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Thursday 21st September 2017: This "MicroMite" page was given an important update in March 2016, after fast progress on my MicroMite Autopilot program, MMAUTOP1. At the end of August Snoopy had his second sail on Bray Lake, using a MicroMite Autopilot. He completed The Bray Lake Test twice. Checkout the videos further down. I now have four boards from Phil working: click on that picture to the right. In due course, I hope to do more - helped by my friends, who do the hard work ;-)
For background, please see my Home page and others, like Aleksey's Sailing Saucer , but - most important of all, the Snoopy page - Snoopy's Robot Boats intended to cross the Atlantic. We might be able to use a MicroMite Autopilot in these - eventually !
Software was not on my critical path for MicroMite Autopilots: it was getting several of the required MicroMite board systems assembled by someone. "Build or Buy ?" - Definitely BUY ! :-)
There are sufficient details below to provide a specification. e.g. Futaba compatible pins from board, for connecting devices like rudder servo, GPS, TTS, USB PC Monitor for software load, Compass. Ideally the boards might include similar connectors for a second servo. e.g. Direct Wind Vane position, or Wind Vane Clutch, as described in Aleksey's Sailing Saucer page.
Team-Joker member Peter took an interest applying the MicroMite to robot boat autopilots: you may like his candid video on the right. But click on Roy's Micromite Autopilot made in July and see the small size by counting the 0.1" hole spacing !
I am happy to buy such boards, then pop them into Snoopy's Robot Boats being tested at Bray Lake, elsewhere in UK, and anywhere in the World.
Check out the videos on the right, showing Roy's MicroMite board sailing Eric's Boat 12. One is the first sailing of the Autopilot using Australian technology. You may also like my Australian SatNav, heard on the video. You will see Peter, range testing his ship-to-shore communications on Boat 11 - the one being prepared for the 2017 Microtransat Atlantic Attempt - from the UK south coast to the USA, where the Pilgrim Fathers landed.
Maybe you experts can see how the same board, or an enhanced version, could support other things. e.g. a "C: Drive hard disk" using an SD card, or even sound output supported by MMBASIC playing of .WAV files ? If so, memory permitting, much of my Pocket PC Autopilot could be ported across, including recorded voice, in any language. I would particularly like to play .wav files so that I could give a MicroMite based Autopilot a suitably 'Strine accent.
But remember those wise words from an American Engineer: "Keep It Simple, Stupid" (KISS).
From Robin: This page provides my notes and the latest status on my experimental work with the MicroMite. It was Roy, seen on the Snoopy pages, who got me started on the Picaxe, years ago, when Snoopy's Autopilot was iPAQ Pocket PC based. The Picaxe 08M2 has been used on all Snoopy's Atlantic Attempts since the first in 2012. In recent years, we have experimented with the Picaxe 28X2 and additional sensors such as a Compass. This "work" is documented on BlogX . In late 2016, Roy introduced me to the MicroMite, and he very rapidly got one working, including taking data from GPS, a CMPS11 Compass, and driving a servo.
News on Thursday 16th: In short: After an Optomistic early start at 0600, I had my new software, MMAUTOP1.BAS working well enough by 1500. I could walk around that waypoint at the end of my drive, called "Robin's Corner", with it speaking accurate range and direction to it. As it happens, that GPS reference, now marked with a white stick, was calibrated in about 1991 with DGPS, to one metre, when I started dabbling with GPS at EASAMS. Why so optimistic ? Click on that animated picture on the right - my GPS Software from the early 1990s, was written in practically the same language as MMBASIC. That later Pocket PC, from ten years ago, included Snoopy's first Autopilot !
There is a lot more work that I should do on my MicroMite software, but this should show rapid progress. All the difficult work has been done - mostly by Roy. He built the working hardware, plug and software compatible with my early notes on this page, such as MicroMite pin connections with GPS, Servo, Compass, and PC. It's a miracle Roy got as far as he did with the software: he was starting from scratch on that platform, with no better GPS software than my primitive Picaxe Autopilot Software. I've not used any of Roy's code, but saved time finding one or two I/O primitives. The main thing is he gave me my first suitable MicroMite hardware platform - and we know it works.
Our adoption of the CP2102 USB to TTL Module was clearly the right decision. It's not the lower cost, of less than 5 GBP each delivered, but the fact that it matches our requirement exactly. The flying leads that come with it, plug directly into Futabba compatibe pins. After software loading, it is removed completely, not taking any power at all. In this autopilot application, even a lit LED is power-significant.
Roy's the guy in the funny hat on the left, at the launch of Snoopy's 2015 Atlantic Attempt - the most interesting one so far. It ended with an "alleged" Royal Navy Marines rescue. If you watch the video, listen to Roy wittering on about a "launch check list" :-)
I was up early, and knew there was a chance have Snoopy's new MicroMite Autopilot software working well enough to do a "tea tray test", with it given spoken GPS guidance, and servo rudder control, around "Robin's Corner" and up to that "Lampost", then back to our house. It might even have "steered" me over to my friend Eric this afternoon, when I go over for tea and cake. But first I had to take a cup of tea up to my wife June, or she would not get up to go to work ;-)
I've swapped the Globalsat BR355 GPS that I'd given Roy (by mistake), to a BR-355 S2. When I got data, I saw it was the earlier version, with LOTS of other NMEA sentences. I put a Futaba lead onto the BR355-S2 so it plugs onto Roy's Board - and they work together ! I needed to apply a firmware patch, and set up the GPS so that it ONLY outputs $GPRMC sentences. That makes an enormous reduction in the work that any Picaxe or MicroMite must do. The BR-355 S2 set up process is documented in BlogX.
First some relevant videos from the Snoopy page: see that "Snoopy's Drones" on the right, from earlier this week. and my last paragraph here.
On Wednesday 15th February, after I'd been busy on things like charity stuff and having fun with Dick, including many hours editing that Snoopy Drone video, I got a couple of 'phone calls from Roy, in addition to the emails. The second was to say his MicroMite Autopilot board was fully working, with GPS, Compass, Servo, and his Autopilot Software. The board ready for me to see tested with a Parallax TTS ( very expensive at 100 GBP from the USA into UK ), then collect.
I was around there in 20 minutes, and the only significant delay was Roy waiting for his soldering iron to warm up. After
several years of test on tea trays and boats, one loudspeaker wire chose to drop off just then. Everything worked as it should,
and as I had seen it on my desktop PC. We found no linefeed was needed for TTS on the PRINT to COM2 because it already happens.
OPEN "COM2:9600" AS #2
PRINT "S Hello I am Snoopy's MicroMite AutoPilot"
I thought it wise to update and document what I then took away, before testing it here on my PC: probably reported here tomorrow. Roy's system will be on that same wooden tea tray, and when I have his autopilot software loaded and running, I'll simply unplug that USB plug from the PC. We did that, and Roy's software continued to operate, allowing it to be carried outside the house, or even driven around in a car.
After the first step above - repeating here what was done at Roys - I would appreciate any simple guidance on the instruction(s)*
so that my loaded program will restart when I unplug then plug back that portable 5v supply - the radio control battery.
OPTION AUTORUN ON '* thanks Phil / White Wizard for such a quick answer on the Forum.
Yes, I will repeat that I am very interested in anyone providing a completely software and plug compatible board: not a kit. Note that Roy used that cheaper USB/TTL interface, and not the smaller one provided by Phil. I prefer Phil's, since you will see, in the pictures below, that it can sit nicely on a board, and simply take a mini USB plug.
Time is money, but with me, I don't mind spending sensible money to save even an hour of my time.
Finally - that "Snoopy Drone's" video DOES have stuff that is relevant to the background of some of our Team-Joker guys. e.g. Those "Grumpy Old Men Behaving Badly With Rockets". I have already been asked, seriously, by a neighbour's school boy son, if Snoopy's boat could be fitted with a sea to air missile. You will see our tests with SAMs and Air-To-Air Missiles, a few years ago. A counter-measure to TV Network Drones, getting too close to Snoopy's Boat ? But one step at a time :-)
More here tomorrow: it only took 5 minutes to plug it in and run my program. Unplugged from PC, and it starts up ! Off out with the wife to celibrate :-)
Click on pictures to expand: 1) Robin's mess of a workplace, testing the second MicroMite board with the Parallax EMIC Text-To-Speech (TTS) unit .... 2) Google Earth map used to choose to local lat/lon positions for first software tests on the MicroMite ... 3) Results of that old subroutine LLLLTORB ( Lat0!,Lon0!,Lat2!,Lon2!,r!,b! ) were even better than expected .... 4) MicroMite Pin Connections to be compatible with Robin's AutoPilot software and Roy's Tea Tray Test board ....
Latest Status (BUT SEE ABOVE): I'm now looking for something like that on the right, that works, so I can do what should be easy for me: the software. I was delighted to get my first test program, LLLLTORB.BAS working, with Phil and Roy's help. It shows that software progress should be fast, including simply holding lat/lon in floating point degrees. My problem was to get TTS to work ( see below ). However, after a shopping trip to Maplins for things like a smaller soldering iron, and 28 pin sockets, then soldering up a second MicroMite board, I can see that my construction skills are not up to it. The benifits of much simpler software are obvious, but I don't wish to spend time in construction - even if I had the skills. For now I will shelve my MicroMite bits and continue with Picaxe - easy to assemble kits which take little time or skill to assemble. However, if I'd found the MicroMite a few years ago, my decision might be different :-)
Update on Sunday 11th: I regret my project is "shelved", despite this morning's optimism - inspired by our long visit to see Roy and his wife yesterday, I woke up early and remembered a scrap of Veroboard which would make wiring into those MicroMite pins so much easier. I also needed to double-check that I've got the polarity correct for those poorly documented Maplin tantalum 47 Micro Farad capacitors. Click on the picture to enlarge (Thanks Phil that OK). Also important: confirmation that those 1K resistors are all that is required to protect the MicroMite 3.3v system from those 5v devices like the Globalsat BR355-S2 GPS and Parallax EMIC TTS units on COM1 and COM2 ? (Thanks Mick that OK) Is my MMPINS.GIF diagram below correct ? I've ordered another four MicroMite 28 pin PIC32MX170 (programmed) and two USB to serial modules from Phil, to do a bit more "work". Imagine my delight, when checking my emails, to see those from Mick in Oz. Yes, he has seen that message from Snoopy at the end, as my friends near Sydney had. Checkout Kristina in the puppy dog video on my TAM page :-)
My optimism was short lived, after what - for me - was still a fiddly process with vero board. You may see wiring mistakes in these pictures, or even blobs of solder across tracks. I used Phil's USB/Serial interface from the working system, knowing others will be in the post, for someone more capable than me to use. I've confidence in the components used, but this unit behaves like the one where I used an alternative USB/Serial interface: no echos of characters and "detected version 0.0" that may be familiar to some of you. Time to put all my bits in a "MicroMite Drawer", and see if anybody local to me can get a similar module to work. If they do, I'll be happy to supply simple test programs, then pay a suitable price, and give due credit where it is due.
The photo on the right shows a working Picaxe 28X2 based autopilot, which includes a Globalsat BR355-S2 GPS and Devantech CMPS10 Compass. The software is loaded from a PC via a serial lead, which can also be used for monitoring during software development. One serial output is to a Parallax Text-To-Speech unit, only used for testing on Bray Lake. Details of Picaxe based autopilots will be found in places like Snoopy's BlogX and Design pages.
Below the Picaxe board is my concept for a MicroMite solution to do the same thing, using similar components. My problem is one of construction. Can anyone help - at the right price ? :-)
Earlier Plan: I hope to get a protototype MMAUTOP.BAS working, with output to the TTS. Then try controlling a servo. Then reading $GPRMC sentences from a BR-355 GPS. Then maybe test the MicroMite/TTS/GPS/Servo, on a tea-tray, steering to the end of my front drive - see map below. If I get that far, it should not take more than an hour to pop in the extra waypoints, for a Bray Lake Test, in one of Snoopy's boats.
Last Problem before I paused work:
My problem now is getting Text-To-Speech (TTS) working. I tried COM2 but saw that I may have blown this pin 9,
with 0v Ground having been connected to it, instead of Pin8. However, after re-wiring, I get no TTS response
OPEN "COM1:9600" as #2
PRINT #2, "S This is Snoopy's MicroMite Autopilot", 10
( I've tried both 10 and CHR$(10) as the Linefeed, needed by the TTS unit ).
G'Day Bruce ! Robin, the mug who builds my robot boats, assures me that most of you guys are called "Bruce", and that your women folk answer to "Shiela". He is wrong, of course, and I'd like to apologise for him not including a 'Strine translation flag at the top for you. Some of his workmates in NATO then EASAMS came to New Zealand and Australia, perhaps to get away from him. When Rudi, now in Sydney, and Robin, worked on a bid into Australia, they were briefed on Australian Defence Strategy.... "Come On In !". What Nation would be so daft as to try to invade and occupy a country of desert, and full of poisonous snakes and spiders ? Robin has been heard boasting of his Royal Tea Parties, with Liz, Phillip, and Dame Edna Everage. He fondly recalls overhearing your Cultural Attache - Sir Les Patterson - cracking an obscene joke with Phillip: something about the conversation between an Ozzy truck driver, crawling out of Alice Springs, and a young lady hitch-hiker. It seems the MicroMite is very much an Ozzy creation, and so Robin asked me to add a few words for him. Maybe, if Robin get's a MicroMite based autopilot working, it will be easy for him to program it for a journey south, from UK to Australia. If so, I will give you plenty of warning. There is one snag: I don't have a criminal record, and Robin insists that one is obligitory for entry to Oz :-)
Over the coming hours, I hope to add the raw pictures here, before a tidy up and proper conclusion. This is best seen and - more importantly heard ( the TTS ) - in the video, which could be available before the end of tomorrow, Sunday.
In brief: the Pocket Pal started up reliably whenever we powered it up, the first being Wisley Gardens, where June wanted to visit: it was a glorious spring-like day. We are members, but it was closing early, so we made our way home, with a much more thorough "road test" ( similar to those Picaxe Autopilot "Pub Tests" ). June suggested the route, so we could stop at places we might buy that magazine with Phil's article in it. We included landmarks, many of which have significance to what is on my pages. e.g. Eric's Silvermere Lake for model boat testing. Think of it as the "Test of the Tests" - just a bit of aritmetic to be fixed, maybe, and get that GPS handling better. Might only take another hour changing code and PC testing, but my experience is that more than 99% of time is "testing in the field". It helped to have 10,000 testers, in 150 countries, testing GPSS/GPSSppc over the past 20+ years. That's from where I am pinching my own code. But remember: all the important work was what Roy achieved from scratch, with about 2 man weeks or more, of effort. Snoopy's startup speech gives suitabl credit to Roy and other Grumpy Old Men. You will need to hear the video, and see the Tea-Tray MicroMite Autopilot sat on our car dashboard, with June driving, all the way home. I'll upload pictures as I collect them, and add annotation, then layout as soon as I can. Robin at 1910, with June back from dropping off Samantha at the Party :-)
Google Earth map display of MM180217 recorded by Robin's Pocket Pal. See the Pocket Pal and Jack on my Chase page. Map yet to be annotated.
Click on pictures below to expand ...
Three copies of unedited video were burnt onto DVD for myself and Team-Joker guys like Roy. It contains a lot of stuff probably best NOT published :-)
Above from Robin at 2240 Saturday. Maybe tomorrow I'll have time to tweak the software before editing the video. Major tidy up of this page needed too. All subject to things like an email from Siberia, and - of course - what June wants to do :-)
In short, June wanted to Wisley Garden again - but this time get in. I chose not to disuade her. The road test there and back was even better, and I am about to go and watch TV with her, while this PC burn's today's archive DVD. The big surprise was the impact it may have, both ways. Aleksey knows of this Forum and at least one member now knows the link to the Sailiung Saucer page - expected to be public in a matter of days. I've advised Aleksey to get the blessing of close friends and family. Here is what I've just put in the page ....
This page may help Aleksey to communicate with others interested in the same things as himself : not just robot boats. He tells me that he has worked as a car mechanic, and our discussions show he is a passionate engineer. If you google his name, you will find prize-winning geography teacher with the same name, and not far from him. However, Aleksey assures me that they just has the same name. i.e. a "namesake". I'm sure the other Aleksey will be very interested, and may help our Aleksey with his robot boat. See those American boats launched by High School Students on my Toy Boat page ! :-)
I do not speak Russian, and rely on google translate for the Russian you see on this page. Aleksey tells me he does not speak English, but all our email communication is in English and he is using excellent translation software. Click on the Russian Flag to switch the English on this page to Russian.
Maybe some of you may want to take a holiday trip to Kuibyshev in Siberia, Russia ? Click on that image of Novosibirsk on the right, to access google information about the region. I was very impressed with the quality of housing and lovely parks in Kuibyshev, compared with where we are - that will surprise many of you, as it did me.
I want to add more to this page, before Alek and I make it public. I will want to contact some of my Russian friends, most in places like Moscow, who helped me many years ago, making my free GPS Software speak Russian and display cyrillic script. Those were the days before Google Translate ! I would also like to mention things that Alek and I discussed soon after he made contact in January. e.g. Global Warming and International Relations discussed on my Grumpy page. Visit my Home page to know about me. Anything we can all do to bring a little peace and understanding in the World can only be good.
Click on that picture on the right to see the old page 2008 to 2010.
It contains valuable information on how Aleksey, or anyone in the World, can put together a Pocket PC based autopilot. It has the technical details of how we did it back in 2008.
Sometimes there are amazing and happy coincidences in life. Today, June wanted to go to Wisley Gardens, and - as we entered the gate - we met my old workmate Brian and Norma. I was also using the opportunity to road test that new MicroMite computer.
Aleksey already knows of the project to test a new low cost chip from Australia called the MicroMite. It may be possible for me to run the Pocket PC autopilot software, last used in 2011, with much less work than our development of the low power Picaxe Autopilots, suitable for many months at sea, where solar power is needed. If the autopilot needs more power, to run something like an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, it may be very difficult to build a small boat - which is more able to sail anywhere.
Maybe Aleksey could start with an iPAQ, and - if the MicroMite is found suitable - adopt that ?
I found that iPAQ 2008-2010 page, searching for Brian with me and Snoopy Sloop 4 ! :-)
I started with a few pictures, including taken of me in my garage, looking for materials for his "Sailing Saucer" robot boat. Maybe he can start with my free Pocket PC based GPS Autopilot ? ..... End of extract.
LOTS OF NICE PICTURES FROM TODAY, BUT NEED TO FIND TIME TO UPDATE THIS PAGE SOON.
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