Cypress Maker Lab - Oh dear, the parts arrived | Cypress Semiconductor
Cypress Maker Lab - Oh dear, the parts arrived
Barc, the robot dog, arrived the other day. Well Barc in pieces really. I got the car kit and the motor board and some assorted bits I do not yet know if I need. Things like a solderless breadboard and some breakable header pins (that's break-apart-able, not breakable by the way). I already have some PSoC prototyping kits which will be great for this project because they are small and I can use it with the breadboard. I started by unpacking the car kit.
My first surprise was the total lack of assembly instructions. I had braced myself for an evening of inserting tab A into slot G plus a lot of frustration and swearing. Maybe I have just bought too much flat-pack furniture in my time? But it turns out there really was no need for instructions. You would really have to struggle to get this wrong. There are online videos at Adafruit which are good - but they really just reassure you that you are doing things in a sensible order, as opposed to explaining a tricky assembly process.
It broke down into four steps. First, I attached the motors to the main body of the car, each motor requiring a pair of nuts/bolts to fix them securely onto the cut-outs on the side of the car. Next, I slid the tires over the wheel rims, pushed them onto the motor spindles, and attached them with a bolt. At that point you can just bolt on the front caster wheel and you have a serviceable base for your robot. There is also an "upper deck" that you can attach to the main body of the car with a few bolts and a pair of metal holdy-uppy things (sorry, I do not know the real word for these inch-long bits of metal - but they hold up the second story so holdy-uppy things seems as good a name as any). Note that the picture, above, does not show the holdy-uppers or the screws that go with them, but they are included in the kit.
Barc from below, showing the motors fixed to the chassis
Barc from the side, showing the upper deck
The whole process took about an hour. It would have been ten minutes if I were not simultaneously watching sport on TV, snacking on hummus dip, and could be bothered to find my glasses. I do not actually NEED glasses, you understand, I just use them when I want to see things. So, yes, you can assemble this thing with your eyes (almost) closed. The only step that was not completely obvious was that the bolts for the motors and wheels are different. The wheel bolts have a tiny flange on them to hold the wheel securely. But this is not a real complaint, I think I just wanted an excuse to use the wonderful word "flange". Try saying flange without really over-emphasizing the "ange" part. It's impossible!
Now, of course, we start getting into the difficult part - the actual engineering thing. The plan is pretty simple. I shall drive the motors to move him around from the PSoC and use either PIR sensors or CapSense proximity detection to figure out when a friendly human is nearby. When he "smells" a distant hand, Barc shall bound forward to say hello. Get too close and he will back off (possibly growling if I have time to add a buzzer).
The next step is to fix legs onto the PSoC kit and the motor board, then put them on the breadboard and wire them together. I'm going to have to break out a soldering iron, and they scare me. Once at high school, a long, long time ago, I tried to solder something. I think it was a guitar amplifier because that is what kids made back then. It was a miserable experience that ended in total failure. I just do not have an affinity for it and I am pretty sure I am going to have a similar experience this time.
But there is no backing out now. Next time I shall post the humiliating results of my soldering exploits and see if I can make the wheels turn…