Learning to do things and doing them at the same time

It’s funny, I have parallel mixed feelings about everything we’re doing right now.


So first there’s designing a PCB. I feel that learning and applying right after is really making it sink in and stick to my brain, and to me that’s the right way to learn things. The tools we’re using are great – nifty, powerful and not so hard to use (they only have one flaw : they run on Windows).


But then there’s the other thing : finding the right electronic parts and components to do what we want to do. And these are real questions I shall post on the mailing list. Having chosen where we’re gonna use that Kalman thing, we need to figure out how hard in terms of calculations it will be and how much hardware calculus power it will require – and how do we do that ?

And then there are all the other components : in particular, there’s the accelerometer and the gyroscope. Not at all innocently, there’s a bundle including both in the ongoing PCB design lab. How to figure out wether it fits our need ? We’d need to see what kind of accuracy it has, what order of magnitude it deals with compared to that of our ball and of the numeric characteristics of its motion, right ? And same goes for a magnetometer I guess. Though for this it’s sensitivity to surrounding magnetic fields that will be the problem it should avoid.

So we’re learning how to choose components and parts while we’re choosing them – and there it feels totally impossible ! But I think what made the difference is having a teacher telling us what we should know prior to working on our own (like we had this morning) versus being on our own from the start and making decisions not knowing how it works. To use far too extreme an analogy, I’d say it’s like jumping off a plane with a parachute, with or without having been told how to open it. In one case you enjoy the ride and make the best out of it, in the other you wast precious seconds trying to figure it out – and you just hope that it opens long enough before you hit the ground.

Also, I started the Android development tutorial on Site du Zero. As usual, high quality. I already had Eclipse (and a whole PACT’s worth f experience in Java programming) and I downloaded the Android tools as well as a phone simulator that Eclipse loads programs on. A few things still need fixing before I can move on.

Charles THIN

ROSE 2013

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