Installing CBL-2001 Serial Cable into a Pioneer Robot


1. Introduction

This guide will show you how to install extra serial ports into the ActivMedia's Pioneer robots. My motivation for writing this guide is to allow others to use my SerialSense to interface simple digital and analog sensors to your Pioneer robots.


Note: The photographs in this guide show installing the cable in a Pioneer 3 Robot. We also have two older version Pioneer robots that I have installed the cable into. I know that this guide will help to install the cable in the older version robots; however, it is a lot more difficult to work inside of the older versions of the Pioneer.


In order to follow this guide, you need a Pioneer robot, and the CBL-2001 serial cable from VersaLogic, the makers of the motherboard in the Pioneer robots. The cable costs $20 and it will give you 2 serialports.

Note: You cannot buy this cable from the web. You have to go to VersaLogic's website and find thier phone number.

Figure 1.1: CBL-2001

Fig. 1

As you can see, this cable has a 20 pin female connector on one end, and 2 male serial connectors on the other. All we have to do is insert the 20 pin female connector onto a 20 pin header on the mother board and check the settings of two jumpers that are also on the mother board.

2. Preparation

  1. Get your CBL-2001 cable.
  2. Find an allan wrench that fits the screws that hold the top of the robot.
  3. Turn off the robot and disconnect it from the charger.
  4. Open the compartment in the back and remove all the batteries.
  5. If your Pioneer has a gripper, the robot will be front heavy and you should put something under the gripper to keep the robot's wheels flat on the floor.
  6. If you have a camera on your robot, disconnect the plugs that go to the Camera.

3. Disassembling the Robot

Unmount the Camera 

Figure 3.1: Location of camera mount screws

Fig. 1

There should be 2 screws in the front that need to be removed. In the above figure, red arrows point at the two screws to remove.

Note: These two screws will be the longest of all the screws that we remove. So when it's time to reassemble the robot, save the 2 long screws for remounting the camera.

Opening the Top Lid 

Figure 3.2: Location of next screws to remove

Fig. 2

Remove the four screws pointed at in the photograph. These four screws will probably be very short.

Note: This is a Pioneer version 3. On older versions, there are a lot more screws and not all of them need to be removed. My advice is that you should try removing the outer most ones first.

Swing Down the Front of the Robot 

Figure 3.3: Disconect this sonar cable

Fig. 3

Now disconnect the sonar cable pointed to in the figure.

Now hold the gripper, and remove what ever was propping the gripper up. Slowly let the front of the robot swing down to the floor. Now lift up the center of the robot and place a prop under it. This will let the front swing down a little bit more to give you more room to work inside. See the next figure for a side view of the robot being propped up in the center.

Figure 3.4: The robot propped up in the center

Fig. 4

4. Installing the CBL-2001 Cable

Figure 4.1: The robot ready for the cable

Fig. 1

Now everything is set up to install the cable into the robot. Lead the female pin header side of the CBL-2001 cable through the hole on the top of the robot. Now you have to carefully connect it to a pin header on the motherboard. The next two pictures will show a before and after picture of connecting it to the motherboard. Also, it would be a good idea to refer to the Motherboard Manual. Page 25 of that manual shows a diagram of the motherboard. You are connecting the cable to the pin header labled "COM3 COM4" in that diagram. Unfortunately the next two photos did not come out well so make sure you download the motherboard manual.

Figure 4.2: Before cable is connected to pin headers

Fig. 2

Figure 4.3: After cable is connected to the pin headers

Fig. 3

Set Jumpers to RS232 

Now you have to set the jumpers for COM3 and COM4 to RS232. When I installed the cable in our robots, the jumpers were already properly set but you still need to check them. Once again refer to the Motherboard Manual. On page 26 of the manual, look for the jumper settings to setup COM3 and COM4 to RS232. You will want to refer to the diagram on page 25 to figure out which jumper blocks are the ones you need to set on the motherboard.

5. Putting the Robot back together

Remove the prop that is under the center of the robot. Now we need to swing shut the front side of the robot. This should not be hard, but there are two pegs on each side of the robot that need to be aligned or else the front will not close. Here are photos of the pegs:

Figure 5.1: Left peg

Fig. 1

Figure 5.2: Right peg

Fig. 2

Don't forget to put a prop under the gripper after you get the front shut or else it will fall open again. Now your robot should look like this:

Figure 5.3

Fig. 3

Reconnect the front sonars. This is an important step. I forgot to do this on two of our robots and had to take them apart again to fix them.

Figure 5.4: Reconnect the front sonars

Fig. 4

Close the lid, screw it down, and remount the camera. Keep in mind that if you have two screws longer then the rest, these two are the ones to remount the camera. Also do not forget to reconnect the cables to the camera.

Figure 5.5: Everything put back togeather

Fig. 5

6. Updating the BIOS

Now the two serial ports we added are /dev/ttyS2 and /dev/ttyS3. Right now, only /dev/ttyS2 will work. In order to make the other one work, you have to enable it in the robot's BIOS.

  1. If the robot is not already shut down, shut it down now.
  2. Connect a monitor and keyboard to the robot.
  3. Turn on the computer and hit the "Delete" key to enter the BIOS setup.
  4. Now choose the menu item "Custom Configuration".
  5. Give COM4 the IRQ value that belongs to COM2. And then disable COM2.
  6. Hit the "ESC" key to go to the main menu.
  7. Select "Write to CMOS and Exit"
  8. Hit 'Y' to confirm saving.

Congradulations! You have now added two COM ports to your robot.

7. Links

8. About this Doc

This document was written in an xml format designed by the people who created Gentoo Linux. To learn how to create similar documents, read Gentoo Linux XML Guide and Documentation Development Tips & Tricks.

The contents of this document are licensed under the Creative Commons - Attribution / Share Alike license.
Updated 24 Aug 2004
Andrew Chanler

Summary:  This guide shows how to install extra serial ports to the mother board inside the Pioneer robots
Copyright 2004 Andrew Chanler. Questions, Comments, Corrections? Email