Arrived in Austria killed a gumstix, gpio14, a GPS and possibly an Iridium modem

20/05/2008 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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We’ve arrived in Austria after a 24 hour drive from Aberystwyth! We hadn’t finished programming or making the hardware though. We still had to write a driver for the tiller pilot and sort out some electrical connections. But somehow in the process of doing this (which we still don’t totally understand) we’ve killed one of our Gumstix. We brought some spares but they aren’t quite the same, they are the newer Verdex model which don’t have a compact flash slot. Instead they have ethernet and built in Wifi. One of the things we really liked about using the compact flash model was that we could get the gumstix to act as an access point. This was far more reliable than trying to get the Gumstix to connect to an access point on the shore or use ad-hoc mode. The good news is that the Austrian’s have setup a super long range wifi access point which covers several km from the yacht club. The bad news is that we can’t get the Gumstix to work with the encryption on it and wifi here keeps dying because everyone is using 2.4ghz stuff and they are all just interfering. So we’ve gone out and bought a very nice Netgear access point and connected it over ethernet to our Gumstix. There’s not enough room in the electronics box for it so we’ve had to stick it in a plastic bag on the deck! Our boat has gained a lot of gaffa tape in the process. After we got the Gumstix up and running the tiller pilot started acting strange unless we turned the GPS off. Then we found the GPIO14 I/O extender which acts as an analogue to digital converter was getting really hot, so we replaced that too.

Unfortunately our GPS still continued to act strange. This may have been because we left the boat outside last night with the lid on the electronics box was slightly loose and it rained quite badly, so we came in to find water inside all of our electronics. The iridium modem has taken the worst of it and is being taken apart to dry ou. We used a hair dryer borrowed from one of the women who works at the club to dry things out. We thought the GPS was ok but after several hours of pulling our hair out over various electrical issues we decided to replace it too. Upon replacement it works fine but of course this GPS is slightly different to the other one and has its own onboard power regulator so it all behaves a little differently. Although now after a day of debugging electrical issues we now have what looks like a working control system, but will have to wait until tomorrow to test it now.

So much for us starting on time for the 48 hour race event that was supposed to begin at midday. But the Portuguese team are still writing code, the Canadians haven’t arrived yet and the Austrian’s briefly went out before coming back as they broke their rudder actuator.

Oh and we’ve cut our sail down so its now a bermudan rig instead of a sprit rig. We’ve now only got about 3 square metres of sail, but for a robot that should be plenty.

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