Thursday, June 27, 2013

Benefits of a "real" IDE

What IDEs do you use for programming? Post in the comments if you would. I'm curious.

I use vi, GNU Emacs, Arduino IDE, Geany and Notepad++ and all have advantages, but the editors in "real" IDEs provide numerous sophisticated time-saving benefits for writing code.

That isn't to downplay the major advantages of integrated debugging provided by the likes of AVR Studio 4, MPLAB 8.x, and IAR (various targets). While each of these environments are lacking in the editor department, their debugging has saved my bacon more than a few times.

But I don't want to talk about debugging, I want to talk about writing code with "real" editors. Why? Let me explain...

Friday, June 21, 2013

June $2 off Sale

Code: 6ED0F82

$2 off eeZee Propeller, Tiny2313, microSD, Power and VGA boards

Sale ends June 30

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Robot Club Line Following

David stomps everyone in the line following competition
SHARC, the local robot club I attend, has become re-invigorated and will be meeting monthly with line following competitions at the end of every meeting.

Our first new meeting was quite a success with good attendance, The line following was fun to watch, however I didn't have any of my line followers ready. Time to enter the fray!

Friday, June 7, 2013

AVC: Throwing in the towel

I made progress but not enough today, so it's time to be realistic and call it quits for 2013.

The robot ran somewhat consistently at the local elementary school but wasn't following the path properly. It knew where it was, the position estimation was in the ballpark, but the robot didn't follow the path it was supposed to.

AVC: things go right again

I'm upgrading my chances at the AVC from mostly crap to slim. It would seem I've managed to slay some critical bugs.

After killing bugs with angle calculation earlier, I found a stupid mistake in the steering angle calculation and problems with the lag compensation. Surely there's two or three more lurking, waiting to make a fool of me.

Anyway, the robot successfully completed three short runs outside the house, ending with a track variation of about 2' and a heading variation of about 10 degrees. While this is a big improvement over previous runs, there's still more to do than I'd like. Here's the analysis.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

AVC: finally something goes right

Finally, something went right. My chances of success at AVC just went from total crap to mostly crap.

Though I couldn't get the new Venus to track satellites, I discovered why the uBlox wasn't working with my code base, fixed it, and it's now tracking lots of satellites.

The uBlox problem was due to a stupid mistake I made on my baseboard. Once I hooked it the GPS up to the good UART port, GPS data came streaming in. That's not all

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GPS not fixed

Last we left off, my beloved Venus GPS was dead. Nothing coming out of the TX pin. So I ordered a new one late last week before my out of town trip. It had arrived when I returned but something is wrong; it's unable to pick up satellites worth a darn. Even outside! I have no idea what is going on.

What little spare time I've had for testing has been lost to rain. I installed my shiny purple OSHpark baseboard last night.

I found and fixed a bug in the estimation code. I was multiplying a heading error tern by a fraction to reduce its influence over time. The difference was normalized to a range of -180 to 180 only after multiplying. It should have been normalized before the multiplication.

I may stand a chance if...
  • the last critical bug is fixed (I know there are plenty of other bugs),
  • I can get a working GPS,
  • the encoders are fixed once and for all,
  • I can find a good-enough Kalman Filter tuning,
  • I can get accurate measurements for waypoints Saturday
No problem.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013