A glossary of robotics terms.
that moves. i.e. Robotic hand, motor
Android: Humanlike robot.
AI: Artificial intelligence. Attempting to emulate intelligence in
A/D: Analog to digital. Coverts voltage to discrete value.
Ampere: Measurement of current.
Anode: The “+” end of a diode/LED, etc. See cathode.
Middle pin (usually) of a transistor. Controls emitter to collector
current. See emitter and collector
Battery: Converts chemical energy to electrical energy on demand.
Binary: A number system using 0 and 1s.
Breadboard: Board used for prototyping. Allows for quick plugging in of
Bot Board: Popular HC11 microcontroller board developed my Marvin Green.
Basic Stamp: Popular easy to use microcontroller. Made by Parallax
Basic X: Another microcontroller. Made by Net
C: De facto
programming standard for many microcontrollers.
Capacitor: Component which stores electrical energy. Measured in
Cathode: The “-” end of a diode/LED, etc. See anode.
CMOS: Complementary Metal
Collector: Pin of transistor that doesn’t have an arrow on the schematic.
See base and emitter.
Compiler: Program that coverts a computer program into bytecode, or code
that the computer can understand.
Conductor: Anything that allows the passage of electrons.
current. Non fluctuating voltage.
Diode: Allows current to flow in one direction.
DIRRS: Digital Infrared Rangefinding System. Measures distance with IR
light. See sensors.
Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory.
EPROM: Electronic Programmable Read Only Memory.
Emitter: Transistor pin that has an arrow on circuit diagrams.
Technique used in building circuits. All components are soldered to each
other, without the use of a board.
with teeth. Used to drive other gears, and create a geardown.
Geardown: Converting high speed, low torque into high torque, low speed.
Gyroscope: Device used to determine how rapidly the robot is
rotating or how fast it has rotated, relative to a fixed coordinated
system. (Mobile Robots)
Controls motors using low current signal, like a I/O pin.
Hexadecimal: Number system with a base of 8 instead of the base of
10 used in standard decimal number system.
HC11/12: Popular microcontroller.
Handy Board: Microcontroller board based on HC11 developed by Fred Martin.
Small, hence the name handy board.
Inclinometer: Measures angle of attack.
I/O: Input Out. Can either receive or send information.
Interrupt: Subroutine or action, that interrupts program flow, and
executes when outside action triggers it.
Logarithmic amplifier: Amplifier in which the output is
logarithmic to the input. i.e. 1 in 1 out. 10 in 1000 out.
value. See EEPROM, ROM, RAM
Mercury switch: Switch that closes and opens when tilted.
Microcontroller: Subclass of a microprocessor. Basically just a small computer without a monitor or keyboard,
that is specially designed to control circuits, robot, etc.
Microphone: Converts sound waves to electrical signal.
Mini Board: Older microcontroller board based on the HC11.
Object Oriented: Programming technique where program
is made of of objects that perform certain tasks.
OOPic: Object Oriented Programmable Interrupt Controller.
Inexpensive and powerful microcontroller. See www.oopic.com
OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer
Operand: “Data value that is processed by an instruction in
some way.” (Mobile Robots)
Optoisolator: Allows isolation of different circuit by means of
transmitted light inside the chip. May be used to isolate logic from
Ounce-inch: Common measurement for torque in servos and small
Photodiodes: Diodes that are specially made to detect light. See sensors.
Photointerrupter: Sometimes called a shaft encoder. Transmitted
light beam is broken by rotating disk on wheel. Logic determines speed
based on light pulses. See sensors.
Photoreflector: Same as above, but light beam is reflected by
rotating black and white striped disk.
Photoresistor: Resistor which changes its resistance based on the
amount of light striking the light sensitive surface. See sensors.
Phototransistors: Transistor in which the light sensitive base
controls the collector-emitter current flow. See sensors.
Piezoelectric film: “Piezoelectric film sensors produce
voltage only when subjected to changes in the sensed quantity.” (Mobile
PIR: Pyroelectric Infrared.
Potentiometer: Or Pot. Two variable resistors in one package.
Composed of a resistor (i.e. 10k) and a wiper. When one side of the
wiper’s resistance goes up, the other side goes down.
PROM: Programmable Read Only Memory.
Proximity Detector: Sensors with produces a digital (on/off) based
on an obstacles distance from it.
Pulse-width Modulation: Means by which a digital processor (on/off)
produces an analog varying voltage. Processor produces very fast on/off
pulses. The average voltage from this is based on the pulse times.
Pyroelectric: Or PIR. Detects infrared radiation, in the form of
of angle. 2 PI radians in a circle. To convert radians to degrees, replace
PI with 180. To convert degrees to radians: degrees / 180 * PI.
RAM: Random Access Memory.
ROM: Read Only Memory.
Relay: Switch which activates
then power is applied over its terminals.
Resistor: Components which limits current flow. Measured in ohms.
Semiconductor: Device which neither fully conducts, nor fully
Servo: Non 360Â° rotating gear motor, which is positioned using a
pulse stream. Commonly used for RC applications. See Hacking
Solenoid: Device which either pulls, pushes, or turns a metal rod
based on electromagnetic forces.
Sonar: Device which measures distance based on reflected sound
waves. See sensors.
Subsumption Architecture: Robot programming method developed
by Rodney Brooks at MIT. Emulates basic animal behavior by giving each
behavior a priority, so that higher priority events always will execute
Torque: “Angular force that a motor can deliver at a certain
distance from the shaft.” (Mobile Robots)
Transistor: Switching, or amplifying device. 3 pins. Base,
Collector, and Emitter. Either PNP or NPN. Base drives the collector to
Wall following: Technique used to solve mazes. Either left hand or
right hand. Follow wall always on that side.
Watt: Measurement of power. Power is the rate you use energy. Power
= voltage * current.
Wire-Wrap: Method used to prototype circuits. Wire-wrap tool is
used to tightly wrap wire around the components pins.