Sunday, November 9, 2008

Take a Lesson from Jesse James

Wow, this is starting to turn into a Discovery Channel show blog. I promise the next few posts will have nothing to do with Discovery. But I had to get this one out: Last week's episode of Prototype This was pretty cool in that the team finally admitted defeat after they tried fairly unsuccessfully to make a 6-legged walking vehicle. It's much better than pretending that everything always works out okay, even when things seem impossible at 12AM on the night before the deadline. But, I have a suggestion for the prototypers on how to deal with prototype failures, which comes from a show the precedes theirs by quite a bit, and here it is:

I wish they'd go into a bit more technical detail on why they failed instead of just blaming the overweight chassis. But I caught enough hints in the video and dialog that I think I get it: First, these suck. They finally switched to something like a Sevcon MillipaK for motor control. Of course it's hard to blame the components when the designers have an infinite supply of money. Try doing 300A DC motor control on a real budget. Also, they bought some fancy batteries, but in the last few minutes you can see they gave up and are using lead-acids. And they very briefly mention "optically isolated" controls being an important fix. I'm pretty sure that all this points to massively large loads - far larger than they expected - which demolished the electronics system. Sounds familiar.

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