SPARK Project #2, Post #3

Computers & Mobile
SPARK Project #2, Post #3



In my last post, I presented the beginnings of a plan to connect an iRobot Create to an iCop SPARK computer running Windows Embedded CE R2.0. Now it’s time to dive in and get some code loaded onto the iCop machine, then see if I can talk to the Create using the commands listed in the Create Open Interface.

Before I get started with Windows Embedded, I want to verify that I can talk to the Create using a known-good source, my desktop computer. I think this is an important debug step. Even though I’d like my software to run properly the first time, the truth is that it may require debugging before it functions correctly. I can simplify this debug task and verify that the Create serial interface is working by connecting it to my development PC and reading the boot message after power-on:


Once I’ve done that, I’m confident that I can establish a connection between the Create and my PC or the iCop box with my Windows Embedded program, and I can be confident any communications problems are a result of my poorly written program!

I already have Visual Studio 2005 and Windows Embedded CE6.0 R2 installed on my development computer, so I’m almost ready to connect the iCop computer. There is one more step required to fully configure the development computer so that I can begin Windows Embedded development. The different SPARK boards have a variety of processors and peripherals and thus require a unique software library and configuration set to allow Visual Studio 2005 to generate compiled code appropriate for the given low-level hardware. This unique library and configuration set is called a “board support package” for the obvious reasons. Each SPARK board vendor supplies a board support package that can be downloaded and installed for a specific board.

Now I’m ready to create and install the operating system and my application onto my iCop board! I’ll discuss that in the full post here.

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Kipp Bradford is a technology consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for making things. He is the Senior Design Engineer and Lecturer in Engineering at Brown University, where he teaches several engineering design and entrepreneurship courses. Kipp is also on the Technical Advisory Board for Make Magazine.

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