I've been playing with wheeled robots for a while, using the Basic Stamp as a controller. Just tinkering, and more interested in the software side of things (as well as having something that annoys the cat). My enthusiasm died out about 7 years ago, then my son gave me a Lego Mindstorms NXT kit for Christmas, and I was off and running again.
At about the same time, a co-worker got me started on radio controlled helicopters (Blade CP/2 to start with, moving up to Blade 400 and TREX-450 over the last few years). You can't have too many expensive hobbies :)
Managed to do quite well at this helicopter hovering in the back yard, and was doing quite well until about a year ago when I flew my pride and joy into a tree and broke just about everything except the tree.
"I wonder," I wondered, "if it would be possible to combine my robotic hobby with my RC flying hobby?"
Poked around teh intarwebs a bit, and ended up here looking at the APM and the Arducopter code.
Thus started work on what I am now calling Coptermatic, the Automatic Helicopter. (with apologies to Wallace & Gromit)
So off we go:
Got my workbench set up, got me new Weller soldering station set up, played with some Arduino programming for a practice, and decided that tonight was the night.
I solder all the pins on the APM. I solder all 48 pins on the right angle servo connector (the three pin monstrosity on the end of the board). I've got all the pins on the APM,
But the servo connectors seem a bit fragile, and my attempts to test-connect a couple of servos and Rx connectors seems wonky. Imagine my amusement when I discover that I've soldered the damned servo connector on backwards. For that connector ONLY, the black plastic bit doesn't go flush with the top of the board. What's worse, I compared what I was doing with the pretty picture in the instructions four or five times and didn't notice my error.
OK, so now I am sort of stuck. I'm an amateur with the soldering iron (more of a software engineer with a predilection for tinkering). I'm not at all sure how to unsolder 48 connections; I think I need something more than desoldering braid and bad language.
The current plan (as blessed by my long-suffering and patient wife) is to use this APM as the brains for a small wheeled robot which I shall call the Pipbot (in honour of the Fallout series of games) and to buy another APM from DIY Drones for the 'copter.
So a bit of a (not-so) cheap lesson in following instructions. This hardware stuff is a lot less forgiving than software.