Flowol Interfaces

Keep I.T. Easy strives to include support for the most hardware interfaces possible. We want to give you the choice of the newest hardware as well as support for the legacy interfaces you may still have in a cupboard.

Below we split the interfaces into two categories: Control Box and Microcontrollers.

Control Boxes

Control boxes are rugged pieces of hardware into which you can connect digital inputs (switches etc.), analogue inputs (temperature, light sensors etc.), digital outputs (LEDs, bulbs etc.) and motor outputs. Depending on the manufacturer and type they will have different numbers of inputs and outputs. Control boxes connect to the computer via either the serial (COM) or/and USB ports, and are built to protect the computer and interface from damage that may occur if the students incorrectly connect their devices.

VEX IQ

VEX IQ is available from Robot Mesh.

VEX IQ is a new powerful robotics system for all ages of students.

The brain at the heart of the VEX IQ system is a very powerful ARM based microcontroller. The brain has 12 ports to which either sensors or motors can be connected.

Flowol 4 connects to the VEX IQ Brain via the USB cable. Programming and debugging with Flowol is first done in aconnected mode where the flowchart is run on the computer, the sensors and motors operated in real-time on the device and the flowchart progress monitored on the computer screen. This makes it easy to see sensor values, pause and debug the flowchart logic and refine the program. The flowchart can then be downloaded to the VEX IQ brain and your program can be run autonomously.

Flowol 4 supports VEX IQ on both Windows PC and Apple Mac computers.


VEX EDR

The VEX EDR Robotics Design System is available from Robot Mesh.

The VEX EDR Robotics Design System offers students an exciting platform for learning about areas rich with career opportunities spanning science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The controller at the heart of the VEX Robotics system is the VEX Cortex which is a very powerful ARM based microcontroller. It is a very powerful controller supporting many different outputs, motors and sensors.

Flowol 4 supports connection to the VEX Cortex with a direct USB cable or over the wireless VEXnet connection with the VEX Joystick. Flowol 4 supports the VEX Cortex on both Windows PC and Apple Mac computers.

VEX Cortex Competiton Modes can be used to control which threads (Starts) run in the VEX Robotics Competition. If you don't have a VEX Competition Switch, the modes can be simulated from Flowol 4.


Commotion CoCo

CoCo Control Box

The CoCo Control Box is available from Hands On www.handson.co.uk, part of the Commotion Group.

The CoCo Control Box is ideal for Primary or Secondary monitoring & control and datalogging. It is supported by Flowol 3 and Flowol 4. The CoCo Control Box has 6 digital and 4 analogue inputs (with calibrated sensors) and 6 outputs and 4 motors with power control. Input and output devices are connected via standard 4mm sockets. The interface connects via USB.

Old Commotion CoCo

The Older Commotion CoCo USB Interface

Flowol 3 and Flowol 4 also support the older Commotion CoCo USB Control Box with a metal case. This control box is no longer in production.


Deltronics Interfaces

Deltronics interfaces are available from Deltronics (www.deltronics.co.uk tel: 01269 843728)

Flowol 4 supports the full range of Deltronics Interfaces. All input and output devices are connected to standard 4mm sockets.

Deltronics Junior Control IT Box

Deltronics Junior Control IT Box

The Deltronics Junior Control IT Box is ideal for all ages for use in monitoring, control, robotics and datalogging. The Deltronics Junior Control IT Box has 4 digital and 4 analogue inputs (with calibrated sensors) and 4 outputs and 2 motors with power control. The interface connects via the USB port on your PC or Mac.

Deltronics USB

Deltronics USB Control Box

The Deltronics USB Control Box is ideal for Primary or Secondary monitoring & control and datalogging. The Deltronics USB Control Box has 6 digital and 4 analogue inputs (with calibrated sensors) and 6 outputs and 4 motors with power control. The interface connects via the USB port on your PC or Mac.

Deltronics Control IT Extra

Deltronics Control IT Extra (NEW)

The new Deltronics Control IT Extra Control Box has a massive 16 digital inputs and 16 digital outputs as well as 4 analogue inputs and 4 motors with power control. So it's suitable for the most demanding control projects. The interface connects via the USB Port on your PC or Mac.


Control Station Smart Box

Economatics Smart Box and Control Station Interfaces

Economatics interfaces are no longer available for purchase.

Flowol 4 supports the Economatics Interfaces. The Smart Box and Control Station (newer USB version, not version SB01) are both general control boxes which use 4mm sockets for connection of inputs and outputs.

They can be connected via either Serial or USB.

Interface Inputs Analogue Vals Outputs Motors
Control Station 6 2 4 2
Smart Box 8 4 8 4

Fischertechnik Robo TX

Fischertechnik Interfaces

Fischertechnik interfaces and models are available from Studica http://www.studica.com/us/en/fischertechnik.

Flowol 4 adds support for the new Fischertechnik Robo TX and Robo LT interfaces.

Flowol 4 also supports the older Fischertechnik Robo and Intelligent Interfaces.

The Fischertechnik interfaces are great with the Fischertechnik construction kits. Inputs and Outputs are connected via 9volt 2mm sockets.

Flowol 4 can connect to the RoboTX interface by USB or Bluetooth (Bluetooth on Windows/Linux only) and can run flowcharts in connected mode and can compile and download to the Robo TX to be run remotely.

The RoboLT and older Robo interfaces can only be used while connected to the computer.


FlowGo and Contact Controller Interfaces

Flowol 3 and Flowol 4 support the FlowGo and Contact Controller Interfaces. All input and output devices are connected to standard 4mm sockets.

FlowGo

The FlowGo interface by Data Harvest is ideal for Primary or Secondary monitoring and control. FlowGo is available from www.tts-group.co.uk. It has 4 digital and 2 analogue inputs (calibrated sensors), 6 outputs and 2 motors with speed control. The FlowGo is connected to the computer via Serial or USB. Flowol 3 can also download the users flowchart to the FlowGo to be run remotely.

The FlowGo USB device driver is included on the Flowol CD-ROM, but is also available here as a download for your convenience.

Contact Controller Plus

Contact Controller and Contact Controller Plus (Windows PC only)

Flowol also supports the older Contact Controller and Contact Controller Plus. The Contact Controller and Contact Controller Plus are no longer in production.

Interface Connection Inputs Vals Outputs Motors
FlowGo Serial or USB 4 2 6 2
Contact Controller Serial 4 4 4 2
Contact Controller Plus Serial 8 4 8 4

LEGO Interface B

LEGO Dacta Interface B

Flowol 3 and Flowol 4 support the old LEGO Dacta Interface B. It has 8 digital and 4 analogue inputs (calibrated sensors). Also 8 outputs, 4 of which can be used for motors with speed control. LEGO brick plugs are used to connect input/output devices. The LEGO Dacta Interface B connects to the computer via a serial port connection.


Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are low-cost PIC microchips which, when combined with the associated circutry, can control the same devices that control boxes can. Microcontrollers are great for Key Stage 3 and 4 where electronics forms part of the course.

With the supported microcontrollers, Flowol will compile and download the flowchart to the chip. The microcontroller can then be run remotely from the computer.

Arduino Microcontrollers

The Arduino prototyping hardware platform (www.arduino.cc) has a large following of educators and robotics hobbyists around the world. Each Arduino board has the I/O sockets in a fixed position therefore allowing it to be extended with a variety of custom daughter-boards (called Shields).

Flowol 4 supports the Arduino Uno, Arduino Leonardo and the Arduino Duemilanove (with either the ATmega328p or 168 microcontrollers). There are also many Arduino-compatible boards made by other companies (e.g. Freeduino and DFRobot boards). Flowol supports many compatible boards with a 16MHz resonator.

The flowchart can be run in Flowol while the Arduino board is connected (online mode). Flowol can also compile and download the flowchart to be run remotely on the Arduino.

Flowol flowcharts can contain multiple Start symbols which run in parallel. Flowol 4 can download programs with several parallel flowcharts to run remotely on the Arduino.

Flowol supports a variety of digital/analog I/O devices with the Arduino. In particular, pins 4/5 and 6/7 can be configured to support bi-directional motors. This supports the DFRobot RoMeo board.

Flowol also supports servos, PWM outputs, digital encoders (on pins 2 and 3), ultrasonic distance sensor (HC-SR04 type), LCD displays and Serial communication.

Using the RoMeo board together with a robot platform makes for an inexpensive robot solution.


PICAXE chips

PICAXE Microcontrollers

PICAXE microcontrollers from Revolution Education Limited (www.picaxe.co.uk) are a versitle and well supported set of programmable chips. The chips are available separately, or together with a variety of project boards.

Flowol 4 supports all the following PICAXE chips: 08, 08M, 08M2/08M2+, 08M2LE, 14M, 14M2, 18, 18A, 18M, 18M2, 18M2+, 18X, 20M, 20M2, 20X2, 28A, 28X, 28X1, 28X2, 40X, 40X1 and 40X2.

When you have developed your flowchart on Flowol, it can be download to the PICAXE microcontroller and run remotely from the computer. With some models (08M2/08M2+, 08M2LE, 14M, 14M2, 18M, 18M2, 18M2+, 20M, 20M2, 20X2, 28X1, 28X2, 40X1, 40X2), Flowol 4 can also run the flowchart while the PICAXE microcontroller is connected. This is a useful way to debug your flowchart before downloading it.

PICAXE Dice Project Mimic for Flowol 4

A popular project board for the PICAXE is the Dice Project. A matching mimic for Flowol 4 is available for download here (Windows PC Only).


BrainyControl Kits

BrainyControl Microcontrollers

Flowol 4 supports two BrainyControl kits: the Brainy-USB and Brainy-Motor. Each kit uses a FlowIC microcontroller and supports a set of interesting features: (Seewww.brainycontrol.com for more details)

  • Low cost
  • USB connection
  • Multi-tasking up to 3 flowcharts
  • Works as a connected interface, but can also have programs downloaded to be run remotely

FlowIC-8pin

FlowIC Microcontroller

The FlowIC is a microcontroller from Intelligent FirmwerX (www.flowic.com). It has been specifically designed for Flowol 4 and comes in two sizes, FlowIC-8pin and FlowIC-14pin. It supports a set of interesting features:

  • Low cost
  • USB connection
  • Multi-tasking up to 3 flowcharts
  • Works as a connected interface, but can also have programs downloaded to be run remotely

SOLO18 board

SOLO Interfaces

The Solo (stand alone) PIC Programming System from Data Harvest can be controlled with Flowol 3 or Flowol 4. Programs can be downloaded and run remotely from computer.

Solo PCB 18: 4 inputs, 7 outputs (or with 2 motors). Solo PCB 28: 8 inputs, 8 outputs (or with 4 motors). Serial or USB connection to computer.