Friday, May 8, 2009

Before the competition

This is Alex. For the whole month leading up to the tournament, the robot has been highly inconsistent. On the very last week it began to work better, and we have gotten it to consistently achieve missions that earned a total of over three hundred points every time. We can raise the house almost every time, and we usually get the ice core back to base as well. The turn for the floodgate is the most inconsistent, but even that works about half the time. We were also finally able to add the drilling rig and money ball missions to the programs we already had. The only mission we cannot do is gather and deliver all of the carbon balls.

We practiced the skit a few times and have all our lines memorized again, so we're pretty confident about that. We added a few lines about the Max Water Windmill to better explain how it works. The coaches asked us questions so that we could make sure we remember everything we need to remember about the research.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 14, 2009

This is Alex. We have been working all week long on perfecting the house and ice core missions. David tried to create an arm and program that can grab the drilling rig. We did not have much success with that. The house has been getting better, then messing up, then getting better again. It's irritating. Right now, we are re-fixing it. We have had a little more luck with the ice core mission. We can consistently gather the items and deliver them to the house. We can almost always open the window, and the ice core is about 50-50. We need David's help to work on the ice core mission, and he's in Dallas for Spring Break. So, we're just working on the house mission.

On the bright side, we have gotten the levees mission working every time, and since the final mission is just point-and-shoot, we don't have to worry about that one. Now, I have to get to work.

About the two frames we made: Nic and Cheyne's does work better, but we have decided against using it to align the robot because, when it turns, the frame catches on the wall and makes it inaccurate. However, we are still using the frame because it makes the robot more secure.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March Update

This is Alex. We have done many things in the last two meetings. We have done a lot of work on the robot, trying to make it more secure and trying to prevent the wheels from splaying.

We have tried to make new arms for the missions, but we have not tested all of them out yet. David has made an arm to grab the drilling rig, but it is untested partly because we do not have a program for it. I had made an arm for the arrows, so that we could align them every time, but it is too big so I will have to rebuild it. I have been trying to come up with a way to collect the carbon and money balls, but I have not had any luck.

However, during our meeting on March 1st, we built two different frames for BURT. David, Max, and I build one and Nic and Cheyne built the other. Personally (unfortunately), I think that Nic and Cheyne's will work better, because it makes the robot more secure and it can be used to align the robot the same way every time. We have decided to set the robot in the same position at the start of every mission so that we can't argue about it being an aiming or a programming mistake anymore.

Here are Cheyne and Nic with BURT and the new frame they made. The next picture is of the frame my team made.

At the next meeting, we will test the two frames to determine which one is superior. We will also change the programs so that they will work even with the robot starting from a fixed location every time.

On Saturday, the Kwans bought biosolid fertilizer and put it in their garden and around their trees. Nic and I helped distribute the biosolid fertilizer throughout the garden. Here we are working together.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 15th

Today we had our first meeting after our month-long break. The first thing we did was talk about the letter that Alex sent to the Water UN Limited Corporation (who made the Max Water windmill), letting them know that we would like any information about the windmilll they can release, and that we would like to help them with field testing. Nic also told us that he's working on his article for Muse and Alex has finished writing an article for the UnderAge Page, but he still needs to find some photos for it.

During the meeting Cheyne and Nic tried to use a differential with BURT; unfortunately it didn't work. Mr. Jaworski showed us how to connect it properly, but we still couldn't accomplish it. We hoped the differential would improve the frame and make the robot turn more effectively, but it only works with one motor and we need the power we get from having two motors to be successful.

Alex, David and Max built the Zippy-Bot from the new NXT book we recently acquired. It was much faster than BURT, but the motors pull and we could not connect the Ultrasonic Sensor so that it could see the wall. Therefore, we have decided not to use it. We hoped to create a different robot to see if we could learn something from that to make BURT better. We learned we like BURT's accuracy better than Zippy-Bot and we really need to focus our time and attention on BURT.

Next meeting, we are going to work on strengthening our current framework for BURT, and on making a replica. Alex is going to work on a new arm that will allow BURT to accomplish another mission.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Central Texas FLL Tournament

The state competition was very exciting. Out of sixty registered teams, fifty-six of them showed up. It was pretty nerve-wracking seeing the other teams. They were all pretty good. We saw a lot of interesting robotic ideas and designs. There were so many things that we could have done but we just didn't think of. I did get a few ideas though. We were all really proud of BURT. Although the day before the competition we had two awesome runs with BURT (305 and 310 points), at the competition, the highest score we obtained was 270 points. This was high enough for our team to win 3rd place for Robot Performance.

We did such a good job with our research presentation that we got called back to perform it again in front of more judges and some of the sponsors. Everyone seemed to think we did a great job with it. We were also called to do a teamwork interview. There was a group of judges who asked us questions about the team, and what we had done, and how we worked together. We were awarded very high marks for teamwork, research project, and robot design. Because we got such high marks, we were awarded the second place Champions Award.

We were told that we would have the chance to go to the National Tournament in Ohio, but the Saber Robotics, who got first place Champions Award, chose to go to Nationals instead of Internationals, so we can now participate in the International FLL Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia! Everyone was excited when they heard the news, and all the families are planning on going. We are coming up with several plans for fundraising already, and the team has had a short meeting to decide what we need to work on in order to win a trophy at the International Tournament.

We are going to take a well-deserved rest until the middle of February and then we'll be back at work on BURT. We want to have programs for all 18 missions (right now we have programs for 16 of them). We'll also be working on improving our research project. We know there are ways we can make our project even better! Our coaches want us to do some community service project incorporating our research solution. We're hoping the bio-solid fertilizer doesn't smell too bad!

Here we are before our first robotic head-to-head competition. That's Cheyne, me (Alex), Max (holding our banner -- thanks, Mrs. Murray!), Nic and David.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

December 30

This is Alex. Like the last meeting, I took notes during this one, so I am going to copy those notes down.

We are working on adding the ice core to the collection mission. We have decided not to pick up the drilling rig because our robot is designed wrong. We have made changes to the motorized arm in order to pick up the ice core, and we are coming close to succeeding already. It is difficult, but Max is really getting into it, so I think we will be able to do it.

The robot just picked up the ice core for the first time, bit it's throwing the ice core three feet into the air, which isn't good. It is pretty hysterical though.

We have taken a short break to play some pool. Now, we are going to videotape the robot's flinging act so we can put it on youtube.

We are repeatedly gathering all the items and making it to the ice core, but we aren't always flinging it back to base.

December 28

This is Alex. During the meeting of December 28, I wrote notes throughout the meeting, talking about what we did. Therefore, I am going to copy those notes directly to this blog entry.

This is the FLL meeting of December 28. We're trying to figure out what order to run the programs in order to get maximum points.

We are going to make a modification to the arm with all the axles to make it longer in order to pick up the drilling rig.

Mrs. Kwan has counted all the possible points we can get and has come up with a total of 265 points.

We are considering changing the collection mission so that it also picks up the ice core. We're also trying to decide how to run the collection mission when the arms get in the way.

We have made more changes to the motorized arm, so it now has claws on the end of it and it can detach from the robot if it gets caught on the drilling rig.

We are now changing the arm with the hooks in order to make it lighter and more likely to succeed.

We are working on adding the drilling rig to the collection program. We're getting pretty close but the programming is difficult.

In the last run the motorized arm was at the wrong height, so it couldn't grab the drilling rig.

Those are all the notes that I took during the meeting.