My zealousness for this project can probably be described as an overstatement. I really wanted to succeed and create something really awesome at the same time. My usual process of shoot high, and get something better than average probably was a bit off this time around. It’s okay, I can accept failure, but in the end I felt I had some success. I learned a lot from this, and from that, I’ll be able to do better next time.
So just went wrong?
As you can imagine, my first project’s goal was pretty high. I wanted to have some sort of stabilizer type subsystem for a drone. With my research and trials, I discovered that this scope was far too advanced for my level of knowledge and experience. So I redid the project.
Version two of this project took the form of a formation light controller. Much easier to deal with, but I still had some high goals. I wanted to use two 555 timers in tandem to create a very specific effect. The first 555 would pulse, and activate a light. The trigger pin of the 555 was also connected to a transistor. This would activate a secondary light while the trigger pin was low. This created an alternating light effect. The trigger pin was connected in addition to pin eight of the second 555. When the first 555 was high, the second 555 would activate at a higher pulse rate. This triggered it’s on set of lights.
The final effect was to have the first 555 blink red LEDs and green LEDs alternately, while the second 555 would blink a pair of white LED’s twice per cycle.
Learning how to do this was the most difficult part, but it worked once I completed it. I ordered additional resistors and capacitors of multiple values so that I could tune the circuit to my needs.
The greatest failure that I encountered with the circuit was when I tried to transition the design onto a permanent soldered setup. This was my first time using a perfboard to assemble, so my approach was horrible to say the least. I knew it was not coming out well, and I tried very hard to make it work correctly.
In the end, I was unable to make it work again. This was probably the part that hurt the worst. When I arrived to the conclusion that I failed, and probably damaged some of the components, I took my defeat and went to bed.
The laser cutting portion of this was a better success. While the option of having a box was okay, I was not really enthused by the simplicity. Leave it to me to make it even more complex than I should.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to experiment too much with this part. Having paid close attention to the lessons on how to operate the laser cutter, I found little difficulty. What added to the complexity was that I wanted to take one of my 3D models and convert it to something that could be cut and assembled. I found 123D make and went to town. There was a bit of a learning curve, but once I became familiar with the program, I spent more time adjusting the model and pattern to better fit my needs. There were a number settings, and in the end, I felt I could have done a better job myself by designing the shapes myself. What attracted me to the program was the potential time savings benefit I would gain.
So, Lessons Learned:
- Circuit Design
- Really consider the research, and understand your limits. I discovered this in my initial project proposal. I saw a video of it being done on youtube. With the belief that it is possible, I set forward to make it reality. However, technical skill and knowledge are preferable before jumping to the arena and fighting the bull.
- Soldering is something I need to practice more to get better at, like anything else. I definitely mangled my design, and it was very sad. I half expected this result, as it is my due. Perhaps that was the voice in the back of the head giving me warning bells. Perhaps I should listen to those bells rather than shoving them full of cotton.
- Laser Cutting
- Cool doesn’t always equal success.
- I discovered some limits to the laser cutter in that there were some very sharp points in the design. When the laser cut through, it ended up burning some of those points off, resulting in nubs. That wasn’t the desire, even if it didn’t affect the assembly at all.
- More pre planning would have been required to integrate the circuit. The suggestion of creating a base with a stand made much more sense, and would have done well to hide certain elements that would not be useful being seen.
- Automated programs for developing 2D renderings from 3D models are useful, but not entirely dependable. It creates shapes that make sense in digital land, but when made real, are flimsy and creates a fail point. As a result, my design is fragile and requires care when handling and transporting.
While I would consider my project a failure within the scope of the given assignment, I learned a great deal through the process. With this in respect, I found success through what I have completed. Each part had success, the failure lay in myself, and inexperienced in electronics. Something I intend on correcting in the coming weeks, months, and year. I certainly do not feel intimidated, or put off due to these events. With these lessons acquired, I’ll be able to move forward and better guide myself to success, as well as know what questions to ask.