View Full Version : Summary of responses: Multiple RS-232 Communication to FOB

Adam Sanford
02-19-1999, 07:58 AM
Hello all,

it turns out that my question as to how to set up a multiple RS-232
configuration of Flock of Birds (FOB) was of interest to a great number of
you. I have received a number of responses to my query, and have
summarized them below.


No freely available code exists to set up such a configuration (one RS-232
per marker), so either time or money must be invested to accomplish this.

1) If you have the time (and a programmer), you can simply modify
Ascension's existing code, which can be found at Ascension's FTP server:
ftp.ascension-tech.com. Tack on an "ftp://" in front of that and you can
access the server through your web broswer. I've gone through the C code
myself, and it seems feasible to modify the code to handle multiple serial
ports. The code seems relatively well commented and understandable.

The other option is to contact companies who have already written drivers
to handle such configurations:

2) Skill Technologies (http://www.skilltechnologies.com/) sells a software
suite that is designed to handle Ascension's FOB and Polhemus' FasTrak. As
this software is hardware specific, I believe configuring it should be a
trivial matter. A warning here -- this is not just a serial port
configuration program; it is a stand-alone application suite that can
perform many functions above and beyond the call of Ascension's original
code (realtime feedback, 3D graphics, etc.). From the information that I
have read, it can handle up to 8 birds, perhaps more. Talk to Skill
Technologies' Terry Long for more info.

3) Xtensory Inc. has written a generic multi RS-232 API (drivers,
libraries, etc.) that can be used by FOB. These drivers greatly simplify
RS-232 communication down to only a handful of simple calls to hardware. A
warning here -- this API is not hardware specific, so you will most likely
need to implement the aforementioned libraries with Ascension's original
code. The disadvantage with this solution is that some programming is
required, but the advantage is that this solution is a fraction of cost of
hardware specific software. The bottom line here is if you are willing to
do some legwork, you'll save some money over a turnkey system. Talk to
Paul Cutt (no web page I guess, call 1 831-439-0600) for more info.

With all due respect to Skill Technologies and Xtensory, it's rather
unfortunate that my query has served only to drum up business for a couple
of companies (I didn't intend my question to end up as an advertisement).
I can only hope some Ascension employees are on this list and realize that
as RS-485 support for FOB is being phased out, a host of their customers
could use this multiple RS-232 functionality (but as Skill Technologies is
an OEM for Ascension, I really doubt this will happen).

I hope this helps those in a similar predicament.


Adam Sanford
Motion Analysis & Motor Performance Laboratory
University of Virginia Biomedical Engineering
(804) 982-0848

To unsubscribe send SIGNOFF BIOMCH-L to LISTSERV@nic.surfnet.nl
For information and archives: http://isb.ri.ccf.org/biomch-l