Saturday, January 29, 2011

So close, yet so far...

Today marks the end of week 3, beginning of week 4. Time is running out!

However, this week we've made a lot of progress. In programming, after the wireless on Silverado was turned off properly, it finally communicated with the cRIO. After testing for buttons and axis for the wheel and the videogame controller, the programmer pairs revised their code. Luckily, all sets of code managed to move the wheels! However, since the wheels are not mounted on anything, the team cannot yet determine whether or not their code will maneuver the robot as they want.

On the build side, we completed the CAD for the "final" prototype of the robot. We've decided on the lifter mechanism to be the four bar linkage (we threw out the scissor lift idea for good because of the difficulty in making it... and we want Jimmy to stay with us ^^;), and now we're just waiting for the omni wheels to arrive to finish up the real chassis. However, what we're not sure on just yet is the gripper and the mini-bot deployment system.

For the gripper, Stephen advised us to actually make a gripper to test with - a prototype that is much closer to the real thing than blocks of wood nailed together and wheels connected with duct tape (not that duct tape is not a good tool...) and so that is the direction we're planning on going. As for the deployment system, we met after the meeting today to talk about ideas. Some ideas included a sliding-drawer system, an extending scissor-arm, and a "catapult." There was also the talk of accuracy, and in having a semi-circle guide extend from the robot to help align it perfectly every time. Our focused has really moved to the deployment system so that we can complete the robot quicker. While the robot has to be finished in three weeks, the mini-bot can be completed after the ship date, so we're putting emphasis on the robot itself. We will then base the structure of the mini-bot with the most efficient deployment mechanism that we think of.

Oh, and on the topic of the mini-bot, we've been working with three main ideas in terms of attaching the robot to the pole: magnetism, securing it completely around the pole via hinge, and forcing the wheels around it. The prototypes are still being worked on, and we bought two strong magnets to help. However, we seem to be lacking some tetrix components, and the Lego pieces, while handy, are not optimal in seeing how the real mini-bot will behave. Still, we're getting somewhere, and I'm excited to see where we end up!

Til next time!
~Tobi - the random senior

PS - A team 1700 music video? To be continued...

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