New Link: Geeknight’s Entry

March 16, 2010 2 comments

Geeknight is coming down from Victoria, BC, Canada for the contest. That’s a heck of a commute. Per his post at SparkFun, he’s looking for good lodging options in the Boulder area. If you have suggestions, let him know.

Coming to SparkFun’s AVC?

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

SparkFun added a spectator registration site to help predict how many people are coming to view the contest. If you are planning to attend, sign on up and put on a Team Hellhound T-shirt. Wait, we don’t have T-Shirts.

Anyway, let the good folks know if you are planning to attend. How many beers you plan on consuming, etc. How hard can it be? Wait, did they ask how many beers?

Anyway, come on out and support all the crazies.

Update: Fixed the borked registration link to point to the proper page.

Bitwise: News and Notes

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Today, we added a couple of new Sponsors. Normally, sponsors provide some material or fiscal support. Not us. We flag them sponsors when some company, individual or organization goes out of their way to help us. Every bit of support is useful and these guys step up to the plate regularly.

Battery Buddies gave us some free product and significant technical advice. If you use batteries with Dean’s connectors, these simple additions make your life much simpler. Hopefully one day SparkFun will carry both Deans connectors and Battery Buddies caps.

Next up, the Colorado Rotor Heads has provided a great deal of RC knowledge and expertise. If you already fly RC Helicopters or would like too, this club rocks. The members rank from sheer novices, like Floyd and I, to top-notch pilots who make helicopters do things that seem impossible. Check them out if you are in the area.

Also, a new Cool Company has been added as well. Our competitor and soon to be friend over at Bluer White mentioned the general uselessness of double sided tape for mounting. If double sided tape mounting is a need, take a look at HeliProz’s offering for ZEAL Vibration Absorption tape. Our friend at Battery Buddies turned me onto it. While it seems pricey, the stuff is amazing: great adhesion and provides vibration isolation. I love the stuff. In fact, it sticks so well that it broke the housing loose from a EM-406 GPS receiver when I pulled it off the Traxxas today. Strange they attach a housing with crappy solder joint.

Fuzzy Picture Day

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Managed to quickly get the new encoder installed on the Traxxas vehicle over lunch today. I only had my cell phone camera with me and the results indicate how well I can manage to take shots with it. I am completely unable to hold it still enough for close-up shots.

We managed to get the encoder mounted. Floyd constructed a few cables while I was fabricating the bracket. The GPS was also replaced on the Traxxas. Someday I’ll remember everything I need to check on a data sheet before ordering. No worries. Who cannot use a few extra bits?

Encoder is the fuzzy object left of the right wheel.

Floyd 'The Man' crimping pins.

Software Makes for Slow Updates

March 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Lots of software development of late. Floyd got a nice speed control loop working in the micro controller which alleviates fence post bouncing the in the future. He also updated the board to output all the sensor information. The end result is a lot of updates on my end that are rather dull but quite necessary.

The global waypoint follower is also behaving correctly now along with a minimalistic world model to profile speeds when obstacles are the in the path. No avoidance behavior yet but at least the robot is attempting to avoid destroying itself by slowing down. Someone once told me speed kills. Very apt for runaway robots.

Hopefully videos will arrive soon.

Oops! Proto 1 takes a hit.

March 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Bang! Fencepost wins.

Sometimes things go awry even when you suspect all your bases are covered. Nothing like buggy code, open loop speed set points and a narrow region with big buildings to occlude GPS. Wack! Too bad I didn’t have video it was pretty funny to watch.

Ah well, a little broken plastic and a snapped steering linkage. Linkage is fixed and little CA will hold the broken bits for a while anyway. Good thing we have multiple platforms. At this rate, most of them will be down for repairs. The good news is I found the bug but I’m going to have to find a larger place to test to avoid future destruction.

Repair Tools


Update: All fixed up. Repairs tools included a little CA from Remote Control Hobbies – Littleton, a beverage from New Belgium Brewery and a T-REX 450 linkage pack from Ultimate Flying Objects hobby shop.

Prototype 2 up and running!

March 6, 2010 2 comments

I just finished the initial software and hardware for Prototype Number 2.  It is based on an RC Tahoe from New Bright.  This prototype contains all of the sensors we will be using in the contest and could be used as a backup is needed (albeit much slower and a much rougher ride).