Friday, January 16, 2009


So...I can't figure out how to post on the main blog so I am blogging here. Hi! This is Sallie(not to be confused with Allie). So today has been filled with more prototyping! After dinner we decided to begin to prototype some of our new ideas. We are afraid the windmill is going to get stuck or not work. Instead, we are thinking of using conveyor belts made out of surgical tubing. Annie, Shreya (did I spell that right), divya, and I started to prototype a conveyor belt. While grooving to some jack johnson music, we determined that rather than have circular pully/sticks/track/the thing that the belt goes on, a multi-faceted surface tended to grip the belt better. Basically, we took some 80/20 and put this scratchy sandpaper tape for extra friction and used surgical tubing for the belt. We also tried to saw/file the sides down to make sides; it didn't turn out to grippy enough. Finally, we got a prototype that kinda worked. Next, we ran a lap around the circle and came back to make a prototype out of the ball-put-er-out-er. We decided that we might need to make our base of our robot a little shorter in order to allow the put-er-out-er to sucessfully get the ball in the trailer. Oh! we got the trailer today! It is a work of art. We hopefully are getting 3 more orbit balls from north carolina! So other things that happened today: toby was being amazing and de-bugging or talking with the computers as others onlooked, others were designing or measuring or planning for the robot. Ida tried to take pictures for the website. Allie was using solid works. And we all were shooting our orbit ball into our new trailer. Fun Friday!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


On wednesday David Anne and I put together the mecanum wheels with the bearings from last year's wheels inside. We measured the width of the bearings and the width of the spacers that were inside of the mecanum wheels and the bearings were 3mm short. To temporarily take care of the change in width we layered tape onto the plastic around the bearings. Since the bearings have two sides of plastic parts that could come loose, we decided to use three of the holes to hold the sides together with screws and bolts. The other three holes were used to hold the complete wheels together. We then noticed that the sprocket must be spaced apart from the wheel so that the chain won't hit the wheels.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

first week

reposting from build blog - this is not productive. can we *please* just combine and tag them?

39 days left!

i've been rather remiss in the blogging for the past couple days.

basically, there's a new design in the works. multiple, actually. i know emily/annie were definitely getting some action with the pvc pipe today. an overpass HAS been constructed. i'm not entirely sure whether it's precise proportions but it looks amaaaaazing. another idea is the three-prong one we've been working with for awhile.

also, are we really going to have an arm? we've all agreed that drive train and strong chassis is definitely the priority. but do we attempt an actuating arm as well?
and for that drive train... mecanum wheels will hopefully be ordered asap, mourad's been given the order. jimmy mentioned that you don't need to program them to slide? you can just use the same old drive code like for anything else? with skid steer? we'll obviously have to check that out.

there are a lot of ideas out there, and while we're beginning to experiment and start doing more serious prototyping, all the leads definitely want a small, focused design meeting with mentors. that's what saturday was planned to be, but it ended up being more general, which is okay. except that as such a young team, we definitely want your opinions and input as well as advice on how to proceed once we finally have a (temporarily) set design we want to aim for.

once again, are we "going fat"? decisions really need to start getting made, but i know we dont want to make those decisions without consulting the mentors as a group rather than individually, where we get conflicting opinions.

oh i just had a random thought: i think that maybe we should just combine the two blog and maybe tag the posts "programming" or "build"? because at least for now, i'm just posting the same thing in two places. and hopefully people are reading both. thoughts? comments?

all the newbies who were around on saturday HAVE been shoptrained (and got to make blocks. grrrr. ) jessa ran a programming 101 workshop, which was definitely useful. so now hopefully sallie, neli, and divya (somewhat) get programming. yay! that's wayyyy farther than programming was last year. i think at the end of the first week, we'd just received "C for dummies" and thought it was a godsend. :)

a temporary electronics board (complete with a battery mount, attached and all!) has been put on the prototype kit chassis. there are also wheels on there. now if only there can be motors. that will happen soon, i believe.

i'm sure there are more things that have happened. actually, i knowww there are more things that have happened. blanking out.

oh! does anyone remember where i put the lugs for the battey leads?! i distinctly remember being like "let's not forget where i'm putting these!" but we've completely forgotten. we need to find those.

thank you (Again!) to doug for providing us with retail therapy. thank you for all the mentors for your commitment and energy and enthusiasm and time. we appreciate it so much.

i'll post random thoughts as they come to me. this is all i have for now.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

monday + tuesday

sorry for no post yesterday, and today will have to be quick

summary version:

we have a basic arm idea. trying to finalize motors/potentiometers and how to mount, etc.
drive train: 6 wheels? or 4? definitely steering the front two. any input on how cars works would be greatly appreciated.

there has been some math-doing. :) but i assume there is more to come.

thank you thank you to karlin and tiffany for coming

and i believe there are cart designs in the works

a question: are we ACTUALLY going to use sketchup/solidworks? i think we should... if we know how.
boms and weight lists should be made.

that's all...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

we've kicked off!


the 2008 season has begun! build and programming are working together on the design process, so i've posted this to both blogs.

caroline, me, allie, and nandini headed down at the crack of dawn (literally...) saturday to recieve the challenge from sj state. this year's challenge, first overdrive, is different from any other challenge. effectively, it's a racetrack with oversized inflatable balls. these are the game pieces. it's really hard to describe - search for first overdrive 08 on youtube and you should find something. i think this should link to it:

we had a great turnout for brainstorming session at school saturday. many mentors came, and thank you for that. we broke into groups and came up with many rough ideas.

then, today, with a smaller turnout (allie, caroline, anndini, annie c, sallie, crystal, mari, neli, me...) we presented our design ideas and began to PROTOTYPE! the two main arm concepts at this point are the shoulder-elbow-wrist extendable design, as recommended by jimmy and a forklift. very rough prototyping with 80/20 ensued. allie and i also put together the kit chassis as a prototype.

things to think about:
what is going to grip that thing? the ball is huge, and fairly slippery.
what is our overall strategy? i know we're hoping to go over rather than under the overpass, but are we going to place it on top at the end?
what's our priority?
we've been discussing many different concepts for a drive train. obviously, scotty's will not work. we can't almost tip over every time we turn...

-mecanum wheels. like jester drive (is it possible to buy them? how difficult is the programming?)
-omni wheels (again. expensive. no experience with them)
-omni wheel/traction wheel combo. we saw a lot of this in atlanta
-power steering two smaller front wheel
-combination of casters and driven wheels
-anything i've forgotten

this is something we'll have to continue to think about.

oh, there's a schedule of deadlines on the project room whiteboard. that will come soon. we deffffinitely need to be testing far earlier this year, and spend less time on prototyping. i know we're hoping to have parents help out to build an overpass, and we want to make good use of that.

uh, also, can we get that leak in the closet taken care of? makes me nervous.

a HUGE THANK YOU to doug for generally being an amazing source of information as well as providing the books and tools necessary. those hex screwdrivers will make everything so much easier. :D
also thanks to karlin for coming in to help us talk through concepts, and marsha abbott for chaperoning and yummy dips for the pita, as well as the costco run.

get ready for season! i'm excited. hopefully you are too. :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ship day!

it's officially ship day... ack!

today we tested and debugged... we still need to do a LOT of testing, especially autonomous. we now have 3 autonomous codes. one literally does nothing, to make sure we don't sabotage our own alliance, one is from the right position, and one's from the left. sophia helped us make a dongle that you plug into the dig i/os.

ramp code has been modified to release when both side buttons and the trigger are pressed to insure less accidental release. there is a wingtimer to make sure flipper only goes halfway.

the limit switch works. now we might add another one to stop at the second spider arm.

driving. we can't really drive straight. and we don't know why. it sort of goes in circles. and speaking of circles, erm, the robot... jumps? when you spin too quickly.

paly came over and used our rack and we realized that if we are aligned with robots that have really low clearance, they might just fold up our ramps, not drive up them...

wiring is sort of ugly, but low priority.

we learned by experience the importance of the kill switch being easily accessible. it now is.

there's a very long list of stuff to be done tomorrow before crating.

that's all i remember. vacuum idea has been abandoned due to weight resistrictions.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

sunday and non-programming news

alright so the p/e team has been doing a lot of non-programming things. mostly experimenting with the vacuum idea.

we know that if we attach a wide nozzle to the end of the shop vac that used to be in the project room it works really well to pick up the tubes and place them on the rack. now we just have to modify it to use the motors we are given by FIRST. doug and steve helped us to modify the fan and parts of the shop vac that we took to pieces and replace the motor with our own.

if this design works it will be incredibly awesome and really easy to operate from far far away. just suck up, lift arm, reverse motor.

tomorrow we will write vacuum code.

doug left some edge deflect (?) stuff in a notebook with julia. neither julia nor i have any idea what it's talking about but it has something to do with limit switches. jessa knows what they are.

we are meeting at 10 tomorrow.

stores do not sell vacuum attachments separately.

we are hooking up this vacuum thing at the end of the arm (if it works. we need to test it to see, and if it does, GREAT! if it doesn't, we always have the old arm to fall back on)

after erin and mary left, we tested the ramp code with the actual ramps, and it works! julia/jimmy/build/everyone is concerned that the driver might accidently hit those buttons during competition and that would screw stuff up badly. if it's simple and foolproof, we might want to add a timer or a switch or something to the code so that you CAN'T release the ramps before you want to. we can talk about that tomorrow.

to do:

mount limit switches
write vacuum code
clean up wiring
hook up arm and ramps

we need to remember to bring the right terminal box to ideo.

that's all i remember about now.