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[DPRG] Advise with a project

Subject: [DPRG] Advise with a project
From: Alejandro Celery alejandrocelery at hotmail.com
Date: Tue May 16 15:02:15 CDT 2006

Hi guys, I need some advice. My name is Alex from Argentina, i have only a 
few posts prior to this one. I´m about to tackle my first robotics project 
for my "microprocessors class" at college, and í´m not really sure about 
what i´m getting myself into. I´d REALLY appreciate any advice concerning 
the difficulty level of the project, approx. time to completion, manpower 
assesment, costs, materials, etc. ETC, and whatever you think i should know! 
Okay, here it goes.

I have this toy spaceship.
http://ar.groups.yahoo.com/group/proyectonave/  (this is a yahoo group about 
the project. It´s in spanish and members only, but you can see a pic in the 
main page).
I want to put in there a 8051 (or derivative) MCU with this functions:
-Two electrical motors (DC or steppers, yet to be determined).
-Serial communication with a PC to receive positioning data.
-A LCD display with its handler, to display some information yet to be 
determined.

For all I know, it´s a great vehicle. It´s very hollow, quite sturdy, not so 
heavy (800 grs. aprox), big enough to accomodate the motors, a few sensors 
and the control board, i´m guessing it floats in water (i know it´s far 
fetched), and has good plastic wheels for traction (36mm in diameter, they 
help with torque issues).

Now for the funny part. It´s my FIRST project with MCU's.
Pro´s are i have until december to present it, we are 4 stable team members 
with maybe 1 or 2 rotating ones, i am an experienced intermediate C 
programmer (old borland C 3.0 in text mode) and i have quite a few people i 
can call for help both at college and where i used to work.

My big idea is to have every functional block in a separate PCB: one for 
serial comm, one for motor control, one for the sensors input (if they need 
some signal conditioning) and one for the MCU. I THINK it´s the best 
solution for testing, debugging and mantaining the prototipe, and mainly to 
make it easy for 4 people to work in the project.
But as I said, it´s my FIRST project with MCU. And i´m very affraid of 
commiting to a project that will not be built in a reasonable timeframe.

I will appreciate ALL the input you can provide. I really like this subject 
and i hope i can get into it happily.

Best regards.
Alex.

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