Cubetto, what is wrong with you?

in Qurator2 months ago

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We had originally bought this cute little Cubetto robot when our older daughter was munch younger. It's a little robot toy and playmat with stories designed around an Arduino board that helps little kids learn a bit about sequential programming with a touch of logic thrown in. It's a pretty cool and interesting way of doing it, with the physical hands-on idea from the Montessori learning method informing the design of the educational part of the game.

Now that our younger child is reaching a similar age to when the oldest started, we have introduced her to the little Cubetto. Unfortunately, he sometimes veers a little bit off straight when he programmed to go only straight. It's also pretty hard to reproduce... most of the time, he is okay... but then suddenly, instead of going straight, he will veer off at around 45 degrees!

Needless to say, this is really annoying... especially when the game and stories are built around a grid!

So, it was my task to look up and figure out what to do with the little guy and to see if it could be easily fixed.

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First things first.... decapitate the robot. Inside, you see the Arduino board and the various motors that control the turning. I managed to find a video from the manufacturer about fixed turning problems. That would require a firmware download and some fiddling with the Arduino files... I'm not sure that that was the problem though.

Still, I would try the files... just in case there was something in there that could point me to a different solution. Unfortunately, they didn't host the files on the provided link anymore!... So, straight to their customer support on Facebook!

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Their support was pretty helpful... they confirmed what I suspected. That this was likely not a firmware issue, but more likely a mechanical one. So, they asked for some videos to try and help them troubleshoot the problem. A video of Cubetto going off course... and like every good piece of electronics... I spent ten minutes having the silly robot behaving and going completely ON COURSE!

... however, finally... it's evil nature couldn't be hidden away anymore... and it started veering off course! So, in the above photo... I finally caught Cubetto straying away from the straight line that he was supposed to be following!

Screenshot_20201223160751.jpg

... and then they also asked for an upside down video of the wheels... just in case the rubber was uneven or something like that. I hope that they will be able to see something, to me the rubber on the wheels looks quite fine. Which means that it is potentially something to do with the motor or the connection between the motor and the wheels.

I did notice that if Cubetto was swaying forward and back (so, bouncing on and off the rest stand at the back) that that seemed to trigger more of a straying away from the straight line. I guess I'm going to have to go back and test that idea... it's something that I only just noticed when I looked over the videos again....

Anyway, the plot thickens... perhaps a little weight at the back of the robot will do the trick but keeping him weighted down and stopping the bouncing?


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