Introduction Edit


Vorpal Commander in Arcade Mode. A single "joystick" controls all motions. On large screen devices sensor readings are also displayed.

Vorpal Commander is an Android app available free on the Google Play Store. It works with Vorpal Mimsy and allows teleop control, remote readings of the on board sensors, and a record/playback feature. It works using serial Bluetooth.

NOTE: Vorpal Mimsy Basic Edition does not come with Bluetooth, so to use Vorpal Commander you would have to obtain the Bluetooth upgrade.

Vorpal Commander Feature Overview Edit

Vorpal Commander version 1.0h has the following features:


Vorpal Commander in Tank Drive Mode. One "joystick" controls the left wheels, the other the right.

  • Remote Control (tele-operated) with three different control modes: Tank drive, arcade mode, and DPAD mode. Also, standard gamepads connected to the Android device will work. You can control the drive train as well as the grip/arm, and you can 'honk' Mimsy, making it play a tone.
  • Remote Sensor Readings: Vorpal Commander can display the values of all Vorpal Mimsy standard on-board sensors in real time (refresh rate 10 times per second). Battery level is also displayed. On larger screen devices such as tablets, the sensor readings are visible at all times. On smaller screens the sensor readings can be accessed through the drawer.
    Screenshot 20150620-205243

    Vorpal Commander in DPAD mode on a small screen device. Small screen devices (like mobile phones) do not show sensor readings all the time, but you can select a drawer item to show sensors.

  • Record/Play feature: this allows you to record a series of motions using any of the remote control modes, and then save that recording to a file which can be played later.
  • Bluetooth management: Vorpal Commander allows you to connect to Mimsy using a name that you can select by using SETTINGS on the robot's main menu. So, you can have several Mimsy robots controlled by different Android devices in the same room with no interference. You can also disconnect and view a listing of bluetooth devices.

Connecting to Mimsy Edit

To connect Mimsy to Vorpal Commander, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on Mimsy. You will hear some beeps, followed by a series of rapid chirps. The rapid chirps means the bluetooth module has been detected and is functioning properly. The bluetooth stalk will have a fast flashing red light. That means Mimsy is not current connected to Vorpal Commander.
  2. Pair Mimsy with your Android device. Under Settings select Bluetooth. This step only needs to be performed once per Android device. Search for devices. After a few seconds you should see a device named "MimsyXX" where XX is some number. For example, Mimsy03 or Mimsy21. If you only have one Mimsy running, simply select it. If you are in a classroom with several Mimsy robots, use the SETTINGS menu on Mimsy to find the name of the Mimsy robot you have. You can also change the name using the SETTINGS menu.
  3. When prompted for the passcode, type 1234. The pairing should be complete. If the pairing between Mimsy and your device works properly, the light on the bluetooth stalk should turn to a steady red color.
  4. Launch Vorpal Commander. You will see a drawer that lists bluetooth devices. Select the device.

Remote Control Edit

There are three different ways to drive your Mimsy: Tank Drive, Arcade Drive, and DPAD Drive. In addition, if you plug in a standard USB gamepad, Vorpal Commander will detect that and allow you to use it to control Mimsy.

Screenshot 20150620-205225 1

Using the drawer to select a remote control mode.

Selecting Drive Mode Edit

To select your desired drive mode, swipe from the left side of the screen toward the center and the menu "drawer" will display as shown in the figure. Simply touch the drive mode you want.

Each drive mode allows you to control:

  • Drive train: the left and right side wheels of the robot, allowing it to move around on the floor.
  • Grip Arm: you can raise or lower the arm and open or close the grip.
  • Honk: you can cause Mimsy to emit a "honk" tone. The frequency of the honk can be changed using the SETTINGS menu on the robot itself.

The interface shows you "joysticks" for these control operations. Simply put your thumbs on the center of a joystick area and move in the desired direction. Experiment a little and you will quickly see how it works!

The next few sections describe the three available drive modes.

Tank Drive Edit

In Tank Drive, there are two joysticks for the drive train. One controls the left wheels and one the right wheels. The joysticks can only move up and down, not left or right. Up moves the corresponding wheels forward, down backward, and the speed is proportional to how far you move them.

Tank Drive generally gives you more fine level control over the robot's motion, but most people require a little practice to get used to it.

Arcade Drive Edit

In Arcade Drive, there is only a single joystick to control the drive train. It can move up, down, left, right or in combinations. Moving the joystick up moves the robot forward, down backward, left turns the robot left, right turns the robot right. Moving farther (toward the outer rim of the large circle) makes these motions at a faster speed.

Arcade Drive is generally more natural for new users or small children, but doesn't give you as fine control as Tank Drive.

DPAD Drive Edit

DPAD drive gives you four simple arrow buttons, up, down, left, right. The robot moves in the corresponding direction, at a constant speed.

Some students who are used to DPAD type games, or very young children, may find DPAD drive easier to use, however it doesn't give you as much control as the other modes since you cannot vary the speed of the drive wheels.

Using a USB Gamepad Edit

Simply plug a standard USB gamepad into your Android device and Vorpal Commander will recognize it and immediately start using it for input. You may need to experiment a little to figure out which robot functions are mapped to which gamepad buttons and joysticks.

If buttons and joysticks are not working as expected, make sure the "mode" switch on your gamepad is in the correct position.

Using a physical gamepad is a better experience than using the touch screen of your Android device, because you can feel which joysticks or buttons you are pushing.

NOTE: The Xbox gamepad does not use standard mappings and it will not work with Vorpal Commander. Most standard gamepads will work.

Remote Sensor Readings Edit

On larger screen devices like tablets, remote sensor readings are always displayed. On smaller screens, you can view the sensors by selecting "Sensor Readings" from the drawer. Swipe from the left to access the drawer.

Record and Playback Edit

An exciting feature of Vorpal Commander is the ability to record and later play back a series of actions you perform using one of the drive modes.

Recording Edit

Start recording by touching "Record" near the top of the screen. The bar at the top turns red to show that you are recording. Any actions you perform using any of the drive modes will be recorded (including honking!).

Ending the Recording and Saving Edit

To stop recording, touch the STOP button near the top of the screen. You will be asked whether you wish to save or discard the recording. If you decide to save it, you will be asked for a filename. Type in something that will remind you of what occurred in the recording.

Playing the Recording Edit

You can play the recording by selecting "Recording Playback" from the drawer. You will be shown a list of recordings you have made. Select the one you want. During the playback, you can pause or rewind the recording. The robot will repeat the actions saved in the recording.

Sharing the Recording Edit

If you select the SHARE button you can send a recording to a friend using email, Google drive, or other choices.

See Also Edit

  • Vorpal Mimsy Serial Control Protocol Technical documentation on the Bluetooth serial protocol used by Mimsy and Vorpal Commander for remote control. If you wish to write your own app to control Mimsy you could use this information.