Hello everyone, and welcome back to another weekly design challenge summary. It’s the tenth week of the Sixth Sense Design Challenge. Some progress has been made over the past week, but before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a few moments to learn more about the challenge, its challengers, and what hardware they will be using.
Sixth Sense Design Challenge
About The Challenge
Featured as the final Design Challenge of 2018, this challenge task its participants with upgrading an existing robotic device such as a drone, remote control car, or any other remotely operated robot to give it a so-called sixth sense. This could include adding a fire suppression system to an RC helicopter, thermal imaging to a rescue robot, or any other feature that improves on the effectiveness of its host robot. While ten project proposals were chosen to be the official projects of the challenge, entering the challenge is not limited to just those sixteen community members. Anyone can join the Challenge as a non-sponsored Challenger, and still be eligible win one of the three prizes. If you are a non-sponsored challenger all you need to do is integrate the components from the official challenger kit into your design, and post 10-weekly blogs detailing your project’s build.
The Official Kit
The Sixth Sense Design Challenge is sponsored by STMicroelectronics, and TE Connectivity. Each challenger will receive all of the components below plus a wide assortment of additional passive, and digital components to build their projects with. If you would like to enter the challenge for yourself, or if you just want to follow along at home, you can purchase all of the components in the kit right here at Element14.
From TE Connectivity
To learn more about each of these components as well as the other components included in the kit, visit the official kit announcement page or click the links above to purchase them for your project.
The Past Week In Review
Over the past several days, February 24th - March 2nd, we have had a total of eight updates posted across four projects. This week, I will be highlighting three of my favorite updates from this past week, but before I get to that, lets take a look at which projects were updated.
This Week’s Top Updates
Project: GraffitiBot - Sixth Sense Design Challenge Blog #11 - Pump Controller
After waiting a little longer than expected, the final PCBs have arrived for project GraffitiBot, and update eleven focused on assembling the pump controller circuit board, the last PCB needed to get things up and running. “This card uses an MCP23008 I/O expander with I2C interface to drive 8 FETs that control the pumps,” Douglas wrote. “I had to use this chip because I ran out of microcontroller pins to control all the pumps.” He also points out the use of a diode on each of the pump control pins which prevent any inductive voltage spikes that might be induced when the pumps are switched off. Check out the full post for more information on the board's design and to view a short demonstration video.
Project: R2B4- Sixth Sense Design Challenge Blog #6 - SensorTile Outputs
After suffering from issues with motor drivers in his previous post, 14RHB is back and posted some helpful information about how he plans to get data from the Sensor Tile and output it to UART or I2C. At first, he attempted to modify the SensorTile_Datalog.example, but that proved to be problematic with multiple software crashes and lockups. As it turns out, some code was being duplicated on accident, and some parts of the code were buggy even in its unmodified form. Fortunately, modifications to the code were not actually needed, and the desired result could be achieved by connecting two solder bridge pins on the SensorTile PCB.
“Looking at the board schematic I was sure these signals went through U5 and should appear on pins 1 and 2 of CN9 as UART Tx and UART Rx although they did not. Finally, after much thought and study, I realized I had ignored the SolderBridges (SB) on the schematic. Sure enough, inspecting the SensorTile Cradle Extension board there were many sets of pads marked SBxx,” he wrote... “I'm not sure which I want to solder - currently thinking about bridging SB11 and SB20 but I need to think a bit more about that.”
Project: Automatic Weeding Robot - Sixth Sense Design Challenge Blog #6 - Motor Driver Testing
Wrapping things up this week is the sixth update to project Automatic Weeding Robot, with Cheah Wei Leow testing some new 13A motor drivers he recently received. Testing with the motors being powered at 12V from a benchtop power supply proved that this new motor controller was beefy enough, but performance significantly drops off once connected to the robots 7.2V battery pack. “The motor runs, but with significantly lesser vigor. But from my bare eyes observation,” he wrote. “In the video, you can see that as i hold the motor to simulate full load stall current, the current can surge to 3.4A. This confirms the real reason the original driver that comes with the chassis with 2A limit is not a design that provides the full capability to the motor” To watch the video Cheah is talking about, head over to the full update at the link above.
That is going to wrap up this weeks coverage of the Sixth Sense Challenge. Check back soon for another weekly design challenge summary. If you would like to learn more about this challenge or to see what progress has already been made, head over to its official challenge page. I'll be back next week for another installment of the Design Challenge Weekly Summary series here at Element14.