NASA TETRIX Projects

Archive for July 15th, 2011

Day 9: Friday, 7/15

by on Jul.15, 2011, under Week 2

Today we had our demos for LEGO/TI people (educators and business men/women), who had come to Tufts to discuss the use of the TI Nspire in classrooms.  We used the opportunity of them being here to show our projects, but also to mention some complaints about Tetrix, as one of the Tetrix developers, Andrew, was actually there as well.  From 9:30 to noon, before the demos, we made finishing touches on the powerpoints and finalized the robots.  The Axel Rover had it’s wheel’s redone, from flat bars attached to the large gear, to smaller gears attached to the large gear.  This provided smoother motion and made the wheels large enough to turn without the middle axle hitting the ground:

Right before the demonstrations started, we found out we weren’t going to do powerpoint presentations.  In the end, the presentations went very well as the people we were presenting to seemed genuinely interested and understood what we were saying.  We pointed out our complaints with the TETRIX system: That the one 7/64″ allen wrench that is provided is not enough since it is used so often, that the pieces bend easily even under light pressure, that some screws are improperly machined so that the nut won’t fit on unless forced (with non-provided pliers/nut driver), that some curved pieces would be nice, that pieces with an even amount of connection ports (4 rather than 3, or 6 rather than 5) would be useful, that there should be a variety of axle lengths, and that Servo cables should have a “+” or some kind of sign to show which way is up when inserting them into the Servo controller.  Also, Andrew gave us a personal demo of the TI Nspire, which blew my mind, as I’ve been using a TI 83 for 8 years now.  The Nspire is basically a SAT-legal laptop/calculator hybrid.  At this point, I don’t see how people actually need to learn math for the SAT, they just need to learn this calculator.  My favorite features of the Nspire is not the 10 million things you can do with it, but rather the fact that it has a backlight, (I’m surprised it took so long to add a backlight), is in color, and has a full keyboard (rather than an alpha button activated keyboard).


After those demos we ate pizza and socialized.  Then we did another demo, this time to the other CEEO employees; college interns working on various LEGO projects.  Following our demos, they showed us what they are working on; curricula ideas for LEGO, such as a robotic ice cream making assembly line and robotic puppets, firmware updates for Labview, interactive playground equipment, Arduino-LEGO interfaces, a TETRIX scooter and TETRIX tricycle riding robot, etc.  Other past and ongoing CEEO projects were also shown, such as a LEGO CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine, a TETRIX Mill, and Mike Mogenson‘s camera controlled quadcopter.

Ben’s TETRIX Mill AR Drone Ball Tracking

After all that, we came back to the Botlab to drop our gear off and headed to the field behind Bromfield-Pearson (the math building) to play some frisbee with Morgan (who’s incredibly good), as we missed the normal game with the CEEO employees.  The final hour we reviewed what happened that day, I gave a game plan for next week, and finally I let the students do what they wanted as the hectic week concluded. -Nicolas

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Presenting to the tetrix people allowed us to give our opinions on the system which in the long run would be useful to others.  We also presented to the other students working at the CEEO and they showed us their projects.   They are fairly complicated and interesting.

Lawrence: The first thing I did today when I came in is look at the NASA Axel Rover and I did my best to think of a solution to the problem we ran into with the wheels. After a few experiments I finally thought of the idea to put gears on top of the gear to make the wheels bigger so that the wheels will be big enough so that the rover can actually move when you put it on the ground. The only problem with this idea that I came up with was that the screws that were necessary for the wheels were not located in the Tetrix kit so I had to achieve other screws and bolts that worked for this occasion. Also later today we presented our projects to the owners of Tetrix and Lego mindstorms. The presentation went relatively well because this time we could actually run our rover on the ground because I switched the wheels before the presentation. After the presentation we played Frisbee with Morgan because all the other CEEO members already played and then we had pizza.

Jess: In the morning, we found out that all of the work we had done the previous afternoon on advancing our powerpoints into less kiddy, more professional presentations was completely unnecessary, as we wouldn’t even have to use powerpoints to present to the people from Lego and TI. It was significantly easier presenting to adults than to children, and the burritos and pizza afterward were pretty tasty.

Briyana: We just presented our robots to the LEGO people and gave them constructive criticism to improve the next model of TETRIXÒ.

Sarah: We showed people the working version of our robots. We also told them some problems with the TETRIX system like how the pieces are easily bendable. They also ate all of the good burritos.

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