PhysComp, week 6: Bride of Serial Out

This week’s lab was mostly uneventful, although it took me something like six hours to do—I started after our CommLab make-up class ended, around 4 pm, and stayed until nine or ten.

First I thought I’d use one of these nifty sensors I got from SparkFun,

PComp lab, week 5: Serial Out

but then I realized I have no idea how you’re supposed to hook them up. Stick the pins straight into the breadboard? Solder wires on? How long should the wires be? So instead I used the stupid knob again, plus one of the IRs I bought for our midterm project.

The thrill of the knob has totally worn off. Then I saw Jorge soldering wires to an ultrasonic range finder just like the one I have, and I thought maybe it was a good time to try out my own. Ha! Thus began one of my more frustrating soldering bouts so far.

Helping hands

It must have taken me forty-five minutes to solder three freaking wires onto this cookie . . . and then it took me another hour to realize that the reason it wasn’t working was that I’d soldered the yellow wire to the wrong hole. And then I couldn’t get it unsoldered to save my life, so I just attached a fourth wire.

Finally I got them all hooked up:

1 digital + 2 analog

And then, there was serial output:

Et cetera.

After all that hair-pulling, the ultrasonic sensor was giving me really erratic readings (then again, so was the push-button switch: its value didn't change when I pushed the button, but it did when I touched the button). So I switched to two IR sensors, since I had so many lying around.

Then I got to the part about the handshake. Handshaking? Was not happening for me. I think it may have had something to do with this:

PhysComp homework, week 6: serial out 2: 15 PhysComp homework, week 6: serial out 2: 16

The Processing application was looking for the word "hello," but the Arduino didn't seem to be able to say the word without stuttering horribly. I tried for more than an hour, I think, to get them to talk to each other, but finally I had to just give up.

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