I’d like to introduce the next WiMo to make its rounds around the office which I have codenamed "WiMo NXT". It is built using the brand new Lego Mindstorms NXT. Just like the original WiMo, it talks to the Lego NXT brick via Bluetooth. In fact, most of the code is the same except for the actual protocol used to talk to the Lego NXT Brick.
I used this next WiMo as an opportunity to use the new Microsoft Robot Studio (MSRS) APIs that were just released a few weeks ago. The MSRS allows you to build a set of services that can all work together in order to coordinate a robot. Because the MSRS APIs are still in preview, the documentation isn’t all there yet, but the tutorials do a pretty good job at explaining what is going on. If you are looking into the MSRS, I highly recommend playing with the Services Tutorials first! They are generic tutorials that don't need any hardware and give a decent perspective into what MSRS is about.
So, by now I have WiMo NXT doing about the same things as the other WiMo using the MSRS. One of the main differences right now is that I am now using the Desktop (or rather, my laptop) as the controller (instead of the Pocket PC). This is how I’ve always envisioned WiMo anyway: Desktop <--> Smartphone <--> microcontroller.
As with the original WiMo (codenamed Aggressor because I thought the tank treads made it looks aggressive. But it really isn't all that intimidating 🙂 ), I’ll try to post the “how-to” on building WiMo NXT sometime soon, along with how to use WiMo from Robot Studio. It uses some of the concepts shown in the first robot tutorial (TriBot). I had to change things up so I could have the same rotating Windows Mobile SDK Platform that the Smartphone sits on.
If you are interested in building one, which hardware do you think you’ll use? The WiMo NXT using the Lego NXT Mindstorms?, the homebrew WiMo “Aggressor”? Or will you come up with your own design? Both the WiMo NXT and the “Aggressor” parts cost about the same (~ $250). So, it really is a matter of which you’d like to play with. Let me know if you build one, I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.
In general, what do you think about Smartphones being used in robotics applications? Overkill? A good prototype platform? Fun for hobbyists? Other thoughts?
WiMo Reference: http://www.wimobot.com