Just a quick note to all the True Believers out there! Our job(s) have taken priority over the past few weeks, but we haven't been idle. We have the Arduino controllers in hand now, and American Science and Surplus had a special on used microswitches. They were pulled from equipment, but we built a quick breadboard circuit to test them. We were very pleased that we only found two dead ones in the bunch. It was also rather amusing to watch the reactions of the AS&S employees when we presented our request.
"Now, you DO realize that you have to purchase 5 in order to get the special price, right?"
"I don't think that will be a problem."
"OK, so how many do you want?"
"A hundred. Got any more in the back?"
The special saved us another couple bucks per 'bot as well, so we're still on budget. It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but we've always envisioned the Emergence Bots' design morphing into a low cost educational kit that any school can afford, so the price will definitely matter then.
The last of the solar cells have arrived, and we have a good candidate for our backup batteries. The focus for this weekend will be testing the battery candidate, while simultaniously trying out the power control code. The plan is to take the batteries, solar cell, Arduino, and a motor and wire them together in a simplified version of the bot's power system. The Arduino will monitor it's own power level, turn the motor on when the power is at it's peak, then shut itself down again when the voltage drops. Then the solar cell can set about recharging it. If we can get this simplified version to work, we see no great technical hurdles in this area.
Finally, the motors and wheels have finally been ordered from Solarbotics! It took longer than we wanted, but we're not working with grant money here. Sometimes us members of the working class have to wait for a decent paycheck to afford this kind of thing. Hopefully when we get all of the parts in we can start playing a little Tetris and figure out what's going where, and start on the actual construction of the swarm. We're comin' along!