All right, I've thought about it A3I2 is probably more than
I can handle right now, and it's producing stress as a
change my building methods to accommodate the March 1st
deadline. I really want to go, but I have got to give this
robot my best effort - even if that means I don't make A3I2.
I'm sort of in one of those funks that builders get in when
they tackle large projects. This project is pretty big and
it is not without its share of problems. I've been
building the first table (remember I call them tables
because that's what they look like - fat tables), and one
thing I've noticed is that it's heavy! As in ``try and keep
the robot under 80 lbs.'' heavy. In fact this table weights
around 40 lbs., but I'm also trying to include all the
batteries in this table so the center of gravity stays
low. During testing I managed to split one of the nylon
gears in my protoleg - NOT a good sign.
I'm having a hard time isolating parts of the project. The
right thing to do would be to build a leg, test it, build a
table, test it, add legs. Etc. What's really happening is
I'm starting to build the entire robot. I've almost
completed the first table, and soon I'll be building the
second table. But maybe this isn't so bad since the tables
are fairly unsophisticated.
At the same time I have yet to get a motor running, and
that's bad. Part of this problem is I don't have any
experience with strain gages/current sensing. Also instead
of testing the different elements I just threw together the
main board (minus amplifiers) and now it looks kind of
daunting. Another problem is, because my memory is so
poor, every time I sit down to program I have to relearn
everything, language, how to hook the emulator up,
everything. Luckily I keep notes, if only I can remember
where I put them...
Yet another item that will make my life difficult in the
near future - I haven't figured out how to test the base
module in an incremental mode. In other words, the best
thing that could happen is I set the beast on the floor,
tell it to walk, and it walks. What's really going to
happen is a series of balance problems, problems figuring
out how to make the robot take steps, etc. At this stage
if I mess up too bad, I break gears/motors and there are no
replacements because my motor source dried up.
What you are witnessing is a project with the potential to
spiral out of control.
So I came up with this plan.
First thing I need to address - I need control over my
electronics... I need to get my boards working. But I don't
have to get an entire board working, just a subset. So
I'll put a motor controller on one and learn to work with
it. On another board I'll add a strain gage with
amplifiers. Right now it's all about the baby steps to
raise my confidence and keep me focused, so I'm going to
keep the challenges bite-size.
Because of the way life has allocated my free time, I need
to finish this table and start building the next one -
without going into detail it's just a lot more efficient.
Table bodies are nice modules so I'll just concentrate on
that and worry about adding the legs later. This will
occur simultaneously with the control board development.
Lastly, in the background, I need to be questioning how I'm
going to test the base module adequately without destroying
it. This might be the most difficult problem of all.