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All-Analog DIY Segway Project

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-out-some-cliff-insurance-buddy dept.

Hardware Hacking 141

An anonymous reader writes "One of the zany hacker-makers here at MIT just finished this DIY Segway project (video). Difference from the others: it's all analog. The controller is built without a microprocessor or even digital logic. It does use a gyroscope like the real Segway. The functionality looks fairly basic, but the fact that the controller works at all is amazing. The guy has a ton of other projects on his site too. Definitely worth a read for people who enjoy building things."

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141 comments

and here we have a hacker (5, Funny)

chronoss2010 (1825454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526300)

a real one that invents and makes stuff...imagine that , quick arrest the terrorist(/sarcasm)

Re:and here we have a hacker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526312)

Oh, you must be on the fringe, man. Real insightful into world events? Eh?

Frankly I will fucktards like you would just learn to keep things in perspective and shut the fuck up until you really have something worthwhile to say.

Re:and here we have a hacker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526484)

lol u mad bro?

Re:and here we have a hacker (2)

jobst (955157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526778)

would you please carefully read the ENTIRE message including the very last word, please!

Re:and here we have a hacker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527232)

I have a huge penis.

It's so large I have to keep it wrapped around my neck and then tucked down my pant leg.

At public urinals, I just reach down and drag it out so basically no one knows.

My girlfriend Simone (did I also mention I'm devilishly handsome) is scared of its size. I can only jam about 10% of it into her, so it's not much fun for either of us.

A friend told me to try female elephants, cause he figured they could take the length and girth, but it's hard to get to get them to stand still. Also if they see me coming, they take one look at it and run away, so I have to sneak up on them from behind in the dark, which is harder than it sounds.

Also, when I come, it's a couple of quarts per time, which has its own disadvantages. For one thing, when I'm whacking it, I have to use a come bucket, or there's just jizz everywhere. Also it's too much for Simone, so I have to whip it out and paint the wall. The clean up takes hours.

Also I have to be really careful in public, If I see a really cute chick, there's clothes ripping which makes The Hulk's transformation look like Sunday school. It's no fun trying to sneak away half naked carrying an erection the size of a boogie board.

So, I deal with it the best I can: you guys who "wish you had more" should be thankful for what you got. Having a python lurking in your tighty whities is no picnic.

Re:and here we have a hacker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527428)

Swine!

I have a penis that makes yours look like a toothpick.

It's so long and thick I have to put wheels under it and disguise it as a Saint Bernard.

Despite being irresistibly handsome, I have no girlfriends because my last one ended up in hospital just from the foreplay.

The only sexual partners I can find are orcas, and I can tell you it's no fun sneaking over the fence, diving into the pool with my telephone pole, and avoiding the sharp teeth. On the other hand, they really enjoy it, and I think at least one is inn love with me.

So stop whining, mini-dick! You've got a pencil lead compared to what I have to deal with.

Re:and here we have a hacker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527622)

Hello.

I am a mincing, prancing, limp wristed, lisping homosexual, and all this talk about behemoth penises is getting me very excited.

In fact I'm typing with one hand...

The vibrating buttplug I've got jammed up my ass is also doing its work and I think I'm about to spoo!

Auuggggh! I am on the forefront of carnal jubilation!

Aiyee! I expostulate!

Thank you, /., for allowing a forum for sissy boys like me to find the best written porn on the net...

Ciggie?

Re:and here we have a hacker (-1, Offtopic)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526436)

Mod parent up as FUNNY!

Re:and here we have a hacker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526622)

Modded Offtopic; the ~ tag is missing.

SEGFAULT (5, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526314)

Best. Name. Ever. for this

Re:SEGFAULT (5, Insightful)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526516)

The ultimate SEGFAULT was a sad one, the CEO of Segway dying from running his off a cliff by his home.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/27/jimi-heselden-segway-boss_n_739983.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Re:SEGFAULT (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526572)

The ultimate SEGFAULT was a sad one, the CEO of Segway dying from running his off a cliff by his home.

And dutifully posted on /. [slashdot.org]

Actually, not CEO. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526598)

Owner. We didn't have a CEO; we do have a COO. Jimi was never directly involved in the dealings of Segway, per-se.

Re:Actually, not CEO. (1, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526644)

Owner. We didn't have a CEO; we do have a COO.

Too bad you didn't have a CSO*

*Chief Safety Officer

Re:Actually, not CEO. (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528170)

There wasn't any defect in the design or manufacture of the Segway. He had a dangerous location on his own property, an area where one could have just as easily had an accident on a bike or a skateboard. It wasn't a place for any company officer. It's sad that he died, but at least he was doing something he enjoyed. If it were me, I'd rather have gone that way than in a car wreck or hospital or from a heart attack while too fat in front of a television set.

Re:SEGFAULT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34528300)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1213891/Driver-ended-teetering-cliff-edge-guilty-blindly-following-sat-nav-directions.html

Motors + Men = Moronicity

Controllers were analog before they were digital. (4, Informative)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526316)

Digital controllers -emulate- analog behavior (at least many of them do). There's a pantload of research and science behind analog control.

My thoughts exactly (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526404)

Why is it amazing that an analog control system works?

Re:My thoughts exactly (4, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526524)

Kids these days couldn't imagine trying to implement a PID controller without a microprocessor. It does make it easy to watch what is going on.

Watching large governors [wikipedia.org] work is pretty cool. No electronics to speak of. Just a properly tuned set of weights and some geometry.

Re:My thoughts exactly (3, Interesting)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527026)

Actually, they are pretty awesome even at a small scale. I took a small engines class once, where we each where given a lawn mower engine to tear down and rebuild. Lawn mowers have governors in them (dinky little plastic ones usually) butI swear, we spent several hours playing with them once we got down that far into the engines.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527256)

Mr. F. Flintstone of Bedrock writes: "When I was a kid, all we had to make PID controllers with were rocks, mud, and sticks, and we LIKED it! (Although the op amp bandwidth was bad. I mean, really bad.)"

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527646)

Yes, but ultimately this particular project is still probably pointless. He won't do better than the Segway already does. The best he could hope for would be to do the same, cheaper.

THAT is a worthwhile goal. Price is the only thing that has kept the Segway back.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528028)

I wonder which would last longer? The one with microprocessors or the analog one?

Price might not be the ultimate deciding factor if it could be demonstrated to last significantly longer than the Segway, which would make an equivalent price point seem more attractive.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528280)

Passive components have always been shown to last longer than active ones, therefore the analog controller will last longer. There's nothing much to break unless you burn it out.

Re:My thoughts exactly (2)

Prune (557140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527944)

I built an analog PID temperature controller for my espresso machine (as every coffee geek knows, grouphead temperature variation over about a degree C during the ~25 s extraction noticeably affects the taste). It's one of the rare cases I use opamps. The analog part of all my audio projects always uses transistors or tubes, as chip amps have the problem of thermal variation in the latter stages affecting the input stages which are in the same thermal package. This doesn't show up in a steady signal harmonic distortion measurement but there are specific tests for it. Plus, you can't really experiment with new topologies when you use an IC. Anyway, as a software developer in my day job, I find it a great thing to do analog in my hobby, as it adds a sort of Zen balance. I do now some digital in audio as well, but more out of necessity due to my dissatisfaction with the performance of current digital-analog converters. There is an interesting interplay between the two, though, as well as between electronics in general and the neuropsychology of human hearing which makes perception of distortion poorly correlated with typical engineering metrics such as THD in blind listening tests. 2nd harmonic is inaudible to as much as 1% for most people, for example, while some higher than 3rd harmonics and other distortions suchas crossover (class B or AB amps) and amplitude-to-frequency modulation effects which though tiny occur in many amplifiers, are audible at as little as several ppm (a healthy ear has a 120 dB dynamic range)

Re:My thoughts exactly (3, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526762)

It's not amazing but it's certainly harder. Probably higher part count, more electrical noise to deal with, harder to debug, harder to implement delays and state machines, more wiring etc. It's just impractical for most purposes.

Re:My thoughts exactly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526982)

Harder to design, yes - especially when systems become large. Analog circuitry also has the requirement that each circuit is purpose-built. You can't exactly take one circuit and repurpose it to another task. Digital was designed to be multi-purpose/reprogrammable. And never forget, it's all really analog underneath (i.e. building an analog circuit that's programmable means you end up with a digital system)

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527362)

Troll? Wow. I was just explaining for the benefit of non-EEs why it isn't usually done this way since the advent of inexpensive microcontrollers. This is hardly controversial.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

FrameRotBlues (1082971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527554)

I think I would've given you modpoints if I had any. I was thinking along the same lines you were, though I don't know if I'd agree that it would necessarily be impractical.

Re:My thoughts exactly (4, Interesting)

udippel (562132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527660)

And I have mod points, but don't give you any. 'Troll' is awfully harsh, I agree. I'd rather give you some 'un-informed'.
The higher part count is surely on the side of the digital controller. Just look at the diagrams offered: analog means direct processing of signals, no A/D. Just some op-amps, pwm, done.
Harder to debug? Nonsense. You debug with a voltmeter instead of a logic analyzer.
You are right with respect to advanced controlling, though, like counting, timing, delays. But none is needed here, some filters are just enough, and filters are implemented easier with some RCs around an op-amp. Also, you need a bridge. A bridge is much more simple if build in an analog manner. So your 'just impractical' is a good reason to not give you any mod points. It might be your opinion, and you sure may have one, but to me, an EE with some experience in developing controllers, it doesn't hold water in the case of a gyroscope.

Re:My thoughts exactly (2)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527734)

The higher part count is surely on the side of the digital controller. Just look at the diagrams offered: analog means direct processing of signals, no A/D. Just some op-amps, pwm, done.

How does adding some op-amps and discrete PWM reduce part count ? Have you counted all the resistors and capacitors for the filtering ?

With a digital controller, you can implement the A/D, filtering, control loops, and the motor PWM all inside the same device. You can even avoid some of the A/D stuff by using a accelerometers and gyroscopes with a digital interface.

and filters are implemented easier with some RCs around an op-amp

An RC filter can be implemented in a single line of code on a controller.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527794)

Not a realistic one, though. IOW: tell that to people who code Spice-like modelling software :)

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527822)

True, you can't model a realistic RC filter in one line of code, but you can model a perfect one, which is exactly what you'd want in this case.

Digital has lower part count (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528018)

The higher part count is surely on the side of the digital controller

It may look so, until you realize that all the parts in the digital controller are in a single chip.

When I got my EE degree one of the most widely used analog chips was the 555. With an eight-pin chip plus a few capacitors and resistors one could perform a wide range of timing tasks.

Well, it has been several years now since I last touched a 555. Today I use a 12F675 PIC instead. The same eight-pin count, but it can do anything a 555 does, plus a lot more, without any external components. A/D conversion, PWM, counters, 4 MHz clock oscillator, everything is inside that chip.

Need a filter? I can design an elliptic IIR filter in a few seconds using Pyhton and SciPy, and implement it in a short routine in the PIC. And if those six I/O pins are not enough you can use bigger chips from the same line. The only analog parts needed is the anti-aliasing filter in the A/D input.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528292)

It's not harder if you know electronics. A PID op amp needs only 4 op amps, 9 resistors and 2 capacitors. No need to debug, no electrical noise to worry about no need for state machines and no need for a delay (why would you even want a delay in a PID controller?) Building a microcontroller based PID with A/D in and D/A out is actually a lot harder than that, plus you then have to program it.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526936)

Because such scooters have been developed or to be more precise people tried to invent them before the all digital segway. And they failed. So it is amazing that they were able to do it. It is a little bit an anachronism, because today you try to do all controlling digital. Analog is not precise enough (people think).

Re:My thoughts exactly (4, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527044)

Analog is not precise enough (people think).

Speaking as a controls engineer, they have obviously not done much digital controls. You have to worry about things like sampling rate, aliasing, round-off error, and digital noise introduced into the (inescapably) analog parts of the circuit. For a simple system, a properly-designed analog controller is much easier to implement, and has advantages like "infinite" sampling rate, graceful failure modes, white (gaussian) noise as opposed to odd frequencies introduced by sampling and clock frequencies, and no programming bugs or crashes.

Analog controllers for simple linear systems (like telescope mirrors) are in virtually every spacecraft ever launched for precisely those reasons. Only recently has the push for miniaturization driven some simple systems into digital FPGA controllers.

Re:My thoughts exactly (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527688)

Yes, but the problem is: this ain't it.

His motor driver chips for example (International Rectifier IRS21184), take standard CMOS digital input signals. Digital input, or digital-compatible input, makes no difference. Somewhere along the line you still need to do what amounts to A-D Conversion. Which brings back most of the problems you mentioned.

Unless I misunderstood, and from the spec sheet I don't think so (the schematic shows Schmitt-trigger inputs, which convert analog input to square wave with hysteresis), then no matter what he says, this is an analog-digital hybrid system, not "pure analog" at all.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527830)

What makes the Segway possible isn't its digital control system (that's fairly trivial), it's the sensors. The reason that such scooters didn't exist before is that the consumer-grade accelerometers were not available. Of course inertial guidance systems have existed since WWII, but they were way too expensive and bulky to put in a scooter.

You'll notice that devices containing miniature accelerometers all started appearing around the same time: HD drop sensors (2003), Wii controllers (2006), iPhones (2007), and of course the Segway (2001).

Other reasons that balancing scooters weren't around is that the battery and motor technology wasn't quite up to snuff. You can't sell a motorized scooter that is too heavy, doesn't go fast enough, or doesn't have enough range. Hybrid cars also started appearing at around the same time, too.

The fact of the matter is that once you realize right around 2000 that you can make a balancing scooter, the first thing you think of is using a digital control system. Since a digital control makes it easy to add anti-theft systems, variable speed limits (different keys have different max speeds), and battery charge logic, you would never consider using a purely analog system.

dom

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527048)

He probably "cheated" and designed the whole damn thing on a computer. Anyway, the reason you can't really do stuff like this on an analog system is imo that you'd had to hit a sweet spot with all you're calculations and all the hardware would actually have to do what it was supposed to do; even then the system wouldn't have been able to do proper error checking and recovery if some component went haywire. Yes, he did it with an analog system, but alas it's really of no consequence.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

udippel (562132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527672)

Have you looked at the circuit diagrams?
What do you mean with proper error checking and recovery in this context? You think a digital controller would not make the thing fall over when the gyroscope fails? Are you sure you know what you are talking about here, or just reproducing what you heard in 101 of digital controllers?

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527808)

I'd add a second (or even third) gyroscope and accelerometer, and have the controller compare the inputs. If they are too far apart, the controller goes into "failure mode" where it will cut power to the motor. When they are consistent, you can average the values for lower noise.

Even on the existing design, you can compare the gyroscope and accelerometer.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527054)

Because people are arrogant. They always believe that every generation before them was in the dark ages. Soon they will believe that having no internet was equivalent to living uninformed in a dictatorship.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527712)

"Because people are arrogant. They always believe that every generation before them was in the dark ages. Soon they will believe that having no internet was equivalent to living uninformed in a dictatorship."

Exactly. As opposed to living misinformed in a dictatorship.

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527058)

That's partly true... I mean, we aren't really seeing limits where analog loses points. Like, they need to filter that noise out, which will require more than just reprogramming the DSP. What kind of safety limits does it have built-in? Does it change behavior when it heats up or cools down? Do you have to use trim pots every time you go to use it?

Re:My thoughts exactly (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528344)

Yeah, I did software systems at a company for a decade, then we had a problem come along that just didn't want any software in it's controller, it was much better suited to analog control - 2 variables, inherently stable mechanics, the marketing guys still wanted a flat screen display on the controller to make it "look like a $30K device."

When you've only got one or two control loops, a microprocessor based solution is a lot more complex, costly and failure prone.

Re:Controllers were analog before they were digita (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526576)

Arguably, it goes a lot further back than that: all that research and science on analog control was done by organisms who would be dead before they hit the ground were it not for evolved analog control/feedback systems by the thousand...

Re:Controllers were analog before they were digita (0)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526866)

Digital controllers -emulate- analog behavior (at least many of them do). There's a pantload of research and science behind analog control.

At MIT, if you take 18.03 (differential equations), you see an example of a PID controller to balance a broomstick (inverted pendulum) --- in analog -- which, with not too much generalization, becomes a Segway. It doesn't surprise me in the least that this guy is at MIT.

Re:Controllers were analog before they were digita (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527078)

Just about anyone who took a controls class anywhere is familiar with the inverted pendulum problem and PID controllers. That would be roughly a quarter of EEs in the US and virtually all MEs. That more people don't know about these things is an artifact of control systems not being as glamorous as it once was.

Re:Controllers were analog before they were digita (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527728)

MIT?? This is kid's stuff. The only difference between your broomstick controller and a $20 DIY backyard sun-tracking sundial is that the broom balancer is 2-axis, and has to be faster. Big deal.

Re:Controllers were analog before they were digita (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526928)

For whatever it is worth, my intro controls course lab (in 2006) was taught using an analog computer:
http://www.comdyna.com/gp6intro.htm
Additionally, we were taught the circuitry behind it.

However, it's still cool sort of in the same way as people that launch weather balloons to take pictures of the earth--it's a fun project.

Also, as a control geek, it was really neat looking at the analog controllers on some of the old satellites on display at the Smithsonian air and space museum.

Re:Controllers were analog before they were digita (1)

xded (1046894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528164)

Good luck automatically tuning the analog loop for driver's weight, handlebar bags, quick temperature changes, etc. That's where digital systems show their flexibility.

Still, this makes for one hell of a learning project.

site unavailable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526334)

and the site has been slashdotted.

The Land Before CPUs (4, Funny)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526340)

Why is this amazing "that the controller works at all"? There was a time before microprocessors, you know, and they did fun things like travel in space without them.

Re:The Land Before CPUs (2)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526590)

Sure, but name one moon mission that had and XBox aboard.

Re:The Land Before CPUs (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526660)

I'm not really sure what to make of this comment. You are aware that the Apollo missions used extraordinary advanced integrated circuit computers, right? The Apollo Guidance Computer was no analog computer...

Re:The Land Before CPUs (4, Interesting)

Burdell (228580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526728)

The computers that flew were digital, but the computers that tested them were analog. My father worked on the Saturn V guidance system, and they built one of the earliest "hardware in the loop" simulation setups to test the software and flight-certify the computers that flew. Digital computers of the day were not fast enough to simulate the inputs and monitor the outputs in real time, so the simulation was built with analog computers.

Re:The Land Before CPUs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527174)

"the Apollo missions used extraordinary advanced integrated circuit computers, right?"

No, they didn't. They were obsolete by the time they flew.

Re:The Land Before CPUs (3, Informative)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526806)

Talking about spaceflight, the Russians only recently [wikipedia.org] replaced the analogue Soyuz control system with a fully digital one.

Females?! (4, Funny)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526344)

They are all at MIT?! I'd have studied harder in highschool if they'd only told us.

Re:Females?! (3, Funny)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526654)

They are all at MIT?! I'd have studied harder in highschool if they'd only told us.

The MIT recruiting video sent to my high school might have convinced you.

A pair of serious undergrads, one male and one female, are working in a lab. The glassware is very impressive and filled with bubbling food coloring or whatnot. The lights are low to draw attention to the Science. Then the two look at each other knowingly, sweep the contents of a benchtop onto the floor and start making out atop it to the wail of an electric guitar.

Re:Females?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526904)

They are all at MIT?! I'd have studied harder in highschool if they'd only told us.

It's MIT they're all robots.

Re:Females?! (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526926)

No no they are just robots and avatars of the media lab. Females in CS and engineering? Come on do you believe in Santa Clause? Do you?

Re:Females?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527046)

Females in CS and engineering? Come on do you believe in Santa Clause? Do you?

At MIT, it's Christmas every day.

Re:Females?! (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526990)

At least one of those was a man.

And the project an excuse to impress women with their apparent skill in awkwardly balancing, slowly scooting, and... badly jousting.

403 Forbidden (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526364)

I guess the webserver also is running on an all-analog server, which is now in a "halt and catch fire" state.

Re:403 Forbidden (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526596)

Very hard to say that it is definitely on fire however. It's just somewhere towards the far right hand side of the "Working <-----> Halted, on fire" continuum.

Beautiful Effort (1)

KaeloDest (220375) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526554)

as I understand it the sidewinder missile uses a very primitive analog seeker head. I would imagine that it's evolution is a little more than 'closed' so let's see what this different/open parallel effort leads to

Interestingly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34526562)

The original prototypes of the Segway were all-analog; eventually, for lots of reasons, it was decided digital was a better choice. (My source is... me. Yeah, I work there.)

Addition http error code, instead of 403 forbidden (1)

jobst (955157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526826)

I think slashdot needs to apply for a new http error code at w3, something like:

    601 slashdotted fault, no server response
    602 slashdotted slow, some server response
    603 slashdotted dead, fallen over

I would like to join the chorus (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526834)

Asking how it is "remarkable" that an analog device works as intended. Digital, applied to physical systems, is just emulated analog (necessarily so because, of course, the world is analog).

Re:I would like to join the chorus (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527918)

The holographic principle and the Bekenstein bound show the opposite is the case and the world, including any analog quantity or signal, does not have arbitrary precision. The Planck scale means that spacetime itself is not infinitely differentiable. Your satatement has been knowably wrong since QM was discovered.

The best part... (2)

farnsaw (252018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34526864)

The best part is the shopping cart in the lab holding a jumble of electronics.

Re:The best part... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527014)

Didn't you notice any of the females? Oh, wait, this is /.

Re:The best part... (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527146)

The best part is the shopping cart in the lab holding a jumble of electronics.

I'm an unemployed, homeless software engineer, and those are my worldly possessions, you insensitive clod!

The Tilting Handlebar (1)

Deslack (48390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527148)

Maneuvering the Segfault would be awkward due to that. It shouldn't be that hard to move the switch and make it steer like a bicycle's steering handlebar, which isn't that hard to do at all.

But all in all, they've made the Segway-like device simpler, thus cheaper and easier to manufacture and service. We'll have stuff like this as christmas presents soon enough.

Re:The Tilting Handlebar (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527446)

Two MIT profs were arguing which was smarter.

One pointed at a 14" disk drive and said "I can make that walk across the room."

He keyed in something and after a few seeks it lurched onto two legs and walked across the room.

The other one said "That's nothing; I can make it turn around and go back."

Re:The Tilting Handlebar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527498)

...and I can make it Seek for stuff, and to Park.

Real men do it with op-amps (1)

djhuft (1957384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527322)

Cool, good to know people still do stuff in analog once in a while. Makes you learn those pesky things called differential equations. Of course, all the equations have already been published in about a zillion masters thesis papers... Recreating them in analog circuits just gives you EE street cred.

Analog (1)

twoears (1514043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527538)

As an audiophile I proclaim this as proof that analog is better than digital, but only when ordered with the audiophile version 48 kHz motor controllers to avoid the piercing 6 kHz whine, along with fancy hookup wire.

What a difference lawyers can make (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34527614)

If you don't have to worry about lawsuits, then you can simplify much of the mechanism: no exhaustive testing, no redundant backup circuits, no fault logging, no record keeping, etc.

However, there's nobody to sue when you inadvertently kiss the front of a moving bus.

Next Up: DIY Apollo Landings and Darwin Awards merge.

Re:What a difference lawyers can make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34527958)

Hasn't NASA already recreated that last scene? But with shuttles?

"Hey dad, i wanna go to space!"
"Son... oh son... " ...
"I'm doing it, i'm doing it, i'm going to spa..."
Woops [wikipedia.org]

Patent infringment? (1)

MotorMachineMercenar (124135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34528042)

Hate to point this out, but I'd imagine this project probably infringes on multiple patents on the Segway. The fact that they use different technology isn't a solid defense.

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