March 9th, 2006

color cycle (slow)

Better Things

My PDA now runs Windows Mobile 5. WM5 has the strong advantage that Microsoft gave up on the idea of trying to store data in RAM. No data is stored in RAM anymore; instead, all your data goes straight into Flash memory. The upshot to this is that when I somehow manage to drain the battery again, I'll keep my data. The downside is that it's cut into my storage space, because WM5 itself isn't small; I had 18 MB of onboard storage after the install, down from around 50MB- when you include the 32 MB of RAM that is now program memory rather than storage.

Better news: I have the part I'd been trying to invent for my robot for Embedded Systems all constructed, and unlike most Lego Mindstorms constructions I've invented, it shows signs of being inclined to not disintegrate. It's a wall-follower part: a gizmo to let the robot figure out how far it is from the left wall, so it can follow it reasonably. This involves a springloaded (okay, rubber-band-loaded) construction of six axles, including the one mounting the roll wheel (so it moves smoothly over the wall), the one acting as a bar that holds the one mounting the roll wheel with a T-connector on the end, the two holding the other end of the axle to make sure it slides back and forth rather than providing torque (no, not turq, the tendency to twist rather than slide), and finally an axle for it to slide over. A rubber band wrapped around the vertical axles and a half-pin cause the device to try to extend itself unless the robot is indeed against a wall.

Mounted on the elbow joint holding the second axle is a yellow Swiss 2x1 brick ("swiss", in this context, means it has a hole through it: reference to a variety of cheese), with a stack of a yellow 2x2, then a blue 2x2, then two black 2x2s stacked on top of it. All of these are lying sideways... right in front of a light sensor.

So by having the colors on the bar "fade" from dark to light, the light sensor reading gives a fairly reasonable estimate of how far the robot is from the left wall.

The construction is more complicated than that; I took several photos, which I'll upload later. I didn't take them to show off so much as to save the design for my own reference later!

And I saw a bunny outside earlier. It was cute. It was also unafraid of me, which is why I have several good pictures of it, too...

So despite the PDA failure, today turned out pretty good.
  • Current Music
    Dar Williams - Better Things
color cycle (slow)


So here's a picture of that rabbit behind the dorm earlier today. Unfortunately, all but this picture were too badly blurred to use: my camera decided to focus on the adjacent air conditioner instead of the rabbit for the first two, and the rabbit was turning its head for the third picture. This one worked, though. And I makde a userpic for whoever wants it!

I uploaded the pictures of the Lego wall-sensing mechanism, but I figure fewer of you care, so I'll just link to the gallery.

Rabbit Rabbit

This little creature was having lunch behind my dorm. I took more pictures, but this was the least blurry.
Rabbit Userpic Rabbit Userpic

Anybody want that rabbit on a userpic? Claim it and it's yours.