There are four significant PCBs for our robot:
- The Topboard with the microcontroller which controls all other boards. It also has most of the sensors.
- Motor drivers that control the wheels of the robot.
- The Basestation that communicates with the main computer and sends messages to all of the robots.
- The Kickerboard which controls our dribbling device and charges a capacitor to power a solenoid used for kicking and chipping the ball.
These boards each have their own difficulties but also share some common problems, namely different layout requirements and small surface area.
The layout requirement comes down to two parts;
The first part is a high power circuit for all motors and actuators.
The second part are fast signal lines, both analogue and digital.
Both types of circuitry have certain needs: thermal capabilities and noise, etc.
Balancing these has proven to be difficult.
However, being able to rely on certain factors which Eurocircuits can guarantee allows us to alleviate some of these constraints and reduce the amount of factors to consider.
Another problem has to do with the size of our robots.
The rules state a maximum size for the robot, but in order to be competitive we have to provide a lot of features for the robot.
This means that we have to be able to provide a lot of functionality in a small area. This mostly shows in weird shapes of our PCBs and density of the components and traces.
These common problems have been most present on the Topboard which houses the main micro controller, sensors and circuitry for our motor drivers.
Here, the noise has to be low on the power lines for all the sensors and micro controller, as well as being able to provide the currents that are needed for the motor drivers.