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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 02:07:52 PM »
NO SUPPORT THROUGH PM - Explained

The reason for forums is to share knowledge publicly. If you ask me a question in a Private Message (PM) I am the only one that sees the question and you are the only one that sees the answer. Tomorrow someone will come along with the same question, and if everyone uses PM, I end up answering the same question over and over again. This is terribly inefficient.

If you post your question in the forum, everybody can see it. Maybe I can't answer right away, but perhaps someone else will see it before I do. You might end up getting a faster response. Best of all, the question and its answer plus discussion is now publicly available. Every other person with that same question who comes along in the future, will have it answered right away with a simple forum search. This saves them time, me time, and you time. Everybody wins!
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2017, 02:08:36 PM »
The TCB seems like a great product if I could only buy your sound card and ESC too! :(

I agree. I'm sorry those other products are not available for purchase right now. It is one thing to develop something in your basement, it is another thing to bring it to market.

Manufacturing boards requires an up-front investment of many thousands of dollars. Then you need an infrastructure to manage online ordering, shipping, etc... not to mention time in running such a business. All of these are things I do not have. The only way I can get a product sold is to convince some company to make it at their own expense, and as gratitude to them let them keep all the profit. But there is no guarantee they will make a profit, and most companies aren't willing to take the risk. Let's face it, RC tanks comprise a minuscule corner of the RC market. No one is getting rich selling RC tanks or parts. Anyone who has been around for a while has seen countless companies and small private ventures come and go.

If I was Bill Gates I would buy a factory and make tank parts for you guys and give them away for free! Honest! But I'm not, so I can't.

All I can do is focus on what I do best, and that is design. All of my work is posted online completely for free, for anyone to replicate, change or use however they see fit. Hopefully that is worth something.

I will keep trying to get the Scout and Sound Card produced somewhere, somehow. The odds will be much better if the TCB is seen as a success. If you want this project to expand, the best thing you can do is support the project as it exists now!

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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2017, 02:09:01 PM »
Why doesn't the TCB have sound/speed controls built-in?  >:(

The TCB started as a personal project. I made something that suited my fancy and addressed the needs I had as a modeler. Because it was just a hobby endeavor, and because my time and money are limited, and also because I wasn't planning on living forever, I decided to focus my efforts on the areas I felt most lacking. High quality speed controls and sound cards could already be bought, so I didn't see the need to re-invent the wheel. Thus the TCB was born without those features.

In time I became quite impressed with my abilities and decided that yes, in fact perhaps I could build a better speed control (or anyway a cheaper one), as well as a sound card. By then the TCB was already a robust and mature project. It takes years for a single individual to lay out a complicated board in his free time and cajole a large corporation to fund the production of it completely on their own dime. Because of this, please consider the TCB design fixed. It's not going to change anytime soon, not unless you change it. I've made all the materials and resources freely available to you to do anything with it you like. But until then, this is the design we're going with, for better or worse. If it succeeds wildly and someone pays me a million bucks, I'll seriously consider a new version. If it fails miserably, oh well!

My personal opinion is that there is never a need to integrate main drive speed controls with the TCB. Not only would it drastically increase the price and size of the TCB (it's already none too small), it would severely limit its flexibility. When you buy an RC car, does the speed control come built into the radio receiver? No, not unless it's a cheap toy. If you buy an RC airplane, does the speed control come built in? No. There are lots of different kinds of model tanks on the market today, from 1/24 scale all the way up to 1/6. Even restricting ourselves to 1/16 scale models, there is a huge difference between a Heng Long PzIII and a Taigen full metal Jagdtiger. The speed control requirements for each are drastically different. My belief is that it's better to let the modeler choose the ESC that works best for him. But that's just me! If you feel differently, again, the project is open source - feel free to change it!

As for sound, I agree 100% absolutely completely that it would be awesome, incredible, and wonderful to have it integrated with the rest of the TCB. But it's not, and that's just the way it is. Maybe someday that will change, maybe it won't. Complaining about it won't change it! But whipping up a new board, prototyping it at your own expense and testing it in your own time and posting it publicly for us to use would be great!
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2017, 02:51:49 PM »
What speed control should I use?

This depends on many factors only you will know, including budget, space constraints inside your model, and most importantly, the current draw you expect your motors to pull.

Don't know how much current your motors draw? I can't tell you! But don't guess, find out. Get yourself a watt-meter, an indispensable tool for every modeler. These little devices plug in between your battery and the rest of your model, and tell you how much current is being drawn as well as a bunch of other useful information. You can buy them all over the internet - search Hobby King, Tower Hobbies, eBay, Amazon and others for "watt meter" and you will find many to choose from in every price range.

Once you know your current draw, then you have a good idea of what you need.

Too lazy to do all that work? Scout ESC still not available? Here's the short answer: buy the Dimension Engineering Sabertooth 2x5. This will work for 95% of all 1/16 scale RC tanks in existence today. It's extremely small so will fit in any model. You might not think 5 amps sounds like a lot. But put a watt-meter on your tank and see what it takes to get your motors to pull 5 amps. Then remember the Sabertooth has a 10 amp peak for short periods. Then remember these controllers have built in overcurrent and overtemperature protection, so you can't kill them even if you do exceed the limit. In fact, you may just save your drive-train from damage. 

Need more than 5 amps? Until the Scout appears, the next best options are the Sabertooth 2x12 (NOT the Sabertooth 2x12 "RC", which is a stripped-down version), or the Pololu Qik 2s12v10. The Pololu is physically smaller but requires soldering. Or you can use standard hobby speed controls. These work perfectly well and can be cheaper than the serial controller options, but they will create a lot more wiring.

For more useful information, please read the entire section in the Wiki devoted to motor control.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2017, 03:13:32 PM »
What's the current status of the Scout ESC?

Development on the Scout is complete. It has been tested and works great. Sadly, we have no one willing to manufacture it. As of summer 2017, I've exhausted pretty much all the leads I could think of. So basically, the status is "on hold." If the TCB proves successfull, perhaps that will make the Scout more attractive to a prospective manufacturer, or maybe even to HobbyKing. If you work for some cool place (ahem, Adafruit), put in the good word for us! (Believe me, I've tried.)

Do you want to make a bajillion dollars selling electronic equipment from the comfort of your Mom's basement? The Scout design files are free for the taking, go right ahead!
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2017, 03:21:02 PM »
What's the current status of the Open Panzer Sound Card?

As of Summer 2017, the sound card is in beta testing. Maybe even pre-beta. It works, it makes lots of sounds. There are also lots of improvements that can still be made.

Now the TCB is available, some prototypes will be sent out to special testers who can provide feedback and/or are willing to develop sound files. The big gaping hole now is quality sound files. I'm not a sound engineer. It's also very likely a further hardware revision will occur before the product is finalized.

Once that future unknown time is reached - back to pounding the pavement looking for someone who wants to blow a bunch of their money to make this product on our behalf. In other words, this thing is a long way off!

You can read more about the Sound Card, or build your own - see here.
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Offline LukeZ

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Re: Frequently Asked Questions
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2017, 04:32:53 PM »
I would like to become involved, but I'm not a computer programmer. What can I do?

Excellent question! There are many things you can do that don't require any technical expertise. 

  • If you don't want a TCB, don't buy one! But if you don't buy one, don't bash it either! There are lots of other options out there and this product is not for everyone.
  • Read the Wiki. Yes, the whole thing! Understand the product first.
  • If the help files are confusing, or weren't helpful, let us know! Better yet, suggest what you think would be an improvement. Clear and useful help files are extremely important to this project because we don't have a staff of people to answer questions. Anything that makes the help better is a great gift.
  • With all the knowledge you've acquired from reading the help and playing with your own TCB, you can now contribute to the forums - not only this one, but also RC Universe, RC Tank Warfare or whatever other forum you're active on. When you see a question you know the answer to, feel free to answer it! Sometimes the answer can be as simple as providing someone a link to the appropriate page in the Wiki.
  • If just 10% of the people who bought the TCB make it this far, this project would be well on its way to a bright and shiny future.
  • Having used the TCB, what did you think of it? Did you like it, not like it? Did you have some issues that you were able to resolve? Do you have any tips or tricks for interfacing with other equipment? Whatever the case, good or bad, post your thoughts online in your favorite forum. Write a review. People don't just want to hear about this from the project authors - they want to hear about it from real users.
  • Spread the word. Are you active in scale model boats? The TCB has some very interesting potential in boats and other models, post about it in your favorite forum. Active in a hacker-space or other open source community? Let them know. This project has appeal beyond just tanks, for example in robotics. Some people just like programming and tinkering, and this is a good place to do it. The more people find out about this project, the more likely we are to attract the talent and resources needed to perpetuate it.
  • Speaking of spreading the word - Do you speak a foreign language? The TCB is being discussed in forums around the world, here is a list in German, Polish, Russian, and others. Any help you can provide to foreigners who can't read English would be a wonderful contribution.
  • Are you interested in coding, or circuit design? Just because you don't know anything about those topics, doesn't mean you can't learn. When I started develpoment on the TCB I didn't know anything about them either. There is no limit to what you can teach yourself with the resources available on the internet. Get an Arduino and write a hello world sketch. It's not hard, anybody can do it! Then realize that your TCB is just an Arduino. Your hello world sketch will run just fine on it, try it! You won't break it. Now write a sketch to blink the blue LED on the TCB (pin 16). Who knows, you might just find you like this kind of stuff. In no time at all you might become the next greatest thing in open source computing.
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