Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gencon - post-event report

GenCon 2012 is over, and we're back home.  I had an amazing time - mostly due to the events I was in, as I scheduled too many gaming events and didn't have time for much else.

The convention was, as usual, crazily crowded.  The sprawl of the convention - including the convention center itself and the attached hotels - seems to expand every year.  This year I didn't even get to many of the outlying hotels, as nearly everything I had to do was in the main convention center and I didn't have much time to explore.  The nearby restaurants seemed crowded, at least what I could see of them - there was actually a line to get into the Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch on Friday!  There was a biker event in town Friday and Saturday, and I think a concert or two as well, which just added to the crowds and noise.

I was not able to spent much time showing off the robot for people.  The battery pack in the robot has been losing capacity for a while.  I knew it was happening, but didn't realize how bad it was getting until this weekend, when attempting multiple full charge-discharge cycles revealed how bad the problem had become.  By Friday night, the battery would no longer take any significant charge, and I retired the robot for the weekend.  Time to buy a new battery pack - and this time, I think I may buy several and design to be able to swap them out easily.

The Towardpro MG996r servos I had been using since last year were pretty badly worn - despite the unexpected inclusion of brass bosses around the gear shafts, there was significant wear and damage to the servo cases.  My usual supplier of these servos was out of stock, so I ordered a batch from an Ebay retailer.  Big mistake - the servos I received were labeled the same, but not built nearly as well internally!  It appears that even cheap knockoff brands have their own cheaper imitators.  I ended up using a mixed batch of the better of the old and new servos, including at least one servo made from the case of one of the original batch and the gears of one of the newer ones.  The servos held up well for the convention, but they weren't run very hard due to the battery problems.  I'll have to order a complete replacement set - from a reputable dealer - before the next big event.

Or, I might just design something completely new for next year.  Having access to a 3D printer opens all sorts of options for new designs.

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