So, a very scary 19 days to go until the competition, and things are starting to get very busy with the project. I don’t want to give too much away on here in terms of tactics and full hardware specs (for obvious reasons) but there are some things that I can report on.
The chassis has now been assembled, although I am waiting on a replacement motor bracket as one of them wasn’t made to the dimensions in the spec.
The motor controllers have been powered up and tested, and we have used the Axiomatic-supplied configuration software to send speed commands to them over CAN – our first signs of life!!
Not very clear in this photo is the list of messages on the laptop screen are the status CAN messages being transmitted by the motor controller. Below that list is the CAN message sending feature that allows us to send the speed and direction commands to the motor.
Parallel to this, the main control software is been developed using a time triggered architecture, with the help of TTE Systems’ RapidiTTy tool. Most of the framework is now in place, and we will soon be able to automatically parse and transmit the necessary J1939 CAN messages to the motor controllers.
In more boring news: the power / emergency stop circuit is nearly finished, which will control the power to the high and low voltage circuits from both hardware switches and GPIO signals from the main control board. This will enable the controller to switch on the main circuits on startup, and automatically kill everything at the end of the 90 second match, or if there is an unrecoverable error that could cause things to go haywire (loss of CAN communications, attempts to take over the world, etc).
Although, at this stage, I would have loved to be in the position where we could be conducting live testing on the competition table, there have been several unanticipated delays. However, we have the majority of the building blocks ready now, so getting it all up and running in 19 days is certainly achievable. (to put this into perspective, in 2009 my team had the robot mostly finished, and we were fine tuning on the table; in 2010 we were just about starting. We did better in 2010 than 2009!)These are very exciting times and the next few weeks are going to show a massive leap in progress.