Senior Design 1 - Tips, Tricks, Troubleshooting


Get hype, I'm about to make the lives of you future students so much easier.

It won't give you everything you need, but hopefully I can speed up your troubleshooting and get you started earlier.  My goal here is to make it so that we can focus more on doing the project and less on wrestling the Q4 board.  


Install the following programs

For Quanser interfacing - all the computer engineers in the group should do this.  

Matlab 2017b (Not a.  I know Kapadia says a, don't use a.  There are some additional setup steps you have to do if you use a.  Use b.  Don't use a newer version because the Quanser files we have don't work beyond 2017, trust me I tried.  )

*With the following add-ins:  

Simulink real-time

Visual Studio 20xx (andrew what is it)?  Needed to compile things in a way that can talk with simulink 

For the website - part of the class is to build a website, you should use Adobe Muse for this.  Trust me. 

Adobe Muse 

Email <this email> stating that you want access to your people page.  

Here's mine:

For 3D modelling

Fusion 360 - if no one in your group has 3D modelled before, use this.  It's 10x easier to use than solidworks, I exclusively use it for my 3D modelling needs.  

Solidworks - meh

OpenScad - in case you find a nice parameterized file that you need to edit.  Download this only if oyu need it 

Obviously you'll also want a GroupMe for your group, a shared google drive folder shared with everyone (and go ahead and make separate folders for Project 1/2/3/4, Pictures and Videos, and 3D printing design files).  Use Google Docs for the reports.  Use a separate Google Sheet to keep track of your expenses so you can reimburse everyone in the end.  


I'll make this pretty later

Before you check anything else:
Matlab pin numbers start counting at 1, but the board is labelled starting at 0. Is your thing plugged into the correct pin?
Is the amplifier on?
Is the simulation running?
Is the lab power supply (if you're using it) turned on?
Q4 pins sometimes are broken or burnt out, try a different pin?

DC Motor
When we tell it to move a direction, it starts turning and never stops. --> Your plug to the amplifier is probable wired in reverse. Connect the current + to - and vice versa
Not turning but encoder works --> Is your amplifier turned on? Correct ports? Wiggle the rear ribbon cable on the Q4 board, if it gets loose nothing will move
Motor "singing" making noise after moving to position - try changing your PID tuning, or just live with it.

Stepper motor
Inconsistent movement - this is just a part of life with moving the stepper motor with the Quanser board and simulink. We recommend homing the motor as often as possible so that it doesn't have as long to drift.
Making awful noises or not moving at all - try a different PWM frequency, probably slower.
Too slow - Try changing the <resolution?> of the simulink file itself, so that the board can output a faster PWM
Not enough torque - try a higher voltage so that it can get more power out of the same current. Can also try a different driver that can provide more current.

Servo motor
Beforehand: The small, cheap SG90 servo motors are very easy to burn out. This typically happens when you try to grip something for an extended period of time, like 2 minutes straight. The motor will continue to use power when it can't reach a certain position, so if you tell it to close to 5 degrees but it can only close to 25 degrees it will pull current and heat up indefinitely and after a few minutes will overheat. To avoid this make sure it's only closed for a few seconds at a time, and not trying to close too much beyond where it needs to be.
Spins freely without resistance - You killed it. Get a new one.
Not moving the full 180 degrees with the Q4 board - I didn't find a fix for this. Design your project to work with just 160 degrees of movement

Jacob Thompson

Clemson, SC

© 2020 By Jacob Thompson

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