Tuesday, February 23, 2010

to do

details of the past few days to come shortly, but before i forget--

things to do either before or on thursday of portland:
FIX THE CRATE -- crack, power strip, weather stripping, bolts on the bottom, etc.
cart...? [check airline restrictions]
pack [update packing lists first]
do not forget the blinky light. take to portland and mount.
camera -- figure out how to mount it! test the code
[probably not] autonomous
sticky stuff for the front roller
distribute teeshirts, etc
chairman's video?

sleep, eat, etc.
i'm proud of us. it's definitely been a whirlwind, tumultuous season, but chad is pretty, chad drives and kicks and goes over bumps. get ready for a crazy two [...or three???] competitions.

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you to everyone we have to thank. you know exactly who you are.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

status check

1. DONE:Test drive code/ ability to strafe onto bump (strump?)
2. DONE:Determine position for kicker/surgical tubing
3. YES OR NO? Mount encoders
4. DONEMount gyro
5. DONEMount battery and electronics board
6. NEEDEDcase for electronics board
7. N/AWhere is pneumatics going? cylinders too
8. DONEMount cam
9. HAAAAAAAAAAAAtest cam code
10. DONEHow to join surgical tubing?
11. SPRAY PAINTBumpers
13. STILLNEEDAnti-ball carrying/support pyramids
14. NEEDCamera mount
15. DONEMake kicker
16. N/AElevation hook...geometry
17. N/ACan we lift 150 lbs?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


it seems ridiculous to dive back into the mundane blogposts of what's happening, what needs to happen, etc, but i know that he would have wanted us to have a robot to ship on tuesday.

a couple of us are heading to nasa today [rules mean only six people can go] for a practice session. i'm a little unclear as to whether we have macoc [mac and cheese on chad] to work with, but we'll swing by ideo later. the full name, sadly, will NOT be macocwfw, as the pneumatics unfortunately are not going to work and therefore we won't have elevation.

programming is eagerly awaiting a moment when we can test some code :) but if worst comes to worst, we can always use thursday at portland for that. but honestly, especially since we won't be having elevation, i think we'll be in decent shape for tuesday.

thanks to everyone.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Hello everybody,
Today was a sad day for everyone in Gatorbotics. But we know we have to finish our robot. It's why Doug did everything he did for us. That, and how much he loved us.

I didn't know Doug too well, but I remember when he taught me how to solder. I'm an excellent solderer now--I learned from the best. Doug was always extremely precise in everything, from the twisting of the wires together, being careful not to break them, to the application of the super-hot solder, without burning the wire. And of course you have to wear your safety glasses. Doug always made sure of that.

I think it's appropriate that I spent today soldering, and even better, teaching other people how to solder. We all wore our safety glasses, and our soldering was wonderful. We fixed a battery charger, which is happy because...now our batteries can charge. And we fixed up encoders and PWMs. And now two more people on the team know how to solder exactly the way Doug taught me.

In other areas of the team--some of us are working on the cart! It's going great, I think we just have to add a couple corners so the robot doesn't fall off.
Pneumatics-wise, we're trying to test if Free Willy will hold 150 pounds safely.
Caroline worked on code. The wireless is having a temper tantrum. Hopefully it'll calm down soon.

We miss you, Doug.

woodie flowers

We don't know where to begin this essay. Around noon today, we heard terrible news that a plane flying Tesla engineers, including Doug Bourn, had crashed into a power line. There were no survivors. Last night, Doug was, as usual, at Castilleja with his girls. Even after his six years with the team, we never quite knew when he'd arrive; he once told us “Well, I usually stop by when I'm having a bad day. You girls can always cheer me up.” We don't want to believe that he will never again arrive bearing bags of goodies, a bright smile, and thoughtful advice. The thing about Doug is that he was never proud of himself. Last year, we had all students and mentors sign our finished robot. When asked to contribute, he simply said, “But it's your robot. You built it. You did it.” He always put others first. Just a week ago, after quietly noticing we had not yet built a tower, he turned up with all the supplies and tools needed to put together a full-scale game piece. That's just who Doug is. He doesn't expect or wish to be commended for his generosity, because he always acted with extraordinary chivalry and compassion.

Doug taught us that any job can be accomplished with the right tools. He was the resident “Santa” of the team and often participated in "retail therapy." Whenever our team needed anything, he would be the first to go out and buy it, or find some better alternative. A few of the tools he supplied us with were far more precise than we would ever need, but most ended up being valuable tools (we eventually used all of the left-handed, right-handed, and straight tin snips he brought us). More important than the physical products was the mindset he gave us of how essential tools are. Our team, in the time crunch of robotics, would often construct make-shift prototypes and tweak them as necessary. Doug taught us that spending one day just planning out what we were doing without any construction would save us three days later when our model needed to be fixed. He showed us how many problems could be avoided by thinking through hypothetical situations beforehand. Doug gave us both the physical and metaphorical tools to succeed.

We all want to grow up to be just like Doug. He was compassionate, precise, brilliant, and sweet. Doug recognizes the needs of others and acts accordingly, without being asked. He always attempts to explain even the most difficult concepts, like the nitty-gritty of how sensors work or how to build a 256 by 256 array to house every combination of joystick values. He always enjoyed teaching us and never lost patience when we didn't immediately grasp the difficult concepts he so easily understood. Doug was also the sensor whisperer. We accidentally broke many a GTS and other sensors while trying carefully to make them work, and Doug would always sit down with a magnifying glass and some solder and sort it all out. He was able to teach concepts while simultaneously executing the necessary tasks. Most importantly, he was always laughing. Doug could make anyone else smile, even if he didn't know why they were down. Through the tools in our project room and the smarts in our brains, Doug will always be with us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Crappy wooden CAM (seriously, that thing took way longer to make than I would've guessed), temporarily attached to CIM motor to test torque output and actuate the kicker mechanism

...and it works! but watch out for your fingers...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

t-7, continued

chadddddd the chassssssssssssssis drives. well! beautifully! the gyro code ensures that we don't crash and burn after coming down off the bump. this is actually wonderfully exciting. at the very very least, we will have a driving robot.

paiataaotgor's prototype does not currently work perfectly, but we think that with a tower of the exact dimensions and correct bumpers, it shoooould work. fingers crossed.

a ghetto version of the kicker is on chad [macncheese on chad with free willy is the official name of the 2010 gatorbotics robot]. the cam, in all its wedgeofcheese glory, is machined, meaning we FINALLY have a functional prototype of a kicker. anndini added a wedge to the bottom of the kicker, and now it makes it into the goal!!!! this is enormously exciting. we're aren't yet using a motor, it's mounted with duct tape, and nandini sits inside chad to operate it, but PROGRESS! such progress! and with seven days to go [MAINSK!] that's all we can hope for.

bumper progress continues, crate is glorious, cad is good stuff, chairmans and woodie in the works, sugar in the belly, and off we go!


one week to ship and the robotics room is buzzing!
like bees! except i'm not sure bees are known for their robot-building abilities? although they do build excellent hexagonal honeycombs.
and what have the busy bees of team 1700 have been up to?
paiataaotgor has a design for the support pyramid for free willy!
bumpers are going swimmingly
the chassis is chassisy! and happy? it goes over the bump without bumping too much. thanks jimmy!
electronics board is in the works
yes, life is good!
...is it time to start pondering names?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

things we need to machine

chassis finished [gearboxes, chain, wheels...]
machine the cam
machine the kicker [questions: welded or bolted? we need to buy metal first, anyway]
-cam [need to determine position. can we reuse from sadie?]
-kicker [screws--tapped chassis]
-surgical tubing [ubolts]
-pneumatics/free willy [free willy himself, pivot, hook, additional supports]
electronics board and case

Saturday, February 13, 2010

vitals check, 2/13

thanks to shreya for posting that long list of what needs to happen before ship.... it's a hefty list, certainly, but we can do it. we're in a sort of bottleneck right now, since we can't test code until we have a chassis and we can't do the kicker until we have a chassis and we can't make final kicker decisions until we have a cam and there's just oodles to be done. jimmy is working on the chassis, kicker, encoder mounts, etc. fast and furious.

paiataaotgor is working hard on two thing that can be accomplished tonight: will free willy hold 150 pounds? and what will the final geometry be? yay for math and tightened 8020!

the crate is great [ha ha geddit?] and a deliciously vibrant shade of lime green, with a wonderfully ferocious CHOMP CHOMP mouth on it. that's a terrible description, but it's a great :) work of art.

we're coming at the end and with much that needs to be done but little that can be done, it can be really frustrating. keep your chin up and eyes focused and with some chocolate, fantastic mentors, and the will to win, we'll somehow put out a functional robot in our remaining nine days.

t-10 to do list!

hello all!
so today we have compiled the following list of stuff to do before ship...luckily we are looking at the vast expanse of SKI WEEK stretching out before us like a...ski slope? for robots?
  1. Test drive code/ ability to strafe onto bump (strump?)
  2. Determine position for kicker/surgical tubing
  3. Mount encoders
  4. Mount gyro
  5. Mount battery and electronics board
  6. CASE for electronics board
  7. Where is pneumatics going? cylinders too
  8. Mount cam
  9. test cam code
  10. How to join surgical tubing?
  11. Bumpers
  12. Cart
  13. Anti-ball carrying/support pyramids
  14. Camera mount
  15. Make kicker
  16. Elevation hook...geometry
  17. Can we lift 150 lbs?
17 things to do in 10 days, so if we do 1.7 things per day we'll be done on time! WE CAN DO IT!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


ELEVATION! IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN! the bimba order finally turned up, and our 2foot cylinder is capable of lifting decrepit, dying old chad! it's super exciting. i have video footage that i will post at a later time. or an earlier time, meaning tmrw.

cam design sent to jimmy [solidworkssss whoo hoo] so we can actually have a real prototype...

goal built

yay. thank you to the rosstons for chaperoning, to karlin and holly and stephen and kersten for being their wondrous selves.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


chassis metal delivered to jimmy. chad 2.0 in the works.

cad stuff... also in the works? programming has written some theoretical cam code with an encoder and will test after divya does some camera stuff.
the camera is actually hooked up and though we may not use it during autonomous, it will be super useful just for general driving.

paiataaotgor still working on wood prototypes for elevation. their bimba stuff hasn't yet turned up. illinois-ING!

we have less than two weeks to go. commence concerned burst of productivity now.

karlin here - wow, I don't think I've ever written on this thing...

cam update: worked on figuring out where to place the cam and estimate cam shape/dimensions. Cam dimensions are approximately 1.5 inch smaller radius with the "oblong portion" of the cam extending to about 4 inches from the center.

On Monday, used ghetto method to estimate the force necessary to push the kicking mechanism back. We estimate we'll need to generate ~8.5 Nm of torque maximum if we assumed the cam had the dimensions above. For details about how we got this number, ask Nandini and Anne ...and don't put the notebook w/the calcs in the recycling bin ;) Technically that means we could possibly avoid using a CIM motor to actuate the cam because it's not that much torque...

Anne drew up a CAM outline to give to Jimmy and will ask him to cut a piece of wood to test with- plan to attach a prototype cam on the shaft from last year's front brush mechanism to hook up the cam to a motor and rig up a semi-functional 80/20 prototype.

Other things to think about: where on the chassis does this thing go? how do you want to kicker to contact the ball (e.g. on an upswing? on the downswing? parallel to the floor?) Can we incorporate something that will help keep the ball in place/draw the ball towards the kicker to kick more accurately?

Also - Tobi had a different idea for kicker actuation that utilized a conveyor belt to pull back the kicker and release it. They had a prototype in the works, it'll be cool to see if they can get it to work.


Monday, February 08, 2010

status update at t-15

15 days to go, so much to do!

we've made a ton of progress in the last few days, especially with driving.
marvin, may he rip, has essentially been abandoned becauuuuuuuse CHAD WORKS! with mecanum wheels, he is successfully able to get over the bump. whoo hooo!!!! because he is the kit chassis, the gearboxes are not ideal meaning the chain falls off basically all the time. but once chad 2.0 has been created things should be better.

originally we had the rollers on the wheels mounted like this


bad news. turns out that is not how you are supposed to mount mecanum wheels. now they are like this and everything is happier


anndini are going to allen steel tomorrow to purchase 6061 that can be delivered to jimmy. they also hope to have something drawn up in wood so that they can have a functional cam prototype.

paiataaotgor have new pneumatic [noo-noo] elevation ideas and are currently doing math to see if their idea is feasible.

annie and a crew have been working on finishing up the crate and will paint it on friday. it's going to be awfully awfully neon and with a gator! they are also making another bump and doug is making us a tower. we're still hoping to get a goal built soon.

chairmans and woodie due next week...

Friday, February 05, 2010

general update

we switched marvin's back wheels to the moon wheels so that he would spin faster and not buckle in our itself: it worked fairly well, as he now turns well/pivoting. we tried to drive him over the bump, and while it did not work wonderfully, it didn't work horribly either. the one time we truly got him over the bump, we went really fast and he basically tipped over. we're not abandoning marvin altogether, but we are working on putting mecanum wheels on chad to see how that will work.

code is generally in good shape -- wiring up a gts today to potentially use on the cam.

divya is working on camera stuff

paiataaotgor's elevation idea may not ultimately work, as they think the cylinders will only raise it up about 18 inches. they are now trying to develop an arm to help elevate.

jimmy has suggested using something called "rola" for elevation... i am going to look into ordering it.

saturday: 10-4
sunday: 10-3

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Wednesday February 3, 2010


Today has been a very eventful day. The PAIATAAOTGOR (Pneumatics as it applies to alternative aspects of the game or robots) sub team has successfully developed a method for elevation! Hopefully we will get a video if the testing posted soon. The best way to describe it is that there is an I shaped frame that is located under the chassis. At the intersections of the frame the pneumatics actuators are attached. The remained of the pneumatic cylinder is attached to the chassis frame. So when the actuator extends the chassis is lifted up and the I shaped frame remains on the ground. Then if we add hooks to the top of the robot, we should be able to retract the I shaped frame, so that the robot is elevated. Hopefully we will be able to get a total of 4 2 ft actuators in order to make this elevation method more stable (so if there is anyone who would like to give us a gift we would be very grateful :) )

Good Night

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Monday 2/1


Today the PAIATAGOR team worked on prototyping a kicker. The first kicker we worked on was very strong. Unfortunately, it was a little too strong for the pneumatics to pull. We started working on another design that also uses pneumatics and hopefully that one will work well.