25 Sep 2003 earlwb   » (Master)

It's been a while. DPRG's Roborama just finished, and I won the Quick Trip First Place Award with my Autonomous Mini-Cooper Bot. I had originally planned to use it for Autonomous Robot Road Racing, but I ran into the problem where at speed the robot couldn't react fast enough to make the turns properly. In real life we can "anticipate" a turn coming up and take action before we get there, but with robots, the robot can only "react" as things happen. I think I'll have to build a more robust road racing robot to test things on as the front end parts on the Mini-Cooper Bot are too expensive to break or make up if it hits something. It can go over 30mph so it does break things when it crashes. Anyway, now that I won first place I stop competing in Quick Trip and do on to better things like Can Can. I just recently had a need for a Function Generator, so after checking around, I felt it best to make my own. One gets to learn plus it costs about $100 or so versus several hundred plus. Anyway, after getting all the parts and PCB made, I built it up and it worked OK right from the start. I still have to tweak the three range capacitors a little, but it's time to put it into a case. before tweaking and tuning I am getting 5hertz to 18megahertz in three ranges, with a 0 to 4v AC output. I also did a layout for a Atmel 8535 MCU to have a digital frequency counter built in too, along with a Peak AC voltage level DMM too. I am just now building up the PCB for that now. I am waiting for some nifty rub on letter transfers to arrive so I can make the knobs and switches look good, or it would all be almost done by now. It was also fun to turn my own knobs out of some aluminum bar stock too. I did have trouble getting the knurling to work out OK though. What was amazing was that I had to use all DIP package IC's as the surface mount IC's were all simply not available. So the PCB's were laid out using DIP's for the IC's with surface mount parts for the resistors and such. Normally you can't get DIP's but surface mounts are available.

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