Tuesday, February 22, 2011


(in Shelbyville)...

Thanks everyone-- students, parents, and mentors-- for a wonderful build season! Watch the blog as we add videos and pictures in the coming days!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Functioning Robots and Double Dream Hands

Today was a great day! After a great relaxation session drinking pearl tea and watching The Office we were all ready to get to work. Some team members went to IDEO to pick up the parts of the arm and the programming go to work wiring up the chassis. Caroline, Gadre, and Katie led the bumper making, and they are almost done! The bumpers look beautiful (We went with reversible ones and got numbers printed on the fabric. Other team members worked on modifying last year's cart to work for this year's robot. I believe they are also looking into adding some storage areas for batteries, gloves and other things to the cart.

We also found out yesterday that SVR is actually a bag and tag event for us. This means that instead of shipping the robot on Tuesday we will actually put it in a giant plastic bag and keep it at at school until the competition. We aren't allowed to open it except for a total of six hours the week before SVR, which is great because it means that we will be able to get in a little extra practice.

But the best part about today was that we got the robot up and running! We only have the motors for the drivetrain set up, but the first time we tested the code we were driving! And to make it even better this was all wireless! We had to do a little bit of fine tuning to get some things worked out, but we are making great progress.

Hopefully we will be able to finish a majority of the robot tomorrow so that we can attend the practice matches at NASA.

This will be a busy weekend, but we are off to a great start! Also, check out the new pictures added to the Picasa.

PS. The title of the video gives a hint to a little something special we have been up to...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hope everyone got their homework done today!

because most of the team took the Sunday off to finish it...which sounds like a smart decision in hindsight because I do have quite a lot left to finish tonight. Whoops! On the other hand, programming did get stuff done (Shifrah, Katherine, and mentors Stephen and Emma). We added to the autonomous code so that the arm goes up once the robot reaches the Twor (the robot would know that it reached the T by using the line tracker/ light sensor provided in the KoP). Afterward, we tried to get the ultrasonic sensor working in the case that the robot does not have space to extend the arm upwards when positioned at the T; the ultrasonic sensor would basically tell us when the robot was far too close to the wall for comfort, and therefore tell the us when the robot should back up a bit. Unfortunately, the ultrasonic sensor did not work properly as it kept spitting out 0.0 as the distance to the nearest object. After we Chief Delphi'ed the problem, we realized that the Parallax brand sensor didn't interface with FRC code as easily as some other sensors from different brands. (Time for another shopping trip!)

Then we had a lunch break...Unlike Saturday's conversation on genetic cloning (Victoria: "So should we have a philosophical discussion on cloning?"), it was more AWAH, "would you rather," and showing off gymnastic, juggling, and Rubik's Cube talents (apparently, Emma keeps a Rubik's Cube in her purse for those pesky traffic jams).

After lunch, we brought all the files from the various laptops together on Silverado and tried to make sense of the Gyro values. At first, the Gyro kept spitting out multiples of 7 for each timestep, even when the gyro was left alone. However, some Chief Delphi'ing allowed us to realize that leaving the Gyro still when it is first enabled allows it to calibrate itself, and so after leaving it be for a couple of seconds, it was a little more accurate. As far as we know, the gyro is kind of accurate. Meh.

Summary of what has been finished: first draft code for driving (plans to add PID if the robot does not strafe smoothly); first draft code for lifting or lowering parts of the arm to specific heights and manual override control of these arm parts; first draft code for having the robot follow the line until the T ...First drafts because none of this code has been loaded onto the actual robot...But it will soon...like couple of days soon! Great job everyone! :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

33.33% To Go!

Incredibly, we only have one third of the build season left! Today we made quite a bit of progress.

The minibot group worked more on their two-wheeled prototype and began working on a stabilization wheel to keep it on the pole. We're planning to run it tomorrow.

Caroline worked on the deployment of the minibot by researching racks and pinions along with drawer slides. We also made the deployment system in CAD to add to our robot model.

Others designed an aligning device for our robot to make sure it is perfectly centered on the pole and is the right distance from the center. It will most likely consist of a piece of sheet metal cut in a semicircle to complement the shape of the base of the pole and will be deployed by servos.

Programming worked on gripper code and encoders for the different positions of the arm. They discussed how best to control the robot and decided that an override of the gripper arm would be beneficial. They also made a pretty button board for the set heights of the arm but are planning on making a simple joystick version first before getting too complicated just so we have something to fall back on.

Two weeks left everyone, let's keep up the enthusiasm and great work!

~Annie, Build Lead

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Getting a little stressed...

Today we found out some bad news that all of the BaneBots orders are backed up by at least 10 days. This means that it is likely we may not even get the motors by the ship day, which makes us very stressed since we were relying on these to power the arm. Currently we are looking for alternatives which would be
  • planetary from AndyMark (they are behind on shipping, but it would work)
  • lead screw (we wouldn't need to use a BaneBots motor for this, but it would take more space on the bottom of the robot)
  • hope that they let us use a CIM motor since many teams are having difficulty from this backup and bad weather
  • maybe use a drill gearbox... or try to make something on our own
If you have any ideas or solutions, let us know in the comments!

Yesterday we thought that we broke one of the motors, because it started smelling really bad and wouldn't run. We probably did do something wrong to make it smell that bad, but once the battery was charged it worked again. So either it healed or we just didn't check that it was charged....

Minibot has been making progress on deployment and design, we have had some difficulties with the parts and getting the materials to connect the gears the way that we want to but we are making progress.

Programming has been making lots of progress! They discussed various electronic parts that are related to the robot.