User Manual

Introduction





The Infrared Control Freak 360™ (IRCF360™) is a multifunctional programmable sensor module for your robot, Arduino, quadcopter or other mechatronic project.

IRCF360™ is a 'sensor shield' that plugs directly into your microcontroller project and interfaced via the RS232 port at 9600 baud, no parity 1 stop bit.  (IC2 port is also being introduced)- enabling immediately inheritance of very powerful sensing  functionality. It get's your project up and running within minutes rather than weeks - saving you a lot development time and costs and ensures that you'll meet your tight project assessment deadline and budget. 

The IRCF360™ module will connect to many types of robot controllers, such as the Arduino, Basic Stamp™ from Parallax Inc, PICAXE ™ from Revolution Education, Pinolino, or even more advanced controllers such as the Megabitty from Bittybot (see section on Megabitty). The interface to IRCF360 frees up many ports and processing power of your main microcontroller.

The IRCF360™ module gives you a totally new dimension to your mechatronics, UAV, or kinetic art project. All the following functionality is built into one small programmable module:

360 Degree Infrared Proximity Sensing

  • 360 degree proximity sensing - It's like having eyes at the back of your head!  
  • The sensor can be configured for simultaneous sensing in all directions or (via programmable commands) you can select one or more specific direction - as you like. For example, this allows your robot to 'see' in-front (when going forward)  and behind (for reversing) and if you like, also watching in all other directions at the same time; e.g. in case another robot is creeping up from the side!  Visual feedback via an LED circular display as well as 8 real-time proximity values sent  via the RS232 port to your robot controller for interpretation (the object distance & direction values are sent for each direction in a  packet of 8 bytes)
  • 8 x  Infrared transmitters are installed enabling 360-degrees of proximity detection. For easy identification each Infrared transmitter has been named according to a compass direction, for example: North, North-East, East, South-East, South, South-West, West and North-West.  For this reason it would make sense to mount the board with the North LED facing forward direction. By interpreting the results, the module acts similar to a range finder, providing the approximate directional and distance of an object, from about 0.5cm (1/2") to about 30cms (1ft) depending on the IR circuit and command options. 

  • 360-degrees proximity detection has been designed for autonomous robots where 360 degree view of it's environment is required for navigation through obstacles in all directions and also to identify other robots during robot gaming or robot swarms applications 
  • IR sensing is carried out at a frequency of 38KHz to ensure that all other infrared signals are filtered out (such as sun-light or other lighting)
  • The sensors are great for navigation through narrow passages; acting similar to an electronic whisker. The module senses the direction of obstacles in a similar way a bat finds its way around in the dark. The main difference is that the IRCF360 measures infrared light pulses rather than ultrasonic sound pulses. The accuracy depends on the colour of the obstacle (i.e. white reflect almost 100% of IR light while black material absorbs most of the IR light). 
  • A compass style LED display 'points' in the direction of the nearest obstacles. There can be one or many obstacles. It will show them all.
  • 8 bytes of data are made available at the R232 port. The format is configurable either in decimal, ASCII or delimited ASCII for data loading into a terminal, plotting programs and spreadsheets
  • A programmable option also allows you to build your own fuzzy logic rule structure and rule matrix (error/error.dot) from 6 bytes of proximity detection data  for merely plotting data on any ASCII terminal screen or spreadsheet. 

    Ambient Light Sensors 

    • Two Ambient Light Sensors are included within the sensor. These are silicon NPN epitaxial planar photo-transistor in a T-1 package. It is sensitive to visible light much like the human eye and has peak sensitivity at 570 nm. Alternatives could be Cadmium Sulphide (CdS) photocells
    • By a programmable command, your robot will be able to detect the direction of the brightest light source, enabling your robot to head towards light (photovore) or 'hide' in the shadows (photophobe)Ambient light sensing enables your robot for maze running, swarm simulation (search for light as food). Can also be used to follow black lines on the floor as a line following robot
    • Your robot can follow a light sources (such as a torch) or you can get your robots to race through a maze with a light source as a directional beacon.

    Infrared Remote Control – Infrared Receiver 

    • Using a standard Sony TV / Video remote controller (12-bit SIRC standard) you can take full control of your robot and make it do what ever you like. IR-Control Freak 360™ decodes Infrared commands and converts them into serial data for easy remote control of your robots. 
    • The remote control infrared commands may also be used as a simple means of gaming and swarm communication. For example during gaming each robot or robot team could be assigned a unique device code. The buttons could be assigned to give simple instructions, moods, expressions such as when food is found (such as light) the robot can send out a streaming command so other robots can use this to navigate to the source, or  for robot gaming e.g. robot tag, strategic war games or for simulation such as Biomimetic approaches & insect navigation. 

    Infrared Remote Control - 8x Infrared Transmitters 

    • By a programmable command, the module can also transmits any Sony S.I.R.C Infrared device and button code in either 360 degrees or on any of the 8 Infrared transmitters.
    • Transmit Infrared Remote Control message in 360 degrees
    • Transmitter Infrared Remote Control message in any of the 8 IR transmitter direction
    • Infrared messages are coded at 38Khz frequency to ensure that all other IR signals are filtered out (such as sun-light)
    • The remote control infrared commands may also be used as a simple means of gaming and swarm communication. For example during gaming, each robot or robot team could be assigned a unique device code so they are recognized as part of the same swarm or team. The buttons could be assigned to give simple instructions, moods, expressions such as when food is found (such as light) the robot can send out a streaming command so other robots can use this to navigate to the food source, or  for robot gaming e.g. robot tag, strategic war games or for simulation such as Biomimetric approaches & insect navigation. 

    Robot Swarms and Robot Competition

    • The module is compacted onto a PCB that 5cm diameter (2"). It has no moving parts! This is ideal for Micro-Sumo competitions and small enough to fit onto a small robot within a robot swarm . 

    Easy Interface 

    • IRCF360™ can be interfaced to almost any robot Microcontroller – Examples are the Basic Stamp from Parallax inc, MEGAbitty, PIC from Microchip, OOPic, PICAXE, Tiny Pod, Basic X24, Handy Board/Cricket from Gleason Research or other robot Microcontroller, etc. 
    • RS232 Serial interface provides and easy connection to a robot controller using merely a 3 pin serial interface (GND, TX, RX), providing a very simple interface to your Basic Stamp or other robot microcontroller. 
    • The required functionality is selectable by sending just a 4-byte’ command to the IRCF360™. from either a micro-controller or PC. 
    User Support 

    It is important for us that you have many hours of enjoyment using the IRCF360™ module. If you have some questions then just send an email to support@robomaker.eu or send a ticket via this link -> support. We will log your support request and respond to a your question as soon as possible. Please remember we are operating on a part-time basis so support may take several days. Please also send any details of your project, as your contributions are greatly appreciated by other robot enthusiasts. Please bookmakr this page and regularly check for the latest versions of this user manual and for latest upgrades. 

    Tools & Equipment you may need 

    For soldering the kit and unless your robot controller PCB has been specifically designed to accommodate the pins from the IRCF360™ , you may need to make some some cables to connect the power supply and a serial connection to your robot controller. It is therefore recommend to have the following tools and equipment: 



     Soldering Iron 
       
    Solder


     Multimeter


     
     Wire Cutters 
     

    Flat Nose Pliers
     
     Safety Glasses 


     
     Ribbon Cable*


     Female Pin Header*


    Unless the IRCF360 connects 
    directly into your robot controller board


    Before you start – THINK “SAFETY FIRST”! 

    Please read the safety instructions and disclaimer in Appendix A, before starting to use the IRCF360™.