I Gotta Feeling

That I’m gonna hate this song very quickly.

Finally some footage has been taken four our video that I promised four blogs ago. Didn’t you know blogs were a unit of time measurement? Anyways, we’ve picked a song for the video and in case you didn’t catch it from the title of this post, we’ve picked “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. I can’t give you too many details because I don’t want to spoil the song, however I can tell you that I’ll have heard it so much by the time we finish the video, I will never want to hear it again. But  I promise you guys will want to watch the video, it will be very amusing.

There are only three weeks left until competition and the team is responding accordingly. Everyone is trying to come two or three times a week. There’s a lot of movement in the BotCave these days as well. Software writes code, downloads it, takes it to the board, tests it, and repeats the process. I’ve noticed that software requires a lot of tweaking. When they run the program with the bot on the board, I’m always impressed. However they always return to their station and adjust the turns by a couple of degrees or the speed by a couple of seconds. I guess this whole process is why the Dead Robot Society has always been so successful.

Hardware is working on the basket of the create bot. The basket will bring the frogs and BotGuy to our wetlands after the arm of the create bot has knocked them off the platform. The hardware guys tell me that the basket will be finished today. I believe, don’t quote me on this, that the completion of the basket will mark the completion of the create bot. Well the building of the create bot at least. Like I said before software will probably continue to enhance the code for it.

We're actually almost done I swear.
We're actually almost done I swear.

In summation, I will tell you that as usual, the Dead Robot Society has had a tremendously prolific four hours together. I probably sound redundant, constantly telling you that we accomplished a lot. I really do mean it though. Every time we get together we work hard and see results. The demonstrations I saw today were pretty excellent, aside from the fact that I barely escaped a near fatal collision with the arm of create bot. Okay I might be exaggerating on the whole “near fatal” thing. So don’t fear, it’s always safe in the BotCave.

A Beautiful Day for Bot Building

It’s a sunny sixty-eight degrees outside and therefore my teammates and I are in the BotCave.

Not that I’m complaining. The weather is uplifting if you’re inside or out. The nice weather has put everyone in a good mood today, so even with competition barely more than a month away we were able to have a stress free and productive day. Mr. Grasmeder is gone all this week so Mr. and Mrs. Newcastle get us all to themselves. I feel as though the BotCave is considerably quieter than normal. I can’t imagine that has anything to do with Mr. Gras’s absence.

Our bots are looking very close to complete. I’ve seen some test runs and occasionally the bots almost all the way work! I’m only kidding. On many simulations the bots do exactly what they’re supposed to do. However we can’t go to competition with the bots working correctly on “many” runs. We need them to be perfect every time. That’s one of the things hardware and software have been working on today. The hardware team has gotten to the point where most of the initial building is done, and now their job is tweaking those structures until they’re just right. As every week goes by, I am able to observe visible progress from both teams. Which, as you can tell from my previous blogs, is really saying something, because normally I can’t observe progress so much as I’m informed of it.

This is the duck grabber. You know what comes next. It grabs ducks.
This is the duck grabber. You know what comes next. It grabs ducks.

In an earlier post I spoke of the duck grabber. The one that grabs ducks you ask? The very same. (This is only funny if you’ve read my other blogs. So if you haven’t, get on that. Right now.) Well now the duck grabber has been completed. Today the software team worked on programming the robot to actually use said grabber of ducks. The first run of the program showed the duck grabber to be a little too… aggressive. By that I mean when they ran the program, instead of picking up the ducks in a slow, steady movement, the robot snapped the arm forward rather quickly. So quickly in fact, the software team was afraid to get in its way and waited until the grabber was completely done with its motions before they put their hands anywhere near it. They were eventually able to solve the problem. I know that’s a positive thing and all, but to be quite honest it was much more amusing when it was defective. Either way, the use of the duck grabber is an excellent example of the work of hardware and software coming together. Oh and I blogged about it. It really was a team effort.

A Special Visit

Today we had two Dead Robot Society alumni come visit the BotCave.

As a current member of the team I thought it was pretty cool that this organization made a large enough impact on people’s lives that they actually came back to visit years after they left the team. To me this says that the things I learn and the people I meet here will stay with me as I continue with my  life.

Alright enough of that sentimental stuff cause there’s only so much of it I can take. The hard work everyone has been putting in for the last few months is really starting to show. Even those of us who are technologically challenged (and as usual by “us” I of course mean me) are able to see the fruits of hardware and software’s labor. The robots appear to be almost completely built. At least to me they do. Software  has successfully run a program that allows the robot to move to the platform and knock the frogs and BotGuy off. I know this is really important because ever since the first day I got here the team has been talking about getting those items off the platform as the first priority. Go team!

You’ll notice that I knew exactly what software was doing. This is a great improvement. I was able to put it  in better words that someone from the actual software team was. When I asked Kelly what software was doing today she answered me with “We’re getting the things off the thing.” Fortunately Allison was able to better explain what they got done today which is good because then I was able to tell you. Also we were apparently so productive we had time to watch the Caps in overtime. Obviously this is a positive thing and not at all a sign of slacking.

Today we were all in a rather joking mood. “Drinks anyone?” “Thin mints.” “Thin mints is not a drink.” There was some fist pumping in there somewhere too. However words cannot do any justice to the greatest joke of the day. It can only be captured in a picture.

Only in the BotCave
Only in the BotCave

I think Mr. Gras got too much of a kick out of that. Sometimes, just sometimes I wish I had another blogger with me. An English person, not a math person, to make grammar jokes to. But alas, I am on a robotics team and therefore math jokes will ensue. Even though I may not be fond of pi and imaginary numbers, I do enjoy being a part of this team. Besides the fact that we’re totally boss and we win all the time, we work well together and today was no exception.

In Full Swing

This means that the BotCave is now open all day errrryday.

Okay not all day, but everyday! Which in turn means that competition is coming up fast. The workshop last week was a great success and it has gotten the team really focused. As I write this the BotCave has only been open for 37 minutes and already the hardware guys are gathered around the game board working on the duck grabber and the software team is huddled in front of computer doing their thing. You’ll notice my use of general language describing the software team’s work. That may 0r may not be due to the fact that even though this is my fifth week in the BotCave, their job remains somewhat of an enigma to me.

No photos, please. Kelly can't be bothered while programming.
No photos, please. Kelly can't be bothered while programming.

Exhilarating announcement of the day: we now have two software teams working at once! This is extremely important because even with the little knowledge of software I have, I know that without their hard work and success, our team would be nowhere. That’s not to say that hardware isn’t just as important, because obviously without a robot we would be even more nowhere. (Is it possible to be more nowhere?) So really what I’m saying is everyone is of monumental importance to the triumph of the robot except me. I am important to you the outsider, the reader of this blog.  Yay for blogging!

'Nuff said.
'Nuff said.

The hardware team is working at an accelerated pace and the only logical explanation I can find for that is the motivational music I hear coming from their table. I mean seriously, who doesn’t work better when listening to “Party in the USA”? That’s an inspirational tune if I’ve ever heard one. By the way of software they’ve begun to program the machine to move about on the actual board. It’s a rather impressive feat and I’m shocked they were able to achieve it without any help from Miley Cyrus.

To close out today’s blog, I think I’ll give you guys a little piece of information I have been withholding from you. We at the Dead Robot Society have a secret weapon- Mrs. Newcastle. From my previous blogs you may have thought that Mrs. Newcastle’s skills were limited to the culinary arts. In fact she is the best programmer we have. Whenever we’re in a jam one thing is certain: Mrs. Newcastle can help.