I decided to use the Handy Board (http://handyboard.com) that Fred Martin designed. This board has many features that make it a nice starting platform. It has built-in motor controllers for up to four motors, Polaroid ultrasonic sensor controller, LCD display, battery-backed RAM, 40 kHz IR, two user push buttons, a user knob (pot), servo output, many sensor inputs, and all the libraries to drive these devices. Normally, it has built-in Ni-Cad batteries, which can drive most small motors. The board is similar to the board
discussed in the book Mobile Robots: Inspiration to Implementation by Joseph Jones and Anita Flynn; many of the example programs can be adapted to work on this board. There is also a wealth of software for the MIT 6.270 board that the Handy Board is based around.
I also wanted to use a compass module as an aid to navigation. I chose the Precision Navigation Vector2X compass. This compass module outputs either direct degrees measured, or the relative magnetic strength in two directions. It outputs using the Motorola SPI synchronous serial protocol. The library for the compass is at the Handy Board website.
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