are you using the MAX31855 chip the older MAX6675. I have built kiln controllers with both and I am having stability problems with the MAX31855 chip that I didn't have with the MAX6675. the 31855 displays rolling temperature oscillations around a correct average that increase as the temperature gets higher. it seems like the fluctuations are around 10% of the actual temperature. Also I see random scrambled readings.
I have also used AD595 chips, and have had no problem... nice and quite. Have you run into this problem while you were shaking out your system?
I hope you can get the bad links back on line, I'd like to see your code.
I use a laptop to control and log the the results of the run graphically. If you are interested in trying it I'll send you the app and the Arduino code I am using.
in theory, an accurate three point calibration of T verses R should allow you to solve for the a,b,c coefficients of the Steinhart–Hart equation. You need to bracket the temperature range you are interested in.
I have never done this because it requires solving three simultaneous equations, and I never had requirements for that kind accuracy. I could usually get away with introducing a linear "fudge factor"
The only point I was trying to make is to be careful that the tool you are using as a standard of measure of temperature is accurate.
I would take what dc42 said seriously about making sure you have a correct temp standard to calibrate against..I have been playing around with thermocouples for quite some time and have found that the difference in readings from one to another can vary quite a bit more than specs. If I want to do a calibration, I use a very accurate mercury thermometer. I usually take an ice point ( 0c) and a boiling point ( which will vary with external pressure but can be calculated) and they do not drift or pick up noise like some of the electronic devices I have tried.
Edit: I forgot to mention that the thing 'died' when the current program (a simple relay 1 through 4 'ON') ran for its first and only time so far and the screen dimmed quite a bit and after unplugging and replugging the USB cable the thing flat out refused to start
Sounds like maybe a lot of current went across somewhere.
Did you try unplugging all the stuff and just trying to get the bare board to work?
Don't give up too soon. As Grumpy_Mike says just wire a 120 volt light bulb through the relay and put a 5 volt battery across the digital in.
If you can toggle the light bulb on and off the relay is working.
If it's working then either you are not getting a high enough voltage to the digital in or you may have wired it backwards.
I have discovered that, even with no digital input signal , the reading across the output will sometimes read 240 v. It's just that there seems to be a small leakage current, but not enough to drive any thing.
Based on videos I have seen of robotic hands created by research workers, I would say you have have bitten off quite a hunk. The videos show multiple complex servos or steppers all working in concert. A robot with articulated hand(s) is even a bigger hunk.
What I would do is start out by thinking about the minimum function you would need for just the hand and work on the mechanics first, keeping in mind what electronics might be used to make it work. Then you can come up with the logic to move the hand.
I don't know the capabilities of a mindflex or its' output, but I think that is the least of your worries.
as Tom Carpenter said, the explosion is caused by pressure. Explosions occur when a solid or liquid is rapidly converted to gas. In the case of the LED, I think everything... wire,silicone,plastic, etc becomes volatilized in the energy pulse.