Plutarch 1.0 is scheduled to make his party debut two days hence at J’s Halloween 2016 bash. The active duration of the party is roughly four hours. Here are my goals for Plutarch 1.0 during that time:
- he must not fall off my shoulder
- his head must remain attached to his body
Spontaneous decapitation has been a serious issue for this bird. His good-enough-for-prototyping attachment system might not be ready for primetime. We’ll see.
Whether his electronics work for the frightful fiesta’s duration is almost secondary.
While I celebrate the success of Plutarch 1.0’s ahead of schedule completion, I’m excited to get his successor out of the prototyping stage.
Here’s what Plutarch 2.0 looks like as of Halloween 2016. Keep in mind his deadline is 368 days in the future:
He’s a discombobulated mess. But he’s much improved over his predecessor:
- got 3D printed bevel gears working
- added avoicebox with categorized, individually addressable sound calls
- wrote a Maya-to-Arduino animation translator for the jaw movement
- wrote a file processor that handles the WTV020SD-16P’s wonky-ass file format
- amplified Plutarch’s speaker so he can be heard over party din
- made a 3D printed chassis that’s modular and easy to assemble/disassemble
- added multiple microphone inputs so that he can turn toward the loudest sound in the room
- replaced soldered joints with connectors
Plutarch’s jaw opens and closes in sync with his sound calls. He’s got reliable, if shaky, 3-axis head movement. All of these systems mostly work, at least in isolation.
I just have to put everything together into a single, functional organism, at which point I can start working on the final challenge: his animation decision trees. Plutarch 2.0’s almost there and I’ve learned a tremendous amount about electronics and robotics over the last few months.
Unfortunately, I’ve just run into a couple of walls.
Too many wires. Not enough space inside the body cavity for Plutarch’s y-axis servo to rotate freely. Voltage mismatch between the Pro Trinket and the voicebox and no room to cram a regulator in there.
Working in this cramped space is difficult (especially with a splinted pinky), and the microcontroller’s going to have to move to a more accessible spot. The 90° connections between Plutarch’s control wires and the microcontroller are eating up way too much servo rotation room.
Complexity could be conserved by tying a couple of grounds together. Connections could be used with higher-gauge wire. Options exist, but we’re gonna need a hogshead of brain juice over the next few weeks to figure all this out. And cash. Cold, hard cash.
A year remains before Plutarch 2.0’s unveiling. Still much to learn.