Saturday, August 30, 2008

August 30th

This is Alex. David came over yesterday to work on the robots because he's going to be out of town for the Labor Day, so I'm going to write down what we did.

First, we worked on the robot with the treads, which we were trying to gear down. Nick had attached one tread to it on Thursday, so David and I attached the other tread in the same way. When that was done, we found out that it kept falling over backwards because there was too much weight in the back, and there was nothing to hold it up, so we made a castor wheel that held it up and still let it turn and move freely. It worked pretty well, as long as we remembered to put it in the right position before we ran the program.

David and Alex with the robot.

After that, we started to work on the ice core mission. David wrote the program and I built the arm. We got a motor attached on the robot and also made an attachment that lets it pick up the ice core. We also added a touch sensor, so that it can drive forward until the touch sensor hits the wall, then turn the motor to pull out the ice core. The program works pretty well, but I think we have to adjust the position of the touch sensor. We also have to fix the castor wheel to prevent the robot from driving into the wall. The castor wheel has difficulty going over all the little bumps in the mat without moving out of position.

The robot with the motorized arm for the ice core mission attached.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28th

This is David and I'll report on what we did today.

Thursday, August 28th we continued to work on our gear trains and robots. Cheyne and I geared down our robot and then figured out how to attach the first arm. Our arm is designed to lift the ice core and bring it back to base. We attached a touch sensor to the front of the robot so that when it's activated, the robot will lift up the arm with the ice core on it and return back to base.

Max helped us to program our robot. It's working but the robot is pulling to the right, so we're going to build an attachment to keep the robot in line.

Nic and Alex worked on their treads but eventually decided to take them apart and start over. Their robotic chassis is bad and they're having to create a new one. They're copying Alex's Sumobot chassis to see if that works. They did create a good gear train to gear up the robot.

We decided to have black, short-sleeved polo shirts for our team shirts this year. We will have our X-Bots logo and name embroidered on our shirts.

Below are pictures of our team working on the robots:

Co-Coach Marci Kwan sorts LEGOs while Nic rebuilds the robot.

August 24th

This is Max and I'm going to tell you about our Sunday, August 24th practice.

On Sunday we started making gear trains to power up and power down our robots. Then I started making a simple program to see if wheels were better than treads. The pictures below show the team working on the robots and gear trains.

In the process of trying to create a good gear train, Cheyne decided the design of his robot needed huge improvements, so he took it apart. He started to rebuild the robot with a better design. David worked with Cheyne.

Meanwhile, Nic and Alex were trying to build a good gear train for treads. To improve the tension on the treads, Nic added a gear, but Coach Jaworski ordered some extra parts which we'll use later when they come in. Nic and Alex discovered that the motors were not in a good position for the treads to work well. They were getting in the way of the gear train so they repositioned the motors so they were flatter and attached the new gear train to them and put treads next to the gear train.

Because of the intensive reconstruction that took place, we weren't able to test my program.

Here are the pictures of the team reconstructing the robots:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 21st

Today we put the pieces for the competition on the mat. We couldn't figure out where some of the pieces went, but we did our best. We brainstormed about what we would have to do with the different pieces. Some of them, such as the ice core sample, the storm system, and the house were obvious, but we'll have to wait to find out what we do with the rest of the pieces.

Next, our coach put us to work trying to discuss designing a gear train to put on the robots we had built two weeks previously. We decided we will gear up a robot that has treads and gear down a robot that has very fast wheels. The robot with treads is slightly more accurate, but it is much slower. The robot with wheels is very fast, but not very accurate. We think that by gearing the second one down, we can improve its accuracy.

The last task our coach set before us was to brainstorm how we could use touch and light sensors to help us with the missions this year. We discussed attaching a touch sensor to the robot and have it extended so that when we touch the wall, a motorized arm can move up and hopefully pick up the ice core and the ice buoy. We also considered using the touch sensor so that when we hit the wall, we can use the motorized arm to push the lever on the flood gate and raise the gate up.

Since we don't know if the yellow and gray balls will be set on the field randomly, we talked about using a light sensor to determine the colors of the different balls, and to figure out which way the yellow direction arrow is pointing. We don't know if we have to move the direction arrows so that a particular color is facing us or our opponents or if we should collect the carbon dioxide and deliver that to a certain location and put the money somewhere else. We won't know this until the Challenge is announced on September 5th, but at least we thought of different ways we could use the light sensor.

Here are pictures of the team at our competition table.

Pictures of the X-Bots with Completed Mission Pieces

This is Cheyne and the competition pieces he built: the flood gate, the computer, the snowmobile, and the underground reservoir.

This is Max and the competition pieces he built: the carbon dioxide and money, the ice buoy, the levee blocks, the polar bear, the people, and the direction arrows.

This is Alex and the ice & core sample that he built.

This is Nic with the core drilling rig and storm system that he built.

This is David with the house he built.

August 17th

This was the day when we had our very first meeting. The five of us and three of David's younger sisters sorted the pieces and the team built the components for this year's competition. Afterward we decided what days we should have our meetings and what we should try to do at our next meeting. We also took a picture of the team for this blog and for our Yahoo! Group listserve.

Below you can see a picture of our three special helpers:

Sophia, Francesca and Faith

Thanks you, ladies!