Pan-Project Update: Little things here and there

Not much has happened in the last week or so with regards to anything reaching completion. Sadly enough, not even the melontank has escaped the wrath of final semester. I’ve been filling in some minor details on the vehicles, though, in part preparation for the Energy Night Showcase, which I’m attending with some cohorts mostly as an excuse to ride scooters around to annoy the staff, and partly because said scooters is actually a hardware display at the event.

razEr rEVolution

Ever since getting back from Singapore, RazEr has just been kind of hanging out around MITERS giving curious onlookers test rides. One day, however, it just stopped. I don’t recall if it was on acceleration or deceleration, but the entire controller simply shut off. Not in flames, to my utter surprise. Further investigation revealed that the ATMEGA328 chip that is the core of the controller just straight up died. I don’t know what the cause could have been to completely kill a microcontroller besides voltage transients above its maximum voltage – after all, the logic voltage is fed by the gate drive voltage, which is one step closer to the very noisy and high current battery rail. And I don’t use a hardcore switching voltage regulator like some other people do… rather, a completely rigged linear voltage regulator fed by a resistor.

So instead of, you know, fixing the thing to use a real voltage regulator, I decided to fix the symptom for now:

Dropped (almost literally) on the Arduino carrier board is a 5v transient voltage suppressing diode, and right next to it is a 100uF 1206 capacitor. Seriously – 100uF in 1206? What is wrong with the world?

The addition of massive buscap and a TVS should absorb any transients on the logic rail in the future. I’m saving the real parts for the full v2 redesign, for which I have additional upgrades in mind.

Another issue that Razer had faced before its untimely demise was some kind of strange, no doubt current induced behavior where the motor operation would become very unstable if full throttle (or really anything above mid-throttle) was applied. The symptom manifested itself as a sudden loss of torque, almost like the motor was spinning off a clutch somewhere and little torque was making it to the wheel. Now, I know I slammed that motor can together on a 20 ton arbor press, so there’s no way it could have been mechanical. Further investigations into the gate drive voltage revealed no significant “early shutoff” of the high side bootstrapped FETs, which could cause such behavior past a certain PWM duty cycle. I was out of ideas, so on a wild suggestion, I made a common-mode choke out of a nut and a few turns of 14 gauge wire.

It solved everything.

I’m not even going to ask. The Common Mode Nut will, for now, become a permanent feature on RazEr. It allows me to floor it with reckless abandon down the hallway (shortly before discovering the hard 90A urethane wheels, covered in floor dust, have zero traction in the waxed hallway corners).


Not much news here, but I finished mounting the sprockets!

I made the spacers in the Pappalardo Laboratory, during my 2.007 lab assistant session. I decided to tow the entire thing to campus in order to do this, and the other students taking the class found it amusing that such a thing could possibly exist. Mission accomplished.


Unrelated to the showcase, but still worth an update, is the death and revival of MaB. I had run out of PLA plastic (which sticks to everything) by printing like 8 versions of Chuckranoplan, and needed to revert back to my stock of ABS plastic. My surface heater had shed its thermistor a while back for whatever reason, meaning it couldn’t be software-controlled, and getting ABS to stick to cold plastic was a difficult affair. So I did what any reasonably intelligent person would do – hotwire the heater to 12 volts.


Luckily, I realized how backwards it was after a split second, so there was no cascading destruction of the entire electrical system, but it was long enough to bake the entire bank of ADC inputs on the extruder controller.

It took a while and alot of help from people with more patience for SMT soldering, but with the AWESOME MITERS HOT AIR REWORK STATION!!!! the ATMEGA168 on the extruder controller was replaced, and MaB was operational again.

While it was away, I got a reel of white ABS instead:

I like white ABS alot better. Everything doesn’t come off as a featureless black blob, and it changes color slightly dependent on temperature and how long it’s been cooking in the nozzle, so it’s one way to gauge if my temps are wrong within a wide band of errors (No, they’re not.) For some reason, it doesn’t smell as death-filled as black ABS. However, it does seem to lose a little more volume in the extrusion process for whatever reason.

That’s all for now. If anyone else is going to the Showcase, be mindful that I might broadside you at full speed on RazEr.

i’ll just leave this here.



  • Thank You for Calling Big Chuck’s Lawn and Landscaping: Introducing Crabmower
  • More About the #RobotTrapShop and Building Up a New Workspace
  • A New Beginning: The 17th Chapter; Back to the A-Town
  • Robot Ruckus at Orlando Maker Faire: How to Somewhat Scale-Model Test Your BattleBots
  • Überclocker 5: Finishing Up The Everything Else
  • Überclocker 5.0: In Which I Actually Have to Build the Bot, Not Just Talk About It
  • Überclocker 5.0: The Big Post of Designy-Stuff
  • The Overhaul of the Future Begins Now: Überclocker 5.0 (Also, Welcome Back to Robots)
  • Operation RESTORING BROWN Part 7: The Epilogue; or, Dragon Con 2019
  • Operation RESTORING BROWN Episode VI: Return of the Van Lights; the Conclusion

    One Response to “Pan-Project Update: Little things here and there”

    1. Dane Says:

      Glad the spare ATMEGA168 went to a good use.

      corkscrew-board will make an appearance sometime next week, once the motor controllers stop being so glitchy