Select Page
Kit Log #045: Programming instructions outline

Kit Log #045: Programming instructions outline

In between progress on the collaborations on Wednesday night (Wednesday night = Robot Missions meets), we were outlining the programming instructions. We also made a very simple sketch to test the assembly of the Bowie Brain Kit, without the need of all the libraries. So far, here are what the software instruction outline looks like:

  • Software Instructions
  • 1. Install Arduino IDE
  • 2. Install Teensyduino
  • 3. Download BowieLib
  • 4. Install BowieLib
    Move BowieLib folder to your Arduino libraries folder. Eg, on Mac it is: ~/Documents/Arduino/libraries
  • 5. Open Arduino IDE
  • 6. Open BowieBrainBlink in Arduino
    File > Examples > BowieLib > BowieBrainBlink
  • 7. Change the board to Teensy 3.6
    Tools > Board > Teensy 3.6
  • Here are the other settings, they should be fine by default, but it’s good to double check.
  • 8. Plug in micro usb cable to the Teensy 3.6 on the Bowie Brain board and your computer. Note that this must be a ‘sync’ cable (because it needs to send data back and forth). If it’s just a ‘charge’ cable, it won’t work.
  • 9. Press verify on the code
  • 10. Press upload on the code
  • 11. Verify that the LEDs are blinking!
    It should be the big green LED on the Brain Board and the little LED on the Teensy 3.6. They will be on for 1 second, then off for 1 second.
  • 12. If something is not working, please send us an email

We will have to go through it again and verify that no steps are missing. Often times this step can be the most frustrating one when things are missing or not explained properly. After this, we will need to make instructions for it – mainly making the images. The process will be pretty similar to the electronics instructions on google sheets.

Oh yeah, just placing this image here for the board settings, in case it gets forgotten…

Hopefully we will complete this before Wednesday, because have a hunch that Beck and Brenda might be able to reach this far after the last of the soldering! That’s exciting

Kit Log #044: Link breaking in assembly not working

Kit Log #044: Link breaking in assembly not working

In order to copy the CAD model of Bowie as an assembly to a folder that the Eng. design group can access, we need to break the dependent links of each sub-assembly. This is because Fusion360 doesn’t have the functionality yet to send all the associated files in an assembly when copying it. When trying to do so, it was taking such an incredible amount of computational time. The “preparing for compute” would just slowly progress. For one operation of breaking the link, I decided to leave my computer going all night to see if it will process it. In the morning it showed the error.

To overcome this, exported the assembly as a STEP, and importing it worked fine. The smaller pieces of the sub-assembly were easy to copy over. Even though there was no forward progress made on this, it certainly did take a lot of time and patience to work on this one.

Kit Log #043: Fail or flail? Question marks

Kit Log #043: Fail or flail? Question marks

One of the tasks on the giant todo list was to fix the Super Bright Lights board. One of its traces is touching a pad, which is an error. It should be a quick thing to fix.

These boards were made in a program called pcb, a part of a suite of tools known as gEDA. It is not a very well known electronics design tool. There is a new fork of pcb called pcb-rnd. There are a few slight changes. Installing pcb-rnd on Mac is straight forward. Installing the other tools in gEDA is not. Specifically, we were looking to install gschem, the schematic editor. We tried brew, fink, but nothing was really working (broken dependencies).

Opening the board in gerbv, we can spot that the error does exist in the file, too. (That’s good news)

After some time re-orientating and remembering how to use pcb, here is the fix in pcb-rnd:

Then flip the board just to check nothing else moved:

Hey wait a second, there are question marks all over the board! The reference designators are all wiped out. Maybe something happened with the netlist, or some sort of properties file. We couldn’t figure out or remember how to edit the refdes in the new pcb-rnd. We can’t exactly send this board out knowing that there will be question marks printed all over it…

Here’s the errors that were given, justifying the new question marks on the board:

Anyway, we have an old version of pcb on one of our older computers, and we can make the fix using that. However, going forward, it will be wise if we switch from gEDA to Eagle or KiCAD, since the support for gEDA is very minimal at this point in time.

Collab Log #004: Epic 5 hour soldering session with Beck and Brenda

Collab Log #004: Epic 5 hour soldering session with Beck and Brenda

Today was a big day in terms of Robot Missions milestones! Beck and Brenda are the first beta testers of assembling the Bowie Brain Kit! Woohoo! They will be following along all the steps to get their own Bowie brain alive. This was a pretty epic work session. They spent 5 hours working away on it, by the end, they didn’t even realise how much time had passed! It was 11:30pm by the time we left. 😀 Here is a video update:

Going from a small amount of previous soldering and robot experience, to now soldering this board, they mentioned that the instructions and photos have been super helpful. It was amazing to see their progress on this. Sometimes there were mistakes, but it was ok because we fixed them along the way.


Beck and Brenda found a lot of bugs that should be fixed! Here’s the list of them:

  • Overview:
    Just remember – if something is extending over the edge of the board before soldering, it’s probably in the wrong place. Avoid cold solder. Resistors do not have directionality, but most of the other parts do. Oh yeah, and you can remove the tape after it’s done being used to hold the soldered component in place.
  • Part 2, Step 13 – Should be resistors inserted into R10 and R11 (it’s plural). Make sure the leads of both resistors are not touching.
  • Part 2, Step 16 & 17 – It is not clear what direction the diode should go in. Polarity
  • Part 2, Step 18 – ‘Resistor’ should be ‘diode’ 😛
  • Part 3, Step 3 – Need to write about using tape instead of twisting the leads, because the leads from the speaker can snap and break
  • Part 3, Step 8 – ‘Resistor’ should be ‘LED’ 😛
  • Part 3, Step 12 – LEDs not resistors
  • Part 4, Step 10 – Could also add something about using tape to secure the capacitor in place prior to soldering it and snipping the leads
  • Part 4, Step 2 & 3 – There is no directionality for the PN2222A, should mention what side the flat gets inserted
  • Part 4, Step 6 – Directionality?
  • Part 4, Step 8 – Do not flip the board
  • Part 4, Step 14 – Needs clarification that the row of holes the screw terminals go in are the row of Z3,2,1 – not the holes nearest the edge of the board.
  • Part 5, Step 1 – Should be Xbee headers (shallow F headers) instead of just shallow F headers to correspond with the packing list properly
  • Part 5, Step 2 – Add a bit about keeping the headers perpendicular to the board, not inserting them crooked
  • Part 5, Step 4 – Should also mention about how adding in an Xbee as a placeholder will improve the reliability of these headers (just based on previous experience of the forks getting jammed)
  • Part 5, Step 5 – You don’t have to flip the board
  • Part 5, Step 8 – Orientation

Way to go Brenda and Beck on this progress! More to come next week.