2.3.2009 (Tuesday) – Day 13 –
Jestin recruited Noah (AKA: Ax0n) for help in building a computing platform for the Robotic Labyrinth that works by simply pushing a switch. We want something that is very easy to use without a lot of setup.
Last Thursday, Ax0n agreed to help me find a suitable computer to run things on, since he has experience with embedded systems. Ironically, he has swayed me to possibly use an outdated desktop or thin client, but modified to boot from a ramdisk so turning it off without booting down won’t hurt it. He wanted to get a copy of my code to test on a few things. We plan on talking about it at the meeting this Thursday.
This solution might be both cheaper and easier than using something like a beagle board. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask around, and it looks like it paid off.
Some of the requirements Jestin and Ax0n are looking for are getting a reliable computer “brain” that can pull the parts of this project together. Some requirements:
- Runs Linux
- Can run the dependencies for the project (easy to compile for)
- Has USB (for the bluetooth and Arduino)
- Can be powered on and off by Science City staff without a shutdown procedure i.e. flipping a wall switch.
For more details check out Ax0n’s blog about Embedded Linux appliance project.
Jestin worked up an assessment of the labyrinth code as it stands today.
To begin with, a giant labyrinth is identical to a tiny labyrinth from a software standpoint. There are still two actuators to control, one for each axis. Knowing this, one would think that the software part of this project was already done from the get-go. That’s not exactly true. The original labyrinth was a hack, in that it did not have to be reliable nor easy to set up. The labyrinth that will go on display at Science City will have to be extremely reliable, resilient enough that kids can mess with it all day long, and easy enough to set up that employees won’t have to do more than flip a switch to turn it on. So while the basic functionality is the same, there are still many changes that must be made.
For much more on The Beauty of Simplistic Design, check out Jestin’s blog.