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SD Robotics Club at RoboLink: ROS Workshop

QuickStart Commands:

rostopic list - Displays a list of available topics, Topics are like channels, through which messages flow.

rostopic echo /topic - Current values from the messages flowing through this topic

rosparam list - shows variables / settings

rosmake node - Makes a node. A node is like a program, or more accuratly, a programs folder. You only need to make it if it's not already compiled.

rosrun node nodename - Runs a node. The nodename is the name of the binary. It's normally the same name as the node. E.g. rosrun rviz rviz

roscd node - cd to the folder of the node. Note that you don't have to be in the folder to run the binary... rosrun seems to know where all the nodes are. In the folders, messages will be in the msg folder. They will be in .msg files and the files contain the types of the data in that topic.

The Turtle Tutorial


Open a new terminal window (press Ctrl+Alt+T see Linux notes below) and type roscore. The core should start and no prompt will be returned. Minimize the window. On a real robot, this would be started automatically when the OS started.

Open another terminal window and type rosrun turtlesim turtlesim_node you should see the TurtleSim screen with the turtle in the center. You can minimize the terminal window, but leave the TurtleSim screen up.

Open another terminal window and type rosrun turtlesim turtle_teleop_key This terminal window will pick up arrow key presses (when you have the window selecte) and send them to the turtle. Make sure it's visable, but you can re-size it to make it smaller.

Open another terminal window and type rostopic list you should see the new turtle topics. For example, you can type rostopic echo /turtle1/cmd_vel and then switch back to the turtle_teleop_key window and press the arrow keys to see the changes in velocity of the turtle. (Note: in Xbuntu, When you minimize a program, it goes to the TOP, not the bottom.)

Open another terminal window and type:
sudo apt-get install ros-jade-rqt
sudo apt-get install ros--rqt-common-plugins
rosrun rqt_graph rqt_graph

This should creates a dynamic graph of what's going on in the system. If you place your mouse over /turtle1/command_velocity it will highlight the ROS nodes (in circles) and topics (on lines). As you can see, the turtlesim_node and the turtle_teleop_key nodes are communicating on the topic named /turtle1/command_velocity.

Additional Tools

rosrun rviz rvis - 3D Robot Visualizer

MoveIt! is state of the art software for mobile manipulation, incorporating the latest advances in motion planning, manipulation, 3D perception, kinematics, control and navigation. It provides an easy-to-use platform for developing advanced robotics applications, evaluating new robot designs and building integrated robotics products for industrial, commercial, R&D and other domains.

SMACH is a state machine for high level behaviors.


Assuming you have a 64 bit processor running Windows, Macintosh, or Solaris:

  1. Download and install VirtualBox from
  2. Download Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS (Trusty Tahr) 64-bit PC (AMD64) desktop image iso (this is 1GB or several hours on a good connection)
  3. Create new VirtualBox VM with 20GB drive (can be dynamic) - for RAM I did 4096MB.
  4. Attach iso to storage of new VM (so it will boot from image)
  5. Boot VM and install Ubuntu (pick default options for installation questions).
  6. Reboot into Ubuntu and install VM guest additions
  7. Install Xubuntu $ sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
  8. Reboot again and install ROS Jade (now the fun really starts)

See also:

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