Friday, March 9th, 2018. SGVHAK Rover made its public debut on the exhibition floor of SCaLE 16x. It participated in the SGVLUG booth advertising the entire family of SGVLUG and related groups including SGVHAK. It was good to have a deadline to motivate progress on the rover project and it’s even better to have successfully met it.
We also inadvertently lived up to the “hack” part of the name with the corner steering servo hack on the front right wheel. It was not part of the plan but an amusing coincidence. Given that we still had the weak gearbox on the remaining three wheels, we weren’t very keen to hand control over to random visitors at the booth. We did run it around the floor and learned a few things about operating it in such an environment.
The most unpleasant aspect is the crowded RF spectrum. With so many booths filled to the brims with electronics, the wireless signal spectrum is just as crowded as the physical isles. Rover communication between the Raspberry Pi and the operator was occasionally unreliable and we frequently had to react to missed commands. Every page on the rover UI had a big red “Stop Motors” buttons and there were times we kept smashing that button continuously, desperately trying to get that command through, before the rover finally stopped. We’ll have to figure out a fix later.
On Saturday, the JPL team in charge of the baseline rover design stopped by SCaLE for their own public relations demonstration purposes. We had a brief few minutes where both rovers were running around side-by-side. It was fun to compare and contrast the places where two rovers differed, both intentionally and not.