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Critter Lives Again!

February 15, 2014 09:11

As some of you have no doubt noticed, I have repaired the critter and it is currently functional again in the state that it was prior to the last time it broke, which was quite a while ago. That being said, I am not currently allowing anyone to control it, although you can monitor it whenever I have it active. I will now explain why.

Prior to building this version of the critter, I had another one which I allowed free, unlimited access to, by everybody. As a result of this generosity, many people responded by treating it in the most abusive way possible. They would either drive it into walls or other objects intentionally, attempt to drive it under objects where it clearly wouldn't fit, and attempted to use it to damage property, such as trying to knock various things over. This was in addition to the general negligence of those who just didn't take a few minutes to figure out how the controls worked before randomly clicking buttons to see what happened.

So when I built this critter, after spending well over 100 hours of time and about $450 in parts, I spent a lot of time adding various safeguards. I also required everyone to read through an extensive list of instructions and rules for operation, in hopes that I would eliminate those who were intentionally abusive or inept. Nevertheless, I still had to repair the critter about once a week, with an estimate of 4 hours of work and $50 worth of damage to the parts each time. I had intended this period of time to let those who were careful play with it, while I spent my time working on additional hardware and programming safeguards, as well as adding more interesting features. Instead I had to waste all of my time fixing the damage caused by people who couldn't follow simple rules. Finally, I just quit fixing it.

So now that it is repaired again, I'm not going to make it avaialble to everyone until all of the safeguards are in place. This means rangefinder and proximity sensors on all 4 sides of the critter, plus a more intellegent mapping system, along with whiskers and bump sensors, to prevent or detect and mitigate any collisions. I will also enclose the top layer to prevent damage from above, along with adding additional sensors to the top. In the process of doing this, I have decided to recode the controlling software from scratch, which will delay the project quite a bit, but will allow me to more easily make upgrades in the future.

I also need to make a few modifications to the house where the critter has a habit of getting stuck or difficulty crossing over. I also need to add a bridged access point to add coverage to the area of the house that currently has dead zones. I will attempt to make all of these changes in as short a period of time as possible, all the while balancing them with an increasingly busy work schedule.