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Week 6: It’s In the Bag

Week 6: It’s In the Bag

IMG_6399Our robot was officially sealed in a bag last Tuesday, and it is now sent away until competition day. Beforehand we were able to drive it around and practice with the joystick, and have gotten pretty good at it too! We even got to run it around Convocation at Gilmour. The robot also now has the capability to pick up a ball and throw it reasonably far, although the general driving is much stronger. We originally had the problem that if the driver kept the joystick on the “high power” setting when he switched to controlling the arm to catch the ball, the ball would slam into the inner workings of the robot. We had to put back about half of the guts of the ship the first time this happened, and have since placed a protective bar to stop the arm in case the driver forgets during the actual competition.

We are still making progress on making the second robot, and it is coming along MUCH easier than the first time, as all of the problems that we ran into the first time have already been solved. The post-build part of the process is going quite well, and the team has high hopes for post-season, and participating in the big competition.

Week 6: The End is Nigh

Week 6: The End is Nigh

The First Robotics Competition season is wrapping up. Our robot is due February 23, at which point we will have to seal it in a bag and likely won’t see it until the day of the competition. We will not be able to work on modifications, but plan to practice between the two dates on a second robot.


Winding Down

As the season is drawing to a close, there is little left to order for the robot, and we are mostly running tests up until the point where we have to turn our robot in. We have received all of the necessary parts to build our second robot, and will start with that process once our robot is sealed up on Tuesday.


It Lives!

We now have an actual working robot! The drive train is officially completed, and connected to the main
board. We got it moving, and were able to have it move around some obstacles. We have also made some progress with the intake system, which is proving a bit tricky, but we should have it done in time. We also have tried out some ideas on our robot’s arm, and it will hopefully be functional by Tuesday.


Putting Software with Hardware

Our robot has finally been able to run some codes, as we have finally attached the drivetrain to the base. Our robot has successfully driven, as well as navigated some obstacles, which was very exciting. We have found a couple errors in our code, but we should be able to solve it before Tuesday. The software is not nearly as complicated as we originally thought, and it shouldn’t be hard to finish something that will allow our robot to navigate the competition.


Week 5: We Have a Robot

Week 5: We Have a Robot

We have finally completed something which looks like a robot, with a finished (drivetrain? frame?) and all of the available electronics attached. Progress on the programming for the robot has resumed, and we are steadily advancing towards our goals.


Getting the Simple Stuff

The drive controls have officially shipped out, and we should be recieving them within the next couple days. We also ordered new, simple supplies that we didn’t know we needed until last week, such as specific screws so we could fix some of the parts on our robot. Those all have come in, so we have been able to make much more progress with the robot. We also have ordered a base drivetrain for our second robot. In two weeks from this past tuesday, our robot must be bagged and sealed, and we will not be able to touch it. The robot will of course be done by that point, but our pilot will not have enough time to practice moving it around to get good at it before the competition. The extra robot will allow the pilot to learn how to move the robot. Of course, we will first need to decide on someone to be the pilot.


It Actually Looks Like a Robot!

The base of our robot is finally finished, with six fully functional wheels and all eleIMG_6376ctronic hardware attached apart from the battery! We were able to move all of the electronics from the original cork board to a real Plexiglas base, and the wheels are connected to a metal frame that surrounds it.  We have also received the joystick with which we plan to maneuver the robot, but this has raised a few questions as to how we plan to control the robot’s arm(s). There are two options: buying a separate joystick, or making the current one control the robot’s movements and its arm(s).If we have just one joystick, it may get confusing for the pilot, as that is a lot to control. But if we opt for two joysticks, we will have to have two pilots, which could get tricky during the competition.

We have also been able to install the intake system! It took us a while (and was much more complicated than it should have been), but we now have it built, and have even connected it to the frame of the robot!


Not As Complicated As We Thought

We have finally began to start compiling some general code for our robot, and have quickly found that this will not be nearly as big of a hurdle than we thought. The Libraries that First supplies us with are extremely extensive, and have commands for almost everything we will need, including joystick compatible forward/backward motions and Cartesian coordinates. Once we finally get the battery attached to the robot, we should be able to test some simple “hello world” programs, and quickly build up to more complicated maneuvers, along with working the joystick.

We have finally completed something which looks like a robot, with a finished (drivetrain? frame?) and all of the available electronics attached. Progress on the programming for the robot has resumed, and we are steadily advancing towards our goals.



Week 3: The Wheels are Turning

Week 3: The Wheels are Turning

Adding TredsStarting from Behind

Work on the robot has finally become steady now that parts are available. The goal for this week is to have a working, rugged drivetrain. We have finally decided on a language for our coding and have initialized the base level of code for our robot. We have encountered some (err, many) bumps along the road, but considering this is our first year, our robot is coming along very well. Certainly, our team couldn’t be putting in any more hours or working any harder.

Gaining Traction, Losing Sleep

This week, we were able to order an intake system, and were able to finally get treads for our robot. We have also discovered that we are missing a crucial gear for our Vex gearbox. We will have to either order a new gear, or use our older, single gear ToughBox gearbox, but first we must find out which gear we are missing. The complexity of the items is daunting as every mistake means we have to go back through the ordering process and wait for new parts.

Adding the Treads

This week we have finally been able to take off the regular wheels of our base and attempt to attach treads to larger wills that will allow the robot to move over some of the more complicated obstacles in the challenge. Unfortunately, mounting the new wheel to support the tread hasn’t been easy. Lining up the wheels has made us rethink the frame of the robot.
However, as we overcome these early barriers, the design work for the robot is becoming more concrete.

Deciding on Java

We have officially decided to use Java for our robot, and were able to run a Hello World program off of our National Instruments controller! Our robot can move and stop on command (although the frame has now been taken apart to get its wheels upgraded). We have also started working on coding some of the programs that will allow our robot to perform the tasks in the competition. Our software is easily the most underdeveloped portion of our project. But we’ve got Strongback, an incredibly exciting library of resources. This will allows us to develop our robot’s brain faster and with unit tests that will make it more robust. Can’t wait!