It lives again... almost...

SpaceOrb drivers and software discussions
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vputz
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It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » November 13 2016, 18:31 PM

Okay, folks, REALLY SORRY this is taking so long. Turns out moving and other stresses took a lot out of me, but things are calming, it's my birthday, I finally opened the right boxes, and the old project seems to be reviving.



I'm talking to the new chip on a breadboard, trying to use a crystal-less approach since we'll be getting USB "start-of-frame" signals from the USB. The good news is... well, it seems to work, seeing as I'm communicating with the chip via USB and I've physically pulled the the crystal out. The bad news, I guess, is that I'm not sure WHY it works :) I'm borrowing code left and right and the code on the data sheet doesn't really match what I'm seeing in the actual code.



Right now, though... MAN DO WE HAVE MORE SPACE if this works. I uploaded the "BasicJoystick" sketch which is about 22k, and since the old AtMega32u4 had only 32k flash (not counting the bootloader) we were a little close. Now, with about 256k flash, we've got hilarious amounts of room to spare.



Curiously, it's only showing up under "USB Game Devices" as an "Orbo", but it does show the right six-axis sixteen-button report. I don't have a serial port on the breadboard but I ordered a serial breakout so we should have orb comm soon and we'll see what we REALLY have.



But for now... I gotta say, I'm excited again. We should have more progress in the next few weeks, and I'll have to redesign the basic board, but at least we're making steps forward again. If I get a good response from the orb once connecting it, and the breadboard design works, I'll push forward for a PCB and we'll start serious testing. Probably won't make Christmas quite, but we'll be close.


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mugsy
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby mugsy » December 20 2016, 17:21 PM

hey man,

didn't see this before i pm'd you.

looks great, i'll be sure to keep up to date.

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » December 22 2016, 10:49 AM

Yeah, sorry for the delays on all this. Minor update: since we're getting some timing signal from the USB, I've been able to lose the crystal and two capacitors from the above, and it still seems to be programmable and work nicely under the Arduino, although I'm not completely sure I've got the setup code right (which makes me worried, but it works fine so far). Family's here for the holidays but January is going to be a good month for work. I screwed up the design once more (the programming port isn't connected correctly on the new prototypes) but it's looking positive once I get free time back. I've promised myself an oscilloscope if I get the thing out the door.



If any of the protos start working successfully, I'll be willing to send 'em out for testing. Sorry this is taking so long!

3dpro
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby 3dpro » February 01 2017, 14:22 PM

So... How did January go? :)

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » February 01 2017, 18:11 PM

Rather well, actually! See the post "'bout damn time". We're there. I have one or two small modifications to make (I want to move the programming connector about 0.1") and I'm still torn on the stupid USB connection so I'm going to try and make a modification that allows a "plug the board directly into the USB socket" for another test round. But the new chip and everything seems to work, so we'll be doing small production runs soon!

3dpro
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby 3dpro » February 03 2017, 10:10 AM

Sweet! I was just refreshing this thread once a day, without keeping an eye on the board.



Really looking forward to trying this! Let us know when we can order!

Agent_13
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby Agent_13 » March 06 2017, 15:05 PM

Awesome!! Can't wait! I'm excited about building the wireless BlueTooth Spaceorb we discussed. I'll make a guide and post it here if it all works out well. I was thinking that there may be resurgence of interest in these devices with all the happenings in the VR controller world. I was playing a VR game called Firma and was amazed to look down at the controller in the hands of my virtual self and see a six axis ball controller. SpaceOrb is such a perfect fit with VR. You're the man! Keep up the good work!

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » March 28 2017, 14:32 PM

Thanks :) Okay, SORRY for the delays, I think we're at a final board model now and I just need some parts to make the next three. This is a somewhat simplified version; I got rid of several components to simplify the build and get price a little lower, with the catch that it must be connected via USB (so not standalone).



Sorry again for the delays; it's been a fairly busy time and I've had a lot of other commitments. But I've shipped one prototype out and it seems to work great, so it's time for a small run.

Agent_13
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby Agent_13 » March 28 2017, 16:18 PM

[quote="vputz"]Thanks :) Okay, SORRY for the delays, I think we're at a final board model now and I just need some parts to make the next three. This is a somewhat simplified version; I got rid of several components to simplify the build and get price a little lower, with the catch that it must be connected via USB (so not standalone).



Sorry again for the delays; it's been a fairly busy time and I've had a lot of other commitments. But I've shipped one prototype out and it seems to work great, so it's time for a small run.[/quote]




Thanks for the update. Does this mean there will be no way to add a BlueTooth module and a battery pack? It really doesn't matter. Just sounded like a fun project.

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » March 29 2017, 11:20 AM

Agent_13:



Not with this board directly--all it will do is the USB connection. I'd thought about exposing enough to do it, or trying to embed a bluetooth-capable chip like the Nordic Bluetooth NRFXXX chips, but it came down to trying to get this done and as simple (low part count) as possible. Additionally, there's not that much room inside the orb case to add another board and a battery pack while interfacing with the serial port... it's such a chunky connector you'd have to just drop the connector and solder directly from board to board, and once you get that far it starts getting awfully tempting to just drop the internal board completely and take inputs directly from the ball and switch sensors -- which would be a fun project but of use to fewer people.



Which doesn't actually mean I've dropped the idea of a cordless orb, but since it would be even more of a nice product than the Orbotron... well, I'd just construct a one-off solution out of stock parts.



One embarassing admission is that the Orbotron functionality can essentially be made by putting a serial shield on an Arduino M0-style board and uploading the right software--it just won't be as small or work out of the box, but that's essentially how I prototyped it--and sadly the Orbotron won't be much cheaper because I can't take advantage of economies of scale and I literally solder these together (actually my wife does right now most of the time). What that does mean, though, is that you could probably take a board like the Adafruit Feather M0 BlueFruit LE, which has bluetooth onboard, throw an interface board with a Max232 or ADM232 like I use with the serial port, and get a bluetooth-enabled orb (with a bunch of lightly painful programming). You just have a bit of additional hardware and a battery pack necessary.



A similar and perhaps as effective (if not more flexible) solution may come in the form of the Raspberry Pi Zero W, which is a gumstick-size board with wireless, bluetooth, and USB in (the Pi 3 would work as well, just cost more; the Pi Zero W is $10, half the cost of a cheap Arduino!). It'd be a frankenboard solution, with the Orbotron plugging into the Pi Zero USB and the Pi relaying via bluetooth, but if you had a general software solution for the Pi integrating USB controllers and representing them as a bluetooth controller, you could play some really interesting games with interfaces, "fusing" multiple input devices into one, things like that. The idea of a "controller integrator" has been on my mind for many years, so I may think about that after these get out the door.

Agent_13
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby Agent_13 » March 29 2017, 14:23 PM

Very interesting indeed. I can think of many uses for a Joystick Integrator in hardware form. I've never looked into how the Ball Sensor actually works. Is it an analog device? I imagine it using Hall Effect Sensors or something along that line. The Bluetooth idea is totally unnecessary. I just was thinking it would be a fun project. I have been having a better time building controllers and tinkering than playing the games I'm making them for. I must be getting old.



On a different note, I have an idea that stems from something I have been tinkering with for the last week. A software solution I've been using lately for the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse is "ControlMyJoystick". 3Dconnexion provides HID drivers in their software package but they are pretty useless because there are no axis tuning options provided. What ControlMyJoystick does is it gives you individual tuning for each axis, as well as voice control (much like Voice Attack), macro and profile creation. The software seems to be centered around the SpaceMouse but I wonder if other devices could be added in. If that would be the case then possibly it could be used on top of the Orbotron "Basic Joystick" Sketch to enable an easy way to make per-axis sensitivity adjustments without having to edit a Sketch (much like the original SpaceOrb software did). Check it out when you can, if you haven't already.

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » March 31 2017, 15:05 PM

[quote]I have been having a better time building controllers and tinkering than playing the games I'm making them for. I must be getting old.[/quote]

Same here; almost always been the case. I "grew up" gaming-wise in the complex Thrustmaster days of Mechwarrior, Freespace, and X-Wing, and half the fun of those complex sims was trying to figure the ideal mapping of commands to device, which is why I keep this up.


[quote]Very interesting indeed. I can think of many uses for a Joystick Integrator in hardware form.[/quote]

I've always wanted one, for the same reason: I always imagined controlling my in-game spacecraft with a huge array of switches and levers, but there was no way to integrate parts. Unfortunately the integration would still involve a lot of configuration, and since Microsoft screwed everything up by introducing XInput instead of using the more open HID stuff, everything nowadays understands "X-box controller" but not arbitrary remappings. I still can't find a good way for the orb to natively show up as an XInput controller (software can do it, at least, much like ControlMyJoystick. I'll check that one out when I have a chance).


[quote]I've never looked into how the Ball Sensor actually works. Is it an analog device?[/quote]

Surprisingly I've never taken one apart myself; I should do that for the record, but I don't have a ton of spares. It's a lot weirder than you think--it has to do with reflection and occlusion of LEDs, if I remember right--which (search, search...) aha: [url=http://www.sumobrain.com/patents/wipo/Force-torque-converter/WO1995003527A1.pdf]zee patent![/url]



This mechanism isn't the only way to do a 6dof controller, though. For a few years after its demise (I'm the patron saint of abandoned controllers) I used my Novint Falcon as a 3dof controller--it's basically a "reverse delta robot", and if you could add the rotational axes (potentiometers even might be good enough) you could get 6dof in that sort of format. And I've always been curious about a "reverse Stewart platform", which has been done before too ([url=http://felixros.com/stewart.html]here[/url], for example).



Eh, in another life I would have been able to devote tons of time to human-machine interaction; I really enjoy it. Ah well; makes a fun hobby :)

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » April 03 2017, 7:31 AM

I'M A STINKIN' IDIOT.



Okay, guys, I really have to apologize for this one. Since the one worked so well, I built up a few more... and they all failed in exactly the same way: they were supplying 4.4 volts to the 3.3v processor. I was completely mystified--the one I sent away to a tester worked 100% flawlessly!



Search, search, think, think. The schematic was fine, the build was fine... AAAAAAH I'M USING A 5V SERIAL CHIP TO TALK TO A 3.3V PROCESSOR. Their power supplies were different but evidently the logic level adjustment was too much and it's somehow feeding high voltage back to the processor via the logic lines. I'd thought I could get away with that--and as the first prototype worked great, I clearly COULD for some parts... the datasheet says output voltage is about 3.5v so I figured it would work. But I took one of the bad "4.4v" boards, clipped off the serial converter chip, and it dropped down to 3.3v without flaw; I have to go to work so I can't try programming it yet.



I may be able to convince these few boards to work with a little wrestling (it worked for the first one!); in the mean time I'll try to find a 3.3v part that will work (the MAX3232 or compatibles like the SP3232 should do the trick; they're pin-compatible so I just need minor adjustments to the schematic).



Problem is just another few weeks for the new board to come in. I'll try to get the schematic today and if I can work some wizardry on these (like programming them at 3.3v and then attaching the serial chip, which may be what happened last time) I may have a couple one-offs to send to people.



Frustratingly I just bought a bunch of the 5v serial chips. Wonder if I can return 'em...

vputz
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby vputz » April 03 2017, 11:06 AM

Ok, got a couple candidates for the 3.3v serial converters ordered.



One possible problem is that some versions of the Orb relied on higher voltage than is maybe common (for a while there were even add-on "battery packs" to provide enough juice for them, and if you've ever had an orb to which the buttons responded but the ball didn't, it was usually that problem. So I'm a little worried that the lower-voltage serial converters may not supply enough juice.



That's not a deadlock, because if necessary I can still use the 5v chips and a logic level conversion, but it's just a concern. I'll do the schematic mods tonight and get another order running, and still may be able to convince these "4.4v" boards to do something (I think with the prototype I might have programmed the chip first and THEN added the serial converter or some such...).



Gah, stupid noob mistake though.

Agent_13
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Re: It lives again... almost...

Postby Agent_13 » April 09 2017, 13:06 PM

Vic,

I really don't believe it is a voltage problem. As we have discussed in the past, I have had this problem with the Orbshield/Arduino and I feel that it has to do with some code that is not getting written to the Arduino, or data corruption of some sort. Just as a reminder--One out of a thousand times i write to the the Arduino it will work flawlessly (both buttons and axis working). I can rewrite the same sketch back to the same board with the same cable and usb port, and I'm back to the "buttons only" problem. I purchased 2 new Unos (one official Arduino, and one off-brand) and both exhibit the same symptoms. I have also tried several different builds of the Arduino environment. The times that I have gotten them to work I have plugged it into several different computers just to make sure it is not a fluke, and it functions perfectly across all computers. I know it all sounds crazy, and I wouldn't believe it myself if i hadn't experienced it. A few month ago I downloaded a new version of the Arduino environment because I was thinking that the problem stemmed from a bug in their software and was hoping it had been fixed by then. I wrote the basic joystick sketch to the official Uno board and it worked! first try! I moved it to my Laptop and sure enough it worked on there as well. I plugged it back into my Desktop and it still worked there. I then rewrote the same sketch and it went back to buttons only. I did a hard reboot and rewrote again and still had buttons only. I moved the Orbshield back to my original Uno (that I purchased at the time that I purchased the Orbshield) and it works as always. One time that I got the sketch to work I used it for months without a hitch and it did so unit I wrote another sketch. I have tried everything from writing the sketch through usb 2.0, usb 3.0, different computers with different usb chipsets, and different operating systems (win10,7,XP). I have also tried high quality filtered usb cables, and updated the usb chipset drivers (which I have found windows update does not do). In summary, when I get the sketch to take it will work forever, as long as I don't make any changes and write to the Arduino again. Sorry this is so long winded. I just would hate to see you put a bunch of time chasing a voltage problem that may not exist. Best luck.


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