Dogs and cats and micromouse

By | September 16, 2012

Not many of us have the luxury of developing a micromouse in a laboratory environment. Although, thinking about it, some of the very best mice do indeed enjoy that benefit. Like most, I work in a spare room at home. Technically, it is a spare bedroom and so it is naturally going to get its fair share of dust and fluff. Also, we have a dog and they tend to shed hairs. So what? Well, today my mouse found a new way to go wrong.

Try as I might, I could not keep it going straight. It had a tendency to drift of to the left. Since IK had been doing a lot of work on the steering code, I naturally thought I had messed it up some how.

It took a disappointingly long time for me to realise the problem was mechanical rather than software. The left wheel was distinctly more reluctant to turn then the right wheel but I could not see why. After an examination with a good light and a magnifier, the reason became apparent. A fine dog hair caught around the axle but behind the bronze bearing up against the motor case.

As it wound round the axle, it had jammed the bearing a little and the extra load was not compensated for by the motor controller. Removing the hair was a delicate matter. It was tightly wound and if I broke it without and end showing, I could not think how I could get it out. That could cost me a motor. I don’t have a spare available and even if I did, replacing the motor would make that dog hair very expensive.

Eventually, it came free and things seem to have returned to normal. If anyone has a good suggestion on how to remove stuff like this, I am only too happy to hear it. Really though, I don’t need this with only two working evenings to go before a major contest.

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