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Robotics Tutorials - Beginner - Programming Introduction

This is an introduction to programming using the BasicX micro controller, if you have never programmed before this will help you on your way. More experienced readers should still skim through this to get the basics of the language.

Programming is a common language between you and your Robocore, it lets you tell it what to do. In robotics, programming is necessary to make machines that can work by themselves, without human intervention. These are called autonomous robots.

1) Lets start by connecting your Robocore to the power supply and the serial port of your computer, and loading up the BasicX software.

2) When this is loaded, click on the Monitor Port menu and select the COM port that the Robocore is connected to (probably COM1). The Download Port menu should be set to the same COM port.

3) Click the editor button. A window should open asking for a filename. Just type a name for your first program, lets say Demoprog. It will tell you that the file does not exist, so do you want to create it. Click yes.

Now lets write our first program!

To test that the BasicX is working, we will make it send a message back to your computer. This is done using the debug.print command.

Type the following program into the editor window (or copy and paste it). The first and last lines should already be present, if they are just copy the middle line.

Sub main()

debug.print "Robocore test: Everything is working"

End Sub

Before we can download to the BasicX we need to set the chip preferences. This basically tells the chip what we want to be doing with each pin (input, output etc). To do this click on the project menu, followed by chip (or the F7 shortcut). We can leave everything as it is for now so just click on OK.

Now click on the Compile menu and select Compile and Run (keyboard shortcut F5) This will send the code to the Robocore. Going back to the main BasicX window, you should see the text ' Robocore test: Everything is working ' appear on the screen.

The Sub main() and End Sub commands tell the Robocore where the program begins and ends.

The debug.print command is very useful for telling us what the Robocore is doing, in the next case we will see more of its capabilities.

Now we will make the Robocore solve an equation for us. To do this we will need a variable. This is a value stored under a name in the memory of the Robocore. We will give this variable the name ' answer '.

Sub main()

Dim answerI As integer ' declaring

Dim answer As string ' variables

answerI = 5*5 ' doing the maths

answer=Cstr(answerI) 'convert to printable format

debug.print "5 times 5 is "; answer 'print answer

End Sub

Run the program as before and you should get the computer telling you the answer.

This program shows that you can print values from your program to the screen using debug.print just by adding a semi-colon and the variable name after the "text", this is very handy for example when testing sensors.

The program also uses comments, these have no effect on the program but allow us to add information about each line of the program. The computer ignores everything written on the line after an apostrophe (').

This program has also introduced us to variables, the topic for the next tutorial in the programming series



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