This section of the documentation goes into some more detailed use of Stoolbotics. Before reading this you should probably check out the quickstart.
Since the principal function of Stoolbotics is simulating robots, it is important to know how to specify them in a format that Stoolbotics can understand, load them into the simulator and command then to do things.
As covered in the quickstart, robots are specified in json files that contain sections in it for defining various aspects of a robot to be simulated. Here is an example file for the Phantom Omni and the explanation again in case you skipped over the quickstart:
"N" : "3", "h1" : "z", "h2" : "x", "h3" : "x", "q1" : ".1*t", "q2" : ".1*cos(t)", "q3" : ".001*t + .2*sin(t)", "l1" : "40", "l2" : "50", "l3" : "50", "P01" : "[0, 0, 0]", "P12" : "[0, 0, l1]", "P23" : "[0, l2, 0]", "P3T" : "[0, l3, 0]", "R01" : "rot(h1, q1)", "R12" : "rot(h2, q2)", "R23" : "rot(h3, q3)", "R3T" : "eye(3, 3)"
Nis first declared to tell the simulator the number of joints to expect in this robot.
hand an index. In this case, shorthand is used (e.g. use of
[0, 0, 1]), but if we wanted a non-standard axis vector we could have used something like
[-.1, .2, .4].
qand an index. These can be completely arbitrary functions of time, static numbers, or whatever you like. These parameters represent how much an axis has rotated or displaced along its axis.
land an index.
P+ index) tell the simulator how to get from one frame to the next. Prismatic joints can be created by including a joint axis parameter (a
q) in the vector.
R+ index) are specified by using the
rot()command, which calculates the rotation matrix using the Euler-Rodriguez formula. If no rotation is desired, just specify the identity matrix with the
eye()command. Sometimes, for static links it is necessary to specify extra frames that don’t have any rotation matrix. If this is the case, you would also just use the
First, all robots are pulled from the
robots directory in the root directory of the simulator. It is recommended to actually copy an existing robot file and modify it to suit your needs.
Writing and/or modifying one of these files is for the most part a straightforward process. The only hiccup you may encounter is in specifying extra frames in order to get the simulator to handle extra links. Additionally, another interesting way of specifying robots is by programmatically generating a json file. An example of this can be seen with
snake.py which generates
Once you have written a robot.json file, there are two commands that will help you out getting it into the simulator. First, use the
list command to see all robot configuration files that the simulator believes to be properly configured and placed correctly. You should see a list containing the Omni, Puma560, etc. and whatever else you have put in the robots directory. Next, use the
load command to load your robot.
Here is a detailed list of all the commands built into Stoolbotics:
|axis||axis ||Turn robot axis on/off. Providing no arguments toggles the axis.|
|eval||eval ||Return some variable from the simulator. e.g. 'eval robot.P01'. Output might look a little weird.|
|exit||exit or quit||Closes the simulator.|
|floor||floor ||Turns the floor on and off. Providing no arguments toggles the floor.|
|ghost||ghost ||turn robot ghosts on/off. If |
|help||help ||If |
|hide||hide||Hides this terminal.|
|list||list||Lists all the robots that can be loaded into the simulator. To add something to this list, just place a valid robot.json file in the 'robots' folder.|
|load||load ||Loads a robot file into the simulator. Use the 'list' command to see what robots are able to be loaded.|
|play||play ||If |
|record||record ||Outputs current arm movements to a file which can be exported or played back later.|
|screendump||screendump||Take a picture of the current screen and save it to disk.|
|set||set ||Sets a symbolic variable in the simulator. e.g. 'set q3 cos(t)', 'set t 0', 'set tscale -.1', 'set P23 [0, 0, l2 + q2]'.|
|skew||skew||Enters skew mode, where the view of the robot and simulation speed can be rapidly adjusted.|
|status||status||Tells you what the simulator is currently doing.|
|stop||stop||Halts the simulation.|
|trace||trace ||Turn robot traces on/off, or clear the current set of traces. If the |
Here are some quick examples of what you can use commands for in Stoolbotics.
The cosmetics of the simulation environment are highly configurable. Here are some of the commands that can modify the appearance:
ghostcommand to control them.
ghost interval <somenumber>.
trace limit <somenumber>.
Here is an example of some simulation environment manipulation with the above commands and the result:
Skew mode allows you to rapidly adjust where the camera is positioned in the simulation as well as adjust the timestep. To enter skew mode, just type
skew. From there you can use the arrow keys to translate the camera up or down, use ‘f’ and ‘d’ to speed up or slow down the simulation, and finally ‘j’ and ‘k’ to zoom in and out. While in skew mode, none of the other commands work, so to exit you need to type ‘t’. Its hard to show a picture of skew mode in action.
set command is highly versatile. You can set any variable in the simulator or the robot with this command. Here are some examples of clever ways to use the set command:
set t 0
|Resets the time in the simulator back to time = 0.|
set tscale 0.05
|Manually sets the timescale in the simulator (the same effect could also be done with the skew command).|
set q1 0 set q2 0 set q3 0 (etc ...)
|Sets all joints in the robot to zero position.|
set h1 x set h2 [1, 1, 1] set h3 z (etc ...)
|Sets all joints axis in the robot to arbitrary vectors. Use of shortcuts like "x" is entirely optional, you can do things like [1, 0, 0] and accomplish the same effect.|
set l1 50
|Set link one to be 50.|
set P12 [0, 0, l2 + q2]
|Make a prismatic joint in the Z direction from frame one to frame two.|
set R12 eye(3, 3)
|Sets R12 to be the identity matrix, effectively creating a static link.|
The simulator also includes functionality to play back and record robot motion through the
The file format that Stoolbotics uses to store robot activity is very straightforward. Each row is a slice of time. The first entry in each row is always time, but since the timescale can be adjusted in the simulator, this column almost doesn’t matter. The remaining entries in the row corresponds to joint angles (in radians) starting from the first joint out to the end of the arm. An example snippet for a three joint arm is shown below:
0.0, 0.1, 0.0540302305868, 0.169294196962 0.2, 0.02, 0.0980066577841, 0.039933866159 0.4, 0.04, 0.0921060994003, 0.0782836684617 0.6, 0.06, 0.082533561491, 0.113528494679 0.8, 0.08, 0.0696706709347, 0.14427121818 1.0, 0.1, 0.0540302305868, 0.169294196962 1.2, 0.12, 0.0362357754477, 0.187607817193 1.4, 0.14, 0.01699671429, 0.198489945998 1.6, 0.16, -0.00291995223013, 0.201514720608 1.8, 0.18, -0.0227202094693, 0.196569526176 2.0, 0.2, -0.0416146836547, 0.183859485365 2.2, 0.22, -0.0588501117255, 0.163899280764 2.4, 0.24, -0.0737393715541, 0.13749263611 2.6, 0.26, -0.0856888753369, 0.105700274364 2.8, 0.28, -0.0942222340669, 0.0697976300312 3.0, 0.3, -0.09899924966, 0.031224001612
Recording is as easy as using the
record command. Providing an argument to the command, such as “example” will automatically start recording to a file called “example.csv” in the root folder of Stoolbotics.
When playing back, all you need to do is use the
play command with the filename you want to play back. For example, after recording to “example”, you could type
play example.csv to start playing what was recorded in the file.
Stoolbotics also has the capacity to be driven by external applications like Matlab without the use of saved recordings. This is done through a UDP socket that accepts a comma separated list of joint angles and moves the arm to this position.
Matlab can therefore compute things like inverse kinematics, and send the joint angles to the simulator to have them visualized over UDP. In order to accept UDP connections, the
server command needs to be used. Specifically, running something like
server start 5005 will be run to start the server listening on port 5005. Then, from matlab you can use the included
judp.m to send UDP messages to the simulator.
A rudimentary example of this technique can be seen in the
matlab folder by running
omni_invkin_example in matlab. This is a drastically simple example attempts to move the phantom omni in a circle. Here it is reproduced below:
host = '127.0.0.1' port = 5005 p = zeros(3, 1) for t = .01:1:1000 p(1) = 40 + 15*cos(t); p(2) = 30; p(3) = 50 + 15*sin(t); q = omni_invkin(p); msg = strcat(num2str(q(1)), ',', num2str(q(2)), ',', num2str(q(3))); disp(msg) % send to stoolbotics judp('send', port, host, int8(msg)); pause(.1); end
As you can see, since this is technically operating over a network we need to specify a host. If you’re running matlab and stoolbotics on the same machine, this will always be 127.0.0.1 for localhost. Technically, you could be running the simulator and matlab on two separate computers. As long as you had the IP address of the computer running the simulator plugged into the ‘host’ variable inside matlab, everything will still work.
Next, the port needs to match what you entered with the
>server start command. From then on, all that needs to happen is to do some calculation, and pass off the comma separated list of joint angled to the simulator.
Written by Lucas Doyle, a software engineer with a Robotics / GIS / UI focus in the SF Bay Area