Robot Sensors

While I feel I have enough skills to get by in building some of my robot I’m certainly a way off of being well rounded within the field. I have enough skills in the R/C field to work with basic chassis design, enough programming skill to work with basic programming and enough electronics skills to figure out minor nuts and bolts in that area.

One thing that I haven’t done any of is realtime programming with I/O. That’s basically the core of robotics. So I’m going to have a learning curve there, but thankfully, as with most of my mad scientist schemes, I’ve found lots of help online. For the time, being my robot is going to be a simple avoider. Drive around and don’t bump into stuff is going to be its primary goal. While that may not sound like a particularly useful robot, it’s a great way to get started with a very basic idea that many people have accomplished before. The advantage there is community support.

For example, I found a wonderful article on using I/R sensors to detect obstacles. While that’s what these sensors were designed for in the first place, the article goes into the nitty gritty offering several suggestions to avoiding weaknesses while maximizing the advantages of the Sharp I/R platform. I think this is the direction I’m going to go in to give my robot a sense of what’s around it. The only other option I’m looking at at the moment are ultrasonic sensors. They’re a bit more accurate and harder to fool, but a bit more expensive so I’m not 100% sure yet.

Stay tuned for more…

A URL At Last

Yes that’s right, welcome to http://lastblogger.com/. Big thanks to Billy for helping me with the URL. We tossed a bunch of ideas back and forth over the phone about a month ago and this is the URL that came out as the winner.

I know it’s been a while since I mentioned that I was looking for a URL. What can I say, the holidays happened, then the start of term got off with a bang. On the bright side, things are rolling again and I’m pleased to see the URL at the top of my browser.

On a side note, I think I’m going to upgrade this installation of wordpress to version 2.0. I’ve been using version 2 on another blog and I have to say I’m starting to like it. I don’t love all of the changes they’ve made, but I think it’s deffinitely an overall improvement.

Adapting To Suburbia

We’ve lived in our home for over two years now and as I reflect about how what parts of my life have changed as a result, I keep coming up with one interesting lifestyle difference that I just haven’t gotten used to.

My better half asked me to go pick up something for her at the grocery store on Friday night. No big deal. We’ve got a Sobeys just down the hill from my house. But I was busy doing something or other and didn’t end up going out there until 10:45 pm.

I used to go out for late night shopping runs all the time when we were living downtown. I loved it. It was one of my more enjoyable chores. I liked heading out to the Sobey’s on Queen street after midnight and doing some shopping. They would turn up the music in the store and play some much better quality music than the elevator music you hear during the day. The place was full of students and people with munchies.

But on Friday night, as I approached the grocery store, I found myself wondering why I was out shopping at this ridiculous hour. Once in the store I found no students, nor anyone with the munchies. What I found were mostly middle-aged men that seemed to be picking up various varieties of snacks. They seemed like the kinds of snacks that a guy would pick up for their significant other so I figure they were all out on the same mission as I was.

Adjusting to suburbia has been a challenge. There are a lot of things that I miss from living downtown, and an equal amount of things that I’ve been glad to get away from. But I have to say that it’s a shame that I no longer seem to enjoy the late-night shopping trips I used to enjoy so much.

Looking For A URL

The current working name for this project has been “Shoveling Snow In The Rain”. But I don’t think I’m going to stick with it. I really like it, but it just seems far too gloomy to keep as a long term title. So tonight I embark on the always difficult task of finding a URL for my new project.

I wanted to wait before pinning down a title, because much like a pet, I wasn’t sure what personality this blog would have, so I decided to get to know it first. I’ve got a couple of ideas but need to check availability and mull the short list over a bit.

While writing this up I actually talked to Billy Biggs on the phone about this issue. He asked why I didn’t just name the thing after myself. A fair question, but I wanted to abstract this a little. I think I’m going to keep my Dal webspace for the Marc Comeau persona. It doesn’t look like much now, but I’ve planned to spruce it up a little… Maybe I could dress it up a bit. I can bring a fern, and a folding chair from the garage…

Some people don’t seem to worry too much about these things, but for some reason it bugs me if I don’t get it just the way I want it.

Shoveling Snow in the Rain

According to the weather network we got 26.2 cm of snow a couple of evenings ago. So yesterday we dug out. It was the first snow of the year and left me a little sore this morning. Unpleasant as that was I had no idea that it could be worse.

This morning the snow plow dumped some very hard chunks of snow at the end of my driveway like it always does. The weather people had predicted 8 degrees Celsius and rain. I got outside and it was certainly warm, but the rain had yet to begin. As soon as I first dug my shovel into the snow bank at the end of the driveway, it started raining. Light at first, but got heavier very quickly. I sped through the shoveling, clearing just wide enough a swath to squeeze the car through. As I tossed the shovel to the side, jabbing it into a snow bank like a pitchfork, I realized just how unpleasant it is to shovel snow in the rain.