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Week 2 – Hard at Work

This week was busier than last week, with at least 6 students daily. Last Sunday the Dead Robot Society held the annual parents meeting. This is when parents get to see what goes on in the cave. The game board and scoring was explained and what happens at competition was explained. The students then showed their parents wParent meeting 1hat they and their team do.

Hardware is continuing building a grabber for the cubes, along with a grabber for the hangers. Software has begun coding and debugging. Social Media, along with writing this blog entry of course, has been posting on our twitter (@DRSBotball) and taking pictures. We also celebrated Mr. Newcastle’s birthday this week!

 

Week 1- Almost Done!

Great start to the new Botball season! Last weekend the Dead Robot Society headed up to University of Maryland, College Park to assist returning teams and new teams around the D.C. area get prepared for this season. Working with people new to the world of robotics has its challenges, but at the same time is tons of fun!

workshop explaining game board

 

Quiet week in the Botcave due to the foot of snow covering Northern Virginia. The Hardware team got right to work on trying to design parts for our robots. Software helped out our mentors in getting the computers updated and working to the best of their ability, along with helping the hardware team build.

opened cpus

 

Although the seniors from last year have been greatly missed, several new members have joined and the Dead Robot Society is looking forward to experiencing another great competition this year at Globals in Los Angeles!

 

Pick-Up Lines (of code)

It was an exciting, jam-packed day at the Botcave today and the atmosphere was filled with much eagerness, hope, and ideas!

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The Createbot has its first pick-up of the season

The software team arrived at the Botcave with a group mentality and a desire to win. With the arm for the Create coming together slowly but surely, the software team donned the challenge of perfecting both the functionality and the practicality of the claw. The entire day was set aside for working out problems in the programming and to make the lines of code faster and more efficient. As of today, the arm is very cumbersome due to its length, weight, and programming. For this to work well, or at all, the entire team will have to work together, think together, and brainstorm together more than they ever have before.

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The Legobot successfully finding, picking up, and scoring with the green tribbles

The software team, while vigorously working on the arm, also devoted a good amount of manpower and time to the Legobot and the tribbles. After achieving the milestone of being able to consistently pick up the organic samples (green tribbles), the main objective for the software team working on the Legobot today was to repeat the process, and be able to place/throw the tribbles in the scoring area to maximize points.

 

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The hardware team working to straighten out the Create arm

The hardware team’s main goal for the day was to make the Create arm lighter and straighter so that the robot would have to spend less time and power to lift and utilize it in the competition. Making the arm straighter would also make the programming job much easier – being that they would no longer have to account for the settling time of the swaying arm or the lean of the arm to one side or the other.

Progress was slow, yet steady in the Botcave today. All the teams accomplished all, or most of what they set out to do and in the end came out feeling proud and more ready than ever to compete in a few short weeks. The Createbot, that started the day not being able to grab much of anything, ended the day being able to continuously pick up the PVC boosters and move with them. The Legobot team succeeded in its goals of being able to locate, pick up, hold on to, and drop the green tribbles in the scoring box. Hardware was able to build a lighter and straighter arm for the Createbot, and a funnel or cone shaped mechanism to direct it right in front of the PVC poles, or “launch pads”.

Of course none of this would be possible without the incredible leadership of our mentors, not to mention the time and effort they have invested in this Society. They have brainstormed ideas alongside us but stepped back when appropriate, given us inspiration when the going seems tough, and provided us with much appreciated (and delicious!) food every day at the Cave.

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Thanks!
Thanks!
Thanks!

In addition to a thrilling game of Geode tennis, many an interesting thing could be heard throughout the Cave today as certain music was blared, food served, and goals accomplished:

“Is that Taylor Swift? I’m not sure how I feel about that…”

“I feel like 2 times Pi is a good time!”

“No! Please no! No YOLO!”

“There’s one Thin Mint left…want to fight for it?’

“You want software to do hardware…?”

“I’m like a computer…what’s that word…GURU!”

“Her name? Her name is Girl Without A Name!”

“Software always makes the biggest mistakes, like dropping the robot.”

“They only made one Girl Scout cookie that was ever good – the Trefoils. Nobody liked them but me so I always got to eat them all.”

“Alright, that [servo] will hold for a week or three.”

“Yes, we are going to drop the tribble and then fireworks are going to shoot out of the back of the robot!”

“It’s hardware’s fault. That’s software’s motto.”

“No, Jack doesn’t have a name.”

“I showed up a whole hour late because I forgot about the clocks changing, not because I’m lazy or anything.”

 

Divide and Conquer!

The software and hardware teams were both extremely busy today and had the mentality to divide and conquer. Will from the hardware team was busy working on the arm for Create and adding the potentiometer.  The potentiometer is a new tool in botball and one that will be extremely useful in this year’s competition. The rotary potentiometer prints a number when the angle of the arm on Create changes. This will allow us to program the arm of Create to stop at a specific point, which will make the rocket boosters (tubes) easier to pick up and easier to stack on the rocket booster launch pads (poles).  Will and Create Arm

The hardware team also has a slider potentiometer which prints a number based on how far the knob on the potentiometer slides, but the hardware team does not know if they will use this tool in this year’s robots. Patrick and Natalie had their heads buried in the Legos, diligently cloning Create to make sure that every piece on each of the robots was identical.

Today the software team tried to answer a question that has plagued the world for centuries… time travel. A negative time had been put into a call and the team tried to think through how one could go back in time. A number is put into the call to have the robot travel in a direction for a certain period of time.  But when a negative number was accidentally put into the call the only way the robot could accomplish the task would be to travel back in time.

The team’s goal for the day was to consistently identify the green tribbles and to make the identification process fool-proof. They hope that by the end of the week they will be able to identify a green tribble from anywhere on the board and collect it to score points. They are also eager for the hardware team to finish Create’s arm so that they can teach new programmers how to program the Create and work the arm.

Pondering Time Travel

Six Weeks To Go!

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Today was yet another productive day at the Cave. Both hardware and software were working hard on many tasks. On the software team, Aaron had plenty to say about his goal for the day. “Katrina and I are working on Lego, we are trying to fix a turn to be able to see the second green tribble.” After many attempts they were able to see and eventually pick up the green tribble!

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On the hardware team, Will and Pranay were “making the arm longer on create to prevent it from pivoting.” This task is crucial, when stacking the rocket boosters because any extra movement can result in the loss of points. The goals for the upcoming week for hardware are to finish the create design concept and to submit their first step for documentation.

Software’s goals include to continue to pick up the green tribbles with consistency and to be able to continue to work on their documentation as well. Many more to come from the Cave as we prepare for our competition on April 20th, stay alert!