Robotics/Communication Sensors

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Data transmission channels

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Being able to send data to and from your robot can be a very handy addition. There are 2 commonly used methods for wireless data transmission: IR (InfraRed) and RF (Radio Frequency). Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. Which to use depends on several factors.

IR data transmission best known example is the TVs remote control. Using IR on a robot is quite easy and very cheap. The disadvantage of IR is that it's limited to line-of-sight transmission.Line-of-sight or the distance of operating can be increased by use of microwaves (transmission-receiver) systems

RF are well known in radio controlled cars. RF is more expensive than IR, but doesn't have the line-of-sight limitation. These days there are complete RF "modems" available which can be connected to a robot without much (or even any) extra components. Although possible building your own RF communication modules isn't advisable. There are strict laws about which frequencies you can use and with how much power you can transmit.

Using IR

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IR is not much more than modulated lightflashes. Since IR falls outside of the visual spectrum humans can't see these flashes without e.g. a digital camera (the CMOS image chip can see IR, on the screen those IR flashes appear bright white).

Remote Control

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The great thing about IR remote controls is that you can use many of these directly to control your robot. Although there are several (very) differend IR remote control standards, there is one standard that is used by multiple manufacturers. This standard, called RC5, is very easy to use as many programming languages for microcontrollers have build in RC5 support. The hardware is limited to an integrated receiver module (e.g. TSOP1736), a capacitor and a resistor. [1][2]

Further reading

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  1. De Vleeschauwer David. "Phillips RC5 infrared remote protocol page". Detailed information on how to encode and decode RC5 bits.
  2. Michiel Niemeijer & Eric Toonen. "The RC5 code" and "Survey remote control transmitters CTV sets". A list of standard RC5 command codes. (was: http: //web //193.23.168 .87/Mikrocontroller/Kohlert/rc5_codes.html "The RC5 code").