The ultra-swanky control panel and the wireless remote control for the Office Chairiot Mark II both communicate motor control and lighting commands to the chassis via the Arduino UARTs (serial ports). It's easy to do this in code and the AVR microcontrollers at the core of the Arduino boards make it trivial to do. A couple of wires and BOOM. Serial's your uncle.
However, like anything electronic, or manmade for that matter, the real world doesn't work like the blueprints say it should. Once in a while a byte or two of important motor commands from the remote controlling unit get scrambled on their way to the chassis control system and it causes unintentional things to happen, like a sudden right turn into a guy seated at a table at a demonstration of the Office Chairiot, for instance. It happened. I'm not proud. It was funny. Nobody was hurt.
I'd like to avoid having to say, "Well, at least nobody was hurt." How to do???
Just when you thought it couldn't get any sillier... I'm working on mechanical designs for the latest incarnation of the Office Chairiot: The Mark III. Not a generally amazing story in and of itself, except for the fact that I don't normally spend time doing CAD for my projects and the CAD I'm using on this one is a special one.
I'd like to introduce you to Onshape! A professional-grade, fully cloud-based CAD system that's also collaborative, mobile-friendly (and usable!) and it even has version control. It's in beta, at the moment, but even still, it's quite amazing and VERY easy to learn and start using.
The Office Chairiot Mark II is now wirelessly controllable! The remote control enclosure, she ain't pretty, but she sure does her job simply and efficiently! Can't drive the "Paddy" Wagon attachment without a control device of some sort and this puppy is the perfect fit. AND, I was able to throw this thing together in a few hours. Not bad. Thank you, Xbee modules!