Friday, February 27, 2009

Last Test Drive

Today R2-XS was tested by taking a trip to 4th Grade Science Class. The kids loved him and he performed extremely well on the door jams and carpet in the school entry.

Afterward Chris and I did some last minute tuning. Chris took this video before he was loaded into the van for WonderCon.

Hopefully the next post will be about how awesome he performed at the convention.

Until then, I have work to do on my friend's Jawa costume, so that he can accompany us on Saturday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Caster Cleaning

My other item for today's work was to degrease and clean the bearings in my casters and grease them up again. After the first day out they had been dragging and sticking.

I soaked the casters in an inch of Simple Green. After 20 min the tub had a layer of silt and chunks in the bottom. After drying everything off I put fresh grease back in and figured I was done.

Once I had everything assembled again I noticed that things didn't go back exactly the way they came out. My rear caster was now rubbing the sides in two spots. I had to take everything out again and deepen the cuts in the foot shell before calling the job done.

Thankfully XS is now turning smooth.

Optima Battery Mounting

Today I set out to mount the Optima Blue Top battery in XS. My current wiring is designed to use 2 batteries, one for the electronics and the other for the foot motors. The primary reason was that the AX3500 Speed Controller cuts the foot motors if the battery drops below 10V causing the droid to jitter across the floor. By having its own battery it never knows when the primary battery is low so things stay smooth.

Of course all of that changes when you go to one large battery. The Optima should give me 8hrs or so of drive time without getting the jitters. Either way there is no room to put another battery.

So my goal was to make my system able to handle both my 18ah batteries and the Optima with the least amount of work if switching on the fly.

First thing I did was remove the plugs I had installed on my other batteries and wired screwed them together with the post from the big battery. I also wrapped the joint in electrical tape to prevent any potential disasters.

Next I removed my battery harness and strapped the Optima in with cargo straps. I put the hooks around the spacers holding the skirt on and criss-crossed them over the battery.

Once that was done I was able to put the post connections back on and plug both systems into the battery at the same time. With that done XS was running smooth. The battery slowed him down a little but not too bad.

As for making it an easy transition to the other batteries, I think I failed. If I start a day with the Optima in place, I can transition to the other batteries, but it would take about 10 minutes of screwing in the battery harness and putting the terminal plugs back.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recycled Bits

I thought it would be fun to catalog all of the random items that I have "recycled" from other places to create cheap or quick solutions for R2. Below is the current list of odd items.

Clear plastic, Washington Apples carton from CostCo, painted up becomes a nicely shaped Radar Eye. Unfortunately, if poked too hard its done for.

Milk jug cut and layered to make PSI lenses. Mike Velcheck's PSI's are so bright that I have 2 layers of milk jug hot glued together for one lense, and a third layer further up in the PVC tube.

I needed a quick, temporary fix for my lack of Logic LED's. These are a temporary WIP, made from Light Saber packaging. I have blue for the front.

My Zune dock need to connect to the amp via its Audio/Video cable, so I desoldered this one from a cable box.

The USB port, Headphone Jack and Speakers below were taken from an old PC, along with a number of connectors for various uses.

Last but not least, I needed something to keep the slip ring wires from falling into the dome drive motor. A quick scan of the garage revealed a slip 'n slide that my daughter had recently destroyed. I took the liberty of relieving it of this tube, which has done the job well.

Shaky Legs

One of the problems that I ran into during my test outing Tuesday was that the legs had worked loose and would fold forward during acceleration causing the wheels to slip or the front casters to bind up.

I tried to tighten the bolts by hand to no avail. I took advice given and put a hex like tip in a ratchet, which I quickly broke (leaving about 1.5" of broken tool down in the leg).

I found myself wishing I had an aluminum plate to make some sort of bracket, but since that wasn't an option, I resorted to more creative means.

I reached for the trusty cutting board used for the foot wedges and created inserts for the inside of the frame where the 2-3-2 motion would be (pictured below).

With the cutting board inserts in place, there is very little play in the legs and now R2 does a little wheely when he accelerates fast.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fresh Batteries

After the game yesterday, when R2 was limping to the car one of the Dads told me he had a battery that came with his trailer that he didn't need and he offered it to me. He said it was a blue top and that it was 55Ah.

I wasn't sure if he was really serious, but tonight he brought it and dropped it off.

Its an Optima 8016-103 D34M BlueTop Dual Purpose Battery which retails around $200.

With a battery like this I should be able to drive R2 all day without a recharge. The only catch is that it weighs 43lbs and its larger than the ankle base plate in some dimensions. To use it I will have to remove my battery harness and come up with some other way to secure this thing.

Ironically, the long lost batteries that Chris and I ordered on line, showed up last night too. At least I wont have to order a second set.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1st Outing

Today XS made his way to our grade school campus for a test on carpet, then to the High School for a few hours before heading to the Girls B-Ball playoffs.

The carpet was a little too thick and killed his batteries fast so as soon as I got him to the high school I started charging him in the hall.

Everyone enjoyed seeing him and there were lots of pics taken. Even the teachers were ok with the loud interruption.

We got him charged and loaded in time to make the game, which our team won. I think it was because R2 was there to cheer for them. I did find myself wishing he made a sound something like, "What are you BLIND, REF?"

In the end R2 got his pic with the victorious Lady Falcons.

edit: I had some issues with my center foot. Now that its been used and loosened up, I need to at some wedges to keep it from tipping when I turn or accelerate.

Monday, February 16, 2009

R2-XS v1.0 Complete

With 1 Week and 3 Days left to go before WonderCon XS has reached the goal of being ready. This is just version 1.0 and he has a little tweaking that has to be done to the speed controller settings, but there is nothing left to construct or add for this version.

My kids squealed with delight, jumped up and down and even hugged him. Their response was better than Christmas morning.

Tomorrow I will attempt taking him to the school for some road tests. If it works out, I will get some pics to post.


Sound System

Getting ready for WonderCon I needed sound in XS. Since I couldnt afford a CF III Reader yet, I went the cheaper route. I spent a few $ on a single channel amp and wired it to my Zune.

I'm using the Zune Dock v1.0 which is powered with a USB cord and has an audio/video output cable on it.

In the picture below you can see the USB plugged in to a 5v adapter that I soldered on a project board. The Zune is placed in the dock which is then connected to the audio/video input that I pillaged from an old cable box.

The Audio/Video input is connected to the 20W amp through a connector taken out of an old PC.

There are no speakers in the picture, but they are mounted in the droid. I had 2 HP speakers from an old PC. They ran off of a headphone jack, so I pillaged a headphone input from that same poor old PC and connected it via the same connector as the audio in.

Here you can see the Zune situated in the back of R2. All of the sounds I have are put into an Album and set to shuffle. The infrared remote from the dock is used to pause and play the random sounds.

Eventually, when I get the CF III system, I plan to put the Zune dock elsewhere in the droid with a mixer connecting the 2 systems. That way, all of the sounds can be played remotely through the CF reader and the Zune can be used to play music, simultaneously.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hello World.

Last night Chris came over and we worked together till 11:30 getting the electronics taken care of in XS. When he left we had the dome motor rotating and things were getting pretty close to done on the drive system.

Tonight I finished that wiring, chanced the AX3500 settings to mixed channels and then tested the system by laying the legs next to the frame and hooking them up. Since everything was in order, I mounted the legs and gave R2 his first spin around the garage.

I don't have video but here are a few pics.

His dome is mostly done, I have to tape on the pie panels since I wont have hinges installed for the convention. I also have to finish wiring the slip ring so that the PSI's will be working.

Here is the view of the back panel. I'm sure it looks familiar to many of you since I am using Chris' spare VEX until I can acquire my own.

I'd like to take this moment to thank Chris James for bringing me into this club and helping me along the way and Jerry Green (JAG) for being a huge help in getting may parts. If it wasn't for those guys I would just be a parts collector, and not a very good one at that.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Casters and Plates for JAG Center Foot

Today I needed to finish my center foot. I had the foot with the plates and 3" casters, but I didn't have any hardware.

Since its important to get the casters set in as far as possible, I got creative with my hardware set up.

I purchased all the screws I needed as well as a set of long nuts that can be threaded into on either end.

Since the nuts couldn't be found to the perfect size, I used a pipe cutter and tubing to create spacers.

The end result was nice. The caster plate sat flush against the bracket.

Once that was finished I fit my casters and got everything mounted. Of course things weren't perfect. I had to cut a little more off of my Foot shell to allow the casters to turn properly.

In the end I had to take it all apart again so that I could prime everything. I'll post pics again when I have the finished product attached to the ankle.

First Blood

Last night I went to Chris' house to catch up after my vacation and to mount foot drives in my foot shells. We used his drill press to put the holes in the steel JAG feet that I have.

While cleaning up one of the holes I caught my finger on a burr and tore about a 3/4" long gash with a nice like deep spot at the end. Of course Chris was quick with a Pod Racer band aid for me, but not before I had bled on R2's white paint. Since this was the first time I had injured myself in the process of creating R2 I figured it was worth noting.

Beside bleeding on the paint, I did get something done. Both of my legs are now assembled, wired and tested electrically.

This is R2's geeky, weak in the knees pose.