Saturday, January 31, 2009

chassis, revisited

the new/actual chassis design
first of all, maybe other people know about this website but i did not - and i'm really excited about it. it's basically a compilation of all the best videos of first teams. there's a cool one of a helix which leads up to a shooting mechanism.

in other news today
-tobi divya and sallie got the new encoders set up [we're still waiting on two of them]
-we finally tested out drive code on a moving chassis! the given code works fairly well, although if you move the joystick too far forward it tries to accelerate too much. jessa and karlin suggested an acceleration capoff type thing, which we're hoping to try tomorrow
-downloading issues... we can run the code from the laptop and step through it, so that's good for testing. but it won't actually download the code properly. we're hoping to fix that tomorrow.
-build: i know there was some prototyping and redesigning, but don't have details, sorry. we decided to square off the ends of the chassis' u-bits. basically, imagine last year's chassis but without the middle bar in the front.
-ida and i discussed all the various essays and documents we're submitting. so glad we're doing this earlier this year!

11-3 tomorrow

Friday, January 30, 2009

e board READY TO GO

during p6 and briefly after school, erin caroline and i finished up the wiring on the electronics board and tested to see that code downloads etc
MEANING we can now test out the given ArcadeDrive functions from FIRST as well as write our own drive code! and we can test it on a real live robot [albeit not the one we'll actually end up using.] but let the real programming begin!

meeting 11-3 this weekend, as usual
see you tomorrow

Thursday, January 29, 2009


-took electronics board off benji, put one for new control system on. caroline and i will finish up the wiring tmrw.
-spent about an hour trying to figure out how to put the dumb wires in the dumb wago. finally figured it out.
-a wiry cage thing for the corkscrew was built
-more brush bits were cut and annie and anna epoxy-ed more brush bits onto the tube
-we discovered our chassis design will be illegal - the first games committee didn't approve a design v. similar to ours. :( so we'll still have a U, there just won't be angly bits. anne will email jim tonight and let's hope he hasn't already welded it, although i think he has.

we did show benji to the kids at seton and they were really excited about it :) pictures to come.

sorry not more detail tonight - exhausted.
enjoy your DAY OFF tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

wednesday, january 28

(first part written by divya)

today in programming, we (tobi, malaika, and i) velcro-ed the electronic components onto a practice board. ok...yeeeeeeah that's kind of all we did.


(now written by anne)

today build was uber exciting :)

the sophomores and freshmen made an amazing prototype of a "curved ledge" for the spiral corkscrew in the middle.

we also made a ghetto prototype of the brush for the corkscrew (made out of pvc and brushes epoxy-ed onto it). we powered it with a drill and tested it with our foamcore prototype of a tube with ramps and it works! yay! this could mean that we can make our own brushes instead of buying the $400 and 30-lb. cylindrical conveyor brush from mcmaster. (however, we already bought a 20" brush...)

jessa came today and we did tooooooooooons of fizzix and math... and we realized that we'll need lots of POWER for the brush in the corkscrew. we don't think the globe motor will provide enough power, and it's the strongest motor we have (other than the cim motors). which leaves us with a tough decision, because we can only use a maximum of 4 cim motors on our robot.

sooooooooo... we've decided that we will use a tank drive instead of operating the 4 wheels independently. that way, we'll only use 2 cim motors for the drive train and we can use 1 cim motor for the brush in the corkscrew.

also we got another moon ball today! which brings the grand total up to 5.


p.s. anna and shifrah made QUADRAPUS out of duct tape. go to picasa for pix :)

picture of chassis

chassis design as of 1/26 - this is the design that jimmy is welding for us. except for the top right wheel, everything else is to scale. 
thank you anne for uploading pictures to picasa!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

mellow tuesday

again, a lowkey programming night - until we can see the given drive code to see how well/badly it drives, we don't have that much to do. writing the code for corkscrew/servo gate is going to be a snap [let's hope i'm not jinxing it by saying that]. we've basically done it already - using a joystick button to control a motor.
-shreya, divya, and tobi wrote simple code of their own! yay! button 2-->arcade drive, and also servo stuff. :)
-we were having wireless issues. again. but then we changed the main battery and things were happier. so maybe the wireless gets more finicky the lower the battery?
-divya grounded the driver station - according to a FIRST update, you have to do it. it wasn't really that exciting, but anyway it's done. basically just wiring a pwm from the gnd endings to this random screw. there were diagrams, she followed them...
-jimmy stopped by with one of the mutant gearboxes! both the axle for the wheel and the motor are on the same side, just like we want :) he's begun to cut the metal meaning we are well on our way to having a chassis!

i have a promise from anndini that one of them will actually blog tonight.


to find pwmdeviceref - double click the servo icon, control + t, and it's right there.
[because we keep forgetting.]

Monday, January 26, 2009

orbit balls

3 orbit balls have arrived from north carolina!
thank you to sallie and her grandparents!

monday 1/26

programming had a fairly lowkey night, at least so far - we got motors turning off joystick buttons. for the first time, we didn't use the prewritten drive block which baically has everything already done. you just tell it the right speed and the left speed. but today we stepped it up and used a basic motor setup. meaning that you have to open it outside of the while loop, and then set the speed, and then close it... bah so annoying. but it works!
we also got the servo to turn with the prototype gatey thing

honestly, that's all for tonight - it took us an impressively long amount of time to figure out how to work the more complicated motor blocks.

once we have a funcitnal chassis we'll see how well or badly the FIRST written drive code works, and then we'll make decisions about drive code.

anne or nan will blog for build?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

sunday of servos and sizing

-karlin, caroline, divya, sallie, and i spent lots of time trying to get the servo set up. in true labview fashion, the actual coding consists of dragging blocks that say "servo open" "get angle" etc together. and yet, it Would Not Work. and we were very frustrated, tried to figure if we needed a speed controller [which would make no sense], messed around with the oscilloscope... and of course, the problem was something so stupid. you need a jumper on the pins next to the PWM. thank you, some random guy on a chief delphi post. as soon as we plugged in the jumper, it worked perfectly. GAH.
-much time was spent discussing where to put gearboxes/motors and which orientation they will go. if we do them the "traditional" way/the way we've done it in the past, there won't be enough room in the middle for the corkscrew. i think the final decision was to place them on the outer bars of the chassis, though i am not sure. i'll double check tomorrow. anyway, the finalfinalfinal chassis drawings were made, and sent to ideo with jimmy. meaning - we're on our way to having a chassis!
-made an order list of sprockets, chain, masterlinks, encoder stuff, etc. this doesn't sound like it takes a lot of time, but uh, it does.
-sallie and divya started to build a potential gate for the servo to turn. the thing's going to have to be really light because the dear servo is incredibly wimpy. although it turns 90 degrees quite beautifully.
-annie and allie were solidworksing. sorry i don't have more details. :/

thank you to the huang family for food and chaperoning and to karlin, doug, and jimmy for their infinite wisdom. and divya often says "you guys deserve a gift."
see you 5:15-8 this week?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

saturday [although it's not over]

the toilet brush ball collector

-we have a functioning prototype of the corkscrew concept! made out of foamcore and with a toiletbrush spinning thing, it's amazing. our current "transition" stage design is the corkscrew - conveyer belts just had too many moving parts and was too complex.
-we're researching different long brushes that we can use for the corkscrew. i'm not sure if this makes sense, but i'll hopefully have more pictures on picasa soon. the design is the one that annie wrote about - here's the link to a youtube clip of another team. our design is similar.
-the toilet brushes have been attached to drills and work remarkably well to suck in the balls from the groud. i'm really excited about this. the picture's above.
-anne posted pictures to picasa! the link is to the right - build photos
-anndini are sketching out the final chassis design.
-allie is working on a model of the electronics board in solidworks
-we had a ridiculous number of mentors. emily and julia and kersten and jessa and david and brian. and perhaps too much sugar...
see you all tomorrow - 11 to 3.

Friday, January 23, 2009

weekend timings

we're meeting 11-3 both saturday and sunday
hope to see you then!

arcade drive stuff from karlin

for documentation - karlin sent us an email that explains the math and stuff in the arcade drive vi. :)

I'm attaching an isolated .vi that just contains the "math" for the arcade drive. [sherri note - this is on zak and is called] All I did was delete any references to motors. If you open this .vi and run it (don't deploy, just open it without opening the FRC project file), you can change the x and y joystick values and then see what the corresponding left/right motor outputs are.

So, yes, the weird signage on the joystick values pretty much makes things incredibly non-intuitive, but it all works out.

With the odd signs, a negative motor output means the motor spins forward and positive motor value means it's spinning backwards. (yay FIRST)

If you look at this file carefully and test out the different joystick values, you should see that the following is what the default arcade drive does (you already figured out most of this - I'm just writing it out to be thorough)
1a. The first case structure is just "square inputs" or not and in the default case, if you look in RobotDefRef, you'll see that the default is "false" (the green switch is off) so it doesn't square the inputs.
1b. so since the default is just to take the x and y values directly, it then sends the joystick values to the second case structure.
2. Within the second case structure, you have 4 cases (true-true, true-false, false-true, false-false) which correspond to the 4 different joystick quadrants.

True-true = lower right quadrant (backward/right)
true-false = upper right quadrant (forward/right)
false-true = lower left quadrant (backward/left)
false-false = upper left quadrant (forward/left)

But in general, the arcade drive takes the maximum of the x or y joystick value and sets that to be the maximum speed of one of the motors (it changes depending on what quadrant you're in).

Then, based on where the joystick is, it either sets both motors to spin at the same rate (x=0) or makes the motors spin at the same rate but in opposite directions (y=0). And when the joystick is in the middle of the quadrant, if you're closer to the x-axis, the arcade drive is set to make the robot pivot, which makes it turn sharply, whereas if it's near the y-axis, it mostly is moving forward/backward and turning only a little. Again, the math for making the motors do that is different within the 4 quadrants.

Um...I don't think that explanation helps any, but just take a look at this file, step through the different joystick locations, and I think you'll see that the "maximum number" block makes sense. Just write down the weird coordinate system and remember that negative motor values = forward and vice versa. It does what you programmed your old robots to do with logic based coding instead of using an equation. We can go over this when I see you.

By the way, you can probably code up the drive code without having the chassis design finished or whatnot. I still think you should put encoders on your drive wheels because it doesn't hurt to have them. You could also just use um...scotty? (forgot the name) and hook up the new control system to it for practice. There would be some ghetto rigging, but I don't think it would be that difficult.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Corkscrew Design

This is a link to a corkscrew helix design (click on title) that looks pretty cool. As opposed to having the whole corkscrew rotating, they have just an inside brush rotating that catches and lifts up the ball. 1. The brush works, and 2. This is a simpler way to do a corkscrew. The ball would always make it in, because the screw itself wouldn't move, so the path into the corkscrew could always be open. Also, maybe more balls could be stored? I know we just came up with our final design, but it's something else to think about for our tower.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

tuesday - design review

more progress today!

-sallie and divya resoldered the very very sketchy battery charger
-we went over the most recent/final [fingers crossed!] design. i am not the best person to describe it, so i will try to enlist anne to blog about it tomorrow. or i will, when i am more coherent.
-karlin got the gaming bridge/wireless to work! la la laaaaaa. i wasn't there but i can post details about that tomorrow. apparently it was like magic.
-we discovered that the joystick coordinates are seriously funky. the x axis runs from -1 to 1 from left to right, which makes sense. BUT the vertical axis runs -1 to 1 from top to bottom! that's super strange, but i guess just one of those first/labview things. i don't know if the picture helps, ignore all the periods, i just needed them for spacing
-1 ...................1
-motors actually run from -127 to 127. meaning that zero actually means STOP as opposed to fullspeedbackwards. i'm really excited about this.
-our super simple button code works more normally.
-nandini was researching materials for the brushes, belts, and tubes.
-anne was doing motor math!

thanks so much to karlin doug and jimmy for coming to the design review.
hopefully more updates from me tomorrow. and i'll try to bug someone to post pics to picasa! we have a sad lack of pictures this year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

weekend of progress (continued)

i'm extremely tired/brain dead as of right now, so i apologize if this post doesn't make much sense...

basically, the updates/new rules that FIRST keeps giving us are extremely annoying because they always conflict with our chassis designs! :(

first, we wanted to shorten the chassis and have the output tube stick out a little so the moon balls would fall nicely into the trailer-- but then we found a rule saying that no part of the robot can stick out of the bumper perimeter. so that idea is...dead.

then we wanted to make the front slightly v-shaped so we could be 38" long but still get closer to the trailer-- but then we found a rule saying that all corners need to be covered by bumpers, and the minimum bumper length is 6". i think this idea may still work, even with the bumpers in the way... but we should make a rough, actual-sized prototype...

also, we've decided that for the input/picking-up-moon-balls-from-the-ground, we're going to use brushes instead of conveyor belts. the brushes will be better b/c they are stiff enough to push the moon balls into the robot, but also flexible so they won't get stuck in the holes in the moon balls.

we also realized that for the transition/lifting-moon-balls-to-the-tube, we can't use an up-conveyor belt in the back because apparently the moon ball will just bounce off the conveyor belt instead of going up like we want it to. so we are (tentatively) planning to use 2 up-conveyor belts on the sides controlled by one motor. (and so far we're assuming that we will still use surgical tubing).

our wonderful build minions :) also made a prototype of the output/tube-to-let-moon-balls-fall-into-trailer on saturday, and a human-controlled stopper to go with it.

hopefully i haven't forgotten anything...
and hopefully it somewhat makes sense.
but we'll cover all of this at the design review at 6 tomorrow!
see you guys there! :D

weekend of progress

it's been quite a weekend - designing and mathing and redesigning and remathing and reredesigning... i think anne will be posting more details on that side of things.

but for programming/electronics - tobi and karlin spent some serious time with the crio/bridge/router/IP addresses/crossover cable and the wireless STILL won't work. we don't know why, and it's all very frustrating. however, we CAN download code and for now, that's good enough.

even downloading with the cable, we were having issues because we'd download code to the driver's station and it would work, la la la laaa, but then if you ever turned the system off it would forget that you'd downloaded code. so basically, you could never hit the kill switch. you had to redownload every time you turned the robot on. clearly, that's no good. after some searching on chief delphi, we found a workaround and it downloads normally now.
we also got an encoder up and running! sallie and divya wired up the encoder and between doug and karlin and labview's lovely pre-written code - it WORKS. the first day we try. wow.
just to test that we could do basic things, we added a simple case statement that was like "hey only do what you normally do if you're pressing the trigger on joystick 1". and it works, which is good because it's basically as simple as it gets.

we also discovered more stupid bumper rules today, leading to some redesigning. meh. anne will post more about all this?
DESIGN REVIEW TOMORROW (TUESDAY) AT 6:00. we hope all team members and mentors will be able to make it. as always, dinner provided.

sallie's fabulous grandparents in north carolina went on a walmart adventure and bought us 3 orbit balls! i'm really excited about this. :)

allie's been doing some amazing solidworks stuff. she doesn't seem to realize how great it is, but i do. :) we've talked so much talk about solidworks in previous years, it's great to actually sit down and do it.

thanks so much to all for their help this weekend - the bhats for food and chaperoning, the waleckas for chaperoning, il fornaio for some tasty tasty pizza, karlin, doug, david, and brian for their infinite support and wisdom. it was definitely a productive weekend.

hope to see you tomorrow at DESIGN REVIEW, 6PM.
the rest of the week is 5:15-8, as it has been.

27 days!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


i will try to post again later/tomorrow but i am too brain dead right now to be coherent

TOMORROW IS A DAY OF REST - no robotics. enjoy.
monday we'll meet 4-8pm.

see you then!

1/16 [from sallie]

reposting since sallie didn't have access to the build blog last night.

So...I can't figure out how to post on the main blog so I am blogging here. Hi! This is Sallie(not to be confused with Allie). So today has been filled with more prototyping! After dinner we decided to begin to prototype some of our new ideas. We are afraid the windmill is going to get stuck or not work. Instead, we are thinking of using conveyor belts made out of surgical tubing. Annie, Shreya (did I spell that right), divya, and I started to prototype a conveyor belt. While grooving to some jack johnson music, we determined that rather than have circular pully/sticks/track/the thing that the belt goes on, a multi-faceted surface tended to grip the belt better. Basically, we took some 80/20 and put this scratchy sandpaper tape for extra friction and used surgical tubing for the belt. We also tried to saw/file the sides down to make sides; it didn't turn out to grippy enough. Finally, we got a prototype that kinda worked. Next, we ran a lap around the circle and came back to make a prototype out of the ball-put-er-out-er. We decided that we might need to make our base of our robot a little shorter in order to allow the put-er-out-er to sucessfully get the ball in the trailer. Oh! we got the trailer today! It is a work of art. We hopefully are getting 3 more orbit balls from north carolina! So other things that happened today: toby was being amazing and de-bugging or talking with the computers as others onlooked, others were designing or measuring or planning for the robot. Ida tried to take pictures for the website. Allie was using solid works. And we all were shooting our orbit ball into our new trailer. Fun Friday!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

a very frustrating thursday

sigh. today [for programming/electronics] was one of those days where you work for hours, starting with a small problem, realizing it's a huge problem, thinking you'll never solve it. and, to make it all the worse, there WAS no problem to begin with. or at least, not the one we were trying to solve.

that's right - it was just tobi, me, and karlin late tonight when we tried to download the code again, after fiddling with IP addresses for a couple hours, and guess what? erin and caroline and i just didn't read the message correctly yesterday. that 34% it was stuck at was not 34-percent-downloaded. no no, it was finished downloading, it was happy. it had 34% free space. meaning - there was no problem to begin with, at least when downloading the way we were.
i think i am understandably frustrated by this realization - karlin, tobi, caroline, erin and i spent a ton of time tonight trying to understand IP addresses for the driver's station and the router and the bridge and the crio. and when it finally works? it's because it did all along. and we had just messed it up majorly in the middle in the processing of debugging.
granted, it only worked because we hard-downloaded it. the wireless still doesn't work, but that might be because we actually messed it up with all the reconfiguring and IP-address-messing. so tomorrow, we'll have to go back and undo all the stuff we did today and THEN see if the wireless works. i wrote us a note on the page karlin marked.

in other news, annie and sallie made an awesome visual representation of the trailer. that thing is HUGE!
we also discovered that the windmill design will likely not work, because it requires an enormous accuracy factor. thank you so much to those that made the [yes, another] prototype out of 80-20 and sheet metal - even if we may not end up using that design, that prototype definitely helped us to understand pros and cons of the design.
we are thinking of a conveyer belt concept involving surgical tubing. caroline made an ace run for some surgical tubing. i'm not sure what happened after that, to be honest. that's when i became consumed by pinging and replies and IP addresses.

an enormous thank you to karlin. after she discovered that HEY there was no problem to begin with, she only laughed instead of being annoyed we'd just wasted a boatload of time. so THANK YOU.

i guess it's officially robotics season.

we're meeting saturday 10-1, not on sunday, and monday at a time tba.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

wednesday [at least for build]

hellooooooooooooooo :)

today was quite a productive day for build!

first, we went over our current overall design for the robot. for the input, we will have a "windmill" design that will push moon balls into the "U" of our u-shaped chassis. the moon balls will go up a little ramp, over this bump, and into this little "storage area" where we want to have space at least 2-3 moon balls. for the transition phase (or as divya likes to say, t-phase), we are planning to have a conveyor belt to carry the moon balls up to the output. for the output, we will have a tube that will lead to the front of the robot, where moon balls will be dropped into our opposing alliance's trailer! this tube will have a stopper to prevent moon balls from falling too early. we also wanted to make the chassis a bit shorter than 38" long so the tube could hang a little over the chassis, making it easier to drop moon balls into trailers.

we threw around some more ideas (such as using a spiral instead of a conveyor belt, and picking balls up with a gripper like a mini jack-the-gripper instead of using the windmill), but we decided that our current design is the best way to go (as of now).

then we ran into the slight (or not so slight) problem of dimensions. with both a windmill AND a conveyor belt, it seems hard to fit everything into our 38" x 28" footprint. anna had a cool idea of tilting the conveyor belt a little bit forward and having it turn in the opposite direction that we planned earlier. with anna's idea, the moon balls will be carried up the conveyor belt in the back of the robot (in other words, if you looked at the robot from his/her/its left side, the conveyor belt would be turning counterclockwise)... this is quite difficult to describe in words...i hope it makes sense.

so annie, divya, tobi, anna, nandini, allie, and i did some math and number crunching to figure out possible dimensions for the different parts of the robot. so far, we've come up with possible dimensions for the windmill, and allie made a uber awesome sketch on solidworks of the windmill with the right dimensions! (except...apparently something's funny with the angles...but that's fix-able).

it's hard to describe the dimensions, but i'll try:
(the windmill has 2...uh...wings...for lack of a better term...
ok yes i know that's not the right term but i honestly can't think of anything right now)
the angle of the wing is 120 degrees (we just assumed this for some reason...we could change this if necessary)
the length across the wing is 14" (which will fit in the "U" of our chassis)
the depth of the wing is 4"
the wing "halves" are 8" x 8" squares
the wings will be mounted 10" from the floor (this should give us enough ground clearance without being too far away from the floor...if i did my math correctly)

annie, divya, tobi, and anna also made a prototype/model of the windmill out of foamcore, pvc, and lots of duct tape with the right dimensions and angles! it's quite pretty. :)

we also have to think about how to mount the windmill (i think it'll be something like free willy on scotty) and possible motors (i need to find those motor specs)...

hooray for productivity! (^.^)
see you all tomorrow :)


WEDNESDAY[at least programming]

i think anne will blog about build's amazing progress today, but i thought i'd give a short update of programming.

we continued to look through the labview stuff. the existing VIs that wpi has provided are amazing. as in, there's an existing timer. and a nice button you drag if you want interrupts. we're very excited about this. we spent a good amount of time just learning what VIs are preexisting for us [most of the ones we'll need, probably] and where they are.
we tried to learn how to download using the documentation that karlin found but it really didn't work. the computer got stuck at 34% and then it wouldn't continue "deploying" [that's what downloading's called.]

build, on the other hand, had a fabulously productive day. allie's solidworks skills are so awesome - she's got a model of the windmill design! and i know there was a lot of measuring and math-ing and prototyping to scale. the latest windmill prototype is beautiful, with measured angles and all!
that's the summary version - anne will provide details.

weekend timings to come.

thanks to annie's family for chaperoning and dinner!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


today was another really productive day. annie, divya, tobi, anna, shreya and malaika all worked on making full scale prototypes of the scooper/windmill design as well as the conveyer belt. sallie caroline erin and i [along with karlin's expertise] looked through the control system code, going through the documentation and looking at the given labview code. we also tried to do some stuff with setting a gyro as a global, but i don't think it totally ended up working. obviously, we'll be working on this more, but i think we're all feeling fairly comfortable with the coding environment at the moment. we also talked about how to do the physics for motors for the conveyer belt [between erin, caroline, and nan's ap physics-ness, we should be in good shape!] and also started looking on mcmaster for different belts/rivet fasteners etc. allie and tanya did some amazing solidworks stuff! there's a great model of a u-shaped chassis so far. it's pretty - we're all really excited about the solidworks. :) tomorrow allie plans to model up the tower/conveyer belt concept, and then tanya will be able to polish it on thursday.

sad news - the orbit balls we had on hold with our pal in chico were bought! so now we're once again on the lookout for more balls. i think we're all contacting relatives around the country to see if someone can pick some up from a walmart, preferably somewhere with few FIRST teams.

see you tomorrow!

Monday, January 12, 2009


we're baaaaack! and i think i speak for all the juniors when i say how impressed i am with the amount of stuff we've/you've gotten done in the past week. wow. the number of prototypes is incredible, the driving-benji-with-the-kit-wheels... it was quite a day.

where to start?

driving benji on the slippery surface was better than expected. he drives/turns roughly as well as last year. the only major problems are that it's really really staticky and does not have a great stopping time. we're trying to think of coding things we can do to counteract it. also, it's super easy to push him around when he's stopped.

we've broken the challenge into three parts - input, transition, and output. input is how we scoop up the cells, transition is moving them, and output is depositing them in the trailers of other robots.

-divya presented her windmill/funnel concept for the input. i think we'll end up using something like this. allie took pictures, so we'll hopefully have those on picasa soon.
-annie c showed the conveyer belt for transition, as well as a corkscrew-type thing for moving the balls up. we'll probably end up using a conveyer belt, if possible.
-sallie showed another conveyer belt concept, this one horizontal
-tobi and anna showed a sort of movie-reel idea for output. basically, the cell comes down a tube, and there's a platform with cutouts that spins. on the other side is corresponding hole, and the cell drops into the other robots trailer. i know that made little sense, but hopefully we'll have pictures to share soon.
-anna and shreya showed another windmill design for scooping/input.
-divya showed her tube/ramp output concept. it has a blocker so there'd be a button on the joystick for release.

we also went over a feasible calendar for season that we'll try very very hard to stick to.

week of 1/12 - design week
1/18 - design chosen
week of 1/18 - build chassis
1/25 - chassis built
1/30 - breathing day aka no robotics
2/5 - drive code finished [this is the big programming deadline]
2/6 - breathing day #2 [fomf]
2/8 - tower built
2/10 - name chosen :)
2/12 - rough tower code
2/15 - real tower code
2/17 - SHIP

some decisions we made
-we're going down to size 25 chain. we currenly use 35
-probably using same general chassis idea, although make it U-shaped so we can better load balls. we'll be going long, rather than fat.
-currently planning a windmill --> conveyer belt --> output design. we'll be further prototyping and drawing to scale in the next week. allie and tanya are working on solidworks designs.
-anne will be the picasa girl again
-for mentors: karlin made sure that the gmail calendar is all set up, so if we can use that to know when mentors will be available that would be great!

a big thank you to karlin and tanya for their time today, and to annie's mom for chaperoning and food.

this week we'll be meeting roughly 5:15 - 8. hope to see you then!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 8

Today we continued working on prototypes. We made a "corkscrew" prototype, a windmill prototype, a "gumball machine" prototype, and another conveyor belt prototype. Then, we presented our prototypes to the group, and talked about how they could work together as a system. We also talked about using no more than four motors in the final tower design. This year, chassis design and tower design are inextricably tied, so we need to make decisions soon regarding our tower design.

Tomorrow we will be meeting from 2-4:30 (ending a bit earlier)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day 7

Today we finished what we had been working on yesterday, mainly installing software on computers (thanks again Sallie and Brian) and prototyping.  We made lots of prototypes today out of all sorts of materials.  Shreya and Anna made a very nice vertical conveyer belt system, and Divya and Annie worked on a horizontal windmill (it actually spins!).  Our goal for this weekend is to have lots of nice prototypes to demonstrate to the leads during the meeting on Monday.  

The Agenda for Monday's Meeting is as follows:
-Show the challenge video
-Go over challenge (questions, clarifications etc.) 
-Go over schedule for the season
-Show Benji with this year's wheels on the competition surface (will he turn?) 
-Present Prototypes

We would love if mentors would be able to attend, but we want to do the meeting early enough so that the Juniors can get some work done after the meeting, and early enough so some mentors can attend.  Basically, we want to have an all-team meeting before we all go off and work.  

Another note, Jimmy finished replacing the wheels on last year's robot with the wheels from this year's kop, so we would love a volunteer to pick up the robot from IDEO at a time tbd (I'm not sure when Jimmy will be there/ we can get into the shop to pick it up).  However, it would be great it we could get it before/on Monday so that we can present it at the meeting.  Thanks for a great first week of robotics.  

Meeting times for this week and Monday are as follows: 
Saturday :2-6
Sunday:  2-5
Monday: 3-6 (with the meeting beginning at 3)


Thursday, January 08, 2009

day 6

Today was another big day of prototyping and setup.  Sallie downloaded the FIRST version of labview on Zak (no small feat) and worked on getting the computers ready for programming to start.  We still need to finish installation on Mark, but Sallie started that, so we are well on our way.  

In terms of prototypes, the team worked on making a conveyer belt (as that is a key aspect of many of our designs) and wrote up a pro con list of some of our current prototypes.  We are hoping to have many functional prototypes for our all-team meeting this Monday.  We haven't chosen a definite time for the meeting, but it will probably be in the 6:00- 6:30 range (so that mentors can attend).  At this meeting we will be briefing the juniors on what we have been doing this week, showing them our prototypes, and presenting a detailed season schedule.  Our first big deadline is in a little over a week.  By next Sunday we hope to have chosen designs for both the chassis and tower.  

Tomorrow we will be meeting from 5-8, Saturday from 2-6, and Sunday from 2-5.  I will post the Monday meeting time as soon as I know.    

Day 5

So, on Wednesday we did some more brainstorming and started to work on the bumpers for the trailer. However, our staple gun skills were less than stellar, so Anna's dad is going to finish the construction of the bumpers tonight to free the students up for brainstorming and prototyping.

Last night we also met Tanya (our new mentor from abbott labs). She brought some really cool stents for us to look at (one that maintains its shape and another that does not). She is really good at CAD, which should be great for our team. This past year the Cardinal's helped us set up computers with solidworks, so tonight Tanya will be showing us how to do some of that.

Yesterday we also dropped off last year's robot at IDEO so that we could switch out the wheels. Since Benji is stil operational, we are going to see how effective last year's chassis design and wheel configuration is with this year's wheels.

Divya and Tobi got the team number to display on the driver station, which brings us closer to finishing setting up the new control system.

Thanks to the mentors, students, and parents who have made these past few days run so smoothly!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

day 4

Today was a pretty successful day. We dropped off the trailer material for Jimmy at IDEO (thanks to Marsha), did some more brainstorming and prototyping, installed some software, worked on the calendar, and worked on setting up the wireless connection for the cRIO (thanks Tobi, Divya and Mr. Amos).

Brainstorming and prototyping went well. We came up with the idea of using a windmill/waterwheel like structure to pick up balls from the floor and dump them into a chute that could hold them back until they could be released into an opposing team's trailer. Shreya and Anna began prototyping that design, but we need to do some more work on that before we will be able to tell if . We are planning on having an all-team meeting on the Monday that the leads return so that we can present our current prototypes and go over the schedule that we have created.

Karlin was here tonight from 5-8, and will be here again on Thursday at the same time. Tomorrow we're excited about meeting our new mentor Tanya from Abbott Labs. Meetings will be from 5-8 tomorrow and Thursday. Please try to read the manual when you can. Thanks for another great night!

Monday, January 05, 2009

days 2 and 3 of the build season

We have been working on finishing setting up the control system and brainstorming robot designs.

Yesterday (with the help of the amazing Karlin) we finished the bulk of the setup of the new control system. When we finally turned it on, we got lots of blinky green lights (something that rarely happens in robotics when you first turn something on). Doug bought us an AMAZING printer (probably the nicest in the whole school...) as well as some other goodies (3 types of wire strippers, heat shrink etc.).

Today we worked on finishing the control system testing. We almost finished (the motors do everything they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it!). All we have left is setting up the wireless system (new this year with the new control system). We also did some more brainstorming. One of our ideas involved conveyer belts to draw the balls up and hold them for dumping into other teams' trailers. We also prototyped some other designs (hook and Doug's "salad bowl" idea") The hook didn't work very well, but the salad bowls were a promising gripper. Our concern is that the salad bowls might not be able to deal with high enough volumes of balls. This would make it hard to score many points with the moon rocks (2 points ea), but would be good for the final 20 second period when we need to place the super cell in the trailer of an opposing team.

We are also planning on replacing the mecanum wheels from last year's robot with the kit wheels from this year's kop to see what driving is like. Marsha picked up the competition floor material (very slippery!) so we can drive on that to see what it's like.

That's all for tonight. Tomorrow Tobi and Divya are starting at 3:00 and I will be there around 4:45.( I am dropping off materials at IDEO for the trailer) If you would like to help Tobi and Divya please join them at 3:00, if not, please plan on attending at 4:45.

kickoff (sorry this is a little late)

(written by divya)

Today was kickoff, and we found what we had been waiting for so long: the challenge. The challenge, called Lunacy (named based on its moon theme), entails the robots dropping moon rocks, hollow teflon-covered balls, into opponent robots' attached trailers. In a section of the competition, one of us human Gatorbotics members has the opportunity to throw moon rocks into the opponent robots' trailers, too. We better hope one of us has hidden hoops skills, or as Tobi said, practice when we're stressed. After Erin, Tobi, and I attended kickoff to pick up the kit and discover the challenge, we returned and in the Choral Room, Erin shared the information with the rest of the team (well, a critical part: JUNIORS: of the team is on the other side of the world right now =[ ). Aside from introducing Doug and Jimmy to the new freshmen, we all met Brian, a new mentor. We then went on to the fabulous new robotics room to brainstorm ideas for this year's challenge, inventory everything in the kit of parts (all 27 pages of the checklist), and fix tape on/wires (splicing took quite a while for Tobi, Shreya, Anna, and me, but we managed =D ) of the batteries.

Here is the challenge video:

Here is the like to this year's manual:
I would plan on reading sections 7-10

Friday, January 02, 2009

it's about that time

it's been a while - kickoff is TOMORROW, saturday january 3rd. as usual, we'll be meeting at castilleja in the choral room at 11:30. please come to watch the animation, brainstorm challenge solutions, unpack kit of parts, etc.

as most of you know, the juniors are in china for the next week! we'll be checking email and eagerly awaiting news of the challenge. we're back on the 11th.

i've been remiss in blogging this fall, but summary version - we ran a blinky bug workshop, the programmers had our first-ever independent study, meaning we were able to have specific robotics-related worktime during the school day. we learned a ton about labview and were just generally more organized. there was an allen steel run, we showed off benji to the school several times... it was a good fall.
and, oh yeah, we have NEW SPACE! we're now in the lower level of arrillaga and have both an office and a larger room. come check it out :)

the new control system arrived during finals, meaning we only really got to work with it once. but we inventoried everything and started to bench test, though didn't get as far as we'd hoped. i'm hoping by the time all the juniors are back from china, you'll all be experts :)

okay that's all i've got for now. see you when we're back!