Piwars 3.0 Day 4

7th Feb 2017

Hi World,

I promised proper coding and possibly some testing…well I may have to disappoint. Coding has happened (although as some of it’s mine I wouldn’t class it as proper) but we have only limited testing so far, no vehicle movement, just individual components.

We have been attempting to find a secure way to attach our wheels to the motors. Last year we 3D printed wheel hubs and they worked, mostly. In last years testing they proved reliable, reliable to fall off that is, so we resorted to glue which meant minimal ability to replace motors or wheels should something break….which it did on the day (rear left gearbox on motor was having huge issues). So this year, something new.

Aluminium HubThe silver round metal object is our lovely new aluminium wheel hub. Its tiny which is both good and bad. The centre hole is 4mm and fits our motors beautifully, however the grub nut and 4x bolt holes are just too small for the forces we expect to shove through it. Not mentioning that the ebay special has an american standard screw thread which none of us can find in our spares boxes.

So, onto the work that needs to be done. We need to re-tap them, but obviously we can’t keep the hole the same size as the new thread would be so weak against the old thread. So we are upsizing them from M3 (ish) to M4. This will give (hopefully) a stronger grip for the bolts that will be holding the wheels onto the motor shaft.

Beautiful 3D Printed HubAnd the result, 4x colour coded allen cap head bolts for added stealth. I say stealth, amusingly the first test 3D print of the lovely new wheel hub (designed by Mark last year and lovingly modified by Paul for the new bolts) was done in a blue ABS plastic as that was what was still in the 3D printer. Group members have already shown a liking to the blue/black combo, so we will have to wait and see which colour scheme we end up with.

Mark Working Hard

Mark in the photo to the left can be seen working hard (as he usually does) re-tapping the aluminium shaft blocks, and the rest of us can just be seen performing all kinds of ungodly wiring and coding stuff. The really really badly tangled wiring mess in front of Mark is my desk, but they always say “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”.

So, coding. There is currently two of us working on this task and we are taking last years code as an example of what and what not to do. The on-board hardware has changed significantly to reduce size and weight so a lot of the old code is no longer useful as it was for talking to devices no longer present.

Python Module Sketch

This little sketch is our first stab at trying to organise what talks to what and how many modules we will need. Safety is always paramount with us, so we will be utilising last years method of always having something listening to the controller so the motors can be put into neutral at ANY point, no matter what its doing. This will probably be done with the launcher thread running permanently in the background always listening for a specific button press and locking our any other modules access to the motors if needs be.

And we then segway into course construction:

Brian and Johnny Building Course

What you can see here is Brian and Johnny thinking way too hard about the course measurements. They are perfectionists (which I love) but are slightly stifled by the lack of measuring tools. They have found an old school ruler in one of the cupboards and are using that to measure and cut wood for the minimal maze task. Rather them than me.

So with course prep going on and lots of wiring and coding progressing, I REALLY want to see a vehicle test in the next week. I think we can do it (if I pull my thumb out). I know it will boost the teams confidence if the thing actually moves in a controllable way.

Watch this space…..