Jackson State University
College of Science, Engineering, and Technology
Department of Technology

ITMF- 410 - Introduction to Robotics

Instructor: Dr. John S. Colonias
Office: J.Y. Woodard Bldg.
Phone: 601-979-2624
Email: john.colonias@jsums.edu

Office Hours:
Monday: 9-11 am and 2-4 pm
Wednesday: 9-11 am and 2-4 pm

Course Details
ITMF- 410 - Spring 2011
Time: Thursday: 09:00 am - 11:50 am
Location: JYW 210
Credits: 3
This is a begining course in robotics. This course prepares you in introducing elements of robotic structures, programming robots to perform elementary tasks, introducing you to sensors and methods of interfacing them, navigation techniques, obstacle avoidance, as well as other pertinent information to establish a solid foundation on which one can continue studies in robotics.

Brief review of concepts that you will be exposed to are:

  1. Binary arithmetic, boolean functions, and programming techniques using the PBASIC language.
  2. We will use various PIC microcontrollers as they are embedded in the Parallax, Inc., commercial products.
  3. Program the Parallax microcontroller in various robotic configurations.
  4. Introduction to interfacing and sensor technology.
  5. Design simple robots to exhibit various sensorial based behaviors.
  6. Use GPS and other navigational aids.
  7. Design collision detection algorithms.
  8. Design obstacle avoidance algorithms.
  9. Design a semester long project and compete with your fellow students.
  10. If time permits I will introduce the concept of "finite state machines" in programming robot behavior.
Students are expected to form laboratory teams and participate in the design of a semester project the success of which will insure them 40% of their final grade. The project will be of your own choice and will require that each student maintain a laboratory notebook, as well as submit to me, at the end of the semester, a written report on the subject of their project. Also, each student will make a ten minute class presentation/demonstration of their project. These items are mandatory for the student to receive the maximum of 40% based on performance.
Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy is that I strongly encourage students to take an active role in the classroom. Questions are welcome before, during and after class. Please feel free to email, visit or call me if you have questions. This is a hands-on course, and I hope all of you will take an active role in creating the various devices that we will come up. Create early partnerships and friendships with your team members, and work hard both independently and as a team to create the best robotic project that you have chosen. Sharpen your imagination and welcome aboard!
Course Description
Since the course makes specific use of the PIC family microcontrollers and pre-designed systems from Parallax, Inc., it makes this introductory course easier, and frees the student to learn a relatively easy language, that of PBASIC, so that extensive hands-on experience can be devoted to designing various embedded systems using sensors and other robotic components.

There is no text book for this course, but we will use the files listed below that describe most of the activities that we will be engaged in this course. I have already downloaded them for you and they are available below. However, I encourage every one to visit the Parallax site and avail yourselves with other FREE publications and software you will find there.

It is also my intention to provide you with copies of my PowerPoint class presentations. You may download/save or open them by clicking the reference at the end of this page.

You should visit my web site often because I always add new information that will help you perform well in this course.

Texbook Material:
BASIC Language Manual
Robotics Manual
Applied Sensors
Ping Sensor for Lecture #9
More info about Ping Sensor for Lecture #9
Finding distance with Ping Sensor for Lecture #9
Robotics Laboratory
Our robotics laboratory is equipped with the following equipment to assist students in their studies:
  1. 10 Robots
  2. 5 Tank-track conversion kits for robots
  3. 5 Crawler conversion kits for robots
  4. 1 Voice activated robotic arm
  5. 2 CMUcam Vision systems
  6. 1 Digital storage oscilloscope
  7. 3 Color sensor kits
  8. 2 433 MHz Transceiver packages
  9. 3 Parallax RF Transmitters
  10. 3 Parallax RF Receivers
  11. 2 Temp/Humidity sensors
  12. 2 Hitachi HM55B Compass modules
  13. 2 Hitachi H48C Tri-Axis Accelerometers
  14. 1 DS 1302 Timekeeping chips
  15. 8 Ultrasonic range finders
  16. 1 GPS receiver modules
  17. 1 RoboEye Vision system
  18. 10 IR Transmitter assembly kits
  19. 10 IR receivers
  20. Miscaleneous electronic components, boards, etc.
We are constantly upgrading the laboratory's electronic components to include the latest tools in robotics technology. Students should consult this list when they decide the semester project of their choice

Reference Materials

Visit often the following sites:
Parallax Co.
EME Systems
Google "Robotics" and you will get 1000s upon 1000s of references.
There is no homework for this course. Laboratory work will be documented and recorded so that I may inspect it at any time. Laboratory work will include hands on construction of robotics apparatus, small programs, as well as working on your semester project.

There will be one mid-term examination and one comprehensive final examination. Examinations are closed book and close notes exams. Calculators are not allowed to use in the exams.

Cheating is a very uncivilized beharior and it is to be avoided at all costs. You are allowed to talk to your classmates about the lab assignments, but you are NOT allowed to look at each other's written work. Oral discussions about an assignment is encouraged and is not considered to be cheating. Copying of any part of a program is cheating without explicit reference to its source. If we find two programs that are copied, there will be a substantial penalty to both students, e.g., failure in the course. It is appropriate to use software out of the book (or references) as long as an explicit reference is cited.PLEASE DO YOUR OWN WORK.

Laboratory Policy
There will be considerable programming and robot building in this class. Therefore, the quality of both the software you write and the creativity that you display in building the robotic apparatus will significantly affect your final grade. Exceptionally "good" programs will be given extra credit. Work in teams but REPORT individually. Teams will be formed at the beginning of the course and they will continue for the duration, unless a member decides to quit.

Students are expected to attend ALL lectures and laboratory sessions. You are expected to be in class at precisely the time indicated. Failure to come at the right time in class will NOT be tolerated. Two consequitive delays will result in having you drop the course. This is a difficult course and I do not want to be interrupted or the class to be interrupted by late-comers.

The references given cover considerably more material than we will cover in this semester and we will use lectures (Power Point presentations) to map our way through these references. If you miss a class or a laboratory session you may find it dificult to catch up. The following listing gives times, reading assignments and topic areas that we will cover. Use them as reference since the pace of instruction might be different from lecture to lecture. I will try to follow it as close as I can.

L E C T U R E   T O P I C S
ITMF- 410 - Introduction to Robotics
Time: Thursday: 09:00 am - 11:50 am
Location: JYW 210
Credits: 3
January      13 - Lecture # 1 - Introductions and Number Systems, MCUs
                 20-Lecture #2 -PBASIC Language - Part I
                 27 - Lecture # 3 - PBASIC Language - Part II
February     3 - Lecture # 4 - Locomotion
                10-Lecture #5 - Navigation
                17-Lecture #6 - Interfacing Techniques and Programming
                24-Lecture #7 - Introduction to Sensor Technology - Part I
March      3 - Lecture # 8 - Introduction to Sensor Technology - Part II
                10- MID TERM EXAM
                17-Spring Break - No Class
                24-Lecture # 9 - Obstacle Avoidance - Part I
                31-Lecture # 10 - Obstacle Avoidance - Part II
April          7 - Lecture # 11 - Obstacle Avoidance - Part III
               14 Lecture # 12 - Communication Systems
               21-Lecture #13 - Experimenting with Wireless Communication
               28-Lecture #14 - Review and Individual Presentations

To Access "Power Point Presentations" and "Assignments" - CLICK HERE