Saturday, January 23. 2010
Welcome back, Kim and Eric!
For those of you who are not familiar with our team, Kim is our beloved team founder, leader and mentor. She and her husband Angry-Eric, also a mentor for our team, moved several months ago to the Boston area. They have made plans to join us every other weekend through build season and will be able to attend our competitions. One of the factors when we selected the Boston Regional was knowing it would be near them!
Kim also supplied the bagels and donuts for today, Thanks!
Today could be labeled as the D-D Day that didn’t. Having come the the realization that we are about a week behind where we were last year on the robot design and fabrication schedule, the plan for today was to review the preliminary plans and prototypes and make a final design decision (D-D) and hit Autocad Inventor hard to start getting the part production drawings done.
Big set back. The school has had a major disruption in their computer servers/ network. We were unable to get to the network where we store our documents, to the server that houses the Inventor program licenses and to the Internet in general. It was interesting to discover how much we depend on those tools. Some of the sub-teams could continue working such as the programming team since they rely on independent laptops for much of their work. And the controls group who had planned on doing some work on building part of the control box if they had arrived.
Two students of the drive-train sub-team headed to Harris (Our Sponsor) for a prearranged work session with Mentor Josh. Their goal was to finalize the drive-train and design the method of preventing the soccer balls from rolling under the robot. Mentor Mike and Alex W. of the mechanical sub-team headed home where Alex had access to inventor, to get started on the mechanical drawings.
The field team moved field pieces into the cafeteria to set up in anticipation of some serious prototype robot testing, as they continued to work to make the goals and more bumps. The programming team headed down the hall to work with Mentor Angry-Eric. working on the camera and other pieces of code.
Lunch! What we ate: Soup for you! Matt’s family provided a selection of three soups, beefy Italian, broccoli, rice and cheese and chicken noodle. For dessert we had magic squares. I made it to the school in time to have one of these delicious cookie bars with a glass of milk!
After lunch, the team held their Saturday integration meeting Once again Val took notes for me and when I arrived, turned the job over to me.
Electrical: The radio has arrived and they were planning on testing it on “Thunderplucker.” They were testing the pneumatic systems using a new compressor. They need to work with the mechanical team to find a lower and more centered place for the battery.
Controls: Most of the components have arrived including their box!They were starting assembly. They have a piece of sheet metal to draw in inventor for fabrication.
Programming: They are working on increasing the camera resolution as it won’t detect the target unless it is in close range. Once again they put in the request for the purchase of more “1’s” but added an e-stop to their list.
Mechanical 2: The new and improved kicker is in place. As they put together the design, Team Leader Larry has requested that they prepare a list of lessons learned so we don’t backtrack as the robot is built and tested.
Mechanical 1: They have several designs in the works and are ready for the D-D time. Latest numbers crunched: after hitting the bar with the telescoping rod, it will take less than 5 seconds to lift the robot using a winch. D-D time is set for 5 pm.
Drive-train: Omni wheel and traction wheel assemblies are complete. Design work happening at Harris (already described). Kim mentioned that she has been doing some research on using a beater bar mechanism to help control the ball for kicking and would like one to be added to the design.
There is a lot of concern expressed at the meeting that we still have too many viable designs and none finalized. There is also a growing concern that the robot will be too heavy to add all the features that are on our list. Will the D-D meeting at 5 pm resolve those issues?
After the integration meeting, we had a brief birthday celebration for Mike H and mentor Amy. The cake was baked by teacher adviser Mrs. Latona, and we were entertained by birthday song selections by mentor Bear and the traditional birthday song was led in a non-traditional way by Mentor Dave B.
The afternoon passed with students turning parts on the lathe under the watchful eye of mentor Tom C. But I guess it wasn’t quite watchful enough as Mike Mo. received a laceration and had to complete a safety incident report. Control Box assembly was progressing nicely and included mounting a USB port in the side of the control box, and mounting the joy sticks. The Chairman’s Award group took some time to review the current essay status.
I don’t know whether it was because it was Saturday, or because Kim was here, but we had lots of visitors today! We had visits from alumni Martin and Jess, the original Super-Team-Mom Shelley and son John, and Mrs. Buckley too!
5:00 pm! Time for the D-D meeting! As the mechanical groups sat together to make the decisions, several design proposals were made for the kicker and the lifter mechanisms. As weights were estimated and added, and as the power usages were reviewed, we discovered that we had gaps in the information needed to make a decision. As part of the kicker design, a blocker and a beater bar still need to be considered, the belt system needs to be re-converted to chain, the motor selection should be re-thought and weight and power demand needs calculated. For the lifter mechanism, a 3rd design option has surfaced, the superstructure of the robot needs to be planned and the weights calculated of the various options. It was very frustrating to still not to be able to make a clear cut decision and the sub-teams were charged with providing the needed information, specifically the weight calculations by 1 pm on Sunday!
After simmering all day in the slow cooker in the back room, it was finally time for dinner! What we ate! With what has become an annual tradition, the Wolf Pack served us pulled pork sandwiches! We also had a selection of sides – coleslaw, pasta salad, and tossed salad. There was a vegetarian pulled-pork substitute (bbq tofu) and cookies for dessert. It was wonderful!
The team continued to meet for several more hours with the sub-teams continuing work. The base robot went to the field for testing and it was discovered that the prototype was not robust enough for the planned testing. Lead Teacher Adviser Mr. Brewer came to check up on us and worked with Angry-Eric to see if they could find a work around to the computer issues for Inventor. The straggler crew reassembled the robot kicker and was able to get some long distance kicking before quitting for the evening.
It’s late since I couldn’t file this report at the school. So…