Skip to main content

Hobby Programming – Creating your first robotic simulation using Microsoft Robotic Dev Studio and Visual Programming Language

image

Preface

This is a quick introduction towards starting your life with Microsoft Robotic Developer Studio (RDS) and Microsoft Visual Programming Language (MVPL) for creating simple robotic simulations. This is intended to be an ‘absolute beginner’s guide’ to RDS. 

In fact, I just started playing with RDS after some inspiration from Ramaprasanna during Kerala DevCon 2010 - and it is fun. And the objective of this post is to share the fun, mainly from a hobby programming perspective.

As a pre-requisite, for doing the hands own instructions below - you may need to download and install  Microsoft Robotic Developer Studio 2008 R3 – The installation should be pretty simple and easy.

Microsoft Robotic Developer Studio (RDS) comes with

  • Microsoft Visual Programming Language – An easy to use visual language so that even non programmers can create simulations
  • A 3D Environment simulation module

The RDS comes with two runtimes

  • The Concurrency and Coordination runtime (CCR) – To make easy the handling of asynchronous input/output scenarios when you deal with sensors, motors etc
  • The Decentralized Software Services (DSS) model – To enable easy access and response to your robots and devices, via desktop, web etc

Now, the fun part.

Your First Simulation

So, Let us create a quick simulation, using the Microsoft Visual Programming Language environment.

1 – Bring up the VPL Designer

Assuming that you’ve already got the Microsoft Robotic Developer Studio installed, goto Start –> Programs –> Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3 –> Microsoft Visual Programming Language 2008 R3, to bring up the Visual Programming Language environment.

Note that you’ll get the VPL Designer, and you’ve a Basic Activities toolbox and Services toolbox on the left pane, a Designer in the middle, and a Project explorer pane towards the right.

image

2 – Let us pick a Joystick

In the Services pane, search for Joystick to filter the listings. Just drag and drop Desktop Joystick from the Services toolbox to the designer pane as shown below. You’ll see a rectangular indicator with a set of connectors.

image

3 – Let us pick a Target service

The next step is obviously to pick a target to receive our Joystick notifications. So, again from the services pane, locate a simple Generic Differential Drive device, and drag it to the designer area as we did for the Joystick.

image

4 – Connect the Joystick to our target

The next step is to connect the Joystick to the target device. For this, create a connection from the Notification icon of our DesktopJoystick towards the GenerciDifferntialDrive indicator (You can click and drag), so that it’ll bring up the Connections dialog box. There, on the ‘From’ area, select UpdateAxes, and ‘To’ area, select SetDrivePower.

image   image

By common sense, this means that when ever user changes the axes of the Joystick, the notification will be pumped to SetDrivePower action of our GenericDifferentialDrive service

5 – Set the data properties

Once you press OK button of the connections dialog, this will bring up the Data Connections dialog box. There, you need to check the ‘Edit Values directly’ checkbox (see the Data Connections dialog box below), so that you can edit the values. Modify the Values to what you see in the dialog box below. The target variables (LeftWheelPower and RightWheelPower) represent the parameters of SetDrivePower notification we specified in the above step. The X and Y values represent the input values we are getting from the DesktopJoystick service. And finally, your diagram should look like what you see in the Diagram pane below. You can select the Connector anytime to edit the data connection properties you just specified.

 imageimage    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 – Specify a manifest for your DifferentialDrive service

The final step is to specify a manifest for the GenericDifferentialDrive Service. For this, Select the GenericDifferentialDrive service by clicking it to bring up the properties in the Properties window. In the Properties window, select the Configuration as “Use a manifest”, and click the ‘Import’ button to select a manifest. This will bring up a dialog box, and select the IRobot.Create.Simulation.Manifest, so that it’ll appear in the properties windows as shown below.

image 

7 – Time for action, Run the simulation.

Just press F5 to run the simulation. You’ll see the simulation environment coming up. Just use your mouse in the Desktop Joystick window, and see the robot moving in the simulator.

image

Go ahead and explore more. Have a look at the samples that came with your Robotic Studio installation. Happy Coding!!

Popular posts from this blog

Top 7 Coding Standards & Guideline Documents For C#/.NET Developers

Some time back, I collated a list of 7 Must Read, Free EBooks for .NET Developers, and a lot of people found it useful. So, I thought about putting together a list of Coding Standard guidelines/checklists for .NET /C# developers as well.As you may already know, it is easy to come up with a document - the key is in implementing these standards in your organization, through methods like internal trainings, Peer Reviews, Check in policies, Automated code review tools etc. You can have a look at FxCop and/or StyleCop for automating the review process to some extent, and can customize the rules based on your requirements.Anyway, here is a list of some good Coding Standard Documents. They are useful not just from a review perspective - going through these documents can definitely help you and me to iron out few hidden glitches we might have in the programming portion of our brain. So, here we go, the listing is not in any specific order.1 – IDesign C# Coding StandardsIDesign C# coding stand…

5 Awesome Learning Resources For Programmers (To help you and your kids to grow the geek neurons)

Happy New Year, this is my first post in 2012. I’ll be sharing few awesome learning resources I’ve bookmarked, and will be pointing out some specific computer/programming related courses I've found interesting from these resources.Also, thought about saving this blog post for my kids as well - instead of investing in these Child education schemes (though they are too small as of today, 2 years and 60 days respectively ). Anyway, personally my new year resolution is to see as much videos from this course collections (assuming I can find some free time in between my regular job && changing my babies diapers).1 – Khan AcademyAs I mentioned some time back, you and your kids are missing some thing huge if you havn’t heard about Khan Academy.  It is an awesome learning resource, especially if you want to re-visit your basics in Math, Science etc.With a library of over 2,600 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 268 practice exercises, th…

Hack Raspberry Pi – How To Build Apps In C#, WinForms and ASP.NET Using Mono In Pi

Recently I was doing a bit of R&D related to finding a viable, low cost platform for client nodes. Obviously, I came across Raspberry Pi, and found the same extremely interesting. Now, the missing piece of the puzzle was how to get going using C# and .NET in the Pi. C# is a great language, and there are a lot of C# developers out there in the wild who are interested in the Pi.In this article, I’ll just document my findings so far, and will explain how develop using C# leveraging Mono in a Raspberry Pi. Also, we’ll see how to write few minimal Windows Forms & ASP.NET applications in the Pie as well.Step 1: What is Raspberry Pi?Raspberry Pi is an ARM/Linux box for just ~ $30. It was introduced with a vision to teach basic computer science in schools. How ever, it got a lot of attention from hackers all around the world, as it is an awesome low cost platform to hack and experiment cool ideas as Pi is almost a full fledged computer.  More About R-Pi From Wikipedia.The Raspberry Pi