Category: Bioloid

CM-510 firmware for using as multiple sensor item updated

CM-510 firmware and post updated



Robotis CM-900 in Toss Mode and querying connected sensors

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Programming CM-900

CM-900 is a very cheap and tiny Robotis Dynamixel controller based in the STM32 ARM 32 bits microcontroller. Here you can find several links to documents.


I think it’s ideal as a controller managed with, for example, a Raspberry Pi or a Pandaboard, so I have created a program which can be managed externally to control Dynamixel items (AX-12, AX-S1), Toss Mode, and sensors connected to the CM-900 with a simple protocol similar but simpler than the Dynamixel protocol:

[Headers] [ID] [Command code] [Nº Params] [Param1] [Param2] [ParamN]

Toss Mode works like USB2Dynamixel, but with this program in addition you can get sensor vales.

Toss Mode was a software feature, at least since CM-5, which allows you to use the elements connected to the controller from another device, usually a more powerful computer. What it receives from the USB or serial is sent to the Dynamixel bus, and whatever it receives from Dynamyxel bus is sent to the serial or USB connection.

Example for blinking twice: { 0xFF, 0xFF, 90, 1, 1, 2 }

Headers: 0xFF 0xFF

ID: 90

Command code: 1

Number of parameters: 1

Parameter #1:  2

Example for reading ultrasonic sensor (HC-SR04) : { 0xFF, 0xFF, 90, 2, 0 }

void MainWindow::testCM900_Sensor_US()
const int size=5;
byte buffer2[size] = { 0xFF, 0xFF, 90, 2, 0 };
pDynComm->rawWrite(buffer2, size);
Ultrasonic sensor hc-sr04

Ultrasonic sensor hc-sr04

And here the file with the code for Robotis CM-9 IDE version 0.9.9. You also need to copy Prof. Mason library for ultrasonic sensor to CM 900 IDE libraries folder. Althought it i still a beta version, I think it works ok. Asigning true to these variables, the messages for debugging are sent either to USB connection o Serial2 (connecting Zigbee is the easy option):

bool debugOutputSerial2On=true;
bool debugOutputOn=false;

Robotis CM-900 as a tosser for Dynamixel commands

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Programming CM-900

CM-900 is really tiny and cheap, so is perfect to use as communication bridge between any computer (Raspberry Pi, Pandaboard, etc. included, of course) and the Dynamixel bus. Whatever it receives from the Serial USB (usually commands and queries) is sent to the Dynamixel bus, and what it receives from the Dynamixel bus is sent to the SerialUSB (usually answers)

Here is the source code of the little program for CM-900 IDE:

int counter;
bool onlyOnceHappened;

void blinkOnce()
    digitalWrite(BOARD_LED_PIN, LOW);
    digitalWrite(BOARD_LED_PIN, HIGH);

void setup()


  //USB Serial initialize
//  SerialUSB.attachInterrupt(USBDataReceived);
  //DXL initialize

byte aByte=0;
uint8 aUint8;

void loop() 
//  SerialUSB.println (counter++);

  if (onlyOnceHappened==false)
    delay (3000); //Some time to the user to activate the monitor/console
    SerialUSB.println ("v1.1.1 Orders receiver started");  
  if (SerialUSB.available())
//    delay(20);
  if (Dxl.available())
//    delay(20);

Here the file.

In the next post I will include an improved version that could read sensors connected to the CM-900, “expanding” the Dynamixel protocol.

C++, Bioloid and Raspberry Pi (v0.2)

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Bioloid Workshop

[V.02 updates: AX C++ architecture, core classes diagram and HexaWheels scanning video]

Why C++, Bioloid and Raspberry Pi?

TCPL4thEnglishC++, specially with the great improvements of the last C++11 standard, joins together a great efficiency in performance and a low memory footprint with advanced high level language features, making C++ a great tool for embedding, robotics, programming.

If you want to know how to use C++ very efficiently these two guides will help you:

The JSF air vehicle C++ coding standards ( F-35 fighter aircraft)

– ISO C++ committee’s report on performance



Bioloid Premium

Bioloid Premium

Bioloid Premium is a wonderful kit for creating legged and wheeled robots, including (here full parts list):

– 18 powerful and versatile AX-12 servos

– an ATMega 2561 (CM-510) or, recently, an ARM STM32F103RE 32bits (CM-530), based controller. Also you can control the AX-12 with the USB2Dynamixel straight from your USB with a FTDI driver.

– And a lot of parts to create the structure of the robot




Raspberry Pi is the cheaper and more brilliant conceived SBC (more specifications here):

– Broadcom BCM2835 SoC full HD multimedia applications processor

– 700 MHz Low Power ARM1176JZ-F Applications Processor

– Dual Core VideoCore IV® Multimedia Co-Processor

– 256/512 MB SDRAM

One simple example:

Learning C++


C++ is a very powerful but complex programming language, so I think that the better approach is to start step by step, from the most easy features (yes, C++ could be used in an easy way) to the most advanced features it offers. What is C++? I will quote (I try to not explain anything that already is explained), Stroustrup, “his father”, from his book The C++ programming language 3th Edition:

“C++ is a general-purpose programming language with a bias towards systems programming that
– is a better C,
– supports data abstraction,
– supports object-oriented programming, and
– supports generic programming.”

And wikipedia:

C++ (pronounced “see plus plus”) is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language. It is regarded as an intermediate-level language, as it comprises a combination of both high-level and low-level language features.[3] Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup starting in 1979 at Bell Labs, it adds object oriented features, such as classes, and other enhancements to the C programming language.

Web resources:

If you want more C++ links, these found at JUCE will help you.

Programming -- Principles and Practice Using C++Programming -- Principles and Practice Using C++

Programming — Principles and Practice Using C++

Free books and documents:

– Maintain stability and compatibility with C++98 and possibly with C;
– Improve C++ to facilitate systems and library design, rather than to introduce new features useful only to specific applications;
– Increase type safety by providing safer alternatives to earlier unsafe techniques;
– Increase performance and the ability to work directly with hardware



In robotics, and embedded programming in general, we will need some advanced knowledge and practices to reach our goals.

Free books and documents:

  • Concurrent programming, threading Our robots we will need to do several actions simultaneously, like perceiving the world with several sensors, moving and deciding what to do to reach is objectives.
  • Communications, the serial port communications functions are used for wireless and wired connections, and we will need to communicate between controllers and with sensors and servos.


C++ robotics programming

Well, this is really the goal, robotics programming.

As this is a workshop it will follow the creation of the the walker and vehicle Hexapod showed above in the video. This is currently the core architecture and the HexaWheels module (namespace classes):

AX C++ architecture v2

AX C++ architecture v2

And these are the core classes:


The workshop will include:

– Basics

Like communications with serial port and wireless, using Dynamixels, sensors, … Language features for robotics, like asynchronous communications and threads and… delays!.

– Intermediate

Combination of basics features using sensors (like scanning) and servos (walking motions). For example, scanning with a DMS sensor:

As a simple example:

– Advanced

Advanced perception and behaviours

I think this could very funny, using an advanced sensor like Asus Xtion, to detect certain objects to interact, and create configurable and amusing behaviours.

CM-510 mirocontroller programming

– Tools:

PC, Raspberry Pi and Pandaboard, installation and configuration, tool and projects

– GNU C++, Boost
– Eclipse
– QT 5

The contents will come soon, very soon…

Workshop: Programming a Bioloid robot workbench using C# and C++

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Bioloid Workshop

[Next post: Dynamixel communications with C#]

It would be a workshop using C# .Net and C++ with Qt 5. The code presented here is used in this two different robots and boards, a HP 214 Ipaq with Windows Mobile and a Raspberry Pi, using the Robotis CM-510 as the servo and sensors controller:

These will be the first steps, using C# and .Net , here the code and the exe for the Workbench UI:

Bioloid Workbench

Using this enhaced Toss Mode that adds some new functions.  Some of them:

Read more

Choose hardware, firmware and language

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Programming Robotis Bioloid hardware

There are a lot of possible combinations of hardware, firmware and languages for programming Bioloid. I think that the table below show the the main combinations.

You can choose from the easy but limited Robotis own tool (Roboplus Task) and only your CM-5 or CM-510 to a SBC or “embedded” PC like Roboard and any language which can manage a serial port connection, like C, C++, Java, Python,…

Linux C++ Dynamixel reading and writing example

C# Dynamixel reading and writing example

Practical C++ programming tutorial for Bioloid

Programming Bioloid: choose hardware, firmware and languages

Programming Bioloid: choose hardware, firmware and languages

Robotis officially supports the programming solutions with the blue background:

  • The dark blue, RoboPlus Tasks, is the only one in which you can create the motions with RoboPlus Motion and execute it in CM-5/CM-510 with the program create with RoboPlus Tasks, after downloading the generated executable into the CM-5/CM-510, of course.

With these programming solutions you can use the Zigbee SDK to send and receive data between the CM5-/CM-510 and any computer, using Zig-110A or the new bluetooth BT-110, the Zig2Serial and the USB2Dynamixel. You can download example in Visual Basic .Net, C# and Visual C++

But there are more options!

Using a PC, SBC (Single Board Computer), PDA, Mobile or other light and battery powered computer

Using a serial port connection with your more beloved programming language:

  • USB2Dynamixel

If you have any device with a USB host and a FTDI driver you can use USB2Dynamixel to command programatically your Dynamixel servos using the Dynamixel protocol. You only will need your CM-5 or CM-510 to connect your Dynamixel to the battery.

  • Serial port cable

Same as the previous option but instead of using the USB2Dynamixel you only will need the serial cable and the “Toss Mode” launched with the ‘t’ command from the “Manage Mode”

  • Wireless control

Instead of only sending and receiving data, with the previous wireless connections you can command remotely your robot using the standard firmware and the “Toss Mode” launched with the ‘t’ command from the “Manage Mode”. You will need to command it using the Dynamixel protocol.

With these options and the CM-510 you will find a little problem… there is no way to read your sensor values! Well, you can use this firmware that offers a “Toss Mode” that supports reading CM-510 ports.

Start learning!

If you want to start learning how to program your CM-5 or CM-510 controller you will find interesting this post “Start programming  CM-5/CM-510 in C“. But may be you prefer to control your robot from a PC, SBC or other computer in C++ or C#

Simple C++ class example using serial port, USB, wireless…

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Serial communications

This post is part of the Practical C++ programming tutorial for Bioloid

Here you can find a post serie about using serial port communications with C/C++ and C#, for Windows, Linux and microcontrollers.
This code is for Windows and Visual Studio and can be used for serial cable communications, USB2Dynamixel and indeed Zigbee:


class SerialPort {
HANDLE serialPortHandle;


int connect ();
int connect (wchar_t *device);
//int connect (char *deviceName, int baudRate, SerialParity parity);
void disconnect(void);

int sendArray(unsigned char *buffer, int len);
int getArray (unsigned char *buffer, int len);

void clear();


SerialPort::SerialPort() {
serialPortHandle = INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE;

SerialPort::~SerialPort() {
if (serialPortHandle!=INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE)

serialPortHandle = INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE;

int SerialPort::connect() {
return connect(L"COM1");

int SerialPort::connect( wchar_t* device) {
int error=0;
DCB dcb;


dcb.DCBlength = sizeof(dcb);

dcb.BaudRate = 57600;
dcb.Parity = NOPARITY;
dcb.fParity = 0;
dcb.StopBits = ONESTOPBIT;
dcb.ByteSize = 8;

serialPortHandle = CreateFile(device, GENERIC_READ | GENERIC_WRITE, 0, NULL, OPEN_EXISTING, NULL, NULL);

if (serialPortHandle != INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE) {
else {

if (error!=0) {
else {

return error;

void SerialPort::disconnect(void) {
serialPortHandle = INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE;

//printf("Port 1 has been CLOSED and %d is the file descriptionn", fileDescriptor);

int SerialPort::sendArray(unsigned char *buffer, int len) {
unsigned long result;

if (serialPortHandle!=INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE)
WriteFile(serialPortHandle, buffer, len, &result, NULL);

return result;

int SerialPort::getArray (unsigned char *buffer, int len) {
unsigned long read_nbr;

read_nbr = 0;
if (serialPortHandle!=INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE)
ReadFile(serialPortHandle, buffer, len, &read_nbr, NULL);

return((int) read_nbr);

void SerialPort::clear() {
PurgeComm (serialPortHandle, PURGE_RXCLEAR | PURGE_TXCLEAR);
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