Tuesday, January 26. 2010
You can always tell the it is midterms week by the students energy levels at the team meetings that week. Most of the students have only intermittent tests and no classes this week. They seem to have a frenetic activity about them, like they have been caged at home all day and are anxious to be out and about. And it seemed like everyone was here for a while; the computer lab was packed!
What we ate for dinner! Thanks to Mike H.’s family we had chicken stroganoff with a choice of white rice or egg noodles, with a vegetarian casserole option. It was accompanied by a tossed salad, bread and butter, and cookies and oreo “truffles” in lovely shades of red and blue.
Team meeting notes: Reminder for team members: Travel forms are due by January 29th. No form, no trip.
Significant news on the robot design: We had been planning on using an electronic clutch to make kicker strength adjustments, but after a careful analysis of the rules have determined that this may not be allowed depending on interpretation. Rather than risk the mechanism being disqualified, we are going to spend some time tonight reviewing the alternatives and make a decision on a revised design.
Tuesday evenings start with the integration meeting @ 5 pm. Val has, to my relief, once again, taken the notes for the meeting.
Drive-train – With the real wheels on the robot, it was tested in the cafeteria. They are anxious to test it on real carpet, and to get the real components in for the frame so the wheel brackets won’t bend during testing. The parts were reported to have shipped on Friday. They need the programming team to fix the periodic stopping as a result of a CAN bus problem.
Mechanical 1 – As reported from Sunday, they are going with a winch and telescoping device. They have three 19 inch telescoping tubes drawn in Inventor, and with the hook the weight estimate is 2.5 lbs. The righting mechanism is on the back burner for now. (Blogger’s note: I hope it comes back to the front burner! I love the idea that if the robot ever tipped that these little arms would shoot out and flip it back over!)
Mechanical 2 – The time was spent to put the electronic clutch on the kicking mechanism, and programming was ready to start to work on making the kicker adjustable. But wait, the team learns that the clutch is not legal based on this year’s Breakaway rules. The design work on the kicker was about 50% done in Inventor, but fortunately didn’t include the actuator. The team will start the design of the front beater bar tonight.
Electrical – They are still waiting to hear where the electrical controls are going to be located and how much space will be allocated on the chassis.
Field – A full goal is assembled. They are cutting the pipes for the tower / ball return system (measure twice, cut once!). They may try to obtain a small section of carpet that can be used for robot testing until the full field is available.
Controls – They are ready to finalize their plans, but need a “button count.” They will be working on Inventor tonight.
Programming – The CAN buses are spewing error messages, and the team needs to see why. They have been working on upping the camera resolution, but no luck yet; they still can’t see the target well from a distance. More back-burnering! The camera work is being paused to dedicate the time to robot code!
Dinner break actually goes here.
After dinner wanderings: Several of the students seem to be working on test preparations, a few on physics. It was a good thing that Mrs. Latona, who just happens to teach physics, was here for our meeting time tonight!
Peter, with the guidance of Mentor Bear, was working on a mathematically technical document that discusses the methodology to determine the position of the robot relative to the target based on calculations of the size and shape of the camera image. Bear is encouraging Peter to post this as a “white paper” on the Chief Delphi Forums. I hope that we can get enough resolution on our camera so that we can use the information to guide our robot’s kicking skills.
The electrical sub-team is back investigating pneumatics in case they are needed on the robot to assist the kicking or hanging (or self-righting) mechanism.
The programming team is working on identifying the source of the CAN bus errors. They have the robot out of the shop, and when they drive it the wheels stop and start in a rather intermittent fashion.
The mechanical teams are scattered, one group is working on some prototype pieces, and the rest is is working on Inventor. The telescoping pole and hook are visible on one terminal, and the kicker is on another. Alex W. can take the image of the kicker and animate it to show the motion. I find that quite fascinating!
The controls sub-team has updated the dimensions for some of the controls in Inventor. They are ready to cut the holes in the sheet metal so the control buttons can be mounted!
After spending some time planning and building, the field sub-team is preparing another shopping list, this time for ball return items. Note for next year: if you like to shop, be on the field sub-team. Well, that’s if you like to shop at Home Depot and Lowes, that is.
Mentor Leann has been spending some time updating the student achievements with new build season hours. New totals: 1338.5 student hours, 1190.5 mentor hours, for a total, so far, of 2529 hours. Team Leader Larry is overheard muttering, “That’s a lot of hours for having nothing done.”
Speaking of having nothing done… we needed to make a decision on a new kicker mechanism. And we did. The new choice is a electromagnetic release system. More in the coming days on our newest feature, I’m sure.
Photo of the Day! (I actually took some cool photos of the team working with the pneumatics and of the programming team with the proto-bot, but in the end it was the school lockers that won. They are sealed for mid-term week.)