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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.

Kit Log #038: Script DONE! Power pack and super brights are LIVE!

Kit Log #038: Script DONE! Power pack and super brights are LIVE!

Today’s kit log is pretty exciting. We finally get to see the results of all the work for two of the kits: power pack and super bright lights. Check out the instruction pages! super brights, power pack and press the big green go button

Today we wrote and finished the python script that takes in the steps and parts csv, then outputs a series of html pages. The development process was fine, didn’t get caught on anything real big. Had some off by one bugs, but it wasn’t anything difficult.

There was one mistake we encountered. That is, the images that are on google sheets are input into a cell as a formula. For example, it is =IMAGE(url). When exporting to csv, google sheets does not include this. Unfortunately since we have re-arranged some of the order of the images and deleted some, there isn’t really a way to script or automate copying the image name into another cell. So this has to be done by hand for every step. Shucks. It’s not the end of the world, it is fixable, just a bit of a delay. It was funny when finding this bug, because it was “wonder if this array actually contains anything? let’s print it” and it displayed a whole bunch of nothing in a list.

Either way, we were able to fix two of the instructions today, and prepare the pages on wordpress, and copy and paste the output html from the python script into the pages.

The next kit log will continue on this progress, as there is the operator interface and wheel kit instructions to complete.

Kit Log #033: Headway on written descriptions

Kit Log #033: Headway on written descriptions

There was decent headway today on the written descriptions and parts paragraphs. The parts paragraphs is what goes above the start of the table on each page, essentially to give an overview.

  • Super bright lights: completed steps and parts paragraphs. Final number of steps is 86 (and deleted 22 steps)
  • Power pack: completed parts paragraphs
  • Operator interface: still in progress, this one is massive. Started with 180 steps, now there is 159. Am currently at step #51
  • Wheel kit: this is next after operator interface

Once these are complete, there will be a minor modification needed for the python script. This is because the brain kit instructions did not have the image url in the cell, just the portion of the filename. It will be fine, a do-able modification.

The hope for the next kit log is to have operator interface and wheel kit written descriptions complete. Let’s see how far it can get.

Kit Log #024: Instruction outline for trio of kits and the need to automate this

Kit Log #024: Instruction outline for trio of kits and the need to automate this

This kit log the instruction outline for the trio of kits was completed. The templates on google docs were created too. The super bright lights kit instructions ranges 16 steps, onto 10 pages. Operator interface kit ranges 31 steps onto 12 pages. Wheel / motor kit ranges 16 steps onto 7 pages.

When creating the templates from the outline into google docs, we were almost done then realised that we were listing out each step as a page, instead of vice versa. It didn’t take long to fix. There was enough time to start on the super bright lights kit instructions, by adding the images.

Adding an image takes quite a bit of manual input:

  • select finder
  • highlight image file
  • drag onto google doc, enter
  • back to finder, enter, copy file name
  • back to google doc, in the right table cell, enter, paste file name

For the number of images we will be needing to add, it’s likely this is not going to be an approach that will be friendly on time. There could be ways of automating this – a simple python script could output the html for a table given the number range of images.

This would meen the first drafts would be on wordpress rather than google docs. It might make it more tricky for beta testers to directly add their feedback. Maybe if we included a numbering system for each step, then that would at least help for indexing the feedback to the steps? If we do skip the google docs then that meens we’re already formatting the content in its final medium, which might be beneficial to figure out.

The next step will be to set up some example formatting tests on the website, and see if html into the editor will turn into wysiwyg editor. The wysiwyg editor will be important in the future for editors to update it. In terms of making progress on the instruction written descriptions, it’s easier to do when looking at the images in sequence. This makes it better to understand if the order needs to be changed, or if something can be deleted. So getting this new step figured out will be first. The brain kit will be a good candidate to try this with since all the written descriptions are complete.

Kit Log #020: Photos and more photos

Kit Log #020: Photos and more photos

Today’s progress was making a small dent in the mountain of photos to edit. The process involves importing, looking at each one, and flagging the best ones (most in focus, clear, shows what is happening). Here’s a look at it number wise:

Super bright lights is 570 photos total, with 108 of them to be edited. Editing = done.

Operator interface is 750 photos total, with 187 of them to be edited. Editing = started, but not done (need to crop and double check colour correction).

Wheel kit is 440 photos total, with 91 of them to be edited. Editing = not started.

The next kit log will continue this progress on the photos.