ReconTech's Blog

This is a blog about our everyday exploits in all aspects of everything. From science, art, computing, engineering, playing badminton to even playing computer games. Just about everything!

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Posted by on in First Impressions

To me all similarly priced servo motors look the same and promise the same performance and maybe they ought to, too. So amongst all the servos out there how do you choose that perfect one for your application? Well, I suppose that is the question that needs answering! Quite fortunately when I had to answer that question, of which set of motors to choose for the 17 Degree-of-Freedom (DOF) robot project, the Tower Pro MG996R motors came recommended, as part of the 17 DOF robot kit. Hence, these motors were thrust upon me.  

The predecessor to this motor, the MG996, did not receive the most glowing of reviews and was particularly noted for its lack of accuracy and centering. However this version is meant to be a worthy successor with a redesigned PCB and Integrated Circuit (IC) control system, which makes it more accurate. We provide an insider's view of this servo in this blog post.

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Posted by on in Development, Software and Tools

If you like a blog post with a happy ending then this blog post has one, but only just. This particular post is about me against Yosemite (10.10) when attempting to install Bugzilla. This time  I won, but barely and the victory wasn't pretty to see. All the same I won albeit with a complete lack of composure at the end. 

 With two big projects coming up I just had to get Bugzilla working, no matter what. So finally getting it to work was more out of desperation than  anything else. Although, because it took so long it did mean that I was not able to begin some other work, as planned. Anyway enough of the waffle here is the story, as it unfolded.

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Tagged in: Mac OS X Yosemite
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Posted by on in Development, Software and Tools

 Every now and again the digital design engineer has to completely leave his (or her) comfort zone and enter the occult of analog design engineers. It is in this world that digital design engineers, used to making yes or no binary decisions, are presented with a multiple of answers all of which, or none, may be correct.  It is in this blurry and murky world that any type of help, to corroborate a design, is most welcome. 

As part of designing a servo controller board for the 17 DOF Robot (Using FPGAs) Project I had to enter such a world. However, rather than approach the design with Wigi (Ouija) board to hand, to confirm my results, I  simulated the circuit design using the electronic equivalent or a Software Program with Integrated Circuit Emphasis, otherwise known as SPICE. The installation of LTspice IV on Mac OS X (Yosemite 10.10) is the subject of this blog post. 

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Posted by on in Robotics Using FPGAs

I have found it difficult completing this blog post this week, let alone doing any programming, as I have just discovered the series "Breaking Bad" on Netflix. Now, what I like about this show is how intelligently the show has been thought out, typical of what any engineering design project should be really. The plot, the cast, the characters have not just been cobbled together, but have been interwoven into an intricate and delicate interlinking pattern of intrigue and suspense that has led to the show's success. "Who would have imagined you breaking bad?"

The design of our 17 DOF robot, like system design in general, should not be anything different. It should consist of well thought out building blocks, which will include mechanical design, digital hardware design and software programming, amongst many other scientific disciplines including physics and electrical engineering. Also, if we do not want our robot to harm anybody we may need to include the discipline of philosophy and maybe incorporate Asimov's laws of robotics too! For now, in this blog post, we will concentrate on the design of a printed circuit board to mainly control the robot's servos.

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Posted by on in First Impressions

When is a Complex Logic Programmable Device (CLPD) not a CPLD? When it is being presented as an entry-level FPGA. The arrival of the Max 10 in the FPGA arena is an interesting one and could be the final confluence of Altera's CPLDs with their FPGAs. A historic matter that irked their main rival for many years.

Have Altera finally reached the decision that the traditional CPLD has no place in the modern programmable logic world? Or have they simply added some macro and analog components to TSMC’s 55 nm embedded NOR flash technology to create an FPGA with instant-on functionality? Well, Arrow have released the Max 10 FPGA Evaluation Kit for you to decide for yourself, as we do in this blog post.

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