NASA TETRIX Projects

Day 2: Wednesday, 7/6

by on Jul.06, 2011, under Week 1


Today we finished the TETRIX bridges; Sarah and Briyana’s bridge was the second longest and most solid, Dean and Jess’ was the third longest and second most solid, and Lawrence and my bridge was the longest, but least solid, by far.  The first two bridges barely deflected since they were the same basic construction (the metal u-sheets connected together).  The final bridge was more outside of the box thinking: it used the battery charge cable to act as a flexible bridge.  However, that ended up failing as the weights caused the cable to sag and the outer edges to collapse inwards.   We attempted to make a SAM animation of the bridges deflecting under the weight, however the first two bridges did not deflect enough and the third deflected too much too quickly.


The rest of the day we worked on various connection types: figuring out the best ways to connect LEGOs, TETRIX, and everyday objects.  We learned that LEGO axles and TETRIX shafts are the same diameter (except of course the LEGO axle is not circular: it’s + shaped), that the blue lego connectors can be pressure fit into TETRIX wheels, and that pencils and screwdrivers fit perfectly into the large TETRIX holes.  Using this knowledge, we started the second exercise: object holding.  Drawing three numbers from a bag determined what objects the constructed robot would need to be held.  They had to have omni wheels, and had to be able to be pushed across the room without spilling their contents.  Jess and I’s had to hold three different sized screwdrivers, a pencil, sharpie, and pen, and a calculator.  Lawrence and Briyana’s had to hold a full cup of water, a CD, and another robot.  Dean and Sarah’s had to hold spare change, a Nintendo 64 game, and a huge wrench that could spin free.

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Testing bridges/SAM: SAM failed, didn’t really see point of it.  Holding devices: good way to learn about TETRIX connections and useful knowledge for later.  Thought of Tank idea.

Lawrence: The bridge was so much fun because we had an outrageous idea but it didn’t work that well. It still gave us enjoyment though. Later in the 2nd day finding connections for Lego’s to Tetrix was very useful for our remaining projects. The water holder I built was mainly out of Lego’s and it was really fascinating. I found a way to connect it securely and the project was mainly a success besides the omni wheels made the ride too bumpy for the cup of water. I also learned that day that you should always plan out things before you do them because I messed up the crane on my robot many times and it became a catastrophe but even though it got frustrating I finally got it right. Hahahaha.

Jess: Going into day two, I was looking forward to finishing building my bridge and seeing if we could win the challenge. It became pretty evident rather quickly that we didn’t have a chance. Then building the holding robots was pretty awful, since my group had to build one that would hold a pen, a pencil, and a marker. Tetrix really wouldn’t cooperate with that objective. I was pretty happy with Tetrix’s ability to hold the calculator, though.

Briyana: I struggled with building a CD drive that actually held the CD…I over thought the whole process. After I simplified my thought process I ended up using rubber bands.

Sarah: Connecting TETRIX and LEGO pieces requires a lot of jamming.

Nicolas: The SAM animation of the bridge testing was incredibly awful.  I was hoping you could really see the deflection, but the bridges barely deflected and the camera setup was both awkward and not fast enough (taking a picture every .1 seconds did not allow showing the minute deflection)

1. The easy part was putting the pieces into one another. The hard part was making them stay. The wheels were somewhat harder to find the correct pieces for to have them be long enough for the motor but not be wobbling.

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Day 1: Tuesday, 7/5

by on Jul.05, 2011, under Week 1

Today was our first day.  We started with a short name game with the questions, “What is your name?”, “Where are you from and what grade are you in?”, and “What is your favorite tech product?”  The general conclusion under favorite tech product was the mp3 player, with a shoutout to Morgan’s “impact driver”.  By the third day that product will definitely change to “air conditioning”.  After that, we did a campus tour in the oppressive heat, looking at most of the major buildings, including the Engineering building, Anderson, and a few places to eat.  Location-wise, we started in the basement of Brown and Brew, at the CEEO (Center for Engineering Education and Outreach), and moved to the Botlab when we started our team building exersice.  The exercise originally had five parts, but we shortened it to three.  First we had “team LEGO,” in which we built the largest possible tower with just 39 pieces in 30 minutes (the amount of pieces determined with dice).  Each tower was at least two feet tall and stayed upright for at least 30 seconds.  Then we had “solo LEGO,” which was the same thing except by ourselves; the success rate dropped significantly: only 1 out of 5 towers stayed up for the 30 seconds (and that tower had snapped in half).  It was this exercise really where it was determined that working in teams is better than alone: you can divide the work, you have double the brainpower, and there’s enough to do that you don’t always get in the way of each other.   The third part was “team TETRIX”, where we started to build the longest possible bridge that could still support two battery packs. -Nicolas

Daily Thoughts:

Dean: Already visited Tufts, already knew campus.  Intro and TETRIX: The screws were annoying, took awhile yo a result.  Mindstorm: Already used it, familiar with it.  Towers: Fun, creative, good way to learn connections with LEGOs.  Bridges: Good way to learn TETRIX kits.

Lawrence: The first day was exciting because I’ve never worked with TETRIX before or any type of robotics. I had loads of fun with the tallest tower project because I made mine so tall but it didn’t necessarily stand up. Then the bridge project was very amusing as well but wasn’t very successful as well. Hahahaha

Jess: The first day was rather awkward, considering the ubiquitous silence between all of us, with the exception of Nick. We started cracking open the new TETRIX kits in groups of three (from that instant they were never so neat again), and they didn’t seem so frustrating or complicated to work with in that instant. The team building exercises hardly brought further conversation out among us, but solving quick challenges using limited materials was pretty fun and interesting.

Briyana: My thinking on building a bridge was simply just making a strong, long and sturdy enough bridge so it wouldn’t tip over.

Sarah:  It was really hot outside.

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