Over the last month, I went on a roadtrip across the United States. It was mostly a vacation, though also an opportunity to hand deliver a V0.8 FarmBot to Rick in Chicago and film him talking about our software in preparation for our Kickstarter campaign coming up later this year!
The hardware installation process was pretty straightforward because I had originally had the FarmBot installed in my front yard, then broken it down ~20% into sub-assemblies for transportation, and then we simply put the sub-assemblies back together on Rick’s raised bed. The sub-assemblies were: Track 1, Track 2, Gantry Column 1, Gantry Column 2, Gantry Main Beam, and the Cross-Slide + Z-Axis combo. The hardware installation only took about an hour.
However, then we ran into some troubles. Rick built his raised bed about 200 feet from his house, so we had to string together a series of extension cords to provide the bot with power. Some of the cords were really old and caused the house circuit breakers to flip a few times, and even shock Rick once! But we eventually found better cords and got it powered up.
Then the device booted up and automatically connected to my phone’s wifi hotspot (because my home wifi network was not available anymore, and the bot had no way of knowing Rick’s home wifi network name and password). This was all going according to plan. Using my phone, I SSH’ed into the Raspberry Pi and edited the wpa_supplicant.conf file which controls which wifi networks the pi knows to connect to. I added in Rick’s home network and restarted the device. This is where stuff went downhill.
Upon restarting the device, it would not connect to either Rick’s home wifi, or my phone’s wifi. We tried moving Rick’s wifi router closer for a stronger signal, but to no avail. We then ended up bringing the Pi inside and double checking the wifi file using a linux computer. With everything looking good, the device would still not connect to any wifi networks. After several hours of troubleshooting, we never figured out what went wrong, and decided that the Pi will need to have a fresh OS installed. Oh well. This gives us reason to work on “FarmBot OS” – an image of a working OS with all of our software pre-installed on it so that users can flash it onto their Pi’s SD card and everything will just work.
In the meantime, Rick is pretty excited to finally have a full-size device of his own to test out software with!