Day 12: Wednesday, 7/20

by on Jul.20, 2011, under Week 3

More construction today.  Dean spent the day learning how to setup and use the dc motor encoders so that he could get two motors to travel at constant speed, rather than power, allowing a robot to drive forward in a straight line.  In the end, he succeeded, getting a test robot I built to travel 20 feet down the hall whilst only drifting to the side an inch or two.  The Axel Rover base was fully finished, but there will probably still be future modifications.  Lawrence went to the machine shop and with Jim’s guidance custom machined a piece to mount the fishing spool to a motor.  Sarah and Briyana built a door for their robot that would (theoretically) be opened and closed by two synched servos.  In the end however those servos were too weak to properly open the door, so an encoder-equipped motor was used instead.  Also, I constructed kits for the middle school students; both an activity for the Axel Rover and for the Carrier bot.  For the Axel Rover, I made six kits (A -> F) that each had a motor and NXT, who’s goal would be to drive forward, backward, and travel over objects.  However, the pieces I provided in each kit did not include wheels, so the students would need to make a walking/crawling robot.  The code for it is a simple move forward/backward when the right/left NXT button is pressed, until the middle NXT button is pressed.  For the Carrier bot activity, I started set up four kits with instruction manual and the pieces to build a simple light-sensor controlled robot. -Nicolas

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Started building the robot for iPad control.  Learned how to use encoders/program using encoders for dc motors.  Frustrating at times.

Lawrence: Today we continued reconstructing our NASA Axel Rover. We have the rover completely built that we know of. Our program for running the rover is not working for some reason and also the servo program isn’t working. We believe it is our wiring but we are not sure so we are going to check it tomorrow because we are out of time. Also me and Nick organized kits for the middle school kids for our presentation coming up. The kits are so that the kids can make smaller and easier robots out of Lego Mindstorms.

Jess: On this morning it seemed somewhat crazy that we had to have completely finished demos for the next Monday. Then I realized that the robot was basically done and I had a six hour period in which to work solely on the robot. Indeed, it turned out that the robot came along rather successfully. It even had a part custom made for it. We solved a lot of problems as far as actual physical construction. When it came to programming, that undid basically everything (in some cases, literally). We couldn’t figure out how to sync the servos, so I undid the zip ties that held all of the electrical parts together, undid all of the connections, and still solved none of the problems, but did succeed in losing my perfect, original configuration.

Briyana: Constructing a door and motorizing it to be a ramp (similar to draw bridge) for the mini robots to deploy from. Servo motor ended up not being strong enough so we switched to DC motors and used encoders instead.

Sarah: We are working on the door for our robot.

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Day 11: Tuesday, 7/19

by on Jul.19, 2011, under Week 3

Today was the second day of redesigning and rebuilding.  The base of the Axel Rover got a few redesigns as the holes are difficult to line up with Tetrix due to the awkwardness of the provided motor mounts. In the end, two different designs were constructed in order to evaluate which is better.  The Carrier bot started coming together, with the walls being made of cardboard, since it is an easily acquired material and inexpensive.  Originally I was thinking about their robot being made of 1/16″ Lexan (polycarbonate sheeting), however that would defy the purpose of other people being able to easily build this robot.

Daily Thoughts:

Lawrence: Today we still did more reconstructing. We came up with 2 possible ideas for our rover. Both of them are built and we will test them tomorrow to see which of the 2 are better. Also today I made a program to work the double powered servo that I constructed earlier. I made it a double servo so that it would be more powerful. I also synchronized the double powered servo so that it would be better but we ran into technical difficulties that I fixed but it destroyed the synchronizing I did. So my goal for tomorrow is to synchronize the double powered servo so that it works.

Jess: First thing in the morning I had to take apart the base I had spent the entirety of the previous afternoon building. It was growing increasingly unfeasible. The rest of the day was spent constructing two new alternatives to the base, which at times was extremely frustrating, since the holes continue to not match up in ways that have been acceptable to me. In the end, I got the servos/arm mounted in the center of one of the bases as I wished, but continued to be skeptical.

Briyana: My partner and I continued to expand and improve and have got a full base in which the smaller robots (which will be built by the middle school students) will wait to be deployed.

Sarah: We continued building the new robot. We used cardboard for the walls because it is still a prototype and cardboard was easier that using a different material.

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Day 10: Monday, 7/18

by on Jul.18, 2011, under Week 3

Today was day 1 of rebuilding and modifying our prototypes based on information gleaned from testing and demoing them.  Dean took apart his Tank robot so that the other groups would have more pieces for their own projects, since he used almost every single flat plate and most of the long bars, as well as a ton of screws and nuts.  I used this opportunity to take a SAM animation of him taking it apart, taking a picture every 2 seconds.  We ended up with 2545 pictures for a total of 5090 seconds, or 84.8 minutes.  We decided to run the resulting video at maximum fps, (30.3), resulting in the below video.

Dean taking apart Tank

Also, the two other groups spent today taking apart their prototypes and redesigning them.  The Axel Rover’s base was taken apart and new designs were thought up.  The Carrier bot’s prototype, which was at this point just a simple robot with an arm holding an ultrasonic sensor for finding craters/table edges, was taken apart and an entirely new robot was started.  Using four of the longest Tetrix beams and all the flat pieces Dean took off his tank, the base of the Carrier bot was built.

Daily Thoughts:

Lawrence: Today we took apart our old rover and completely reconstructed it. We did this all day and still didn’t finish it so it got frustrating. We tried many ways to make our rover and we still haven’t solved it.

Jess: After a rather relaxing day on Friday, and then the weekend, we had to buckle down to actual work. We started to take apart our prototype rover, as I wanted to see if I could create a better model by redesigning the base and such. I got it deconstructed within the day, and started brainstorming new ideas. Construction also began on a new base, which was rather frustrating.

Briyana: My partner and I took apart our old robot to expand and improve and have got a new base where the smaller robots (which will be built by the middle school students) will wait to be deployed.

Sarah: We took apart the old robot and built the base of the new robot.

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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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Day 8: Thursday, 7/14

by on Jul.14, 2011, under Week 2

Today we had our demos, at the Dr. Albert F. Argenziano School.  We left the Botlab at 9:30 and started our first demo at 10am.  We did our demos for two classrooms, each demo was an hour long and identical (the students responses were not).  We first started by introducing ourselves then Morgan explained why we were demoing.  Next, I gave a brief powerpoint introduction on NASA science, robotics, and rovers in particular.  We asked the students if they had any background on NASA/robotics, of which a few did, but most didn’t.  Following the science intro each pair of high school students presented their project idea.  Jess and Lawrence started with a powerpoint explaining more about their Axel Rover project and moved on to showing the Rover moving and finally talking about future plans.  Next, Briyana and Sarah talked about their Carrier robot, mentioning what it does and what their future plans were.  Following a short powerpoint, they demonstrated the ultrasonic detector by driving the robot on a table and having it stop when the ultrasonic detector saw the edge of the table (since the distance would increase beyond a certain threshold value). Finally, Dean and I introduced the iPad controller idea with a powerpoint.  We gave our reasons for doing our project, our inspiration, and potential GUIs (graphical user interfaces).  We then demonstrated a very simple iPad controller on the tank that Dean had built.  In the first classroom, a few students were snickering, but all in all they were responsive and seemed generally interested.  In the second classroom, the majority of the students seemed less interested, except for two boys sitting in the front row who wanted to answer every question and looked super interested.  After finishing our demos to the students we returned to the Botlab, after having lunch.  Morgan came up to me and mentioned we’d be doing demos to some TI (Texas Instrument) and LEGO business men/women, so we should be prepared.  We made our powerpoints more professional and less middle-school like as well as making a modifications to the bots.

By the end of the day, we were for the most part ready for the demos tomorrow.

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Visiting middle schoolers: Interesting to work with middle schoolers.  Tank got most of attention, lol.

Lawrence: Today we had our demo’s for the middle students. It was very successful the only problem my group ran in to was that the wheels were too small for the body of the robot and the children wanted to see it run so in order to run it we had to pick it up first because it didn’t work. Then we had to explain to them why.

Jess: Demos went pretty well. The first class of kids seemed reasonably excited about what we brought in (as excited as I could have hoped for, anyhow). They liked things like the tank and our Axel rover, and were willing to participate in group sessions where they could contribute ideas to us. The second class was a bit more difficult, since very few of them spoke English very well. In hindsight, 80% of them couldn’t understand the presentation we gave, which makes it make sense that none of them really looked at all interested or even minimally affected. In the smaller group portion, I  was able to communicate with a few of them in Spanish and basically answer their questions, if they would speak slowly enough.

Briyana: Went to the middle school and gave a presentation of our robots and power points and gave a demonstration and answered any questions they had. Then later on we modified our power points for the LEGO people, for the following day. Also we finished putting our final adjustments to the robots before we start the redesigning process.

Sarah: The middle school students gave us a lot of ideas for our robot. Halfway through the day a piece of one of our motors fell off, so the wheel would not turn.

The middle school students gave us a lot of ideas for our robot. Halfway through the day a piece of one of our motors fell off, so the wheel would not turn.
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Day 7: Wednesday, 7/13

by on Jul.13, 2011, under Week 2

Today was the last day before demos; we finalized and practiced our powerpoints, created a survey for the students to fill in, came up with questions to ask the kids, and finished construction.  Some of the programming was shody, but worked.  For example, the iPad program was just simple left, right, forward, and back buttons.  However, when we switched from Morgan’s personal iPad to a CEEO iPad, the server connection required to run the program became buggy and only the left and forward buttons worked.  Eventually, we made a Labview program that had an interactive front panel, to show the movement of the tank (forward, back, left, right) and the movement of the turret (left/right and up/down).

The Axel Rover had issues with wheels, as the provided gears in the kits did not have a diameter large enough to spin the robot without the battery pack hitting the ground.  The current solution is to attach flat bars to the end of the wheels.

The crater detecting robot works, however the DC motors are so fast that sometimes by the time the crater (the edge of the table) has been detected and the robot has braked, the robot has already fallen off the table.  When the speed is reduced (the motors are running at constant power, so reducing the speed means reducing the power), the motors became too weak to move the robot.

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Tank: finished product: YEAH! Worked on powerpoint

Lawrence: This day started off with making the PowerPoint presentation which actually didn’t take that long but then we reviewed it so that we would look well when we presented it to the middle school students. Also we presented to Morgan today so we could have his thoughts on our presentation.

Jess: Writing the powerpoint up was pretty simple. Making some reasonable probing questions were somewhat difficult to come up with, since it was slightly hard to remember what the comprehension/vocabulary level of middle schoolers is, and we weren’t really sure how good their English speaking skills (we’re going to an ESL school tomorrow) were.

Briyana: Worked more on the powerpoint and questions.  Robot would fall off table if power was too high and wouldn’t drive if too low.

Sarah: I was extremely happy when the crater-detecting robot worked; although when the power was turned down we had to give it a nudge to get it started.

Writing the powerpoint up was pretty simple. Making some reasonable probing questions were somewhat difficult to come up with, since it was slightly hard to remember what the comprehension/vocabulary level of middle schoolers is, and we weren’t really sure how good their English speaking skills (we’re going to an ESL school tomorrow) were.
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Day 6: Tuesday, 7/12

by on Jul.12, 2011, under Week 2

Today was and tomorrow will be preparation for our demos to middle school students on Thursday.  Today we wrote up our power point presentations; written so that middle schoolers can understand it.  Also, we further developed and began to construct our demos.  Dean and I dropped the Space Elevator/Lunar Orbiter idea as the TETRIX robot, requiring a heavy 12V battery pack, would be too heavy and unwieldy to climb a rope.  Instead, we decided to create an iPad controller for the other two robots, one that would ultimately control nine independent robots.  For the demo, we created sample GUIs (graphical user interfaces), and Dean, who had been working on a TETRIX tank, decided we should control that tank with the iPad.

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Prepare Tank for Demo.  Worked on powerpoint -> wanted to work on Tank.

Lawrence: Today for my group was mainly just thinking how we can finish our robot and make it better. The whole day we pretty much spent all of our time building. Today was a fun but stressful day because with our prototype of the NASA Axel Rover was difficult to make out of Tetrix because a lot of pieces that were necessary for our prototype were not located in the Tetrix kit so we had to find ways around these conflicts. At the end of this day we had pretty much finished our prototype but the huge problem was that the wheels were not big enough for our robot. 🙁

Jess: It was on this day that I searched NASA rovers on youtube and came across the Nasa Axel Rover. It seemed pretty cool and interesting, so that was the idea we decided to take and replicate with Tetrix for the middle school audience. After doing a bit of research on the rover, we started to mock it up in a very prototypic way. This was the first time I had actually tried to build something complete out of solely Tetrix. We ran into a lot of problems with construction, mainly since the motor mounts don’t have holes the properly match up when placed perpendicular to the majority of pieces, and since the biggest wheels/gears were far too small.

Briyana: Mostly just made a power point for the middle school students.

Sarah: All that our robot did at this point was detect craters, although I hadn’t yet written a code for that to work. So Morgan gave us the idea to make (in a future version) the robot able to hold smaller robots inside of it that it could deploy at specific times. That way the middle school students could participate and create small LEGO robots to put inside of the big one.

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Day 5: Monday, 7/11

by on Jul.11, 2011, under Week 2

Today we spent the majority of the day working on Labview programming, since we figured out how to get the DC motors and Servos running.  We realized that the NXT to RCX cables (attached to long RCX cables and then back again to NXT) that we’d been using were preventing the DC motors/servos from working.  Upon using pure NXT cables, they started working again.  We wrote a variety of code; code to test DC motors, code to test servo motors, code to test NXT motors.  A sample code, btns_DC, is shown below.  The code turns on the DC motors corresponding to the buttons pressed on the NXT brick: left button = left turn, right button = right turn, orange button = go forward.  We attempted to create a switch to reverse motion by using the left and right arrow simultaneously, but the buttons became glitchy.  Testing this code was frustrating because sometimes the NXT became buggy and the buttons stopped working; in order to fix this one would need to restart the NXT (but distinguishing between when the code was broken and when the NXT was broken was annoying).

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Worked on TANK

Lawrence: This day wasn’t a very exciting day it was more on the boring side but that’s because all I did was mainly more programming so that I could learn more about it. The buttons code Nick had mainly made but I just finished it for him so that I could eventually make the code myself. It was just for learning per purposes.

Jess: I spent this day working on my walking robot some more. It had been pretty lame and broken when I left it for the weekend, so I fixed it up. I mostly just experimented with the Legos and Tetrix and Labview.

Sarah: Today I focused on basic programming of TETRIX motors.

This day wasn’t a very exciting day it was more on the boring side but that’s because all I did was mainly more programming so that I could learn more about it. The buttons code Nick had mainly made but I just finished it for him so that I could eventually make the code myself. It was just for learning per purposes
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Day 4: Friday, 7/8

by on Jul.08, 2011, under Week 1

Today we started Labview programming and constructing walking TETRIX/LEGO robots.  The original plan was to make TETRIX walking robots, but we could not figure out why the TETRIX DC motors/servo’s wouldn’t run.  Neither I, nor Morgan could get them running, so we decided to make LEGO Mindstorms walking robots.  The robots were to not use wheels and simulate walking.  The two general ideas were to make a robot that actually walks, like Lawrence’s “horse” idea or to make a robot that drags itself, like Dean/Jess and Sarah/Briyana’s dragging bots.  For the Labview programming, Morgan gave a 1.5 hour-long programming demo and introduction; thereafter we made our own sample codes and eventually used these codes of the walking robots.

Horse bot: Lawrence

The goal was to make the robot run like a horse, but figuring out the timing and the power levels of the front/back NXT motor was a nightmare.  Eventually the robot ended up working with an awkward sort of dragging/limping motion, rather than a smooth gallop.

Dragging bot: Dean/Jess

This robot operated by dragging itself on two corner brackets and pulling a sled which held the NXT brick.

Destroyer bot: Sarah/Briyana:

Destroyer Bot – Short Demo

Originally a more complex robot; upon testing it, it broke a few connections and accidentally formed this robot, which rolls along the floor much like the Destroyer droids in Star Wars (hence it’s name).

Also, ultimate frisbee with other CEEO employees at noon.

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Walking robots: Didn’t do it, instead, built the Tank.  Destroyer robot and horsey was pretty cool though.  Labview: reminds me of mindstorms NXT program; boring.

Lawrence: Labview programming was not the greatest thing because it was time consuming and boring. The result of the programs we made is really what is great about Labview because some of the programs are really fascinating like the buttons one. The buttons one was programmed to make the NXT like a controller. We had the middle button to go forward and the right button to go right an the left button to go left it was actually really cool and not that hard to program. The Horse Robot that I made was really simple and cool. It was a disaster but in the same was a success. My intentions were to get it to walk without falling. It didn’t quite work like that though it just fell and started to drag itself with its 2 front legs and it went straighter than I expected. I also got it to flip itself so that the legs that were being dragged before actually were doing the dragging now. This ended up working even though it wasn’t intentional.  The only difficult part about this robot is the controlling because I used the buttons controls to run it and once you get the hang of it works well. Also during lunch time this day I played my first game of ultimate frisbee with the CEEO colleagues and it was really intense and fun.

Jess: Both making a walking robot and programming in labview came rather easily. In my robotics class at school a group of friends and myself had had a no-wheels robot race, and so most of the robots had been non-standard vehicles that dragged themselves like half-paralyzed, demented vertebrates. So I just attempted to recreate an idea I had had then. Labview was somewhat similar to the Mindstorms programming, which I also had background in, so it was somewhat easy to explore and discover. Within an hour or so I managed to accomplish my goal of making a robot that would start when its touch sensor was pressed, drive straight until it spotted darkness, t hen back up and turn right before going straight some more. I suppose it was a line-avoiding robot. Ultimate frisbee was pretty awesome.

Briyana: I originally wanted to make a walking robot with four equal length legs, that didn’t work at all. Then I took two of the legs off, had a base for the NXT brick, which fell off anyway. Then made the last two legs shorter. When I tested the robot it worked quite differently then I had first planned, but it still worked. Programming is definitely hard, I’ve done it before but nothing this advanced. I mostly had done programming but mostly just getting the motor to move around with different sequence pattern and have the sensor stop if it sees black tape, for example.

Sarah: It was extremely hilarious to watch the destroyer bot destroy itself on the first run. Creating walking robots was difficult to do using pieces provided and the robot also had to the hold the heavy NXT brick, which was a problem for balance.

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Day 3: Thursday, 7/7

by on Jul.07, 2011, under Week 1

Today we started the science intro and finished the holding bots.  Also, at 1pm, Jim Hoffman,
the Machine Shop Coordinator, took us on a tour of the Machine Shop in Bray.

For the science intros, I reviewed the Massachusetts engineering design process and it’s 8 steps.  Also, we researched possible NASA science ideas and came up with a list of possible ideas.  The list included physics project ideas and a PH analyzer, but mostly was different rover ideas.  We decided the final groups would be Dean and I, Lawrence and Jess, and Sarah and Briyana.  Lawrence and Jess decided on an Axel Rover, Sarah and Briyana decided on a crater detecting rover, and Dean and I decided on making a combined Space Elevator/Lunar Lander.  For that idea, the students would build a TETRIX robot that climbs a nylon cord, simulating climbing a space elevator.  A fan would simulate wind in the atmosphere and an ultrasonic sensor would slow the robot as it approaches the ceiling.  On the way down, it would have to slow down and land on an uneven surface.

We also finished the holding robots, focusing on the design process.

Lawrence/Briyana’s final robot worked well; previous version’s had a glitchy grabbing arm for holding onto other robots.  The only flaw was that the omni wheels provided by the TETRIX kits were so wobbly that no matter how they were attached, the cup of water would spill.  The CD was held in place by rubber bands forcing a pressure fit of two metal parts: strong enough to hold the CD but weak enough to allow a CD drive to pull the CD into itself.

Dean and Sarah’s final robot worked incredibly well: the wrench could spin 360 degrees, the Nintendo game was securely attached, and the change was held in a simple, modular compartment; it could be easily attached/detached and easy to build.

Jess and I’s final robot was unfinished since we hit the maximum build time.  The calculator was easy to mount as the edges of the TI-83 slid perfectly into the metal pieces; the width of the metal pieces is the same size as the gap on the edge of the calculator.  The screwdrivers were also easy to mount; their handles were larger than their shafts, so they could be slid into place and then suspended higher up with spacers.  The pencil/pen/sharpie however was a disaster as they were seemingly impossible to mount at first. When we finally came up with a solution (by rubberbanding them in place), we ran out of time. -Nicolas

Holding Project’s Design Process
Written Exercise:
The Steps:
1. Identify the problem
2. Research the problem
3. Develop possible solutions
4. Choose the best solutions
5. Construct a prototype
6. Test and evaluate prototype
7. Communicate the solution
8. Redesign

1. Hold calculator, writing implements, screwdrivers
2. Trial and error with designs
3/4/5/6/8. Frames for calculator slots, tubes for screwdrivers, tube clamp for writing implements (the tube idea ended up being thrown away later in the design process (redesign).  A lot of trial and error went into the design phase.  Ideas were thought up and then mocked up sans screws, with some seeming better than others.  The best ideas were individually constructed based on function.  Putting them together is when problems arose. The tubes were shown to not work in this situation, as they didn’t attach well.  A lot of complex ideas were thrown away for simpler ones.  The wheels were really flimsy when we used LEGO axles, so we instead remade them with screws.  Finally, the individual writing holders were abandoned for a single, rubber-banded stick.  The only original idea to last was the calculator holder.
7. The only step we didn’t do is communicate, as we didn’t have time.

1. Finding a way to hold a CD without restricting the CD from being pulled out.
2. Rubber bands work to hold the CD in place.  Wheels could also work to move the CD through (small/big)
3.  Put two wheels together on each side of CD to guide through. Rubber bands hold in place.
4. Rubber bands and wheels to guide when pulled and hold in place.
5. Built around till we had a working prototype.
6. Holds everything; omni wheels however cause water to spill
7. Showed it off
8. Wrap rubber bands around prongs 3x for tight non-restraining hold. Don’t use omniwheels

1. The problem was that  I had to make a robot that could hold a cup of water, a CD, and a crane to attach to other robots.
2. I didn’t do much research.  I just did trial and error, which in retrospect was bad.
3/4.  Our solutions were zipties and elastics because we needed the CD to be takeable, and they worked.
5. We made the CD holder tighter, we made the walls for the cup so it wouldn’t fall, and we made a long crane to attach to other robots.
6. The prototype holds CD steady and the cup is held securely, but when the robot moves the shaking caused by the omni wheels causes water to spill.
7. Handing in a written piece of paper containing this info (steps 1-8)
8.  Kept having to move crane up and down and added sides to keep from sliding off.

Difficulties: Screws  are sometimes hard to reach, sometimes stuck, and the edges of the nut hurt to screw into place. Also, not many pieces.
Process: After starting out with a base, the attachments were redesigned to work and fit together. The game holder had to be redesigned to accommodate the wrench pivot device.  Upon realizing that the NXT brick had to be included, we had to find space on the base and we also tried out various brick support structures.  The omnidirectional wheels were originally to be on the outside but we decided to place them inside to give a sleeker look and coserve space

Conclusion: The majority of time was spent building, rather than thinking ahead.  This is both because people preferred to just build and use trial and error, but also because the unfamiliar TETRIX pieces take a long time to put together.

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: The machine shop tour was slightly boring and a little long, but the machines were cool.  Science ideas: I thought the space elevator idea was pretty cool.

Lawrence: This day was an interesting day because we got to visit the machine shops and I’ve always been interested in different types of machinery. One thing that was really amazing Jim showed us was this robot that was built and it could drive in another room an it had a camera on it so that when you put on the virtual reality goggles you could see everything. It really amazed me when I saw it. Also during day 3 we found the YouTube video of the NASA Axel Rover that was awesome. We decided to make a prototype of it because it was so cool.

Jess: I hadn’t previously known that Massachusetts has its own engineering design process. I also found it a bit difficult to brainstorm ideas for a robot and then isolate one good one. Despite this idea generation being the goal of this day, the idea for the Axel Rover technically did not come on this day. Seeing the machine shop was also pretty cool. Since my school is so small, I have never been inside an amateur machine shop, let alone a university one with advanced machines like the CNC. The CNC was pretty cool.

Sarah: I had the idea to mount the wrench on our robot using an axle in a vertical position. When the robot was completed Dean decided that he was going to turn it into a tank using the vertical axle to hold the turret.

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