Today our focus is the device that will apply chocolate syrup to the sundae.  Before we began building, however, we brainstormed the overall design of the project a little further.

A collective decision has been made to move the sundae around to each station with another robot (a “Bowl-Bot”).

Sundae Movement

  • Make a separate robot/car to carry bowl
  • Sturdy, well fitted (inverted pyramid)
  • Some sort of sensor system to stop at each station
  • Car moves back and forth at syrup/whipped cream – drizzle effect?

This should make for easier transport and more accurate stops at each station.

Back to the hot fudge tower:

One immediate problem that arose was that the chocolate syrup bottle is much too large, and most likely unable to be supported by the NXT kit.  We will have to find a smaller squeeze bottle to hold a smaller amount of syrup if we want to succeed.

1 hour later…

After a trip to the store, we now have a perfect squeezable bottle for the syrup, a sprinkler shaker, and tiny dowels for the cherries.  All that’s left for the assembly line is the whipped cream canister, which can wait for now.

Luckily, the bottle has an opening just wide enough for syrup. It seems all we will need to do is tilt the bottle downwards and apply a small amount of pressure with the two other motors.  This is great news, because while the motors certainly are capable of putting out a lot of force, this will allow us to be more exact.

1:35 PM

Construction is coming along fine.  Motor positioning is complete, and the syrup bottle has a holding cage as well.  No major roadblocks so far.

"Squeezer Bot" construction update

2:05 PM

Making the squeezing mechanism will be more difficult than we first expected, but with a few gears and racks, we have a clear end result in mind.  The only question is whether it will hold up in the end!

inspiration for the squeezing mechanism

2:50 PM

Still working on the gears and squeezing.  Turning out better than we expected, however.

Iteration 1 of Gearing

3:40 PM

The unsteadiness of the structure has forced us to construct many trusses and supports in order to have a clean gear meshing.  This also means that our ice cream movement design will need to pull in to each station, as opposed to running through all of them.  Not a huge deal, however.  Construction continues!

Iteration 2 of Gearing

4:36 PM

Nearing the completion of the chocolate syrup pouring apparatus.

Day 2 Google Searches:

  • Michael’s 02155 (searching for a Michael’s so we could purchase a more appropriate bottle)
  • Linear motion gear

Day 2 Conclusions:

  • Using SO MANY pieces, but it really can’t be avoided.
  • We have learned a lot about the LEGO gears and exactly how much support they need (read: a lot.)  They are not super sturdy or powerful.   We’ll see how big a problem this is later.
  • After almost a complete deconstruct and rebuild process and about two or three other iterations, we’ve got a design that (hopefully!) will work.  The tricky part will be making sure we get the motor speed and other programming exactly right in order to actually squeeze out the chocolate.

To Do for Day 3:

  • Test the choco-squeezer
  • Fix it
  • Test it again
  • Fix it again
  • Fill it with chocolate syrup
  • Test it again.
  • Repeat.