The electronics for the project had finally arrived and it was now time to put everything together, from the code to the mechanical parts and the power source. Over the first few days, we first tested the code and each individual electronic component to make sure that each of the electronic components was functional and were doing what they were programmed to do.
This is when we faced our first set-back and the problem lied in tuning the mechanical component function of the prototype. Although the motors we were using was from the same manufacturer and the same type, they were not turning the same amount and responding consistently every single time we sent a signal. This led to a lot of mishaps when the motors would at one moment have no response and then suddenly respond with a lot of power or the motors would not turn at the same rate every time and this would lead to over-tensioning of the string. As a result, the string would snap if we did not react fast enough to the unknown freak response of the motors. This happened multiple times and cost us precious and many hours of time as we had to disassemble the entire product and restring the mechanism. After 3 days of trying, we still could not get them to work consistently and decided to limit the product to one motor to reduce the number of variables. This made our lives a lot easier and our product more consistent and durable.
We then tested the entire system as a whole to make sure we could perform all the functions that we had set out to do. This is where we had to face our next problem which was the conflict in the code libraries of the RGB LED and motor libraries. This led to some weird and mysterious actions by the prototype as whenever the LEDs turned on or changed colour, the motors would start turning. To overcome this problem, our coding guru Yuan Long decided to use 2 Arduinos to separate the 2 functions so that the libraries would not interfere with one another. This made the coding slightly more complex but this was a piece of cake for our code guru which made it work within a day.
The functional prototype was now complete and all we had to do was to do the exact same thing for the final prototype and we would be done. We thought that we would have a lot of time as the presentation was on Friday but our professor dropped a bomb on us during the weekend and said we had to present to our partner company on Tuesday but we would only get our final prototype print at best on late Sunday night which meant that we would have 24 hours to rebuild the entire product again. Will we make it? Find out in the next blog!