March 25, 2018
March 25, 2018
March 27, 2018
This paper describes challenges and solutions in maintaining and developing applications for an industrial robot, Mitsubishi’s Movemaster RV-M2, with changing computer technologies. This all-electric robot was used for over 20 years to teach undergraduate engineering students robotics concepts and applications. Originally, the robot’s controller was connected via a 9-pin serial port to an 8088-based PC. The operating systems was DOS (Disk Operating System) and the program used to send the commands to the robot was Q-Basic. As the PC technology continued to evolve, the Windows operating system became increasingly unfriendly with respect to DOS applications. Also, the PC motherboard architecture advances abandoned serial ports (RS232) in favor of USB ports. The only ways to continue using serial ports was by purchasing separate serial port cards, or by using USB-to-RS232 converters (not always compatible with the robot’s controller). The Command Prompt (a DOS style window) of Windows 7 32 bits was the last operating system allowing Q-Basic to run. With an inrush of Windows 7 64-bit applications, an upgrade to this system (to Windows 7 64-bit) rendered Q-Basic incompatible. DosBox program, a wrapper, was the temporary solution to this problem. Q-Basic could still run under DosBox, but DosBox requires administrative privileges to the PC, which students were not allowed to have. So, at this stage, an instructor with administrative privileges would log into the PC, start DosBox and Q-Basic allowing students to enter their programs controlling the robot. This was not a satisfactory solution because it didn’t allow students to develop their programs on their own time. Also, a DOS-based programming environment had a look-and-feel of an archaic design. Students often asked, “Is this robot older than me?” Finally, a MatLab program was developed for sending robotic commands to the robot controller. Students were already familiar with MatLab, since they used it in their first-year programming course, and then reinforced their MatLab programming skills in other subsequent engineering courses. Also, students could write their programs in many other computer labs that have MatLab installed. From individual student interviews, informal student discussions, and a student satisfaction survey, we conclude that this old robot is still popular (one of these robots was featured in the movie “Jurassic Park”) and capable of helping students improve their robot programming skills.
Jaksic, N. I., & Duong, T. H. (2018, March), Teaching an old Robot New Tricks Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado. https://peer.asee.org/29627
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