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Johnny 5: easiest way to program/control for non-programmer?

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Rookie ( offline )
Posts: 35
Posted: 2011-05-22 07:53 

I've made my mind up on picking up a Johnny 5 some time soon, with the intention of various mods to make it become a "real Transformer" so it can convert into a tank and then robot. It would combine all three of my favourite hobbies: RC, robots, and Transformers :D

My electronics skills are OK, fabrication skills sound due to experience with RC cars. [b] But my programming skills are non-existant; therefore what is the easiest way to control a J5?[/b]

- SSC-32 + Botboard II + PS/2 controller? (I assume the SSC32 plugs into the Botboard, or do I use one or the other?)
- I've a "biscuit PC", notably a Cyrix 266Mhz complete PC the footprint of a 3.5" hard disk - could this assist me here with some sort of real-time servo control?
- Bluetooth something?
- Any other suggestions where I can perhaps do away with the more technical SSC-32 board, for a controller with a more intuitive GUI?
- When I order the J5, is there any essential things I should also pick up to make this project less taxing? :p

Thanks in advance


Novice ( offline )
Posts: 89
Posted: 2011-05-22 23:10 
Not trying to blow you off, but most (if not all) of the information you're asking about has already been covered. If you do a few searches of the forums (fora?) you will find very detailed explanations and discussions of exactly the things you are asking. And I do mean detailed! Down to specific pre-written programs, and hardware used.
The forums have a wealth of data, you merely have to look for it. Of course, many of the 'pros' here will help you out. But I'm certain they'd rather answer 'new' questions. Nobody will beat you up if you ask for help in finding the info though. Some of the pros might know exactly where to find your answers, and point you on the right path, I can't help there. I do know that this place is a treasure house of info.

That said, I welcome you to the wonderful (and, at times, frustrating!) world of robots. J5 is a perrenial favorite, and still ripe for modifications.
Dig deep, and don't quit!

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Rookie ( offline )
Posts: 35
Posted: 2011-05-23 00:36 
Hi kdwyer,

thanks for the input; I've been trawling through these very forums for a couple of weeks before plucking up the courage to ask - yes I'm overwhelmed by all the options, and a little confused. I appreciate that the J5 is a few years old, but seems the best option for myself for its size and possible modifications. Other kits (Phoenix, or other humanoid robots) just don't appeal due to their lack of hackability :)

I think I'll purchase the J5 kit, and see how I go from there. At the very least, I could use the SSC32 sequencer software to get the hang of things before looking down the Botboard/PS2/possible Arduino path - or a possible poor man's Botboard via the small SBC motherboard I previously referred to.

Still, if anyone has some suggestions on what is the easiest controller board to program for a non-programmed like me, I'd be helpful.


User avatar
Expert ( offline )
Posts: 309
Posted: 2011-05-23 09:16 
Also, besides the SSC-32 Sequencer, there is LynxTerm for sending commands to the SSC-32, FlowSSC-32 software using FlowStone http://www.lynxmotion.net/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=6700, and the Lynx Simple Sequencer (free) http://www.lynxmotion.com/p-785-free-download-lynx-simple-sequencer.aspx

Personally, I joined this forum because after researching potential controllers, I found the SSC-32 controller to be the easiest for me to use. However, I am a programmer by trade so my opinion and experience may not be relevant to you...


Heard in the workshop: PEBRAC...

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Guru ( offline )
Posts: 9256
Posted: 2011-05-23 12:02 
Check out the Tri-Track Battle Mec thread. He made some simple code that worked well for his non-standard J5 build.

Jim Frye, the Robot Guy
I've always tried to do my best...

Novice ( offline )
Posts: 89
Posted: 2011-05-23 12:11 
I don't suppose ANY kind of programming is EASY... I usually have the manual opened to a relevant page while I'm coding. I do a bit of both BASIC and C, and I find there's alot of overlap between them.
BASIC is usually the language of choice for beginners, as it was designed for newbies originally. It isn't difficult, neither is C. But it won't code itself, you'll need to apply some grey matter. The learning curve isn't steep, and you'll probably find that you make rapid progress if you follow some of the starting tutorials. One of the 'Dummies' books could help. The harder parts come when you begin coding longer, more complex programs. Get the fundamentals down solidly, and then wringing out the correct syntax becomes a matter of keeping the manual handy, at least for me.
I would estimate... you'll have a vague grasp of things within a day or two, a good idea of what to do in less than a week, and some competency in well under a month. Expertise, well... depends on how deep you need to go.
It is all certainly do-able without breaking your think-muscle. And there is alot of help out there, as samples, tutorials, advice, etc.
Overall, it should be rather enjoyable, as you can very quickly get to the point of having some real working stuff accomplished.

Guru ( offline )
Posts: 2251
Posted: 2011-05-23 13:32 
But my programming skills are non-existant; therefore what is the easiest way to control a J5?

Probably remotely controlling it like a typical RC unit would be the first place to start. There are RC types of control, and even web based control setup might be possible. If you are going to make it significantly different than the full kit, then you might want to start with the tracked base first and work from there. The amount of "extras" that can be added to the full kit may be limited due to space.

Why I like my 2005 rio yellow Honda S2000 with the top down, and more!


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