Tuesday, January 29, 2008


so i got the other code compiling too...
apparently we can't have a 255 x 255 array. because that's hella big.
so now it's 5 by 5. but at least it compiles!

so maybe we should come up with a new idea for drive code? or something without a 64000 value array.

also, we're eating the leftover amazing pizza from il fornaio. yum yum. it was even better yesterday, too.

Monday, January 28, 2008

officially tonight's last post

i lied before, we're meeting at ideo tomorrow.
around 5.


damn, i'm really forgetful tonight

this week's schedule
monday: 4:30-9:00 at IDEO
tuesday: 4:00-7:00 at Castilleja
wednesday: 4:00-9:00, going to IDEO at 5:30
thursday: 4:00-7:00 at Castilleja
Friday: 4:00-7:00 at Castilleja
Saturday&Sunday: 11-5 at Castilleja

oh, and for anyone interested, fomf's this weekend.
i actually do think that's all for tonight.
gnight. get some sleep, yes?

rip scotty

and on saturday, they gutted poor scotty.
so he's brainless and heartless now (but we have his guts ahahahahhaaa)
at least the ramps should still deploy?
he was a good robot. slightly-to-majorly ghetto, but still. a good robot.

monday 1.28


so today, anne, caroline, erin and i went to allan steel (thank you marsha!) and met doug and emily there, where we bought 38 pounds (including some extra) of 6061 aluminum extrusion.

headed over to ideo, where four of the builders set about making sure the mecanum (pr: mecknm? meck-AN-um? meck-uh-nm?) wheels are properly functioning.

jimmy welded us a beyootiful shining chassis! well, actually he was still going strong when (sniff) we all had to leave. but on wednesday, i bet we'll see a gorgeous chassis!
hopefully we can get it up and driving by wednesday night, our next late ideo night.

on the coding side, i know erin and caroline are basically still receiving the same frustrating error message. but i THINK i know what the problem is... the same one i had.
you can't call a .h file in both user_routines.c as well as your functionfile.c. so i solved that problem by taking the #define and really necessary shit and just putting in it filtering.c, and then not calling filtering.h in that .c file. i only called in it .c.
after a good chunk of frustrating debugging, my code finalllllllly compiled! whether it actually does what we want it to, well, i suppose we'll find out? printf's are lovely things.

i believe the new toughbox gearboxes (to take two motors in one, i think?) should be coming in tomorrow night, so a couple builders should head over in the afternoon to get those all set up.

thankkkkk you to doug emily david tiffany and jimmy for all being there tonight.
all in all, a productive night. i'm happy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


coding today...
me (sherri) tried to take the joystick values and make a filter
erin and caroline tried to actually write drive code

except that debugging is a PAIN.
so basically, that's all
i'm not sure what else to say, really

there's an up and runnign electronics board


January 26, 2008 IDEO

The mecanum wheels are done. Five of us went to IDEO and used the arbor press!!! (My dream has come true) We took the wheels apart in a speed contest which I won with lots of time to spare. We pressed the new bearings into the wheels to get rid of some of the weight of the bearings from the inside of the kit wheels. Nandini and Emily worked with the jack/ lead screw so it now is attached to the van door motor(?) Emily drilled a hole in it on the lathe. (we checked on her every five minutes) Then she threaded it and screwed it onto the motor shaft. There is a platform attached to the lead screw so that someone can put pressure on the lead screw to test the torque of the motor. The platform is also a possible way to attach the lead screw to the arm. The motor still turns with Nandini putting most of her weight on it. This was basically how we spent three hours at IDEO.

Saturday 1.26.08 at Castilleja

So those of us that didnt go to IDEO yesterday worked on the electronics board. David and I set up the electronics board, while the recruits learned to solder and clamp-smush. Once we got the board running, we realized that the motors were not both going forward when the joystick was forward (obviously a problem). So we tested a number of things. the speed-controllers, the motors, the connections. Only to learn today that they were just oriented wrong on the table top. Also, we couldnt figure out why when the motors were going forward, one set of pwm lights was green (full-forward) and one was red (full-backward). Today we figured out that the motors were turning in opposite directions when they were at 90 degree angles from each other because when they were on top of each other they would be turning the same direction. and so finally we had to solve the problem of them starting at different times. Since a motor being backdriven takes more torque to start, one motor was always lagging behind the other. So we are now trying to fix that in our code. now its sunday around 1:00.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


(From ginna)

On wednesday David Anne and I put together the mecanum wheels with the bearings from last year's wheels inside. We measured the width of the bearings and the width of the spacers that were inside of the mecanum wheels and the bearings were 3mm short. To temporarily take care of the change in width we layered tape onto the plastic around the bearings. Since the bearings have two sides of plastic parts that could come loose, we decided to use three of the holes to hold the sides together with screws and bolts. The other three holes were used to hold the complete wheels together. We then noticed that the sprocket must be spaced apart from the wheel so that the chain won't hit the wheels.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

i totally can't believe i forgot about this...

because she was "bored", she lasercammed (sp?) this awesome actuating by a slider claw thing out of foam core. it is SO cool.
we attached it onto the 80-20 elevator. definitely have to have some sort of thing to fold up the claw or at least make it smaller to fit within the 28-38-60 initial box.
it's really really cool. it makes me so happy.


wednesday mentor night!
much thanks to emily, doug, jessa, and david. :)

doug helped us go into more detail about the arrays. how to make 3d arrays, etc. jessa went over what algorithm we currently use to turn the joysticks, and how it's actually incredibly inefficient. only like half of all joystick positions are actually legit.... a bunch of them all mean the same thing. so maybe we can take the "Real" values and stretch them out.

i feel like i understand the theory and concepts of what we want to do to get the thing driving smoother. i just want to start doing it! like the ideas make sense, but i couldnt sit down with a laptop and just type it out.

chassis stuff is started! we have cut lists, and sketches and dimensions. allan steel run monday afternoon? a couple of us will go, be back by 4ish, probably.
defffinitely 1 layer this year. we measured a piece of last year's aluminum and it's 4oz/6in with a 1/8 in wall. that is HEAVY. hopefully for at least part of the bot, we can use thinner stuff. maybe one sixteenth?

david was doing some mecanum wheel stuff. i wasn't doing that, so i dont have details. maybe i can rope anndini/ginna/whoever into posting about that.... there was some sawing and mounting and such things.

i'm really excited to get this stuff up and running. i second the idea that these wheels are "pimpin". they are awesome. coding them is going to be fun.

ideo run tomorrow, around sixish? emily said that jimmy wants to start building next monday. so i guess after we get parts, we'll shimmy on over. :)

thanks to goel family for chaperoning and tasty food.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008



end of story.
coding them tomorrow?


yesterday was a quiet day... just annie, tobi, anne, allie, and me. (plus sallie after seussical practice) on the mentor side, we had karlin and doug.

we set about changing the wheels to the kit wheels, which have a smaller diameter. i'm guessing six inches, but i made that up. anyway... the large excitement for the day

WE GOT THE PROTOTYPE DRIVING WITH OUR DRIVE CODE! okay, fine it's scotty's code. so it's not exactly the most stable. especially since the back? front? (i'm confused by the direction of the thing) wheels aren't connected. there is much tippage.
it's a step, though. a big step.
(finding the bearings was also cause for much excitement. i didnt know they were missing.)

as they posted, tobi and annie made a better protoype of the threeprong with one actuating.
we need to be prototyping a threeprong with TWO actuating.

no one really seems to know/want to create chassis sketches. i have no idea what that entails, really, but i feel like we should at least be seriously, logically considering what we'll be needing. only 28 days, people!

karlin did some analysis of the drive code from last year on her laptop.
and after much struggle, we FINALLY found last years code, logically enough, on emily, in a folder entitled "backup code 2007". what shock!

that's about all, really.
i've been pushign this for a while. let's integrate the different components. attach the claw to the elevator to the chassis! at least see how it all will or wont fit together.

Monday, January 21, 2008

3-prong Prototype

Tobi and I made a 3-prong arm prototype out of PVC pipe, where the bottom two are passive and the top arm moves to hold the ball in. It is basically just an updated and more carefully measured version of the previous one whose joint was held together with duct tape. Unfortunately, we didn't measure the width between the two passive prongs, and it is 32", not 28", but hopefully that won't be too hard to fix. From front to back, it is 41", and at it's tallest, it is about 50".

Sunday, January 20, 2008

further updates...

okay so saturday we:
-talked a lot about jackscrews (TEFLON coated ones ;D) and how they are an effective elevator
-messed around on solidworks with the "second-degree lever"/"3 bar linkage" concept (i have no idea what to call it)
-prototyped that concept in foam core
-learned some math/physics from tiffany and david
-went through 2006 drive code, messed around to see what the exact calculations and graphs looked like with karlin
-finished those pesky gearboxes annnnnd....
-...got the prototype up and running! (ish. it was only the gut strange whatever code that FIRST already has for us. BUT wheels turned when we messed around with the joysticks! so exciting.)

we attempted to find last years drive code (Failed. where IS it?!) and learned about programming basics from doug. jessa was going into some physics/mathy stuff with build, i know.

we also stepped up the prototyping level: the whatever-you-want-to-call-it (hopefully we'll have pics/video on picasa soon! it's really really cool.) is now prototyped in 80-20.

i'm not going to lie, i'm slighly worried about size constraints. has anyone figured out what our robot's full span is going to be? where is this arm mounted? the length of just the chassis will be approx. 40 inches. then we add the arm. then the claw... even while still prototyping, i think we need to integrate the systems. crappily, maybe, but just get an arm ON the chassis, and see how things work when we put them together. what the big picture looks like.

the sooner we get drive code (even if we just copy old drive code from previous years) on the prototype, the sooner we can practice driving. which is superduper important for this year's challenge.

in hindsight, i really wish we had taken the effort in the offseason to properly learn solidworks. visualizing everything together is great, but we rely on emily for that. which is okay, but wouldn't it be nice if we could just do it ourselves?

a huge THANK YOU to mentors and parents for their support. emily, eric, karlin, david, tiffany, doug, jimmy, jessa... thanks.
thank you anne's family for the yummy pears, divya's for the snack food, and the jasuja's for the awesome aloo mutter and rice. yum yum. :) we eat well.

a short update

we have made some good progress over the past few days. Yesterday was especially productive. we succeeded in finishing the assembly of the gearboxes and mounted them on the robot. then, we thought about another lift design and did some math to determine if we had a motor that was strong enough to power it (I don't think that we actually ended up finding out how much power we need, but we will do that soon). today we tried to download last year's code onto the prototype chassis (unsuccessfully) and will hopefully work on the drive code with jessa later. that's all for now

Thursday, January 17, 2008

thursday. 33 days.

if we're judging strictly by physical progress, today was not a productive day (although i dont actually know what's going on with that chassis). general design and administrative stuff is going well though.

i know that those gear boxes and transmission stuff has been keeping build/anndini/allie/crystal very busy. "the shuttle" of me, anne, and allie had to leave by 7:15 to get anne on that train, so i have no clue whether more progress was made on the chassis, or if we could drive by the end of the evening.

driving that prototype chassis has been our nightly goal basically this entire week. i'm really seriously hoping that it WILL happen tomorrow. i know electronics needs to basically feed the brain (remembering that we are using an OLD RC and accomodating for its withered brains) in order to get it actually functioning.

i'm really wanting to mess around with drive code this weekend (can't be at LEAST get scotty up and running? is his poor chain that badly off?) and see whether the window filtering, etc that we learnt about wednesday actually sunk into our brains. it sounds like it would smooth out so many of those problems from last year.

after multiple pro-con lists and design meetings and prototypes, i think we're 90% sure we want to go for a threeprong claw on some sort of lift. how to actually make this feasible while fitting within the topless 80in cylinder AND not tipping over because of our center of gravity? i have no idea. jesse and karlin were chatting about that with us.

reasons for eliminating other ideas: windmill idea, while incredibly cool is HUGE, fairly complex and would require a lot of torque and precision. a lot of people were really committed to hurdling, so a three prong without a lift would not allow that. with a lift, if it fails, hopefully the claw will be functional and we can just be a low, speedy bot.

the three prong claw has a, uh, rather ghetto prototype made out of pvc (hello, i love you) and duct tape.

(lack-of-an)update on the mecanum wheels: they have not been shipped yet, so really, i have no clue when they'll be arriving. there were no shipping.

generally, that was the gist of things.
maybe i can blackmail anne/crystal/nandini/someone into posting about the nuts and bolts (literally, i suppose) of the chassis progress.

shouldn't we start making BoMs and dimensions and ordering (after getting jimmy's permission, of course ;P) parts and stuff for the chassis, if not the robot in general? that way, when we finally actually want to build something we'll be able to? i dont know what protocol for this is.

anyway. those are my random thoughts of the night.
see all tomorrow!

again, weekend hours of 11-5. 4-7:30ish tmrw.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wanna know what us mentors are thinking?

Read our blog: http://gatorbotics-friends.blogspot.com/

And definitely check out photos on Picasa . . .


t-34 days left!

today was a long, but definitely productive day.

first off, thank you to jessa, emily, doug, and david to devoting their evening and energy.
also, thanks to david for the masssssive box of cookies!

caroline and i first took an... entertaining run to ACE for pvc joints. we now have a rewards card, on the bulletin board in the project room. please do actually use them.
anyway, the joints. we wants to pvc the three-prong claw idea. we'll work on it more tomorrow, but currently, we're limited because the angles of the joints are not exact. also, we really dont know what we would want the angles to be. (or i don't.)
we did some math to figure out what some distances would have to be.

over dinner, emily showed up spiffy solidworks designs of potential arms. wow.
looked at some four-bar linkage stuff, which looks really cool. we still have so many ideas floating around, i think it's definitely time to just sit down and commit to one idea, while still tinkering with a simpler backup. thoughts? our general strategy is so up in the air right now

chassis stuff is getting there, though. i know david was helping anndini & allie with some of that after dinner. mecanum wheels HAVE been ordered. when they'll get here, who knows?
we apparently have some conflicting information about whether you can use skid steer on mecanum wheels. if we can, i think that's definitely something to explore.

in the meantime, doug and emily gave us some awesome programming information about window filtering, and arrays, and global variables, switch debounching, and other cool stuff for having a smoother drivetrain and also just general information. wow. we definitely took the simple way out last year. i don't even know how poor scotty drives.
if we can get the chain on scotty functional, or the prototype chassis up and running, it would definitely be good to start messing with code.
thank you to sallie and ginna for staying through the potentially intimidating programming lecture. definitely ask questions when you're confused.
there are pictures of the notes on picasa.

i feel like i'm missing something critical that we talked about... hmph.

basically the moral of the story is that today was really really productive. it would be more productive if we knew what we wanted our end result to either look like or do. either one. design or general strategy.

things to decide:
-basic direction of chassis. "Fat" vs. narrow
-are we even hurdling to begin with?
-mecanum wheels
--if yes, skid steer or actually sliding!?!
-if we are hurdling, what's the arm/elevator/lift/gripper/whatever? windmill? fourbar?
--how can we get a prototype of a fourbarlinkage going? the solidworks gave us a good idea of roughly how it'll work, but actual details would be good.
-basically everything.

hopefully over this weekend we'll be able to get a lot accomplished. we'll get there. we're getting there.

Monday, January 14, 2008

apparently i didnt post this earlier because mourad was concerned still
well, okay, emily found the missing sensors. but nevertheless, they are FOUND!

if only we knew where the goddamn lugs were!

what does em stand for?

...why, extraordinary mentor, of course!

basically, she is amazing. amazingly organized too. when we got to school today, and peeked in the project room.... WOW. i don't even know how to describe it. i have never ever seen it that clean or organized. we know that this shouldn't be a good thing, technically, because, uh, we should be organized. we're not. and thank you thank you thank you! chairs were pushed in. frankly, that just scared us a little. (we did actually mess the chairs up... too much creepy precision)

on a totally different note, can someone with admin priveleges already bump me up to admin too for the build blog (which i'm going to almost solely blog on starting now)

today was one of the few days off. i hope people enjoyed it... i got home at 3:30. wow. thanks to anne and crystal for walking over to ideo. i know they were hoping to get some gear box stuff going.

this week in terms of scheduling:
meeting mon-fri from roughly 4-7:30 (although we may or may not go later depending on mentors and goals for that night.) i know my family's chaperoning and food-ing tuesday and wednesday. let's fill in the schedule on the project room door. if people are good about writing stuff in, its a really useful tool.

mourad (we really need a nickname. dora? raddy? ratty? dorey? mo-rad? suggestions welcome) anyway the point is that she told me she has ordered our mecanum wheels from andymark. i'm totally excited to play around with those and learn how they work!

get ready for a spiffy 37 days left! i'm pumped.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

first week

39 days left!

i've been rather remiss in the blogging for the past couple days.

basically, there's a new design in the works. multiple, actually. i know emily/annie were definitely getting some action with the pvc pipe today. an overpass HAS been constructed. i'm not entirely sure whether it's precise proportions but it looks amaaaaazing. another idea is the three-prong one we've been working with for awhile.

also, are we really going to have an arm? we've all agreed that drive train and strong chassis is definitely the priority. but do we attempt an actuating arm as well?
and for that drive train... mecanum wheels will hopefully be ordered asap, mourad's been given the order. jimmy mentioned that you don't need to program them to slide? you can just use the same old drive code like for anything else? with skid steer? we'll obviously have to check that out.

there are a lot of ideas out there, and while we're beginning to experiment and start doing more serious prototyping, all the leads definitely want a small, focused design meeting with mentors. that's what saturday was planned to be, but it ended up being more general, which is okay. except that as such a young team, we definitely want your opinions and input as well as advice on how to proceed once we finally have a (temporarily) set design we want to aim for.

once again, are we "going fat"? decisions really need to start getting made, but i know we dont want to make those decisions without consulting the mentors as a group rather than individually, where we get conflicting opinions.

oh i just had a random thought: i think that maybe we should just combine the two blog and maybe tag the posts "programming" or "build"? because at least for now, i'm just posting the same thing in two places. and hopefully people are reading both. thoughts? comments?

all the newbies who were around on saturday HAVE been shoptrained (and got to make blocks. grrrr. ) jessa ran a programming 101 workshop, which was definitely useful. so now hopefully sallie, neli, and divya (somewhat) get programming. yay! that's wayyyy farther than programming was last year. i think at the end of the first week, we'd just received "C for dummies" and thought it was a godsend. :)

a temporary electronics board (complete with a battery mount, attached and all!) has been put on the prototype kit chassis. there are also wheels on there. now if only there can be motors. that will happen soon, i believe.

i'm sure there are more things that have happened. actually, i knowww there are more things that have happened. blanking out.

oh! does anyone remember where i put the lugs for the battey leads?! i distinctly remember being like "let's not forget where i'm putting these!" but we've completely forgotten. we need to find those.

thank you (Again!) to doug for providing us with retail therapy. thank you for all the mentors for your commitment and energy and enthusiasm and time. we appreciate it so much.

i'll post random thoughts as they come to me. this is all i have for now.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

monday and tuesday

i think for now the same postings will go on both blogs... we're not really doing anything separately

sorry for no post yesterday, and today will have to be quick

summary version: we have a basic arm idea. maybe i can get a picture in here somehow?
trying to finalize motors/potentiometers and how to mount, etc.
drive train: 6 wheels? or 4? definitely steering the front two. any input on how cars works would be greatly appreciated.

there has been some math-doing. :) but i assume there is more to come.

thank you thank you to karlin and tiffany for coming

and i believe there are cart designs in the works

a question: are we ACTUALLY going to use sketchup/solidworks? i think we should... if we know how.

we should start making BoMs and weight lists
that's all

Sunday, January 06, 2008

we've kicked off!


the 2008 season has begun! build and programming are working together on the design process, so i've posted this to both blogs.

caroline, me, allie, and nandini headed down at the crack of dawn (literally...) saturday to recieve the challenge from sj state. this year's challenge, first overdrive, is different from any other challenge. effectively, it's a racetrack with oversized inflatable balls. these are the game pieces. it's really hard to describe - search for first overdrive 08 on youtube and you should find something. i think this should link to it: http://youtube.com/watch?v=GKBIEqY2Ak4

we had a great turnout for brainstorming session at school saturday. many mentors came, and thank you for that. we broke into groups and came up with many rough ideas.

then, today, with a smaller turnout (allie, caroline, anndini, annie c, sallie, crystal, mari, neli, me...) we presented our design ideas and began to PROTOTYPE! the two main arm concepts at this point are the shoulder-elbow-wrist extendable design, as recommended by jimmy and a forklift. very rough prototyping with 80/20 ensued. allie and i also put together the kit chassis as a prototype.

things to think about:
what is going to grip that thing? the ball is huge, and fairly slippery.
what is our overall strategy? i know we're hoping to go over rather than under the overpass, but are we going to place it on top at the end?
what's our priority?
we've been discussing many different concepts for a drive train. obviously, scotty's will not work. we can't almost tip over every time we turn...

-mecanum wheels. like jester drive (is it possible to buy them? how difficult is the programming?)
-omni wheels (again. expensive. no experience with them)
-omni wheel/traction wheel combo. we saw a lot of this in atlanta
-power steering two smaller front wheel
-combination of casters and driven wheels
-anything i've forgotten

this is something we'll have to continue to think about.

oh, there's a schedule of deadlines on the project room whiteboard. that will come soon. we deffffinitely need to be testing far earlier this year, and spend less time on prototyping. i know we're hoping to have parents help out to build an overpass, and we want to make good use of that.

uh, also, can we get that leak in the closet taken care of? ...it makes me nervous.

a HUGE THANK YOU to doug for generally being an amazing source of information as well as providing the books and tools necessary. those hex screwdrivers will make everything so much easier. :D
also thanks to karlin for coming in to help us talk through concepts, and marsha abbott for chaperoning and yummy dips for the pita, as well as the costco run.

get ready for season! i'm excited. hopefully you are too. :)