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I picked up the first functional prototype of Velalert bicycle radar on Thursday of this week and brought it home for some testing over the weekend. We did a little testing at Radicand before loading it up to see how sensitive it was. It worked very well out to about 15 feet or so, but beyond that distance the prototype became a little "erratic" (extraneous blips). We're aiming for a much broader visibility range for Velalert, but I am still going to take this prototype out for some rides to get a sense for the front screen and how best to communicate information while riding along in traffic.
Here are a couple short videos I shot of the ultrasonic radar prototype in action. The first is indoors and the second is outdoors on the street outside Radicand. It's a little hard to see but the LEDs on both the rear sensor and the front screen increase as an object gets closer to sensor. Outside we simulated an approaching car by running up behind the bike with a board in hand.
I brought my bike down to Radicand on Friday this week because we had every intention of installing the ultrasonic radar prototype onto my bike for some initial testing. We want to get this first functional prototype up and running as quickly as possible so we can get it out onto the road and really understand what types of information is most helpful while riding and what the best way is to communicate that information.
Here are some pictures of both the radar sensor and the handlebar unit plugged in on the work-bench.
After playing around with the prototype for a bit, the engineers decided they needed another couple of hours to get things dialed in and ready for installation onto my bike. We planned on meeting the following day, but then the microprocessor got fried somehow and needs to be replaced.
Bummer that it'll be another week or so waiting for the new microprocessor to arrive, especially since this holiday weekend would have been perfect to get in some good rides testing out the prototype. Such is life developing new products.
The first prototype is almost fully assembled! Shown here is the ultrasonic sensor mounted in the temporary (prototype) casing with LEDs wrapped around the edge, lighting up as objects get closer to the radar sensor. This will be mounted to the seat-post of the bicycle facing backward, with an additional unit mounted to the handlebars for initial testing.
In the video, we're using an Arduino board (temporarily) while working on getting a Teensy board set up properly for the ultrasonic radar sensor. The goal right now is to have it ready on Friday before the long weekend so I can take Velalert out for its first test drive!
I met up with the Radicand team today to check in on the prototype progress and got to see the 3D-printed casings for the radar sensor and for the handlebar unit. We got a new, smaller board to use for this prototype, and it didn't work quite the same as the Arduino board, so the prototype wasn't ready to install onto my bicycle just yet. However, if everything goes well, I'll be strapping this prototype onto my bicycle mid next week and will be able to take the first Velalert prototype out for a spin!
"Rapid prototyping" has gone a little slower than anticipated, but we're getting close to the first working prototype to strap onto a bike and start doing some user-testing. This is a CAD model of the enclosure for the radar sensor, which will be strapped onto the seat-post of the bicycle, facing backward. The center piece in black is the radar transceiver, (transmitter and receiver) and the red dots around it are LEDs to light up and alert the driver of an oncoming vehicle if it's approaching too quickly.