Saturday, 24 November 2012

First Day of Driving

What an amazing day.  At MEM in the NEC all day.  8 hours of driving, audio, dome, dome servos, lights and LOTs of showing off, and the batteries are still about half charge, so it looks like when the novelty wears off a little the power will be enough for a full event.

A few tweaks needed.  First off the Lipo setting on the Sabertooth caused it to error a lot, but flipping that dip switch solved the drive issues.  Secondly, the 2-3-2 isnt happy, not sure if the position of the legs is exactly right and think that the leg travel might be a few mm too short, but he was looking like he wanted to face plant. :( Might have a go at tweaking that tomorrow and try again. The lights stopped working on a couple of occasions, but only after an hour or more of playing, so not too worried there. But i was thrilled he lasted the day, and i am eager to return for more tomorrow.

I loved the reaction of the kids, one was waving at R2, so R2 waved back, the kid grabbed his mum's phone, and instead of taking a pic of R2, he ran over to R2, loaded up a pic and showed it to R2, then ran back and grabbed his toy to show him too.  He was chatting away to him quite happily.  So cute. :)

But R2 got a great reaction, i am one proud builder tonight. :)  Fingers crossed for a trouble free day tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Everything works together, even 2-3-2

A good long weekend of building.  I went over the whole droid and tightened every nut and bolt, and basically rebuilt him. The bricks on the test run had really had an effect.

I wired the Sabretooth and Master Arduino flat instead of vertical, and added the slip ring connector to the back of the rig runner using a velcro pad.  So its all in and looking like its going to work. :)

Then i added the 5V 12AH USB Powerbank to power the master, MP3 and 2-3-2 Arduinos.  It worked great.  So i added the other one in the dome to power the Teeces and the Dome servo Arduino (but not the servos).  I hope this will add to the life of my droid significantly, its like adding 10Ah at 12v and should run that stuff for days at a time.  9 hours today in the dome running both and it still says full power. :)  All that drive testing and 2-3-2 testing today all weekend and the main battery still says its full too!  :D  I might get a decent amount of driving in assuming it doesn't fail.

I then got the 2-3-2 working, i spent several hours debugging the set-up only to find the problem was a squashed wire caught under a washer.  With that done i had basically played with and re wired everything, so it over ran and blew fuses on the actuators first try, then i reversed the polarity in the code and ran it again, and i had the left/right the wrong way round on the pots, so replaced the fuses again, sorted the code and it ran like a dream.  I then removed and straightened the brackets and popped them back. :)

The rods studs make a big difference, and with a few tweaks it will be great.  But it works fine for now, i will tweak and redo the actuator mounts after the NEC.  Thanks again for those James, really cool. :)

So for the NEC we have the pad running this lot, i just need to learn the commands now. :)
1. Teeces triggered
2. Dome servos, 9 doors, 3 HPs
3. MP3 Control
4. Dome Drive
5. Dome Drive Position Controller
6. Feet Drive
7. 2-3-2 plus wobble and walk (no feet drive motion)

I have a plan to try and get the pad looked at soon, but i taped it up for now, it looks so much better, but still crashes, but nothing happened when the pad crashed, so that is good news.  I think the next big priority is to adjust the drive settings when in 2 leg mode, he drives fine in 2 leg but i need to lower the acceleration and the top speed and help stop the desire to flip.  But he seems relatively stable, he span on the spot ok and driving very gently it seemed fine.

So my droid was sorted pretty early today, but James was here so we had a look at getting his droid working via a pad, I will let him fill you in.  But the pad control looks good, will be interesting to see if he has any crashes without the screen in the code.

Will get some videos from the NEC on the weekend.  But looks like he will have to travel in bits, no way i can lift it in and out of the car in 1 piece.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Battery Mount and Leg Rod Tweak

Slow going this weekend, more thinking than building.  But got a bit done.

I started by adding restraining guides in the legs to help stop the leg rods from bending while driving, this should help lock the ankle a little better:

Then i went on to look at the battery and no matter how i approached it it just wouldn't work.  So eventually i decided to make a platform for it to sit on, this would stop it from falling into the 2-3-2 space and also raise it enough to clear the cylinders and allow it to be mounted further into the body.  This also allows the back door to remain unchanged. :)

Unfortunately this takes up all the space i had used for the electronics panel.  So i have started to redo that, but typically not an easy job, the reduced height is now causing issues with the slip ring connector, so that is the next job to figure out.

But getting there, should be powered by the new battery for the next test. :)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

2-3-2 Shoulder Studs

James has been on the case.  I had used 10mm alu tube with a 7mm id tapped to fit an M8 bolt as the studs in the shoulders, but the thread wasn't great so kept coming lose, also finding the holes on the body was tricky.  So the 4 studs ideally needed upgrading and luckily i know a man who can. :)  I also wanted to add a threaded hole on the other end, i may be able to add a bolt through from the inside to lock it all tight for events, this and some straps in the legs will really help to stop the rods bending and allowing the foot angle to change on direction change.  I think the current setup may not suit 2 leg driving. :)

This is how they started:

This is the sketch:

And this is the first one: :)

Awesome stuff dude,  Gonna be really sweet.  And the edges of my bit, it looks like a new piece! :)

Battery Arrived Today :)

It's great and fits where i had hoped. :)  Will need to redo the back door to allow it to sit here, or raise it up and to clear the Ankle cylinders but that raises the weight, so back door it is. :)

Only 2.9Kg for 24Ah. :)  Awesome.  Not that weight matters at this stage!
I think I will end up with 4 batteries eventually:
This bad boy to run the feet and dome drives, 2-3-2 motors, and power the servos.
2 x 12Ah 5v Powerbank USB supplies, one for the dome and one for the droid to power all the Arduino and the Teeces.
Finally I'd like to add a 10Ah 12v Lipo battery for the audio so that he can still do the lights and sounds when the main battery is dead, but that one can wait. :)

I am also intending to rig up the SLA batteries i have as a stand supply to save the driving charge. :)

Also James is on the case.  Can you tell what it is yet?

Trick question really, it's the first custom stud, it's a part of the 2-3-2 shoulder mech, not a pet name for James. :)  Thanks for doing these dude, will be much better, i have thought about how to improve those so many times. :)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

R2 Gets a Pressie

Having been such a good boy yesterday, i felt R2 deserved a reward.  So i bought him this:

Running him on a 7 Ah SLA was a little silly, only got about 30 mins out of it on carpet, and about 40 ish on the bricks, but they were quite bumpy. :)

Expensive, but looks like it will be worth it, Flip has one and it works great.  Should fit, i hope. :)  And should mean easier progress to thanks to a longer run time and faster charge.  Also be nice to set-up the 2-3-2 with the battery on board to help with the balance.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

He Moves

Got to work early with James this morning and cleared the meetings room. :)  Plan was to test inside on the carpet and then move into the courtyard if that went well.

So we connected the foot drives, all legs on, batteries charged and it was time to try driving. :)

I had the turn code right first off, so swapped that back, slowed the max speed and acc in fast mode to stop the wheelies giving me mini heart attacks, and it all worked like a charm.  Worked fine on the carpet, spinning on the spot was no trouble, my 2 73 mm casters turn fine.  And not sure if im happy or not but the flashing LED caster wheels in the centre didn't flash no matter how fast i went (they really were sold as plain, honest, i didn't want pimp my ride :) ).

Driving in 2 stick mode was tricky, i assumed that would be the most natural, but the 1 stick mode is great, and the fast or slow mode works great, slow is max speed of a medium pace walk and a slower acceleration and fast is almost flat out, i trimmed it in a bit, i think that will help extend the batteries a little.

Then tried the other stuff, and a dead wire to the dome drive stopped that working on the new wire up, and the I2C line into the dome needed swapping, but other than that it all worked as expected.  So we took it outside and took some proof. :)  It really was an awesome day, and i am so pleased with the way it works, need a few more miles testing, but great so far, and its so quiet, the chains are not as bad as i had thought they would be.

We also got James' R2 hooked up and all the drive and electronics worked great, but i will let him update you on that one.

James has offered to redo the studs that keep going lose on the 2-3-2 shoulders, they will be much better once redone, and will stay locked up tight, can also lock them in from inside the droid then too.  

The other issues i spotted are that the Actuator brackets need to be a better fit, if i were to try driving in 2 leg mode as it is, it wouldn't be great, it will also really help with the wobble and walk options, James might help me with that too. :D  Also the outer feet have more ability to change angle than id like, i think some of this will be cured by the new studs, but also i think i will brace the control rods into the legs to minimise the flex.

So after all that progress he is in bits again already, but not long till NEC, so need to crack on.  I hope to be able to get the body only 2-3-2 testing and LCD screen swap needed next, then get the bits back and test the full 2-3-2 for then, so lots to be doing. :)  Also need to help James to get his pad set-up working and get control of the MP3s, Lights etc.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Final Prep

In readiness for R2 to take his first steps tomorrow, on Tuesday i finally hooked up the chains from the motors to the wheels and powered up the Sabertooth.   The drive trains ran fine, but it did not go well :(


1.  When it got to top speed one motor would freeze, but only at top speed and only on one motor, when i swapped the supplies it did the same, so it wasn't in the code.  Only by trimming the speed down from 180 to 165 and 0 to 30 did it work reliably.

2.  There was a popping being heard on the audio, not good.  Only occasionally but mainly on direction or speed change.

3.  A couple of times its default speed was different so the motors would run slowly, this was not right, wasn't sure why and couldn't recreate it.

So had a bit of a play, tried different dip setting and tweaked the code here and there and still nothing reliable.  So contacted Dimension who suggested i send it back to be repaired.  Great customer service.

Wanting it running for the big test tomorrow and for the NEC on the 17th, I ordered another Sabertooth.  That arrived today.

Then i get back tonight, rewire a few things to make sure all the connections are clean etc. Reread the manual for the Sabertooth one last time and set it up how i assume it should be and give the old one one last try.  Annoyingly, now i have a 2nd one, the first one works beautifully.  I don't know if switching all the dips back and forth helped or if I hadn't found the magic combo before but it seems to be perfect now, full speed is no problem and it seems smooth, and no noise on the speakers either. Might just have needed the freshly charged 12v battery. :)  I did think it was odd, all the testing with it had gone beautifully.  

I'm going to keep an eye on it and see if the problems come back, but looks like i might be able to return the 2nd one. :)  But the 2nd one is a V2 so might do the ramping, then i could use the serial connection and the on-board mixing, the V1 wouldn't do the ramping, but the V2 might. Decisions decisions. :)

The magic combo on the dip switches was 1, 4 and 6 down and the rest up.  I think the main one was number 6, that was the auto cut off and auto trim, it did mean moving the stop point in the code to 96 degrees but works great now. I haven't had any of the original problems since.

I tweaked the speed of the slow mode and the acceleration based on what looks right from the speed of the  wheels, but i may well be well off on that, then swapped the turn in the code to help turn in the right direction, i hope i got that right, its pretty confusing :)  So i reckon we might be ready to test the real driving tomorrow.  I quite fancy trying the 2-3-2 code tonight too.  I'm feeling brave after that success.

He doesn't look too dignified at the moment. :)