Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Department of Backstory

Some days, writing code is fun.  Other days, not so much.  For me, the realization that all the code I had written in more than three years did nothing more than change pixels on a screen or twiddle bits on a hard drive meant it was time to start something new.

With a Robotics background, I've done a fair amount of code that really interacts with the physical world.  But some of the most enjoyable work has been small, embedded projects - just enough interaction with the 'real' world, but not so complex as a multi-computer system driving a full-size car autonomously.  A friend mentioned Arduino - one search and purchase later, and I was off to the races.

But what to build?  I needed a real project to work towards - changing the color of an LED based on words in an RSS feed is a neat trick, but not something I really want.  I'd need to think of something I wanted to buy, but might be able to build myself instead.

My first thought: an automotive datalogger.  How cool would it be to watch my in-car footage, and during playback be able to see, in fine detail, what I'm doing with the car - throttle, brake, steering input - just for starters?  Add in accelerometers, GPS mapping, any amount of data from the ECU, and it starts to get really interesting.  There's plenty of off-the-shelf systems for this, and they're all pretty expensive.  Definitely an interesting project, but maybe a little too complex to start with.

So, simpler than a datalogger, but something I still want to buy.

Wait-a-minute, I keep looking a buying a 'rally computer' - basically just a high precision odometer.  Fairly simple functionality - primarily just measuring mileage at a higher resolution than the stock odometer gives us, plus a little bit of menu-driven setup.  And, if thinking it was do-able wasn't enough, someone else had already had the same idea as me - rallyduino.  So, that's where I'm starting.

No comments:

Post a Comment