National Instruments and WPI are almost finished developing an FRC Robot Modeling and Simulation Toolkit for LabVIEW. This robot modeling and simulation toolkit will ultimately allow teams to prototype, develop, and test robot code on the FRC Robot Controller without the need of a robot. By using LabVIEW and the USB-6009 DAQ device - attached to an FRC Robot Controller - to simulate the characteristics of a chosen robot design, teams can effectively create a Hardware-in-the-Loop simulation that can help programming teams develop and tweak their robot code weeks before the actual robot is made available for testing.
The concept is simple - you control your robot via code on the IFI Robot Controller. This code activates/controls systems that actuate pneumatics, power motors, turn servos, and perform a myriad of other actions. Your robot in turns provides feedback to the controller through gear tooth sensors, gyros, accelerometers, limit switches, and others. LabVIEW can use the Operator Interface’s Dashboard, as well as the USB-6009 DAQ device, to “see” what your robot code is asking the robot to perform; LabVIEW can then provide the necessary feedback to the IFI Robot Controller via the USB-6009 DAQ device to simulate the sensor feedback of a real robot. Therefore, once a robot design is decided upon by an FRC team, the programming team can immediately begin working on developing a model of the robot and actually write and test REAL CODE on the IFI Robot Controller before the build team even has a rolling chassis!
While the LabVIEW modeling kit is still not 100% complete, we would like to release it to teams as it is currently for general feedback as it contains several extras that all teams, even non-Pilot-Program teams, can make use of (like an enhanced Dashboard viewer!). This kit also comes with a set of video tutorials developed by the WPI team to help teams quickly become accustomed with the programming environment as well as provide real examples of using the FRC Modeling/Simulation Kit. There will eventually be 3 tutorials, but only 2 have been completely developed and are ready for use.
The components of the FRC robot modeler/simulation toolkit can be found at the following location(s):
The Robot Modeling Toolkit for LabVIEW package can be downloaded here:
Tutorial #1 - Using the USB-6009 for sensor modeling and input/output:
Tutorial #2 - Using the FRC Robot Modeling/Simulation Kit:
Installing the FRC Robot Modeling/Simulation Toolkit:
- Install LabVIEW 8.5 AND the supplied Driver CD as directed. All teams received LabVIEW 8.5 in the FRC Kit of Parts.
- If LabVIEW is already installed, please close down LabVIEW if it has already been started.
- Extract the contents of the FRC Toolkit ZIP file into the LabVIEW 8.5 directory - this should overwrite the contents of the user.lib directory already created in that folder. If you installed LabVIEW in the default location, that directory is “C:\Program Files\National Instruments\LabVIEW 8.5”.
Using the FRC Robot Modeling/Simulation Toolkit:
- Install LabVIEW 8.5.
- If not installing the Driver CDs, download and install NI-VISA 4.0 for Windows.
- Download and complete the FREE online “Learn LabVIEW in 3 Hours”](ftp://ftp.ni.com/pub/devzone/Introduction_to_LabVIEW_8_in_3_Hours.zip) course.
- Watch Tutorials 1 and 2.
- Download and Install the FRC Toolkit Software.
- Model your robot!
It’s that simple. Please review the tutorials (sorry, they’re about 30-40 minutes apiece) and NI Pilot Program teams with the USB-6009 DAQ devices are encouraged to use the devices for sensor modeling and for use in the toolkit as sensor feedback. We will make periodic updates to add functionality, release examples, release tutorials, and so forth, so please watch this thread for updates. Any questions should be posted in the LabVIEW subforum.
Thanks, and happy modeling!