Once your Edison robot has been set up correctly, Edison requires very little ongoing maintenance, but there are a few tricks to ensure everything works just right every time. Learning these six tricks will make you a master of Edison dos and don’ts – setting you up for success each time you use your robot.
1. In terms of batteries, Edison always checks the ingredients
It’s not saturated fat Edison is avoiding, but this little robot still wants you to read the label before you buy batteries. If using disposable batteries with Edison, only ever use alkaline batteries. (These are the most common AAA batteries you will find in just about any shop.) If you are using rechargeable batteries with Edison, only use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries. Never use heavy-duty, super heavy-duty or carbon zinc batteries.
Just as important as the type of batteries is the way you present them to Edison. In other words, always make sure the batteries are inserted correctly. You will find detailed pictures in our Getting started with Edison guide.
2. Edison, without you, is a bit of a dummy
Your Edison robot will always do exactly what you tell it to do. This means that if you program Edison to ‘drive’ but don’t tell Edison how far to go or to stop, Edison simply doesn’t know these things. Instead, Edison will just drive… possibly straight into a wall.
If you are having problems with Edison not doing what you expect, double check your program. There may be something missing or another logical error causing your robot to misbehave.
3. Edison rocks out with the volume all the way up
It’s a good thing Edison doesn’t have ears because this robot would almost certainly be considered a bit deaf! Edison needs the volume on your programming device turned up all the way in order to ‘hear’ the program download. Many devices automatically lower the volume when an audio device, like the EdComm cable, is detected in the audio jack, so be sure to double-check the volume is turned up to full after you plug in the EdComm cable.
If you are using a Windows computer to program Edison, you will also need to disable sound enhancements so that Edison can ‘hear’ the download correctly.
4. When it comes to sunlight, treat Edison like a vampire
If you put Edison in direct sunlight, the robot’s sensors are bombarded with light and will most likely fail to work correctly. This can cause problems when trying to read barcodes, follow lines, avoid obstacles or respond to visible light.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid using Edison in bright, direct sunlight.
5. Using line tracking? Edison plays chess rules
Whenever you are using Edison’s line tracking sensor, remember that white always goes first. In other words, always start Edison on the white surface, not the black surface.
Why is this?
Edison’s line tracking sensor uses reflected light readings to find the difference between white and black surfaces. Edison takes an initial reading of reflected light against the surface the robot starts on. Edison then uses this reading as the reading of a reflective surface – it equates this as the brightest thing it will see. Edison then looks for a sharp drop-off in the reflected light readings it receives. The robot equates that sharp drop-off as being the non-reflective surface. If you start Edison on top of a black line, Edison reads that line as the ‘brightest thing’. When the robot then turns onto the white surface and gets a higher value, it doesn’t understand what is going on and ends up spinning on the spot.
6. Edison can see invisible light (so long as it’s bouncing back)
Edison has an infrared (IR) light detection system. While infrared light is invisible to humans, Edison can detect this light with the IR sensor located at the front of the robot. This system allows Edison to work with TV/DVD remote controls, communicate with other Edison robots and detect obstacles.
In terms of obstacle detection, the IR system sends out infrared light and checks to see if any of that light is bounced back. This is how the robot can identify obstacles. Which also means, for the system to work properly, Edison needs the light to actually bounce back.
Very dark coloured objects, such as objects that are totally black, absorb most of the IR light, making it hard for Edison to detect them. On the other hand, transparent and translucent obstacles allow virtually all of the IR light to pass straight through, meaning nothing bounces back for Edison to detect.
Instead, choose obstacles that are opaque but not too dark and at least as tall as Edison.
If Edison is still struggling to detect your obstacles, you may also need to calibrate your robot’s obstacle detection. You can find the barcode you will need and step-by-step instructions in EdBook 1: You’re a Controller.