Monday, July 23, 2007

Taking time out

Much of my work on gEDA recently has met with rather mixed responses, many not particularly positive. Most of the things that bug me are fixed, so between the lukewarm reception that seems to meet my changes and the absence of any particular itch to scratch, I'm taking a little time out from gEDA hacking. This will also (hopefully) help with my RSI, which is slightly more aggravating than usual at the moment. No doubt I'll still troll the mailing lists telling users to RTFM (or possibly write it).

My current contract is both interesting and hard; I'm doing an electronic systems redesign for a laboratory automation robot to be used by the Sanger Institute, at the Wellcome Trust site near Cambridge. This is rather involved, with a very broad scope for the work. I've had to learn a lot different types of electric motor (in particular stepper motors and brushless DC motors), as well as needing to keep a very careful eye on issues such as inductive load dump and EMI filtering. Sometimes digging around to find out the design rationale for parts of the current design can get a little tedious; I hope that my attempts to put everything in one place will be useful for future engineers working on the same system!

One thing that has recently struck me while working on this project is the lack of a consistent lightweight symbol library for gEDA suitable for drawing circuit diagrams to be used in documents such as datasheets or academic papers. I've made a rough start on creating one, but have got a little stuck on exactly what symbols are within the scope; and more stuck on finding a sensible way to name all of the different types of diode available.

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