Success & Setbacks

This weekend can best be described as “Partly Cloudy”, when it comes to electronics & robotics .  First, the successes:

  • The vehicle is completely built with all the components fully assembled, the wires run neatly and everything bolted down in a secure manner.  Plus it looks not all together crappy.
  • The Arduino and Pi are talking to one another via USB cable.  This allows the Pi to send commands to the Arduino and to get status back.
  • I can login to the Pi wirelessly from my phone or laptop and get status and send commands from it.
  • The Inertial Measurement Unit is installed and working.  There’s a lot of coding to do to make it useful but operational hardware is a big step.
  • While rummaging through the electronics section at the Arc, I found a Linksys router for $2.00 (two doll hairs).  I brought it home and it works great.  I’ll use this to build an isolated and (eventually) portable network.  BTW… that router takes 12V at 1A. Running it off of batteries may be a challenge.

I was feeling pretty good about all those accomplishments but there was one small detail that put a bit of a damper on things.  As I was doing the final assembly on the vehicle, I reversed the power leads for the Arduino as I was hooking it up.  There wasn’t any smoke, flames or other drama but the end result was the Arduino was fried.  Totally kaput.  And it took the attached motor shield with it.  That means that I was unable to make the motors spin or even read any of the sensors.  Metaphorically speaking, the vehicle is broke down on the side of the road with the drive-shaft hanging loose.

Jiminy.  Jeepers.  Drats.  Dadgummit!  And other very harsh words that the Internet Police will frown on me for.

How did such a thing happen?  Well, contrary to good design practices, I was not using a polarized plug for power.  If I had been, it would have been physically impossible to hook up the power backwards.  That has since been corrected.

Fortunately, Radio Shack has the Arduino on the shelf so I was able to replace that readily enough but the motor shield has to come from Adafruit Industries.  It will take a few days but hopefully UPS will treat me right and it will get here before the Thanksgiving break. The goal is to take the vehicle to the track at Rampart HS and do a field test with it over the Thanksgiving break.  Stay tuned on this same Bat-Channel for further news.




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