Saturday, September 17, 2011

Robot upgrades

I reworked the robot power system a little bit and made some software changes to try and fix the problems that I have been having with it.  I ran the robot remotely for three days this week to test the changes.  Bad news first:  I have not completely eliminated the glitches.  I had a couple of power failures this week requiring a reboot.  Good news:  It seems that the robot is significantly more stable than before.  Even though I had a couple problems I was able to predict them by monitoring the power system, so I think that I will be able to handle it in the future.  As a bonus, I have significantly reduced or eliminated some other glitches that plagued the original system.   The loss of the serial/USB connection only occurred once this week where before it would occur 2-3 times per day.  Also I have not any problems with the PowerPod.  I want to give it another full week of testing before I draw any conclusions, but if this stability persists I will post another part to the robot project detailing the changes that were made.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sick Robot

My previous iRobot Create apparently did "burn out" its charging circuitry and was not able to charge its battery.  I ordered a new Create, replaced the old one, and it fixed that problem.  So my robot was back up for a few days but now I have a new problem!  Very frequently the Create drops power to the serial pins when docking.  When that happens the netbook goes - poof!, and instantly turns off.  A major problem!  So I am currently diagnosing the problem and trying to come up with a fix.  My current plan is:

1. Determine if a lower power draw can help the problem.  For example, turning off the screen or the video feed during docking.

2. Wire pin 9 instead of pin 12 which should should give me unregulated access to the battery and hopefully no power loss.

Those would be relatively easy fixes requiring no structural changes, but if I can't get either of those to work then I might have to resort to

3. Change the design and put the battery back into the netbook.  That would require refashioning the "table" and putting a lot more weight up top.  It would protect the netbook from any power drops.  I don't really want to do this because I worry that it might cause problems with the PowerPod, but I may have no choice.