Nomad has been out and about as a show piece a lot, lately. Unfortunately, still not sufficiently mobile. Recent experience and discussions with folk from The Robot Group, ATX Hackerspace, and at some of the many exhibitions has made a few things abundantly clear. First, I need to address the power issue sooner rather than later. Second, I need to get Nomad running about, even if only with the game controller at the moment. And third, there is still much work to be done on its physical configuration.
It has obviously been a while since I've posted an update. I know, this is pretty much my pattern. It has been a very busy few months, however. Unfortunately, none of that has been actually working on Nomad. In short, Nomad was in the January issue of Servo Magazine, I made a whirlwind trip to Germany to pitch for a start-up I've been consulting, I'm now the president of The Robot Group, and I'm getting Nomad and TRG ready for SXSW Create coming up in less than 2 weeks.
Note: This post has been languishing in the drafts folder for a while. I just, this weekend, finished the install. Rather than going over the entire saga, here's the result and lessons learned.
In my last posting I discussed the construction of the box for the new Jetson TX1 dev kit board. Since I had to take the electronics out of Nomad to accomplish this rebuild I decided I should write a little bit about the hardware stack. Since the physical build, including the hardware, is pretty much done at this point you can look forward to much more technical articles as I start to work on the program and getting all of the pieces talking to each other. Mind you, some of this has already been done, but since I have to do it again, it's a good chance to write about it.
With the change from the Raspberry Pi stack to the much more powerful Jetson TX1 some changes needed to be made to the overall architecture of Nomad's electronics. Some of it remains the same, such as the sensor cluster passing through the Arduino Mega. Some of the changes are enhancements made necessary by the new processor. The diagram illustrates what the new architecture looks like.
Note: The Edison board has been removed from Nomad and two Raspberry Pi B+s were installed. In time these will be swapped out for Pi 2s, but I had B+s on hand, so that's what went in. The decision to go with the Pis over the Edison had to do with support, or the lack thereof, stemming from issues getting the joystick device to install properly. When attempting to get Nomad to run as BARB did I discovered there joystick was not available on the Edison. After nearly 2 weeks of working with it, scouring the forums, etc., I could find no solution.
I admit the title may seem a little harsh. I tried to find a way to soften it a little bit, but this is the most direct way of saying it. And, frankly, the Edison did fail the Nomad project, not because it's a bad product, it's not. It failed because it's simply not ready for the hobby market. It's not ready to be picked up by your average user looking to do something amazing that pushes the boundary of what hobby electronics, or hooby robotics is. The Edison is great for engineers looking to do something new. But not your average maker. Here's the story...