Sometimes you just need things to go wrong so you can eventually get them to go right. It seems that our latest frustrating setback might have an upside, though. First off, we decided to give our original prototypes, Frankie and Johnny, a rest since they'd been crosswired, changed, shorted out, and otherwise abused during our first round of building. We decided that the first 'bot to use the final electronics should start over as a blank slate. We randomly selected one of our future swarm, and it turned out to be 'Jan'.
We went back to the breadboard, so we could iron out any systems intigration problems with the new components easier. But, an old nemesis came roaring back: intermittent and often random problems with the obstace and edge avoidence. But, it seemed a bit different this time. With the new Arduino Mini Pro controllers, it wasn't as random as it was with the previous controller. It wasn't working any better, but it was more consistent. We noticed that when it acted up, there was a delay before it would begin to move again. It was exactly the same delay we built into the beginning of the program to give us a chance to put the 'bots on the floor before they started off. It seems that the microswitches we use as obstacle detectors generate either a voltage spike, or enough EM noise, to make the controller reset itself. This was both disheartening and encouraging at the same time. We may still have a problem to resolve, but FINALLY know what's causing the problems to begin with.