The CodeyBot Review

The codeybot is a Makeblock product that was launched on kickstarter and is a wheeled robot that is targeted towards education and experimentation. It can be programmed using the mBlocky app downloadable from the Play store as well as the App Store. It can also be controlled using a limited set of voice commands as well as using the Phone’s accelerometer. The most interesting thing about this robot is the fact that it can balance on two wheels and can dance and play music.

As backer no1 on kickstarter, I got my hands on the bot and did an unboxing video here.

The codeybot is built intelligently and the guts are quite well placed. I would have liked to see the connector description somewhere but thats ok since I did a teardown of the turret and then the bot which I will cover in the next post.

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The app seems a bit cluttered with all the functionally crammed into one screen but can work if you have an iPad or android tablet.

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The mBlocky app is clean and works well out of the box

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The fun begins when you have two of these and can convince a friend to play laser tag with you. You get an assortment of weapons and two codeybot paired together can be hours of fun together.

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We will be sharing the details of the codeybot and turret teardown in the next post so please like and subscribe the video on youtube and if you have any suggestions of comments, feel free to put them the in the box below.
Thanks and happy hacking.

Seeedstudios Groove Pi+ Pre-Review Part 1

Introduction

SeeedStudios has their own system of prototyping hardward called Grove which uses four pin connectors to connect sensors, actuators and subsystems together to a central controller which can be arduino based or MSP430 based. Recently, they have introduced an interface to the Rapberry Pi called the grovepi+ which is a Raspberry Pi Hat with an Atmega328P which allows the RPi to take advantage of the grove widgets. I was one of the people who got their hands on one of the pre-review units in a Kit form and I decided to do a little something with it. In this article I will go through the basic kit and it’s contents and my first impressions since this is the first time I am using the Grove System. I had a few preconceptions and I will discuss my experience with the kit so far along with a project plan I have going. Lets go! Continue reading “Seeedstudios Groove Pi+ Pre-Review Part 1”

Single Board Computers- The Arduino YUN Review

SBC

Prelude

Hackers and hobbyists have used the arduino for a diverse number of projects and have made it a very popular. Its simple to use and easy to program. For people who have a slightly ‘more’ requirement, ARM based single boards came into the market. Initially the ARM boards were tougher to build and program and costlier to make. In order to fully exploit the power of a 32-bit processor, the Linux Kernel was ported to the fanless ARM systems making the Single Board Computers. The OS was stored on either an SD Card or an EEPROM. This new class of boards had the familiar OS system of a regular PC and the digital and analog outputs of the arduino but at a slightly higher cost. Additionally they had varying performance but they started to add something more- peripherals! Keyboard, then Ethernet, then Bluetooth and Wifi- the list goes on. In this article we discuss the Arduino YUN and what exactly it is. Continue reading “Single Board Computers- The Arduino YUN Review”

CapSense MBR3 Evaluation Kit – Review

CapSense MBR3 with Arduino Nano

Introduction

A lot of projects and products involve a user interface which is buttons and switches and knobs. The cost of industry grade panel push buttons is really high and it gets worse as the buttons become environment proof. With that said, Capacitive Touch sensing has come in to replace mechanical buttons and the Cypress CapSense MBR3 does exactly that. The solution is a single chip auto calibration system which does most things for you. Most Capacitive Touch sensing solutions offered need a lot of technical expertise but Cypress claims that their solution is just easier to use. I will be reviewing the developer side of the solution as opposed to the kit itself. Continue reading “CapSense MBR3 Evaluation Kit – Review”

Tektronix TBS1202B-EDU Oscilloscope for Education

Tektronix TBS1202B-EDU

1. Overview

The Tektronix – TBS1XXXB-EDU series of Oscilloscope have been targeted towards the educational sector. The logo on the front panel that says “Enabling teaching” is proof of that. The traditional approach has been to carry a paper manual where the students will find the detailed instructions to the experiment to be performed. The experiment is setup on a breadboard or on a kit or sorts. Continue reading “Tektronix TBS1202B-EDU Oscilloscope for Education”

Inverter AC buying guide and Daikin India Inverter AC review

Summers in India are usually very tough and the only way we can work in the office or in some parts, sleep at nights, is under the cool air of an Air conditioning unit. There are so many companies that manufacture AC units and supply them in India, that the choice has become extremely difficult. Additionally as technology progresses, it is very tough to understand which is right for you. We will explain some things and then review the Daikin India FTKD50FVL inverter AC.

How does an AC work?

When a gas is compressed, it releases heat and when it is allowed to expand, it will cool down. This is the basic principle of an AC. A motor pump or Compressor is used to press a coolant gas outside the room and a fan is used to make the released heat to “blow away”. Next this compressed gas is passed onto a pipe which is inside the room and allowed to expand. It will cool down as it expands and a fan is used to blow air over the chilled pipe which gives us the cool air we yearn. Now there are a number of factors that influence what AC you can select.

  • The primary one is the tonnage which equates to how large the compressor size is how much gas it can handle.
  • The next is the type such as window AC or split AC. This is more or less based on if you have a windows where you can fix the unit or if you need to cool a room with no windows. Technically a window ac will cool better since the pipes are less far away but will have the issue that the cooled air will be again sucked back in. The split unit has a bigger problem that if it is not installed right, it will malfunction, leak coolant or even get damaged permanently. The window unit has an advantage that it comes pre-assembled and hence the installation people can mess much up.

Inverter or upside down?

The new buzz word in AC is inverter technology and is becoming more popular everyday. So what is it? As discussed before, the compressor is the machine responsible for ‘compressing’ the gas. The larger the compressor, the more refrigerant it can compress. On the flip side, the larger the compressor, the more power it will consume and the larger your electricity bill. These machine usually have quite a low efficiency and they themselves will also waste energy i.e. the electricity consumed will be converted into waste heat.

The inverter AC is supposed to have the capability to vary the speed of the compressor thereby varying the power consumed by the motor and hence your electricity bill. Now there is a bit of electronic kung fu that goes into making things happens so its kinda state of the art however it has some major drawbacks as discussed later.

Daikin Inverter FTKD50FVL review:

Daikin was the company that sold their units by the name of “Calm by Daikin” as their units are mostly noiseless. That was a decade ago. Since then the Japanese company has dropped quality standards and the units we received were quite “plasticky” in build. The unit is a 1.5 Tonne capacity split unit. We did our share of market survey and since Daikin claims that it is now improving its footing in India, we were curious how… we still are!

The unit was installed by two guys from the Daikin service center which we later found out that was one of the few authorized service centers in our city. The unit was noiseless and cooled nicely but not like we expected and we would later find out why. When the Daikin support guys were asked on why the cooling was so sub standard, their trained response was “This is the way it cools”. In short you bought it now bear it.

The unit consumes a peak of 6 Amps at full capacity which was expected of the inverter unit and the outdoor unit made no noise whatsoever. The cooling was OK but not excellent. The current consumption dropped when the set temperature was reached at which point the room temperature stabilized. This is why you buy an inverter AC. instead of switching on and off the compressor, it dims it down so to speak.

The unit worked for a month after which cooling began to fail and we registered the first of many complaints with Daikin India. A few weeks later, a guy from the service center came and said everything was OK and left. His claim was that the temperatures are already so high that what can an AC do?

Our second complaint a week later was met by a different service guy that said that the refrigerant had leaked and he did the needful. Things were back to normal and a month later summers had ended. unfortunately our problems had not. It seems the guy had filled up the refrigerant but never plugged the leak. The refrigerant leaked as the months passed and our warranty faded away.

Next season brought with it a slew of issues. The AC refused to start as there was no refrigerant. Our first complaint was again met by service guys that said they did not understand what was going wrong. They could not even track the missing refrigerant. Our next 3 complaints were met with deaf ears as we finally put out a tweet to daikin India. They did send someone new that found the leak due to faulty installation but plugged it up and then refilled the refregirant which we will have to pay for. It did not work!

Service guy finally tracking the leak
Service guy finally tracking the leak
Pressure gauge attached for a day
Pressure gauge attached for a day

The AC works for a few minutes and then shuts down due to some error L5 or H6. These indicate either a problem with the AC compressor or the electronics. Our unit still does not work and the summary is as follows.

a. All this happened within 15 months of purchase.
b. Around a dozen complaints registered and a months of time, money and mental torture.
c. Daikin engineers have no Idea why this is happening.
d. Out of warranty means that we pay for everything that gets replaced. AND No Warranty For Spare Parts.! If they put in the wrong part and a month later they fail- you are screwed.
e. No one will listen to your complaints since Daikin India has little or No service staff that is trained to handle Inverter ACs

At the time of this writing, we have already talked to more than 2 dozen people who have faced problems with daikin installations. Our lawyer is preparing an application on our behalf and we will be filing a petition in the Indian Consumer Court. We are also taking to local news papers to convey our message across.

Buying Guide.

1. When you are in the market for buying an AC the first thing you should ask around is about the customer support and service history. Buy the brand that people have already bought and they have had a complaint serviced.

2. Buying an Inverter AC- Sure! but again ask your vendor about service and spare parts warranty. We have review an LG front Load machine where the Company was willing to extend your warranty at a cost.

3. Split ACs require piping and installation. Ask your installation engineer to give you a receipt. Make sure he is from an authorized center. If there is an installation problem by the authorized guys then you are more or less covered.

4. If your AC does not perform as expected, do no pay the installation charges. You are a paying customer and companies like Daikin India do not appreciate the business we are giving them.

We hope our experience will help you in making a decision. We will be updating this article when there is any progress.

 

TI Fuel Tank BoosterPack & MSP430F5529 Launchpad – Review

TI Fuel Booster PackDisclamer: I respect the work put in my every design engineer. I understand that they did the best job that they could and will learn over time. This text is in no way telling anyone that they did a bad job. I’m just suggesting changes which may or may not be practical or even usefu

Introduction:
I started out very excited and looking at the specs, the big picture was very nice. When I started working with the kit, things really did not go as planned and this review is more of a rant than anything. Ti Should take notes and if they are really interested in the hobby market, they should take my suggestions into consideration.
Lets begin. Continue reading “TI Fuel Tank BoosterPack & MSP430F5529 Launchpad – Review”