31 January 2005

Time passes so quickly

Well, here it is, the beginning of week4 and there's not a whole lot to show for our effort.

The team's been putting in long hours, but there seems to be a stalling point, we're not getting the drawings into the shop, there are unanswered questions regarding some of the mechanics and electronics.

The software and controls team is mired in the workings of the CMU2 camera, there are more questions than answers and when they seem to be homing in on an answer, it quirts away. They're determined to get that device working, as the whole autonomous strategy rests on the ability to seek, find and acquire a vision tetra.

Mechanically, there is a stalling point with the gripper mechanism. The design, simple as it is, seems to be falling short of being able to retain its grip on a tetra.

Thinking about the design, it seems that something as simple as two closet door latch mechanisms could do what we need and with a lot less effort than we're expending at the moment. The arm mechanism and its lifting agent are also at a standstill, there are too many unknowns at this time to have a solid plan of attack.

The drive/chassis team seems to be at odds with the supplied transmissions and they're wrestling with wheels, now considering some lexan instead of the supplied skyway products or even the mountain board wheels donated by one of the team members. Way too much time, IMHO, is being spent on this.

17 January 2005

Into the 2nd week... all goes... ok

Martin Luther King's Birthday.

T'was a school day off and all throuout the team there was a desire to come in early.

Can't happen, we work. Oh well, that's life. And we learned something too.

Since there were too many people here every night during last season's build, the numbers of students was somewhat unmanagable with the number of company mentors.

This year's a completely different game, there are almost as many mentors as students, so last night's showing of about half the team's numbers was most advantageous.

Things got done regardless. Good work by all.

Chassis got 'way closer to running, tomorrow night we will see this year's skeleton creation run across the floor. Something for the controls team to play with while the designers work out the details of the manipulator. It was good to see everyone busy with something, the evening went by quickly, and profitably.

Let's see what tomorrow evening brings...

16 January 2005

Down to nutz 'n boltz

Some real work got done this afternoon. Almost everyone was busy doing something profitable.

The chassis, out of the box, was being built and wired up, the goal being to get a drivable chassis by quitting time. Didn't happen, but we're close enough.

Trying to get things done caused me to forget to return a piece of equipment to my work area, not that it will be missed, just that I intended to return it before we finished for the day.

Same thing for the small arbor press which I borrowed and found we couldn't use.

While trying to notch out a piece of aluminum, I discovered that the punch is missing the hardened roller assembly. Don't know where/when we're going to get that fixed.

Still don't have the authority to let the students into the machine shop, one of the company safery officers needs to inspect the area and we have to comply with his findings.

While using one of the drill presses to insert press-fit bearings, the collar that elevates the work surface split, rendering the press inoperable. Need to get that part welded and redressed to fit.

The team's getting into the habit of cleaning up after themselves. It's a good habit to get into and the more stress that gets put onto that subject, the better. We actually had team members vying for the pushbroom.

Tomorrow's off for the schools, but not me. It would be nice if they could get into the facility earlier, but there are 'way to many of them for one or two mentors to watch over.

We'll pick up where we left off tomorrow evening.

Week1, Where Art Thou??

Here it is, Sunday, one week after the "Game Revelation" and things are already slipping.

No surprise here. Rather than head to our sponsor's facility, we met at the school this past week to develop a strategy and brainstorm some ideas for the machine.

Lots of good ideas made it interesting w/r/t discussions.

Generally, the new mentors (we number 23 at this point) are trying to lead the students into thinking more carefully about strategy and how that strategy will define the robot. Some get it, some don't, and some never will.

Egos are starting to show, but this may well be an artifact of the tight confines they were all in (a classroom) and the intensity of the effort. Not that the intensity will diminsh over this next 5 weeks, but it will be spread amongs the subteams.

I seem to have turned into a facilitator, and I certainly hope that that will change soon.

What's good this year are that the Pro/E designers will be in close proximity to the prototypers, so they can talk, discuss concepts etc.

The animation team has a graduated team member returning to act as mentor. He's been doing animation for the past three years and really knows how to use 3dsMax. From what I've seen so far, his time with the team has paid off.

Today, our goal is to complete the fabrication of the out-of-the-box chassis and transmissions and get the controls/software team something they can start working with.

15 January 2005

Get 'er done!

Get 'er done! Posted by Hello

First day at our sponsor's facility

Today we spent the day at our sponsor's facility.

Over the summer, the area was cleaned up and new flooring was installed in the center room and machine shop. Just yesterday, electrical power was restored to the machines and although we can't let the students or non-employee mentors use them until after a safety inspection, there are enough of us who can get simple things done.

The week's work of strategizing and initial design done at the school allowed the subteams to attack their particular areas right away. Not to say, however, that everything went smoothly, there are still lots of rough spots.

One of our fellow mentors for the sister team delivered a mockup of the tetra autoload station. Big help, much appreciated. She and her crew also built a game piece and delivered the materials we need to build one field goal. We can concentrate on a game-winning strategy and the machine necessary to achieve that goal.

There was a lot of excitement today, and a few new rules were tried out. So far, the communal lunch break worked really well. As a group, we went to the cafeteria to partake of what the parent-booster group brought in. Much better organization, IMHO, everyone got to take a break, but still talk about the work they're doing.