WiFi Robots | How to Build a Wi-Fi Robot
Wi-Fi Control

Wi-Fi Control

Setup and Uses

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless Bridge

Some controllers have wireless cards/access built into them. This means you end up having to configure each wireless device individually. We use a proven and reliable Wireless Bridge that allows us to put several network devices onto the network at once. This bridge allows for 4 network devices to be plugged in but more devices can be added by adding a low cost switch. Once its set up all your Ethernet devices simply plug into it and run as though they are wired to your main network router. From there you can easily port out and access your devices from anywhere over the Internet.

Wireless Router

If you do not want to run your robot off your own pre-made network and would prefer to be able to run the robot anywhere, you might be more interested in ourWireless Router. By adding a router onto your robot, you will be able to connect each of the network compatible accessories into it. This will allow for communication between each of your accessories and if you have a wireless computer(or laptop/phone/tablet/etc), you can also jump onto this network for monitoring outputs and controlling your robot.

Control Interfaces

Since the wireless bridge or router is taken care of, all you need is any standard network device and something to control it with.

Wi-Fi Custom Control Interface

With our Wi-Fi Custom Control Interface Package you get

The first link in communication would be the Logitech USB GamePad Controller, this connects directly to your computer via USB port. It should automatically download the device driver but if it does not the drive can be found here. Once connected you will open your customized control software and jump onto the same network as the robot. Once connection is verified, you can send signals from your laptop to your robot's EnGenius Xtra Long-range Ethernet Bridge or TP-Link 54Mbps Wireless Router TL-WR340G. The data will be routed to the iPocket232 RS232 to Ethernet Converter , which will change the data from the Ethernet packet to RS-232 signal to our control board. The board will then take the packet and disrupt the commands to each of devices on the robot(servos/motors/sensors/etc). Devices can be turned on and off with the 7 Chan High Cur TTL Driver with 4 Power 5V Relays and power to the devices themselves can be regulated with the 4 Switching Regulators provided with your order.

The control board is set up to your exact needs for your robot. After completion of the control board cannot be edited or changed to increase stability. Although we can add more functionality to the software in case your needs change. This option allows someone with very little programming experience to have access to all abilities of the robot, without learning and writing their own code.

Programmable WiFi Custom Interface

Alternatively, we also sell a potentially cheaper Programmable WiFi Custom Interface Package powered by the Arduino platform. Arduino platforms are an extremely user friendly and easy to learn programming language. This package includes:

This option works in similar ways as the Custom Controls Interface Package above. The first few steps are the same. The gamepad connects to your computer with our custom software on it. You then jump on the EnGenius Xtra Long-range Ethernet Bridge or TP-Link 54Mbps Wireless Router TL-WR340G's network. This allows you the communicate with the robot. This is where the difference comes in, instead of moving to the IPocket, the packet will go directly to the Arduino Ethernet Shield R3. The Ethernet shield plugs directly into the SDR Custom Arduino Mega Shield, which is plugged into the Arduino Mega 2560 R3. This allows for fluid communication between the three components. From there you can control your devices and relays.

The benefit for this option is you will be able to modify the code at any point, even if new devices are added onto your robot. This can be extremely helpful for robots whose uses changes frequently or educational uses. Many things can be edited with just the change of a number (Speed/control flow/distance checking/etc), while more drastic changes can be accomplished by people with a little programming experience. We will leave comments in the code to help you walk through the code as well. Many examples are provided by the Arduino community to help you get started. For fresh Arduino users, you should start here.

Cameras

For those that want cameras, we have the Etrovision Video Server that allows you to connect and stream any standard RCA Camera. The Etrovision just plugs into the back of the Ethernet bridge/router and you can then access and control the cameras from the wireless network or Internet. IP cameras are available for our standard WiFi robots. We also offer custom camera systems with a pan and tilt that is controlled with our WiFi Control Package (hence the gamepad controller). This package can be further upgraded by adding a 27x zoom Camera. This will allow another degree of movement as you can pan, tilt and zoom.

Two Way Audio

Two way audio is available and will enable you to send and receive audio through a web interface. This can be another feature of the Etrovision Video Server.

LED Lights Assembly

LED lights are available as chassis mounted or camera mounted. They are remotely operated from the software, allowing you to see when it's dark. These LEDs are very low power, while still providing a large amount of light. This can be very helpful for night operation.

Pan and Tilt Camera

Our standard pan and tilt system can be seen here. It can pan a full 360 degrees and tilt around 50 degrees. This movement is controlled by two servos which are powered by the voltage regulators we provide when you have either of our Wi-Fi packages. Either of our cameras can be mounted to this pan and tilt system.

Another option you can select is our dome camera option. This has a built in pan and tilt system with a protective dome. Most of our dome cameras communicate through RS45 which can be configured on your control board though your order.

Choosing Between a Router or Bridge

There are two networking options available for our WiFi robots. The standard router option provides a simple solution to get you up and running in no time and with little to no IT experience. This will allow your robot to create and move around a wireless network that you and other wireless devices can connect to.

The bridge option allows your robot to act as an extension of an existing WiFi infrastructure. Bridge equipped robots also come with the added bonus of being able to be remote controlled from anywhere with access to the internet. Coupled with the Two-Way Audio option described below it can serve as a basic and robust Remote Prescience option.
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How to Build a WiFi Robot - An example of configuring a WiFi controlled robot

Step 1: Set up the wireless bridge (or router)

a. Each WiFi robot comes with a CD that helps you get things going. It’s up to you if you want to use a static IP or have the bridge find an available IP address on your network. This option will be presented to you when setting up the IP address of the bridge you have bridge. The benefit of using a dynamic address is that it’s simpler, however, you will lose the ability to access the robot from a remote location or any sort of automation. This is because without knowing exactly what IP address your robot is at on every start up, you will not know where to send commands to. When using a static IP address make sure that it does not conflict with an existing IP on your WiFi Network.

b. If you are using the router option then you simply need to connect to the robot’s router through Ethernet, to set it up. After it is configured, it is as easy as plugging in your components and mounting it on the robot.

Step 2: Set up the iPocket (ethernet to serial converter)

In most cases you will not need to adjust the settings of the equipped iPocket. However, if it is desired to change the IP range of the equipped router (or when configuring the bridge to your network) you can access the iPocket’s settings by using a USB to serial cable and a terminal program such as HyperTerminal or PuTTY.. It is recommended to have your computer set to a static IP address when doing so. The default settings for the iPocket is included in the provided CD. Please refer to the iPocket’s manual for further details.

Step 3: Enter IP Address of iPocket

Our .NET Control Program is capable of talking directly to the iPocket. All you need to do is enter the IP address of the iPocket into the settings form and connect.

Another method is to set up the device as a serial port using programs such this freeware HW VSP. Once its set up you should be able to open up that COM port in HyperTerminal or PuTTY. Then plug the RS232 from the iPocket232 into your computer or another computer on the network and open up another instance of HyperTerminal using your RS232 Com Port.

Step 4: Plug the Etrovision server into your network

Its best to connect directly to your router here, you can test it through the wireless bridge in the steps below. Setup the EtroVision. The software disc that comes with the Etrovision will auto detect the camera. It is recommended you use a static IP address here so you do not have to keep looking for it each time the robot powers up. If you use a static, make sure you do not overlap with any address on your network. Keep in mind, this is your local network typically 192.168.xxx.xxx. When you type in the IP address you should get the server main page. After setting a static IP address, you can go to that address on any Internet Browser to have access to advance settings. Refer to their manual for more detail.

Step 5: Hooking in to the bridge (or router)

Now all your needed devices are set up, unplug them from the network and plug them into the wireless bridge. They should work just the same as they did when plugged into your wired network, only they will be getting routed through your wireless bridge and the activity lights on you bridge will start blinking etc. Of course, you will have run the desired power to each of your devices, so it may be able to move around without being constricted by wires.

Step 6: Completing the setup

When your robot is powered on the wireless bridge will take several seconds to boot up and connect to the network. You now have a mobile platform set up to run on you wireless network. If using using our Wi-Fi control package and out custom pan and tilt with an standard camera, both the robot and the camera will be controlled with the gamepad or mouse using our custom PC interface program.

Additional Resources

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HD 4WD ATR Open This is a custom heavy duty 4WD All Terrain Robot set up to run wirelessly using WiFi. The Wireless Bridge is mounted on a plate on top of the batteries, all the controls are mounted under it. There is no IP camera on this. HD 4WD ATR Open This is our standard 4WD WiFi controlled IG42 ATR Kit. You can purchase this kit from our online store. HD 4WD ATR Open Underneath our 4WD WiFi Robot Kit

Controlling a WiFi Robot

The Wi-Fi control package interface program utilizes a .NET program in which we provide the source code. The program will control and monitor the robot via a RS232 or Network Port Connection. The control program interfaces with a custom control board that is programmed to match your robot's specifics such as motor controllers, encoders, sensors, relays, current monitoring, voltages, etc.

The typical controls are...

Driver Controls

Right Shoulder
Hold to enable drive
Right Joystick
Robot Drive. Push forward to go forward, reverse to go reverse. Pushing left and right as pushing forward and reverse will steer the robot.
Back
Toggles the robot between half speed and full speed.

Camera Controls

Left Shoulder
Hold to enable Camera Controls
D-Pad (Up/Down)
Incrementally change the position of the camera’s tilt.
D-Pad (Left/Right)
Incrementally change the position of the camera’s pan.
Left Joystick
Tilt the camera while the left shoulder button is held down.

Auxillary Controls

Button X (Blue)
Relay 1 on and off
Button A (Green)
Relay 2 on and off
Button B (Red)
Relay 3 on and off
Button Y (Yellow)
Relay 4 on and off
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Logitech Gamepad Logitech Gamepad
This is the game controller we offer with many of our WiFi Robot packages. The controls (to the left) are based on this gamepad's configuration.

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