Prototype This Schematics Posted

As promised, [Joe Grand] has uploaded the schematics from his part of last night’s episode of Prototype This. The device monitors the driver of a demo derby car and shuts it off if he becomes too enraged. He’ll be posting schematics for every episode as they’re released. The really interesting thing is that he scanned all of his development notes too. If you missed the episode, you can watch it on Discovery’s site. You can also grab a version that doesn’t idiotically force you to watch in full screen browser window from The Pirate Bay.

UPDATE: [Joe] has been responding to your comments.

26 thoughts on “Prototype This Schematics Posted

  1. I wish this part had been covered more in the TV episode. It was barely mentioned, and flicked in front of the screen a few times. Possibly because I suspect the development and production of this board was outside the 10-day window. :)

  2. On review, his board is mainly a carrier or backplane for several functional blocks; OSD, processor, EthernetRS232, and so on. I would imagine a few hours of breadboard hacking and a day in front of a computer, then quickturn PCB service since a few hundred $ is not really an issue. I’d consider it entirely possible to do it cold and have working code in 10 days, though most of that would be waiting for parts to arrive. If they do this the way other shows do, they stop whatever they’re doing and upcoming projects are reviewed, a general idea of a solution is worked out, and parts are on order. Then they go back to work on the current project.

  3. The TV show was horrible!

    The show was more about building a R/C demo car rather than the actual purpose. Why even use a demo car? Just go to the local arcade and play ‘Daytona 500’ w/ the heat rate monitors on…

    They need to work on their formatting.

  4. I thought the show was horrible too. As with most discovery shows, they dumb things down so much that its no longer about the technology, but rather for the “wow” or “cool” factor. Prototype this could be a neat show, but from what I saw yesterday, it was a horrible start.

    On a semi-related tangent: “Time warp” also premiered yesterday. Anyone else get annoyed by their over use of “warp” for the phrase “slow motion”?!??

  5. what? it shuts off a demo derby car if the driver gets upset? WHAT? WHY? That is the dumbest thing I’ve heard yet today. GOD FORBID THERE BE COMPETITION AT THE PLANED CAR ACCIDENT GAME WHERE THERE’S A POT AND TROPHY FOR THE WINNER TO TAKE HOME WE DON’T WANT ANYONE GETTING ANGRY WHEN SOMEONE HITS THEIR CAR. really. stupid. idea. I really hate how everyone is so wussy nowadays. good post tho =)

  6. WTF talk about the most dumbest idea ever… turn off the car if the driver get stressed. ok how about dieing person in car and you need to get to hospital… passenger “The car engine just died”, Driver sweating “it’s OK I just need to calm down!”

    Come on, did they hire a monkey to think of that?

    There are plenty of cool prototype ideas, it doesn’t have to be flashy\cool cool… heck they should just read mythbusters forum and steal an idea or two.

    I’ll give them 3-4 more episodes to improve it, before I Un-tivo this.

  7. I really hate how they say you can see full episodes on their website, then when you try it says not available in your region(Australia). It really is no wonder people pirate stuff when companies are still doing stupid stuff like this.

  8. I don’t think that’s stupid, when a show hasn’t aired in a certain part of the world and everyone would watch it on the discovery website, they won’t make any money from advertising.

    On the other hand, the people who watch this show probably know how to use the internet.

  9. It’s really neat to see his notes, but if we’re to assume the dates are correct, they had a lot more time than 10 days. His first note page is dated 11/12/07 and the Lantronix web interface screenshot is dated 3/11/08. Eh, whatever.

    Nice port numbers… :D

  10. heh, could have been much better, the show’s main idea is sound but the auto shutdown car pisses me off to no end, it is a cool concept but i feel that if your car suddenly shut down, stress levels wouldnt exactly drop, you are late to work and already stressed before you get in the car, someone cuts you off as you are turning onto the express way, that type of situation could end up with FAR worse happening to people than a little road rage, believe me, when you spend 3 hours under a van only to have the alarm system disable starting when you are trying to verify you fixed the starter and fighting with it for the next hour before saying screw it and ripping the entire thing out, thats how people can get hurt, for the record, dodge engineers are cheap sobs that would remove 1 mm of wire slack to save money, undersized fuel pump that is kept in the fuel tank submerged completely in gas including bare wire connections simply to use the gas to cool a smaller cheaper pump and make it 99 percent user inaccesscable ftl, any ideas for something cool to do with a high psi pump? if everything seems ran together and disorganised its because i am typing this on my phone early in the morning, 9 am ugh

  11. @Bob: I haven’t tried to watch it at the web site, but if they’re not making money on in-show ads through their web streaming version, they’re most certainly doing it wrong. The model on Hulu and all the other studios’ web streaming is almost always a pre-show ad, then part of the show, then at least one more ad, then the rest of the show. Some of them even have as many ad breaks as the original over-the-air version.

    I guess I can’t say for sure if they make *as much* as they do on TV revenue, but they’re making something at least. Why not let Aussies watch their ads as well?

  12. i really used to like DC…but they are just getting bad…i agree a auto shutdown car is not going to lower stress…but the underling tech has some real promise..but i am thinking i will also give it another two eps before ignoring it like Project Discovery(witch also comes across like it was written by a bunch of 3rd graders)

  13. im just glad someone had the ballz to link us to the piratebay…It’s always so silly to see something like that moderated- you know, “this topic has been removed because of illegal content”.

  14. @keystoneclimber: I’ve actually become a big fan of the BASIC Stamp for quick and dirty one-off designs. We’re under extreme time and budget pressure to get builds done and functioning and I have a huge amount of existing code for the BS2 that’s easy to work with. That’s not to say we don’t use other processors and techniques, because we do, but there’s engineering trade-offs for every build. Also, not all the builds are particularly complicated, but some are very design intensive, and all of them have their challenges.

    @nullgel: The first few pages were my pre-production notes before we started filming. It’s generally safe to say that the timelines we’re given on the show (primarily due to production deadlines and the need to have episodes filmed and edited by certain dates, though sometimes chosen by production for dramatic value) are real. It’s sometimes not full time on a particular project, though, as we were continually doing pre-production on future episodes and filming other parts of the current episode. Note that along with the real design/engineering/build of the project, we needed to deal with interviews, other scenes, production meetings, field trips, etc. all of which take huge amounts of time out of the day.

    And now for a rant…

    You guys have to remember that the main concept of the show is to build things that have never been done before and to try something new. Not all the ideas and projects will appeal to everyone – there are some that I don’t like, either – but a lot of people are involved in this program other than the 4 guys you see on screen and all have their own opinions on what makes “good TV” and what doesn’t. With that said, there are certainly portions of each build, technologically or otherwise, that could be seen in future, real world products.

    We’ve spent 2 years essentially working in a vacuum to film the first 13 episodes and it’s nice to finally see the fruits of our labor and publicly talk about it. As long as I’m involved in the program, I’ll continually speak my mind to the powers-that-be to try and make this show as good as possible – they already know I’m a pain in the ass :) Having constructive criticism from people that I can forward on is much more helpful than armchair quarterbacking with no real suggestions on how to make it better.

    I, along with the other hosts, have no control of how the show is ultimately edited and lots of work is left on the cutting room floor (which happens when you condense hundreds of hours of tape down to under an hour). Some of our concerns are exactly what we’ve read others to be. However, on the other hand, I can at least contribute to the general wealth of knowledge by releasing whatever technical details of my contributions that I can so people can learn from them, even if it isn’t shown on the actual program. I don’t know if that’s ever been done with any other TV show?

    Those of you who know me from the hacker community know that I say it how it is and am easily accessible for people to contact. So, if you have ideas or suggestions or want to talk details of a particular build, just send me some mail. You can also post your own build ideas and comments to the Prototype This forum, which is read by execs at Discovery:

    Anyway, if you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading and thanks for supporting the show. For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any of the final cuts, either, so I have no idea what to expect in the upcoming weeks :)

    Joe (aka Kingpin)

  15. First of all, this is one hackish-oriented tv show, and I applaud that. I understand that certain scenes and details fail prey to editing and cutting, but this show was so utterly redundant, repeating the same stuff over and over again, and not even always at least paraphrasing it. I know this is one defect many documentary-like shows have, but whether this is meant to help zapping people follow the show, making people take up the thread after ad breaks, saving money because you can run a half-hour show with ten minutes of material or just simply addressing the extra-moronic part of the tv crowd, it really really does not help to keep up the tension. And I guess it is probably not your fault, joe, but how much more stuff could have been thrown in if we hadn’t have to watch the animated “anger-induced pit stop” or derby scene a dozen times and have the narrator doing the chinese water torture of chanting the same explanations over and over again, in his pathetic boxing commentator voice? Sometimes these show formats make Sesame Street look like an intellectual challenge – not due to the contents or topics, but the presentation.

    I will be happy watching the next episodes, and thank you for all the effort, sweat and brains you put in there to make it really nice and thrilling. , otherwise. :)


  16. First off, congratulations on a decent show, I very much enjoyed it. As Kingpin quite rightly pointed out, there is literally 100’s hours of film and it all has to be condensed into an hour supliment.

    To the people who slated his use of the Basic Stamp, I tell you what, the next time you go and get your tyres and rims changed, how about you build them from scratch yourselves. That is essentially what you are getting at, this is probably one of the most over quoted cliché’s but “why re-invent the wheel?”.

    I hope we see more of this excellent show, if you have such an issue with it, I highly recommend you stfu and don’t watch in future, you are neither compelled nor require to do so.

  17. @t3q: I agree completely and that’s one of my big peeves about TV in general. I know production is aware of this complaint and a lot of these problems could easily be fixed. This might be the largest disconnect between technical people like us who want to learn a lot and see more detail and the general TV watching populous who needs spoon feeding and constant refreshers about what’s going on.

  18. Love the show :D

    Yes it had its dumbed down bits, but its discovery channel.. they do that..

    I didn’t see any real relevance in shocking people, or the theoretical real car pulling off the road either, but i guess it makes good tv.. for someone…

    But the hacking aspect is awesome, and the codebase / resources you guys have I can only envy. Having the code lying around to handle ps2 controllers, video overlay, udp networking and wireless trancievers, most of it directly in bs2 (a pic would’ve been nicer, but if you’ve got the code, what can you do) and then actually having the hardware around to back it up, is impressive!

    I found one of the most impressive parts was just when mike just plugged together a video camera, wireless transmitter, battery and tiny rc car to make it a wireless camera. This is some very basic, simple stuff to do I know, but i’m also sure its only a tiny example of what can be clicked together in 30 seconds with what you have lying around that shop :P

    Nothing about it was too technical, although I really would’ve liked to see less repetition and more of the nitty gritty (pretty much nothing in the schematics were even mentioned in the show, or even what languages were used.) I know alot of stuff has to be dumbed down, but give your audience some credit!

    And hooking the emotiv headset up to real life objects was just a really cool idea! I know they’re still gimmicky, but I’ve wanted to play with one since i first saw em, I guess having a TV show helps :D

  19. The show is not bad but the crap show (smash lab) is made for the audience that can’t tell the diffrence between a usb and firewire port so can’t we just keep Prototype this to the audience who is actually interested in the nitty gritty details?

    Who cares if you make the show 2 hours long, you could get rid of the shows that no one watches like It takes a thief.

  20. Dude, discovery channel, why do you not provide a for-linux player thing?

    Another reason why pirating is so prevalent.

    Eh, I’ll catch it on a rerun, my morality prevents me from pirating this.

  21. Hey Joe I totally agree with you on the BASIC thing. I actually prefer to code in basic or python any day of the week since, for me, it is way faster than c. I started out with the stamps, then finally ended up with pics and the Proton compiler. Recently I’ve been looking at atmel and c only because of the lack of support in linux. I really enjoyed checking out what equipment you guys chose to use. Solidworks, Altium Designer, (…speaking of lack of support in linux) 3d printing, laser pcb protos, full cnc machine shop. (although I got to admit I would have sprung for a Tektronix MSO rather than that agilent scope ;) I really enjoyed some of the behind the scenes footage on youtube of you and zoz playing around with BSODomizer. Absolutely hilarious! When are we going to see some drunken debauchery on that forklift???

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