using Bluetooth. In case you decided to use XBee you can use something like this adapter
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8687

Foekie has made a nice tutorial about XBee
http://www.tinyclr.com/forum/8/804/

I also recommend that you read the beginner’s guide free ebook to learn about UART.
http://www.tinyclr.com/downloads/Beginners%20guide%20to%20NETMF.pdf


#5

Take a look at this blog. Rob used Xbee with FEZ mini Robot

http://www.robmiles.com/journal/2010/1/26/fez-robot-now-with-extra-bustle.html


#6

XBee FTW. Simple. Fast. Effective.

I can’t speak highly enough about the Xbee. I love 'em. I use them in everything I do practically.


#7

Hello Frank,

Did you want remote control from a web browser or a remote control in general?


#8

I wanted remote control from the browser, because the possibilities are limitless. But I guess, I’ll have to go with an XBee controller.


#9

the web server can talk to the xbee on a usb explorer plugged in to the pc which talks the one on the robot.


#10

I am not sure I follow. The XBee is connected via a COM port and it thus NOT on the network. So how can I connect from a browser (wirelessly) to the XBee controller? The XBee controller does not have an IP address.


#11

The XBee has absolutely nothing to do with the internet or TCP/IP. You need a WIFI module or ethernet connection to run a webserver on your FEZ.


#12

IN my example you would be talking to a machine. that had said web server. How to make the code behind it pass things to a serial port can be done with almost any web server. the XBee will sit on the serial port waiting for said input and transfer to another xbee attached to said robot or what may have you.

Here is example in php http://www.communitymx.com/content/article.cfm?page=2&cid=8658A im sure Google can help you find many more ways to talk to a com port on the local box which has a xbee that communicates with a second xbee attached to what ever you want to control.

Would i do this no. But it would be a way to wirelessly control a mini from a webserver.


#13

Ah, I see.

Yeah, you’ll need to use PHP or something to pass data to the serial port. It just so happens I have a lot of experience doing this.

If you have windows, writing is easy, reading is nearly impossible (maybe this has changed), if you have linux, it makes everything a lot easier.

Don’t bother using any of those “PHP COM” libraries. They’re crap and they rely on outside programs to do their dirtywork.


#14

you can use this WiFi module with FEZ Robot kit. But you have to know how to wire the serial port to FEZ Mini.

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9333

This is the same module used on Wifly Shield used with FEZ Domino


#15

Oh wow, that’s interesting. Has anyone used this product for integration to the Fez Mini?


#16

You could also use ASP.NET and the big dot net framework to write the app. The dot net framework has a Serial Port component that makes talking to serial ports easy.

Point is, you’ve got alot of options. Figure out what you specifically want to do first :slight_smile:


#17

ASP.NET is my suggestion as well. PHP is too shoddy with serial. It is possible, though.


#18

ASP.Net with a Singleton class that has your serial connector in it that’s hosted on the Application level (not each webpage) so the web page will get the instance from the application to talk to the device. This way you won’t have deadlocks on the serial port.