The Bluetooth specification is a low-cost, low-power radio standard that is used for wirelessly connecting devices. Global acceptance of this specification has helped incorporate limited range wireless communication into everything from automobiles to web players. Based on a nifty time-sharing architecture featuring frequency-hopping and tiny packet sizes, Bluetooth uses the 2.4GHz radio band with a range of approximately 30 feet.
Apple PowerBook G4 portables were the first big time, mainstream computers to offer Bluetooth 2.0+ Enhanced Data Rate (EDR). At that time, other computers were saddled with the older Bluetooth 1.x support. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, while backwards-compatible with Bluetooth 1.x, is up to three times faster than the older standard. A maximum data rate of up to 3 Mbps is possible with Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. This throughput plus the peripheral nature of the connectivity feature has enabled some vendors to describe Bluetooth as “wireless USB.”
Bluetooth Adapter Module (BAM) for enabling wireless control from any Bluetooth-equipped host. In fact, with very little technical expertise you can replace the Create USB serial cable with BAM for piping Open Interface (OI) command strings wirelessly to your Create. Take that:
128 132There, BAM, sever the tether.
140 0 4 62 12 69 12 62 36 141 0
Device Name: Element Serial
Pass Code: 0000
Services Supported: SPP (Serial Port Profile)
RF Power: Class 1 Bluetooth
Operating Frequency: 2.4GHz
Active Current: 60 - 100mA
Operational range: approx. 300ft (100m)
Order: Element Direct
Use these settings for jacking into BAM:
Host COM Port Settings
Data Bits: 8
Stop Bits: 1
Hardware Flow Control: None
Software Flow Control: None
When BAM is pairing with your Bluetooth host its LED will rapidly flash. Once a connection has been established, the onboard BAM LED will continue to flash at a rate of once per second. Doctor, you have a pulse.
Please, Not Another Dongle
If your Create development platform is lacking Bluetooth communication capability, the Bluetooth Dongle with BlueSoleil host software is a painless way to interface with BAM. This Class 1 Bluetooth radio plugs into any free USB V.1.1 port. And you can forget all of those pairing headaches commonly found with other USB radios, the BlueSoleil USB dongle is a screamer with a maximum transmission range of approximately 300 feet.
The BlueSoleil Bluetooth Dongle isn’t a technical slouch, either:
Class 1 Bluetooth
Approx. 300ft (100m) range
Bluetooth v2.0+EDR compliant
USB V1.1 interface
Connect up to 7 different Bluetooth enabled devices
Serial Port Profile (SPP)
CSR BC04 chipset
Order: Element Direct
When the BlueSoleil dongle isn’t talking with BAM, it can be used for other Bluetooth protocols, as well:
Generic Access Profile (GAP)
Object Push Profile (OPP)
File transfer profile (FTP)
Dial-up Network Profile (DUN)
Fax Profile (FAX)
Synchronization Profile (SYNC)
Personal Area Network (PAN)
Basic image Profile (BIP)
Headset Profile (HSP)
Hardcopy Cable Replacement Profile (HCRP)
Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
HID Profile (HID)
The BlueSoleil Host Software will run on Windows 2000, XP & Vista enabling quick and easy communication setup with BAM. Likewise, you can connect with the BlueSoleil USB dongle natively inside Mac OS X, Linux, and even Windows by forgoing the BlueSoleil Host Software.
By using a terminal application, like RealTerm, you can stream OI command strings to your Create for instant programming actions. Furthermore, by using a powerful hacking trick with the terminal application, you can send large, more comprehensive binary scripts to your Create.
How do you make a Create binary file?
Well, first of all you will need the Create Open Interface Specification. This manual will help you determine the hexadecimal codes that are needed for writing your script.
Next, you will need a binary/hex file viewer/editor. HHD Free Hex Editor by HHD Software is a free (duh; that’s its name), Windows application that can be used for building long scripts of Create OI command strings. All of this power without programming a single line of C++ code. Moo-ha-ha.
Finally, save your script as a binary file with the extension BIN and load your brand new shiny binary file into RealTerm with the Dump File to Port dialog. When you are ready to test your script, press the Send File button, sit back, and control Create from the comfort of your easy chair.
You couldn’t ask for a better way to create your own robot.
Hey, How About That Other Robot?
You’re right, the LEGO NXT brick has Bluetooth on board, too.
The LEGO NXT brick is equipped with a CSR BlueCore 4 2.0 +EDR system. The CSR main offering is BlueCore. BlueCore is a fully integrated 2.4 GHz radio, base band and microcontroller used in over 60 per cent of all qualified Bluetooth v1.1 and v1.2 enabled products.
So, are you feeling adventurous punk? Try pairing NXT and Create together with BAM—there’s no telling what you might create. NOTE: Popular Science will not be held responsible for any crossbred robot mutations that you build which reek havoc on our society. —Dave Prochnow