Tuesday, January 18. 2011
“Parentor” Val blogging today! I have no problem describing dinner, because…I brought it tonight! Four large crock pots filled with variations of beef & pasta stroganoff or veggies & pasta stroganoff, a huge salad, several loaves of bread and butter, clemetines, and three huge pans of brownies. I was glad there was so much food, because people just kept coming in the door! We had a great turnout tonight, and there weren’t many leftovers.
After dinner was the integration meeting, with mentor and student leaders from the various subteams describing their progress. A couple of versions of the arm will be prototyped in the very near future. The gripper prototype is working beautifully to grab tubes, even when they’re not completely inflated. The minibot is working well, but the deployer for it still needs work. Several subteams have to decide on parts they need and order them immediately…we’re already in week 2, after all!
After integration was done, the controls subteam and several strategy subteam members met to finalize the design for this year’s controls. This is a first for the team: people who will potentially be on the drive team working with the controls subteam to figure out an intuitive and ergonomic control system! The final decision was to use a two-joystick control for actually driving the robot, and a combination of a joystick and a throttle to control the arm and the gripper mechanism. Various buttons and preset markings will refine the control of the arm/gripper.
Most people headed out by 9:00, though a few members stayed a bit later to brainstorm ideas for the minibot deployer. Mentors Jeff and Mark, and student member Calvin, set up one of our old robots and a vertical pole in an area we call “The Precipice of Despair.” (It’s actually a large stairway landing with an overlook to the floor below – “Precipice” – and the programming subteam spends many late evenings there, tearing their hair out trying to debug code – “Despair”!) Various bits and pieces were assembled on the old robot to mock up a deployer system. A last-minute idea was to put a couple of holes in the minibot, and a couple of vertical pegs inside the deployer mechanism, so that as soon as the minibot clamps onto the tower it can just pull itself straight up off the pegs. We’ll see if that idea makes it into the final design!
After that it was time to go home, wash all the crock pots, and get some sleep. See you tomorrow!