Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

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karstenhw
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Joined: 22 Feb 2014, 00:07

Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by karstenhw » 22 Feb 2014, 00:37

Hello All,

I am new here and this is my first post.

I teach a basic robotics class at a public middle and high school. We own 24 RCXs and I would like to continue using them even if they are old. They work very well most of the time and they allow, in my opinion, easier building of robots with the parts we have. We cannot afford just buying 15 new kits that then will be phased out in a few years and be replaced with yet another version.

Up to now I used Labview RoboLab for programming and my classroom PCs run on XP. We need to upgrade to Windows 7 for a variety of reasons and I believe Robolab will not run any longer then.

I tried using BricxCC but it does not communicate with the RCX no matter what settings I use to find the brick. The USB tower does not respond. The Lego software to drive the tower does not install correctly.

What am I missing? Any thoughts?

haydenstudios
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Location: The United States of America
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Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by haydenstudios » 27 Feb 2014, 01:09

Sorry if this is a bit late...

That's probably because the Windows 7 computers you're using are running 64-bit operating systems, which is something the USB tower doesn't play well with. A workaround for this is to install a virtual machine. As for which VM software to use, I recommend VirtualBox, and installing Windows XP on it. If you don't have a Windows XP installation CD, then you can download an iso and have the VM read from that. This isn't illegal, as all Windows 7 users are legally entitled to this. Now enable USB emulation and install any software on that VM that you want to use with your RCXs. Your USB tower should then be working. Just note that USB will be about a dozen times slower than it natively would be, but it will still work.

Hope this helps.
-Hayden

karstenhw
Posts: 6
Joined: 22 Feb 2014, 00:07

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by karstenhw » 27 Feb 2014, 23:56

Thank you for your reply.
I have now installed BricxCC on a 32-bit machine and it recognizes the RCX. The tower's green light is on and options that were not available earlier are available now. That seems to be a good sign.

Nonetheless, not much else seems to be going on. I tried a few things in the "tools" menu but the RCX does not respond as far as I can tell. The brick piano resulted in one tone about 10 times and then nothing. The brick joystick control feature does nothing.

Is there a simple way to test if BricxCC and the RCX are communicating properly and everything is ready for programming and uploading those programs?

HaWe
Posts: 2500
Joined: 04 Nov 2014, 19:00

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by HaWe » 28 Feb 2014, 07:45

many others from our German forum also had no success.
One or the other finally bought an additional cheap XP PC on Ebay for <80 EUR or installed a Win7/XP dual boot system

h-g-t
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Joined: 07 Jan 2011, 08:59
Location: Albania

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by h-g-t » 28 Feb 2014, 09:56

I've never tried using an RCX but I seem to recall reading that the brick and the tower have to be really close together.
A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself.

HaWe
Posts: 2500
Joined: 04 Nov 2014, 19:00

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by HaWe » 28 Feb 2014, 11:17

there's a close and a distant transmission mode - at distant mode 2 meters are fine, at close mode 50 cm. fit

karstenhw
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Joined: 22 Feb 2014, 00:07

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by karstenhw » 05 Mar 2014, 14:03

Ok, still no success (I think).
I now installed BricxxCC on a 32-bit machine that runs XP. The USB tower light is on, the RCX is counting up in seconds, but it does not do anything else. RCX and software response are the same as with the Windows 7 machine (also 32 bit). I can close communication via BricxxCC and also tell it to find the brick. I don't know if those are good signs or signs of success.

At this point I have the feeling that it might be working but I have no idea how to know for sure. I asked this before: Is there a simple and reliable test to figure out whether the software and the RCX are talking to each other. How do I know that it is working? How do I know what is not working?

Thanks!

HaWe
Posts: 2500
Joined: 04 Nov 2014, 19:00

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by HaWe » 05 Mar 2014, 19:41

maybe I miss something, but did you already try it with the original graphical RIS development environment and did you even install it (including e.g., Spirit/phantom drivers)?

karstenhw
Posts: 6
Joined: 22 Feb 2014, 00:07

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by karstenhw » 05 Mar 2014, 20:03

doc-helmut wrote:maybe I miss something, but did you already try it with the original graphical RIS development environment and did you even install it (including e.g., Spirit/phantom drivers)?
I installed BricxCC and tried using it. I do not know what a graphical RIS development environment or Spirit/phantom drivers would be. I am not a computer person.

My computers at school have RoboLab installed (on XP) and it works fine with the RCXs. It will not work with Windows 7 though and I need a solution for that as we need to update to 7 for other reasons. I don't mind learning and teaching how to program the RCXs with a text-based program. I however need that to work as straight forward and reliable as RoboLab.

I have no idea if the above info answers your question.
Any help would be appreciated.

HaWe
Posts: 2500
Joined: 04 Nov 2014, 19:00

Re: Controlling RCX with Windows 7 PC

Post by HaWe » 06 Mar 2014, 08:41

BCC does not install any Lego hardware drivers. It's just a IDE with a text editor for NQC.

The RCX once came in a kit called Robotic Invention System (RIS). A graphical programming environment software came with this kit on a CD-ROM, this is the RIS software which I mentioned above (IIRC, versions 1.1., 1.5 or 2.0). AFAIK only version 2.0 worked with XP. For XP there was a minor 2.0 patch additionally.
Image

RIS 1.1 came with a serial IR transmission tower, RIS 2.0 had a USB IR tower, but the RCX brick hardware was quite (rather) the same.
Whilst installing this programming software also all necessary hardware drivers and registry entries are installed on your PC simultaneously.

This RIS software was remotely similar to the graphical software which currently comes with the NXT or the EV3 sets.
Image

Unless you haven't already installed the original Lego RIS software you'll probably won't get BCC working with the RCX at all.
BCC uses and needs the same drivers which are needed and used by the RIS software. Robolab is supposed to have it's own specific (incompatible) drivers.
(Of course additional hardware failures must be taken in account.)

you maybe wish to purchase an original installation CD, maybe on Ebay, or just google it
(e.g., http://www.google.de/imgres?start=146&c ... EK0DMD04ZA (-> scroll down!!) )

If you're speaking German I would recommend you to join the German Mindstorms Forum, MAYBE you'll find experienced members who still are working with an RCX and maybe could help you (I actually can't): http://www.mindstormsforum.de/index.php

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