Order of Operations (Time Management)

By | 19/03/2020

In an earlier post I talked about The Plan, that post has become a living document as I’m updating it as bits get done. I’m trying to think a bit more about the order in which I’m doing things as some tasks have prerequisites and thought I’d share my thoughts on how to manage it.

For example, I can’t do the remote controlled motion until the remote is sending messages, in order for something to receive them I need the new head printed to take the StereoPi board back in place, and so on. To get the remote working I also need to rewire it slightly to use a hardware serial on the Teensy as USB serial doesn’t work as I’d expect with a Pi. There’s a lot to do but what’s the priority and how to decide?

One thing that is time consuming, more for the build time than design time, is anything that requires 3d printing. Depending on the size of the model it can take an hour or overnight to print parts so this is an easy win for planning. If I have something that takes a while to print, prioritise that so I can get on with something else while my printer does my bidding! <evil laugh>

After that it’s a matter of thinking tasks through to mentally go through the process of doing the work. I like to make notes about each task in bullet lists so that I can go back, edit, move them around in the list, until I get my head around it.

For the example above, here’s a brain dump:

Motion control needs the StereoPi in the new head design, finish the design off and get it printing. For remote control to work we need to get messages from Control to Robot, this will need the test code expanding upon to send useful data. The controller also needs wiring up properly as though the Teensy is putting out the state of the joysticks and switches over serial, the Pi can’t actually open serial to the Teensy, using hardware serial on the Pi apparently mitigates this.

That brain dump then can be turned in to a list:

  1. Finish head redesign
  2. Print new head
  3. Rewire Teensy in controller to hardware serial
  4. Update ROS test code to relay message from Teensy
    1. Control side
    2. Robot side
  5. Add RedBoard library to the receiver code, hook up to motor control

This process doesn’t take long and it helps me a great deal, this project is incredibly complex and has a lot of moving parts that depend on one another. Once I get the above tasks done I can think about the next steps, after the head is controlling the arms, this will require a board to be soldered, new designs doing/printing, and more messages between controller and robot, so the tasks will likely be similar to the above but running through the same process will help concentrate my effort and hopefully reduce the amount of stress involved.

Hope this helped someone, if nothing else if ever I’m struggling again if someone could point me towards this as a reminder I’d appreciate it!

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