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turtlebot with one or two laptops

asked 2012-09-28 10:54:07 -0500

Jackie gravatar image

updated 2012-09-28 10:57:49 -0500


I am new to ROS and Linux. Interested in getting a turtlebot. From turtlebot's website, it seems it already has a laptop directly connected to the turtlebot via a USB calbe.

here is my questions. How is the turtlebot typically used?

a) Do I need to have another laptop/desktop that is connected to the laptop on turtlebot via network, so that instructions can be transmitted from the laptop/desktop to the laptop on the turtlebot via the network?

b) or can I just use the laptop on top of the turtlebot, if I feel it is not inconvenient to unplug the laptop from turtlebot, write my program on the laptop, and then plug the laptop to the turtlebot?

Thank you.


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answered 2012-09-28 14:04:44 -0500

Ryan gravatar image

We have used many, many TurtleBots. :)

When we are doing more basic development work with the TurtleBot (parameter tweaking, minor changes, running long-duration tests), the onboard netbook is sufficient. Whenever we need to do more detailed development work, a second computer is recommended. Two main reasons for this:

  1. Display/graphics: Properly displaying all of the data that the robot can provide alongside your source code is done best with a good monitor (or monitors).
  2. Comfort. Long periods of programming at knee height is uncomfortable. You can avoid this by unplugging the robot/uncoiling the cables, but it's nice to be able to rapidly iterate on coding and live tests without having to worry about putting the cables/netbook back together.

As I said, once we're generally happy with the results and are just tweaking things, we'll usually do so on the netbook.

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answered 2012-09-28 12:58:11 -0500

joq gravatar image

I have no direct experience working with turtlebots, so judge my advice accordingly.

But, I suspect you will find it much more convenient to use a separate (perhaps more powerful) system for development. That could be either a laptop or a desktop.

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answered 2012-09-28 16:26:42 -0500

Jackie gravatar image

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for answer. A related question.

I have a iRobot Create and a device called BAM ( With the BAM installed, I can communicate with the Create as if it were directly connected to my desktop/laptop host with a serial cable.

In this case, judged from your experience, can I just use one desktop/laptop, installed with ROS, with BAM on Create, so that to eliminate the need of another netbook on turtlebot, thus reduce the cost.

Thank you Jack

PS The only problem I can think of is the data from Kinect. Is Kinect directly connected to the netbook on turtlebot or the data from Kinect can be wirelessly transmitted to the other desktop/laptop, if it can wirelessly, we may not need the netbook, may we?

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That wouldn't be that convenient. You would need to find some way of plugging the power/gyro board into the BAM, since it usually plugs in where the BAM does. As well, you're correct in assuming that the Kinect normally plugs directly in to the netbook.

Ryan gravatar image Ryan  ( 2012-09-28 16:38:42 -0500 )edit

You are right. Ryan. I also have a roo tooth which is almost the same as BAM and except it does not use the plug BAM uses on the Create. Therefore, I can still use power/gyro board. Again, it is the kinect that I worroed. Does Kinect have to be connected into the netbook? Thanks.

Jackie gravatar image Jackie  ( 2012-09-29 04:40:30 -0500 )edit

The Kinect needs to be able to get its data onto the ROS network in some fashion. As well, usually it's recommended to do some post-processing on whatever device the Kinect is directly plugged into, because sending raw point clouds over wireless at 30 Hz will eat up all of your network bandwidth.

Ryan gravatar image Ryan  ( 2012-09-29 06:34:34 -0500 )edit

Thanks Ryan.that's what I suspect too, the bandwidth problem if choosing wireless. Have a great weekend.

Jackie gravatar image Jackie  ( 2012-09-29 07:46:43 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2012-09-28 10:54:07 -0500

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Last updated: Sep 28 '12