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Catching a Bus: Prototyping a wireless robot control box with MikroElektronika Click Boards

Bill Marshall
Engineer, PhD, lecturer, freelance technical writer, blogger & tweeter interested in robots, AI, planetary explorers and all things electronic. STEM ambassador. Designed, built and programmed my first microcomputer in 1976. Still learning, still building, still coding today.


June 3, 2020 09:31

Hmmmm. About your comment of touch screen joying. Did you know that the Dragon is flown by touchscreen? The astronauts don't have joy sticks. It's how your write the programme that counts. Not the technology. I've seen people fly drones with those pesky little screens. The programme used the phone's accelerometers

0 Votes

June 4, 2020 07:44

@torontofred I agree it's not about the technology - hardware or software. It's the human factors or ergonomics that matter. The Crew Dragon has a touchscreen HMI for manual control with 'soft joysticks'. The 'flying' consists of firing thrusters to keep on-screen crosshairs over the ISS docking target superimposed on the same screen. The task is pretty simple, but the spacecraft dynamics make it very difficult to do and it requires a lot of training on a simulator. Fortunately, it's all done so slowly, for safety reasons! Take a look at the video in the following link of Doug Hurley manually driving the spacecraft: What makes this elegant interface usable? The 'weightless' environment. Imagine having to use muscle power to hold your fingers close to the screen for more than a few seconds. Imagine too if many rapid actions are required with your focus away from the touch pads. Yes it can be done - but it increases the scope for missing the right button in a stressful situation. Even modern airliners have manual controls that require continuous input - not just occasional taps on a screen, which is why the Airbus A380 has a 'mechanical' joystick attached to a comfortable armrest. Boeing have chosen to retain the old-fashioned steering yokes on their aircraft. Both these systems allow the pilot to remain 100% focused on the instruments or the view through the window. I still have an original AR Drone controlled by an iPhone through it's tilt accelerometers. It was very difficult to fly as you tried to watch the camera view while waving the phone around!

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