AVC Parts Have Been Ordered, the Workshop Has a (Small) Workbench and Internet Access

While I continue to work on the workshop (progress is being made and an update will be posted soon), I went ahead and ordered parts for my 2014 Sparkfun AVC entry.

My robot is going to be built on a 1/16 Turnigy R/C car from Hobbyking.This platform has received a decent set of reviews from the R/C community and is hopefully going to be large enough to do what I need it to do.

In addition to the remote controlled car chassis, I ordered a three channel transmitter/receiver, some batteries and a battery charger. The three channels are going to be used for throttle, steering, and a selection between manual and autonomous control. In case my robot starts heading off a cliff or onto a six lane road under autonomous control, I'll be able to throw a switch on my transmitter and bring it back under manual control. For this I bought an R/C multiplexer from Michael Shimniok, a veteran AVC competitor who sells stuff on Tindie at very reasonable prices. I added a snarky comment when I placed my order that he and his robot had better watch out in the 2014 AVC because I was comin' for him, and he added a friendly note on the packing slip with my order and suggested that I join the DIYRovers Google Group where he and other AVC competitors discuss their designs. If all the other folks in the community are as friendly as he is, I like this crowd already!

I'm planning on using an ST32F4DISCOVERY board as the microcontroller for my robot brain, and I ordered a GPS and a 9DOF intertial sensor from Adafruit as my sensors. I have had success getting an Eclipse/GCC/OpenOCD development environment running for the STM32F4 under Ubuntu; keep an eye out for that blog post soon. Ultimately, I plan to create a custom circuit board with an STM32F4 controller and the sensors on one board, but that's going to be down the road a bit.

While I wait for my two orders to arrive I've been writing some code on the STM32F4. I've attempted to graft the FatFS embedded filesystem driver with ST's SDIO card sample code in the peripheral library. I haven't tested it yet on hardware, but I'm cautiously optimistic that I can develop a logging subsystem with relative ease by using these two libraries. The other code I've been working on is a library to drive the servos. I know that I have an earlier post in this blog claiming that I got servos running on the STM32F0DISCOVERY, but it seems that I may have reverted the virtual machine on which I developed that code to an earlier checkpoint, because I haven't been able to find those files anywhere. I believe I've rebuilt that code but I won't be sure, again, until I test with real hardware.

In the workshop, I bought a large U-shaped desk on Craigslist to be my new workbench. It's missing some fasteners, so I'm currently looking for some replacement parts. Until then, I did get one leg of the U assembled and I got Internet connectivity in the workshop today. That's enough amenities to begin hardware hacking out there. I need to dig out an oscilloscope and my Saleae Logic logic analyzer and I'll be able to make progress on my robot while I continue to clean up out there and get the parts needed to finish my workbench.