TeachVal II


Abstract

The TeachMover robot arm is a microprocessor controlled, six jointed mechanical arm designed to provide an unusual combination of dexterity and low cost. The software shipped with the robot is written in BASIC and is very limited and difficult to use. A fully Java based implementation was written that supports the original TeachVAL commands as well as extending the capabilities of the original software. This new implementation runs in its own environment, where editing, compilation and execution are performed under an intuitive GUI. The new software uses the full power of Java including all control structures and programming methods allowing more freedom, while developing maintainable programs. Future work involves the implementation of a Virtual Programming environment, and extensions to include other robotic arm platforms.

Why?

That is the question. Well, the original software was crap, and an update was needed. The Microbots are functional hardware but suffer from outdated software. Part of the motivation for this project was to update the software to be compliant with modern computer systems and provide an interface language which is currently popular. Hence Java. Micheal Piskaric did an excellent job with the new software, breathing new life into otherwise robotic arms which can accurately be classified as dinosaurs.

The manual for TeachVal II is the project submission. This manual describes the basic motivation, installation,  functionality and usage of the software. The software consists of  2 jar files which provide the communications and command support for the robot. You may download the compiled classes and install as per the installation instructions provided in the manual. Included as well is the source code for all classes. If you wish to compile and/or modify this code then please do.

Licence and Legal Stuff


 Licence has been granted as open source. The user may modify the code as they see fit provided proper ackknowledgement remains in the source and any compiled version recognizing the original authors: Micheal Piskeric and David Bockus of Brock University - Computer Science, Ontario Canada. Revisions of the code are incouraged to expand the usage beyond the robotic arm. Revisions may be posted and maintained at this website. Under no circumstances shall any part of this code be incorporated into any commercial product for profit.

Downloads

Manual  (last updated Oct 11 05)
Executable Archives  ( Windows 2K, XP, last updated Oct 11 05 )
Source (last updated Oct 11 05), Contains the complete project as submitted by Micheal.

Installation Issues

Later versions of the Java JDK do not update the path variable. Thus the following will need to be done in order for TeachVal to find the compiler.

After having installed the JDK on a clean system, TeachVal produces an error "Some Sort of error in Compiling"

Problem, the current java jdk installation does not add itself to the executable path. Hence trying to run the java compiler from a command line setting will not work since it is not in the executable path. Otherwise, even though installed TeachVal can't find the compiler because the "path" variable was not updated.

Solution is to add the JDK to the path which is an environment variable within windows. You can google this which will tell you how to update the environment via windows so it is visible to all command line programs.

A more straight forward fix which will only benefit TeachVal is as follows: The solution I used was to add another line into the Teachval.bat file which temporarily would set the java path so Teachval can find the compiler. Now depending on the version of the JDK you installed the installation directory will be something like this.

  C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_13\bin

where the bin directory contains the java compiler i.e. javac.

Note: the jdk version number is part of the path and will differ depending on which minor version of the jdk was installed. You can check this by going into the program file directory and seeing the exact path of the jdk. That said, edit the Teachval.bat startup file to look like:

echo on
cls
echo Running TeachVAL II...
set path=%path%;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_13\bin
java -classpath comm.jar;Robot.jar;TeachVAL TeachVAL
cls
exit

I have tested this fix, and compiled the template file, without any problems.  Important be sure you get the spacing correct for:

set path=%path%;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.6.0_13\bin

This is the only line you will need to add.
Contact Info Dave Bockus - Brock University Computer Science, 500 Glenridge Ave. St.Catharines Ont. Canada, L2S 3A1
Micheal Piskeric