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Setting Up Scratch for Vorpal

From Vorpal Robotics Wiki

Vorpal Hexapod Quick Links:

The Vorpal system provides a Scratch Extension in order to control the robot. Because this is an extension beyond the basic Scratch language, you must have an Internet connection and the ScratchX.org website cannot be blocked by your school or home firewall. The downloadable version of Scratch will not work, only the Internet version hosted on ScratchX.org. Note: We have done the most testing using the Chrome browser. Things may very well work in other browsers, but right now we're recommending Chrome on both Mac and Windows platforms.

One Time Setup: Loading Browser Helpers

For each computer you wish to run the Vorpal ScratchX extension, you need to perform the following steps one time:

  • Make sure you have a reasonably recent version ofthe Chrome browser installed.
    • Approximately version 56 or newer should work fine. To check your version use SETTINGS in the main menu (three vertical dots, upper right corner) and select HELP then ABOUT.
    • If you don't have Chrome or have an ancient version, go here and follow the instructions: Chrome Browser Download
  • Make sure Adobe Flash Player is enabled in Chrome
    • Type chrome://settings/content into the address bar.
    • Scroll down and you'll see a section for FLASH. Click on that and make sure it's ENABLED.
  • Load the ScratchX Device plugin for your platform. You'll find them here: Scratch Extensions Browser Plugin
    • Note that Windows and Mac also have a "plugin helper" which is another download on the same page.
    • After downloading, install both the Device plugin and the helper.
    • These are small, fast loading plugins and you can be done in just a couple of minutes!

Windows Users: CH34x Device Driver

On Windows devices, the device driver for the Arduino Nano (CH34x USB-serial driver) will install automatically when you plug in the gamepad. Make sure you have a live Internet connection when you plug in the gamepad so Windows can locate and download the driver. This may take several minutes the first time you plug in the Nano. You will likely see a notification in the icon area of the Star Bar indicating a driver is being installed. Once the install is complete things will be fast on subsequent uses.

Mac Users: CH34x Device Driver

If you are on Mac, you may need to install the driver for the Arduino Nano which uses a CH34x USB-serial port chip. (On Windows it gets installed automatically the first time you plug in the Nano).

The device driver is in our support files folder here: Vorpal Support Files

Download the file MAC_SERIAL_DRIVER_CH34x_Install_V1.4.pkg onto your mac then click on it to install. Follow the prompts. You will need the administrator password to install the driver.

This is a signed driver and is the official driver from the manufacturer of the CH34x USB-serial chip. Please note: there are a bunch of CH34x drivers for Mac floating around on the Internet. Some are unsigned and require you to turn off some security settings on your computer, some are known to cause crashes. We recommend using the official manufacturer driver. If your Mac crashes when you plug in the gamepad, it is highly likely you have installed a buggy driver.

Connecting ScratchX to Vorpal

Follow these steps to get up and running in just a minute or two:

  • Make sure both the hexapod and gamepad have fresh batteries.
  • Set the hexapod dial to RC (radio control, some earl prototypes called this BT for Bluetooth) and turn the hexapod on.
  • Plug a USB A to mini connector into the gamepad, a USB mini port is exposed on the left side. Plug the other end into a USB port on your computer.
  • Go to the ScratchX website with the Vorpal Extension url enabled: ScratchX With Vorpal Extension
    • You may want to bookmark that page to make it easier to get there in the future!

After a few seconds, you should see ScratchX load on your computer and you should see the Vorpal extension blocks (Walk, Dance, Set Leg, etc.)

Windows Users: A Note on COM Ports

When you plug in the gamepad it will get assigned what is known as a "COM Port" number by the Windows Operating System, such as COM1, COM7, etc.

The current Scratch implementation of the Vorpal Hexapod blocks assumes that the lowest numbered active COM port on your computer is the gamepad COM port. This is usually not an issue because most people don't use COM ports anymore on Windows, so it's highly likely that the gamepad is the only COM port being used. However, if you do have multiple COM port devices connected to your computer, the current Scratch implementation may not be able to detect the gamepad. The simplest solution is to disconnect the other devices while you use Scratch. If this is not practical, the Windows Device Manager allows you to reassign COM port numbers, so you could simply reassign the gamepad to a lower COM number than any of your other devices.