RC car parts

I found some old RC car parts tonight. I think I can safely throw away the transmitter. But I might be able to use the servos for some testing. I’m charging the battery, although I’m not sure how to test it nor what I would use it for.

Anyone have experience wiring up the OpenMV M7 camera to some servos? I’m still wondering why I need the servo shield if I only have 2 servos and 3 are available on the board.

RoboCar Start

I recently joined a local (Omaha) group that plans on creating and racing autonomous cars. It got its inspiration from diyrobocars.com. I bought an OpenMV M7 camera off of SparkFun on CyberMonday and received it yesterday.

Read the instructions first

OpenMV has documentation on how to set up the hardware and software. I didn’t realize there were some things that I should have done before diving in. The first was to clean the camera IC. I did this later and I don’t think it helped in any way. The second was updating the firmware which did help. One thing that kept giving me errors when running the hello world script was that it was complaining about the time variable passed in to the skipframes function. The old firmware didn’t support the named parameter. All I had to do was delete the name and it worked. But after updating the firmware the name was accepted.

Another thing that puzzled me at first was why the image was not in focus. Well, had I read the instructions I would have learned that I had to twist the lens to focus it.

I wish the instructions had pictures because I was too afraid to remove the lens housing. I wasn’t 100% sure it was the entire black piece. It wasn’t until I found some images on this GitHub page that I was confident enough to take it off.

MicroSD Card

I need a microSD card. There are a lot of example programs that can save images but only if you have an SD card. I couldn’t even get the DonkeyCar program to run. It would just sort of hang and then disconnect the camera. At this point, I think it has to do with the size of the program.

Not All Screwdrivers Are Created Equal

Why would one screwdriver work for the lens mount screws not work for the focus screw? Also, the screw to hold on the lens took more force than I thought was necessary. Perhaps it needed to create threads in the plastic, but I had to tighten the screw before the lens wouldn’t move.


Do I need a separate servo “shield” if the board already has servo controls? It’s been about 20 years since I learned pulse-width modulation so I need to read up on it.  During our meeting it sounded like I needed a separate board, but it looks like the camera supports it. Maybe that was for the Raspberry Pi version.


I am sort of using this project as a template. But so far all I have is the camera. The RC car on the list is sold out on Amazon, but a similar car listed on a DonkeyCar page is in stock.


I have never done any serious soldering. But to get the header pins on the camera I will have to. Or get someone from the group to do it.


Here are the supplies I used:

  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Screwdriver
  • Lens cleaning cloth


Lens off

IC exposed



I don’t like spiders. I especially don’t like spiders that crawl out from the shelves above my desk, drop down to my desk and then disappear when I’m trying to sweep it off my desk onto the floor so I can step on it. I hate those.

Corporate Cup

Have you ever had a goal and did everything you could to reach that goal? Yea. Neither have I.

I decided to give it a try by setting a goal of running in the 2012 Corporate Cup Run.

I just got back from my 5th run. 1.5 miles around the neighborhood. And I can honestly say, I hate exercise. I don’t get any pleasure (read: endorphins) from exercising. I am listening to Java Posse so I did get a couple of chuckles along the way. But boy am I beat.

What the kids want to be when they grow up

After asking Joel, his first response was, “What do you want to be?” When I said “computer programmer” he said I was already one and I was like “Alright!”.
He had to think about it but eventually said “Rock star”. :)
Alyssa said she wanted to be a teacher. A “teacher-teacher” not a “teacher-helper” like mom. :P

Sliver Moon

The moon blushes behind the clouds
I’ve caught it in a vulnerable state
The smooth curved sliver
A newborn’s round bottom
Or the sculpted lady’s breast
I divert my eyes from her beauty
Though neither us should be ashamed


This post was created a long time ago. I’m just publishing it now.

The auto industry has received a lot of media attention in the last year. I just wanted to jot down my thoughts about bailouts and recalls.
First, the bailouts. Looking back I am glad the gov’t bailed out GM. At the time I didn’t like the idea because 1) it was coming from a fund created for bailing out the finance sector and 2) I didn’t like the idea of bailouts. I didn’t like the “too big to fail” argument. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, but they still fall. I’m glad the fed wasn’t as shortsighted. I’m glad that GM was helped and believe that if the fed hadn’t bailout GM and the financial sector we would be in a much worse situation.

I wish they hadn’t helped Dodge/Chrysler. I’m never been a fan. Even the Viper received little respect from me. When I see my friends driving a Chrysler I point and snicker… well, at least in my head. (Sorry Eric and Hope!)

I’m so proud of Ford! I feel like a parent and my step-child just won the spelling bee! They haven’t been admired by me in the past, but they’ve made some smart moves in the last decade and I’m willing to make ’em part of the family. (In fact, the last car we bought was a Ford.)

Too bad for Toyota

I feel sorry for Toyota. I believe they make quality cars. Even now, after the recalls I’m thinking that maybe I can get a deal now on a Prius with all the bad publicity Toyota has received. The loyal customers are the ones who will probably feel burned the most. I keep wondering how my Toyota-fan friend is feeling. A co-worker I talked to
Toyota employee thinking there was some gov’t conspiracy.
Dodge/Chrysler can die. Snicker and point at friend’s cars.

Parent/Teacher Conferences

We had parent/teacher conferences tonight. It has always been good and tonight was no exception. The teachers had nothing but good to say about Alyssa and Joel. I still wonder what am I doing right? How do I know if I will keep it up? I also worry that my kids have set the bar high early on, so will I expect high marks for the rest of school? Also, my parents were very strict when it came to grades. I got 3 B’s the first semester of high school and was grounded for a month. Recent proof shows that my kids are smart. I don’t want to put so much pressure on them, but I know they are capable of good grades. That’s what my parent’s thinking was when I was growing up. So, on one hand I think my parents were too strict, but on the other hand I can see how it is easy to believe that my kids are capable of good grades.