Failure with Solder Points and Mechanical Pressure

The good thing with failure is: it is an opportunity to learn :-).

So here is a case: For a STEM roadshow (see “MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?“), we have produced in a rush an autonomous robot with a shiny printed 3D cover:

LED effect in blue

Prototyp with LED Effects

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MINTomat: World’s Most Complicated Bubble Gum Automata?

How to fascinate kids for technology? Show them that engineering is fun :-). At the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts we have created the ‘MINTomat’: a robotics system for STEM activities rewarding interaction with bubble gums:

MINTomat

MINTomat

Yes, pretty over engineered compared to a normal bubble gum automata, but that’s part of the fun :-).

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Enclosure for the Remote Robot Controller with LCD Display

The first enclosure for the INTRO robot remote controller board (see “INTRO Robot Remote – First Production PCB“) is ready, and it is looking good:

Enclosure for the Remote Controller Board

Enclosure for the Remote Controller Board

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INTRO FS2016 Semester Closing with Robot Maze Challenge

“Learning-by-doing” is one of the core principles of my embedded systems and robotics course at the Lucerne University. For this the students apply what they learned using a robotics platform. In earlier semesters we did a Sumo battle at the end. This time the challenge was to build a remote controller plus to add the ability to explore and solve a line maze:

maze solving robots

maze solving robots

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Flashing many ARM Boards without a Host PC

So here I have 50 new NXP Kinetis K22 Robot boards (see “Zumo Robot with Magnetic Encoders“), and they all need to be programmed with the first firmware on the bench:

Programming Robot Boards

Programming Robot Boards

The challenge is: how to do this in a fast an efficient way, without the need for an IDE or even host PC machine?

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Zumo Robot with Magnetic Encoders

We are using robots to teach advanced embedded system programming at the Lucerne University (see “Sumo Robot Competition“). Students can buy the kit, and we are running out of available hardware. Time to produce a new series of robots :-). It took us a while to get to the next revision of the Zumo Robot, but finally the first one has been produced and assembled, and I think it is looking good :-).

Intro_Zumo_Robot

Intro_Zumo_Robot

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Impressions from Freescale Technology Forum 2015

With Freescale merged into NXP, I guess this was the last FTF (Freescale Technology Forum) after a history of 10 years. Maybe it will transform into a ‘NTF’, at least I hope that such an energizing event and conference will continue in the new NXP area. I was busy with delivering my own sessions, but had time to meet and greet and see a lot of interesting stuff. After visiting the TechLab several times and after all the discussions with other embedded enthusiasts I have now many cool projects in mind :-).

So what I do here is to share some impressions with pictures and videos. It will take me weeks to absorb everything. Not to talk about the huge email backlog I have now ;-). So enjoy:

Willie Nelson at ACL (Austin City Limit)

Willie Nelson at ACL (Austin City Limit)

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Snow Plowing (Darth Vader) Sumo Bot

Finally, winter with lots of snow arrived in Switzerland. Getting up at 5am this morning to free up my front yard from the 25 cm snow which came down overnight, so I can drive my wife to work. She does not like driving in snow conditions, but it is fun for me :-). But lots of snow, I thought I could use a little helper bot:

Snow Plowing Sumo Bot

Snow Plowing Sumo Bot

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Sumo with GoPro, and other Sumo Videos

Here are the videos and results of the Mini-Sumo competition held on 19-Dec-2014 in Horw, Switzerland:

  • Winner full-autonomous tournament: “The:Flash”
  • Winner semi-autonomous tournament: “Banana-Rob”

See “Infotronic WS2014 Sumo Robots are Ready!” for all the robot portraits.

Watching a Sumo Battle

Watching a Sumo Battle

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Sumo Robot Sensor Shield

The PCB’s for the Sumo robot (see “New Sumo Robot Assembled, and looking good!“) arrived. It is the ‘production’ version of that shield I have shown in “Sensor and Communication Shield for Sumo Robot” which adds following to the robot:

  1. Ultrasonic module
  2. Bluetooth module
  3. nRF24L01+ module
  4. I2C I/O Expander for 8 extra I/Os
  5. One general purpose I/O header
  6. One general purpose I2C header
  7. Up to 6 infrared distance sensors
Sensor Shield

Sensor Shield

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Sensor and Communication Shield for Sumo Robot

The semester started last week. Ideally I wanted to have the boards for the new S robot (see “Zumo Robot with WiFi and GPS“) ready in the first week. But our manufacturer was not able to get the four-layer boards with parts populated and delivered in that time frame. Until the new boards arrive, we have anyway plenty of things to cover. One thing is to build a prototype shield to host several distance sensors, nRF24L01+ and Bluetooth transceiver:

Sumo Robot with Sensor Shield and Sensors

Sumo Robot with Sensor Shield and Sensors

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Zumo Robot with WiFi and GPS

It always takes longer than expected: actually 4 weeks from the first board out of the reflow oven (“First New Zumo Board out of the Reflow Oven“), until I have it working on the Pololu chassis. But now I have a mobile Robot with WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, nRF24L01+ and all the stuff I have dreamed off 🙂

New Zumo Robot

New Zumo Robot

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First New Zumo Board out of the Reflow Oven

Andreas populated the first board with SMD parts and sent it through the reflow oven. The 32 kHz quartz is missing because not all parts arrived on time. The soldering of the Freescale Kinetis K22 microcontroller is not perfect yet, so will need some tweaking and inspection under the microscope, as well some other parts. Christian will do an inspection and electrical tests, then it will be my job to get it connected to the debugger. Keep my fingers crossed to get a blinking LED 🙂

New Zumo Bot Board, mostly populated

First new Zumo Robot Board, out of the Reflow Oven