Project name: S0lRider

I consider myself a very technology-enthusiastic person and I’m always willing to learn about the various sides of it, like robotics or electronics. Therefore the S0lRider project started as a way for me to gain a better understanding of robotics and the Internet of Things using my Pebble Smartwatch and the ESP8266. In the interim, I signed up for a charity trip to Zambia, Africa. That’s also when the solar aspect of S0lRider came in: I will be deploying a solar panel in the houses I will build in Zambia. What better way to get exposure to solar technologies than leveraging them for my project?

Challenges: I had to learn how to tame the ESP8266. It is a very cheap yet powerful chip, however for the novice maker it can behave a bit inconsistently; also integrators sometimes mislabel pins and things like that. Fortunately there are huge communities blogging about and documenting this chip, which eventually helps you to get where you want. In building S0lRider I documented all my trials and errors with this chip on various forums and another blog I have here.

Time spent designing and implementing: S0LRider involves three programs in three different languages that I either haven’t coded in for a while or that I was not familiar with: C for Pebble watch, Lua for ESP8266, and Java for the Android application. Additionally, I was somewhat new to electronics having only done only some basic Arduino circuits in the past. The core of S0LRider is the popular ESP8266 wireless chip which I wasn’t familiar with either. Therefore overall time to complete was approximately three months of working on this project in my free time.

Things I would have done differently: Overall, I am very happy with the end result and all the things I learn building S0lRider, still while I would not do anything differently I am already planning some new cool features; for instance allowing users to control and move S0LRider based on wrist movements on the various axis by taking advantage of the Pebble Smartwatch internal accelerometer.

Time required to build/assemble: Building S0LRider with instructions and the software required (which I provide on the projects blog) would take four hours maximum.