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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Racing against the clock. Two electrical meltdowns.

Trying to get the robot in shape for the block party was the focus today. I have a bad cold so I didn't go to work today but did get an insane amount of projects completed on my robot today.

First off, I completely redid my entire sound system. My little sound cube which I loved is yesterday's flash. Today I made my robot interactive where people can talk with the robot. I installed a closed circuit wireless TV system (next to the robot) and a wireless sound system attached to my PC so I could sit at my desk and interact with people through the robot. The people (well at least the kids) will think they're actually talking with the robot. And I'll sit in my office with my box of kleenex.

I woke up at 4:00 am because of this cold and since I couldn't sleep I began soldering and trying to figure out how to build an interactive bot. I first tried using my video wireless microphones but had a hard time with that. That needed an amplifier on the other end of the wireless unit. I built a simple one but it didn't work so I took my son's old PC speakers (actually my old old speakers) and decided to use that as the amplifier and speakers. Since it was 12v, I attached it to my NEW power supply (I finally got a decent power supply !!!)

My son has been having problems with his computer's sound so that should have been my first clue. Only one speaker of the pair worked. That was my second clue. After hooking it up to the neon and my wireless units, I started smelling something. Then it started smoking and some wires melted away and there was a pop. Good thing it was just a bench test and not in my robot. No flames so all is well.

I scrapped that entire idea (the el cheapo idea) and moved to more expensive options. Radio shack sells a nice stereo wireless indoor/outdoor speaker. Not too big and powered by 12v. The salespeople gave it great reviews with it's sound quality. Most people use it to play Music off their computer while they're sitting poolside. I had to go to a couple of stores but finally got one.

After removing all my old sound components I put this new system together and it worked like a charm. Hooked up the brain lights and used my old light controller to light the belly lights and the two large chest lights. I used green and red gels to color the large chest lights and they worked beautifully.

In my haste, I didn't do a good job hooking the chest lights to my controller. Once I had my robot together, I powered it up and stood back and proudly looked at and listened to the robot with my wife. After a few minutes, I thought I smelled something burning. Sure enough. The chest lights bad connection fried another channel on my light controller. I'll admit I rushed this job today but sometimes you have to pull out the stops. Whatever breaks can be repaired is my motto so go for it. Plus when I get time I'll hook the chest lights to the Tom W. controller that controls the brain. I just don't have the time for that now.

It took me awhile to discover where the problem was. I removed the brain first suspecting that. Then I found the bad wiring on the chest lights.

Since I about finished my bezel and buttons I temporarily mounted them in my robot so there's no hole in the middle. They actually look pretty nice. I also laid a front acrylic vent I made in the front of the robot but accidentally dropped it and it busted. The glue on the repair job is drying as I type.

To look at the robot, most people would think it was done. But in actuality I still have a lot to do before it's complete. I may hook the closed circuit TV to my VCR and record the reaction from kids. If they even care ... I don't know what to expect tomorrow.

I went through about 2 boxes of kleenex today (my cold) and I'm whipped

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