Project work weekend.

We had another project work weekend. For me, this really involved juggling the four projects I’m working on, and trying to help people out with theirs. Overall it was a real good success, with the user center being full to bursting.

The tabletop robots were a huge part of the weekend. Another group got their motor controller finished and put together, and Zach and Jake started working on adding sensors to their robot. Unfortunately the seminar has been going for a really long time, so people are starting to lose steam. I think in the future having pre-cut panels, designed and possibly etched boards, and better example code might make it more fun and less of a grueling experience. I’m working hard to record as much of what I can about this seminar so I can better package it for next year. The first time is always the hardest.

The etch-a-sketch was another push this weekend. The hardware has been holding out fine, and Brian has been working on the code like a madman. He’s getting really frustrated with the poor mechanical quality of the etch-a-sketch, and it’s pretty difficult to compensate for the losses due to backlash and imperfect friction. (It’s really quite interesting. He’s compensating for it based on a first order linear differential equation, but the coefficients are proving pretty hard to find.)

Retaliator, which I haven’t made a real post on yet, is also coming along nicely. I built an external power supply out of an old ATX PSU, which is actually really slick. I didn’t spend as much time on it as I would have liked so it’s a bit hacked together, but it’s working really well so far. I am still having issues with the servos moving based on what I think is a noisy ground. I haven’t had a chance to measure it yet, but despite pretty heavy smoothing caps, the servos are going ‘limp’ when  the gun fires. At first I thought it was the power supply I was using before not being able to source as much current, but the ATX supply is rated for 330 Watts, which is more than enough.

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