Applied Computer Simulation Labs

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Robotic Speaker Unit (RSU) Setup Guide

This is a reference document for the Robotic Speaker Unit (RSU), developed by the ORI Applied Computer Simulation Labs.


The RSU is a wireless, remote controlled "skateboard" with a speaker on it. The RSU is controlled from a laptop, or from any Windows computer equipped with a Bluetooth transceiver that has the necessary software drivers, and the BlindNet software.

Robotic Speaker Unit (RSU)

The USB-to-serial cable currently used: is: Prolific brand - model PL-2303.

Installing Drivers:

  1. Make sure the device is unplugged
  2. Run "PL-2303 Driver Installer.exe".
  3. Plug in the device
  4. Go to "Device Manager -> Ports" and make sure settings are 9600/8/None/1/None

If you install on a computer without a COM port, it should install as COM1, which is what BlindNET is configured to use by default. However, if COM1 is already being used (by a modem or a hardware COM port) it will install as a different COM port. You will then have to edit the "robot.cfg" file in the BlindNET install dir.



The AirCables have a power switch on the side. It is turned on when the switch is toward the plug. There is a delayed reaction between turning the device on or off. It takes several seconds to "boot" and for the power light to come on. They have tiny internal rechargeable batteries in them. The AirCable on the robot is charged from the main gel-cell battery, but the one that attaches to your computer does not get any power. That one will need to be recharged periodically with the included mini-wall-wart. It might be a good idea to plug it in while using it "in the field" to eliminate the chance of it running out of power in the middle of a trial.

Hardware Handshake on the RSU (Don't mess with this!)

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Up Up Down Down

IR Headtracker:

Install the drivers by running "TrackIR_4.1.030.Final.B.exe" To aid in debugging the head tracker, there is a program that lets you see what the camera sees. This can tell you, for example, if the tracker is properly alligned, and if you are getting interference from an IR source behind the camera. To install this software, first run "OptiTrack_1.1.033.final.b.exe" and then run "Optitrack_view01_install.exe"


The headtracker calibrates itself once upon program load. Unfortunately, there is no way to calibrate it again once the program is loaded. So this means that the subject's head must be relatively straight and level when the program is loaded. The good news is that, once it is calibrated, it stays that way, and will not drift like the InterSense ones did.

To debug your robot setup, you can always hit the F11 key and look at the runlog. If BlindNET can't connect to the robot for some reason, you will see the message "robot: (no reply)" scrolling across your screen. The most common problem that you will encounter is that the AirCables are not connected to each other. (see "General Operation")

To test the operation of the robot, use the following keys:

G: move the robot left a little bit.

H: "home" the robot - make the current position zero, that is, the center.

J: move the robot right a little bit.

These keys can also be used to position the robot where you want it before running the trial. Just remember to "home" it (H key) as the last step.

General Operation

The hardware is a little picky about when things are turned on. In general, just remember to turn on the computer-side AirCable last, after BlindNET is running. If it won't connect, just reset it by turning off the computer-side aircable and then turning it back on. (Note that this should be done while BlindNET is running, and the other AirCable and the robot are both turned ON.)


  • 3 sealed lead-acid batteries
  • battery charger
  • AirCable (with antenna)
  • power supply for AirCable
  • head tracker camera
  • head tracker hat clip
  • USB to serial cable
  • audio transmitter tower
  • power supply for transmitter
  • RCA to 1/8" TRS adapter cable


Always remove lead acid battery from robot before shipping. Place the three batteries and charger in small compartment inside box (to one side near top).