May 20, 2012: Week 31 -- Show Time!
We did it! We took a fully functional Viper for exhibition at Maker Faire. There were a few networking issues on Saturday morning, but by about noon they were worked out (thanks in large part to Ryan's debugging), and she ran smoothly for most of the rest of the weekend. Thanks again to our Kickstarter backers and to our corporate sponsors. Thanks too to the Maker Faire crew for all of their support. (Check out the Meet the Makers video that the Maker Faire team produced.) We are extremely grateful to the help everyone has given us. We couldn't have done it without all of you. As Sunday came to a close, we received three Editor's Choice ribbons. We thought that was amazing since in previous years we've received at most two. By the time we left the fairgrounds, we had been graced with seven ribbons!
May 13, 2012: Week 30 -- The Last Build Session
This was our last build session before Maker Faire. Basic functionality was in place, so we spent the weekend refining and beautifying the cockpit exterior and the show control on the interior. Joseph put together an emotional final episode of the weekly update video included below. See you at Maker Faire!
April 29, 2012: Week 28 Build Session
We had a blast this past weekend. On Saturday night we had an evening build in preparation of the Discovery Channel Canada's film crew arrival on Sunday (middle row). Alex and Sam worked on getting Fire Jam up and running (left), and Sam D. and Tony did some last minute checks on the pitch motor and shaft encoder (right). The film crew was here all day (top and bottom rows) shooting hours of footage including one-on-one interview of the boys. They shot a "Right Stuff" moment (upper right) with the team in their flight suits. The film crew's goal was to capture the drama of the first full systems test. They got what they came for -- the first series of tests failed miserably (NOTHING happened). After a few hours of debugging, we eventually tracked the problem down to several pull-up resistors being improperly sized. Once we figured out what the problem was, we replaced the resistors and, voila! The thing basically worked. The servo loop needs work because of the huge moment of inertia of the frame (the current version of the software way overshoots its goal), so we'll be plenty busy in the run up to the Faire. Stay tuned for links to the final Discovery Channel piece.
April 7, 2012: Week 25 Build Session
Things are really coming together now. This weekend we figured out how to control the motors (the variable frequency drives were a bear to figure out), we tested the roll motor (middle row of pictures above), did a rough cut at balancing the center of gravity, finished the manual portion of the operator console (top and bottom rows of the above pictures), and topped it off with the first test of both motors using the operator console. We now have a motion platform!
It looks like we're on target to hit "Coach class service", that is, game graphics playing the cockpit with manual control of the platform, in time for our appearance at the Exploratorium on April 21. Still LOTs to do, but it looks like the thing will actually work in time for Maker Faire on May 19 and 20.
March 31, 2012: Week 24 Build Session
No time to write something interesting ... we're in the bombing run of finishing the project. Pictures will have to do for the time being. Thanks for your interest in the project.
We are really excited about the attention the project is getting. We're working extremely hard to complete the project in time for the Faire. We made good progress this past weekend, as demonstrated by the video below. Wish us luck -- we still have a tremendous amount to do. Accomplishments this weekend include:
Sam D and Tony got the monitors installed (top row of images above),
John and Mark laser cut the acrylic panels for the operator console and labels (middle row) at TechShop, Alex and Sam F. solved the problem we were having with communication between Python and the Arduinos (this is a BIG deal), and we got both slip rings installed. Slip rings are needed because we need to get power and data into the cabin, but since the cabin can spin arbitrarily far on two axes, we can't simply run a cable from the ground into the cabin. We found a company (SenRing) online that makes a variety of slip rings (bottom row) to solve just this problem. They've been great to work with.
If we keep up this pace well be ok.
March 18, 2012: Week 22 Build Session
Progress today: a big milestone: we tested motor motion for the first time. See the above video. Also the Kickstarter page was completed (it is up now and getting great response). So far Gizmodo has picked it up as has the Battlestar Galactica Facbook page.
The project is looking like it might go viral. Yay!
March 11, 2012: Week 21 Build Session
Rather than a group build, this week we worked independently or in pairs. John worked on the design of the operator console and LaserMax labels in preparation for a laser cutting session at the TechShop. Alex and Sam F. figured out that Ventrilo will work for our bi-directional communication between the pilot and operator. Sam D. and Tony built the pitch motor mount shown above.
March 3, 2012: Week 20 Build Session
Progress today: the Kickstarter page was completed (it should be up soon), the three monitors frames were built, the frame was painted, the pitch motor mount was designed, flight suits were sized, and most software components were written.
February 25, 2012: Week 19 Build Session
Alex and Sam F got the first end to end communication of the instrument panel talking to Flightgear, and then controlling the Lego motion platform. We also finished wiring and programming the 20 buttons on the instrument panel, and Joseph shot footage for the new promo video on the home page.
February 18, 2012: Week 18 Build Session