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RoboWorks Support

Over here you will find information on how to get started with using RoboWorks, how to build a model, how to animate a model, and what you need to do to interface your model with an external program using the RoboTalk interface.  Any problems with RoboWorks including known bugs are also addressed over here.  You can also download sample RoboWorks models that other users have contributed.  If you would like to contribute your RoboWorks model and share it with other users, please email it to support@newtonium.com.

Getting Started

Just like any other software, before you start building a model in RoboWorks, develop a conceptual design of your model on paper. This should include all the different shapes you will need, what you will animate, the dimensions of your model, what parts of your model will you organize as groups, and what parts would you like to modularize so that you can use them in other models. After this plan is done you are ready to implement it in RoboWorks. 

You can start by creating a new file.  This will present you with two windows. These are your Graphics Window and your Tree View. You will build your model using the Tree View and will interact with it using the Graphics Window. In the Tree View, select the ‘Root’ node. You can also double click on this node set its properties (such as changing its name). After you have selected the Root node, you can use the Edit menu to insert different nodes into the tree. You will have the option of inserting shapes, transformations, materials, groups, etc. To relate nodes in the Tree View with 3D shapes in the Graphics Window select Highlighting or Locate from the Edit menu. This allows you to relate nodes in the tree to 3D shapes in the graphics window. As you move the mouse over different nodes, you will see the corresponding shape flicker in the Graphics Window.

As you insert shapes into the tree, you will see its affect in the graphics window. In the graphics window you can set the background color, the type of rendering and the viewing parameters. You can also open multiple views of the same tree using the Window menu. 

Other properties of the graphics window that you can set are, rendering type, grid on or off, auto rotation, anti-aliasing, etc.

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Building a Model

One good way to get started with RoboWorks is to study some examples. To get started you can study the PUMA 760.scn example that is installed in the Examples directory within the directory where RoboWorks is installed (usually Program Files/Newtonium/RoboWorks). This example shows how a robot can me modeled and animated using RoboWorks. 


The picture above of the PUMA760.scn model has three windows. Two of these are your graphics windows that show different views of the model. The third window is the tree view that shows the details of the model. As you can see, the model is comprised of various Group nodes that are used to break down the model into simple modules. These modules can move with respect to each other and various transformation nodes define their movement. 

Complex shapes can be made in RoboWorks by grouping together simple primitive shapes that are supported. For example, in the figure above, Link2 is comprised of a set of shapes. The various transformation nodes supported by RoboWorks are Rotation, Translation, Scaling and On/Off. These transformations can either be static (i.e., their value never changes) or can be made dynamic (i.e., a changing value). When a transformation is made dynamic, you can use three different mechanisms to input values into the dynamic transformations. These are 1) Keyboard, 2) Datafiles, and 3) RoboTalk. 

The keyboard option allows you to map certain keys on the keyboard to the dynamic transformations. These keys when pressed will increment the value of the transformation and will result in model movement. Pressing the shift key along with the mapped key, results in decrementing the transformation value. You can set the key mapping properties for a transformation through the Transformation Control Dialog. The other techniques used for model animation are described in Animate a model from a data file and Animate a model from another program.

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Animating a Model From a Data File

Animation from a data file is one of the mechanisms for inputting data into a RoboWorks model.  The data file is a test file that contains in its first row a list of tag names (user defined in the model) that are listed in any order and separated by spaces or tabs.  The tag names should not have any blank spaces.  Below the row of tag names are listed the values for each tag name in the same order as the row of tag names above.  The number of rows of tag values defines the number of key frames in the animation.  The user should study the ‘Robot on Rail.scn’ example.  A snapshot of this is shown below including the Monitor  dialog box. 

 

  In the picture above you will see that the model has five different tag names (with a different key mapped to each of them).  This model has an associated data file, ‘Robot On Rail.dat’ that contains key frames for animation. A part of this file is listed below:

 Robot_Translation

Joint_One

Joint_Two

Joint_Three

Joint_Four

End_Effector

0.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

1.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

2.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

3.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

4.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

5.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

6.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

7.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

8.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

9.0                   

40.0

50

0

0

0

10.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

11.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

12.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

13.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

14.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

15.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

16.0                 

40.0

50

0

0

0

 In the data file shown above, the tag names are listed as the top row along with subsequent rows containing values for the tags.  The File Player can be used to open this data file and animate the model.  The values for the data file can be either generated manually (by moving the mode with the keyboard and recording the values) or generated programmatically.

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Real-time Communication with RoboWorks

The most powerful mechanism for interacting with RoboWorks is RoboTalk.  RoboTalk is a means through which an external program (usually user developed) can communicate with RoboWorks to control the 3D model.  The user defined tag names are used to control the parameters of the model that the user wants to change or to query RoboWorks for the value of the parameters.  RoboTalk is installed along with RoboWorks as a Windows DLL.  Along with this is installed the required files that a user can use in their ‘C’, Visual Basic or any other programming environment that supports DLL’s.  LabView (a graphical programming software from National Instruments, Inc.) vi’s are also provided as a part of RoboTalk.  For users that want to communicate with RoboWorks from platforms other than Windows, RoboTalk source code is provided.  This source code can be compiled on platforms such as Linux or on any other applications that do not support DLL’s.  TCP/IP is the underlying mechanism used by RoboWorks.  As such, RoboWorks models can be controlled by programs running on separate computers that are connected through the Internet. 

As an example, you can open the ‘Clock.scn’ file that is installed in your RoboWorks Examples directory.  After opening this file, select Animation->From IPC.  After this, run the ‘Clock Application.exe’ program that is installed in your Examples/RoboTalk/C Language folder.  You will see that this program will control the time in the clock model in RoboWorks.  The source code to this program is also provided. 

 RoboTalk help file is also installed with RoboWorks and is available through your

Start->Programs->RoboWorks menu. 

 
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Problems

The common problems that users of RoboWorks encounter are listed below.  These will get fixed in future versions.  If your problem is not addressed over here or you cannot find an answer at the RoboWorks FAQ page, you can send an email to support@newtonium.com.  

1.  When RoboWorks is started, a message appears stating "Socket  

 Initialization Failed: Animation from IPC will not work."  

This is a problem with the installation program and can be fixed in the following manner: Go to the directory in which RoboWorks is installed (normally ....\Program Files\RoboWorks).  Inside the RoboWorks directory go to the Bin\RoboWorks directory and delete the files ws2_32.dll and ws2help.dll.  If you cannot see these files, go to your tools menu in your windows explorer (not Internet Explorer) and set the View options to view all files.  This problem is fixed in RoboWorks Version 2.0.

2.  There are problems with getting help.  Simply: "RoboCad.hlp" is not found.  

The previous version of RoboWorks ddid not have any help.  You should study some of the examples such as Puma760.scn to see how to build and animate a model.  A RoboTalk example is also installed.  The RoboWorks FAQ page also gives information that may be useful in getting started.    This problem is fixed in the current RoboWorks Version 2.0.

 

3.  The graphics appears to be all garbled or no image shows up.  

This is possibly due to the incompatibility of the OpenGL libraries on your computer and RoboWorks.  Most probably, the original OpenGL libraries on your computer were replaced by some other software or graphics card.  You can fix this problem by downloading the original OpenGL libraries from Microsoft.  ONce you have downloded it, you should extract the files and then copy the OpenGL32.dll and glu32.dll to the location were RoboWorks.exe is installed.  This should normally be Program Files/Newtonium/RoboWorks/Program/.

 

 

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Fixed Bugs

Some of the bugs in previous versions of RoboWorks that are fixed in Version 2.0 are listed below.  If you encounter any other bugs please report them via email to  support@newtonium.com.

1.  Program Crash on Right Clicking in the Tree View.

If you right click on the nodes in the tree view, sometimes the software crashes. To avoid this, just use the Edit menu.  Also, the right clicking crash is more prevalent when a file is opened. After some time, its frequency goes down.  The right mouse feature is no longer offered in Version 2.0 of RoboWorks. 

2.  Program Crashes on Animation from Data File.

This happens because the data file is not in the correct format.  Make sure that you do not have any blank lines at the end of the data file.  The file should end after the last entry in your data file.   This bug has been fixed in Version 2.0.

3.  Double Clicking on a RoboWorks *.scn file does not open it.

This is a bug.  When you double click on a RoboWorks file, it will start RoboWorks but will not load the file.  You will have to open the file from the 'File' menu or drag and drop it into RoboWorks.   This bug has been fixed in Version 2.0.

4.  Program Crashes when file is closed while file player is open.

This is a bug.  When you close a RoboWorks (*.scn) file while the File Player is running, RoboWorks crashes.  You should first shut down the file player by clicking the eject button.  Then you can close the file.   This bug has been fixed in Version 2.0.

5.  Program Crashes when file is closed while Monitor Dialog is open.

This is a bug.  When you close a RoboWorks (*.scn) file while the Monitor dialog  is running, RoboWorks crashes.  You should first shut down the Monitor dialog.  Then you can close the file.  This bug has been fixed in Version 2.0.

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Last modified: 05/10/2008