Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SnoMote Testing

As the field test of the SnoMote approaches, it is important to first verify all of the hardware and software components are operational in a lab setting. As you can see from the picture, I am in the process of assembling a SnoMote for testing. The circuit board in the back is a Gumstix processor, a low-power computer running a custom version of the Linux operating system. This computer is responsible for controlling the drive motor and steering servo, communicating with the GPS, and logging the science sensor data.

To check out the driving functions of the rover, I setup a joystick on my computer and transmit the joystick positions to the rover as steering commands. This can be seen in the few seconds of video below.
video

Finally, the science data communication system has been tested. During the driving functions test, logging was enabled. The SnoMote system periodically checks for network connectivity via a cellular modem. When available, all new log files are transmitted to the web server for use with the "Data Explorer" page. If you check now, there should be a log file available from today, meaning the test was successful. However, as it is currently raining in Georgia, I am forced to do my testing in our lab basement. The GPS signal does not work well down here, so it thinks I am somewhere in Sweden. Oh well.

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