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Mini AMOS / Wireless HAT Field Trial

It turned out that the output signal I was using to drive the relay switch on the Wireless HAT board was too weak: instead of activating the coil at 3.3 V, it got pulled all the way down to ~ 0.3 V. Fortunately the output wasn't damaged, and just needed a little boost. I knew I had purchased a bag of NPN power transistors about 4 years ago that never got used, but I searched all over the house, garage, and playhouse, to no avail. Probably they will turn up somewhere. Instead though, I discovered this old board:

from a 2004 Circuit Cellar electronics design contest that I had entered. It was intended to be a combined optical / acoustic motion capture device, but it was pretty glitchy and I never got a chance to finish it. Instead, my 3 daughters were born (10 weeks ahead of schedule) and the project was permanently shelved (but not thrown away 😉). Anyway, the board had four 2N3904 signal transistors on it, so I de-soldered one, soldered it up to the relay coil, digital output and a 1K resistor, and then the relay worked great - AMOS was able to switch on and off into its low power state.

The problem with the real-time clock (RTC) was much easier to fix. I had simply forgotten a command-line call to set it up properly.

The remaining hardware was hooked up for the Mini-AMOS build, and the boat was tested out in the pool under manual control. It seemed to work pretty well, and had plenty of power with the water prop. Yesterday, I brought the boat to Kelly's Creek to give it a spin on a planned route. I had to tow the boat out past the weeds in order to avoid fouling the propeller.

But when the boat was allowed to start on its course, it behaved very erratically, sometimes looping in wide circles, and other times weaving back and forth, following a seemingly random path:

Going over the code later, it was easy to see that the reason for the erratic motion was because the instructions for setting the rudder angle did not take into consideration the fact that the servo motor on AMOS Mini is mounted upside-down. There was also some code that was incorrectly setting the rudder angle back to zero at various times. These code issues have been fixed, but I will need to also find a better way of securing the servo motor at the back end of the body board. It was basically just epoxied into a slot at the back, and towards the end of the test I could see that it was starting to work its way loose a bit.

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