Okay, so the latest in this saga…
We now have the original remote control box (with completely new circuitry) and the replica Dalek board running better than it ever did.
The Raspberry Pi at the heart of the Beast now completely behaves itself. It does not crash at start up, nor will it restart itself randomly when your back is turned. Okay, this was a ‘fun-packed’ feature, but when you’re in a workshop with a few hundred thousand pounds-worth of shiny new VWs, it was not very big or clever to have a good few hundredweight of Dalek crashing wildly around, screaming at the staff.
With the new circuit board in the remote control, not only is the wiring much neater, but it’s much more reliable, too. Previously, there was a nasty incident where we accidentally ‘flexed’ the box, and the motors went haywire. This is now fixed.
We’ve also streamlined the code for both the remote using the Arduino ‘Uno’ in ‘C’ and to a certain extent (with much more to follow), the Dalek itself written using NetBeans in ‘C++’. This has meant examining each subroutine and piece of code, then seeing just what we can take out, or re-write, to make it sleeker and faster. Again, this doesn’t sound like much, but trust us when we say that trimming down the code is not a trivial matter.
And today, we’ve solved another couple of problems that had been nagging us for a while.
Firstly, we found that if the Beast was turned on without the remote control nearby or on, then after boot up, it would scream, ‘EXTERMINATE’ at several hundred watts, then career backwards nearly faster than we could catch it. Not good.
This afternoon, we’ve finally solved this by re-writing the C++ in the receiver such that if there’s nothing coming through from the remote control, then sit still, dammit!
Very satisfying to finally get it to work.
Then, buoyed with our success, we’ve changed the sound routines.
Previously, if you pressed a button for a sound effect, then pressed another before the first one had finished, it would speak two at once. Kids were going to notice this.
Sooooo… Now, if a sound is already playing, the Pi will kill that sound and play the one just requested. With some careful practice, we’ve found that you can make a whole new vocabulary for the Dalek by tying certain phrases together at certain points. A bit like a ‘Scratch DJ’ kind-of-thing.
Yes, little things please our little mind, but this could provide The Bus Stop Boys with hours of happy, non-productive fun? Just a thought.
Tomorrow morning, we have to help a very good friend out of a major jam, but when this is all sorted and we’ve washed the blood and bits of teeth off, we’ll be back to Dalek-ing.
Friday morning sees us back at Union St, working for Grow Sheffield then helping them with the new display system we delivered last week (…training on how to use it…), then from then on ’til Monday, it’ll be 100% Dalek.