Although often writing under a nom de plume my legal - if perhaps not True - identity is Tim Wolter. I'm retired from medicine and enjoying travel, family and teaching.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Robotics-The Home Stretch
The Machines Behaving Badly tournament is one week off. Each of the two classes has one session left for fine tuning or emergency kludge-engineering.
A few pictures and comments:
Some weapons-off sparring. This features the "bucketbot" with a spinning disc versus a robot with a paddle bit. Paddle bits are deadly to any exposed wiring, but it won't even scratch a well armored machine.
Kids who are finished and have had a chance to drive a bit are then detailed to help out kids who have gotten behind. Usually, as is the case here, this happens when they try to build something too complex for their skill level. A little help gets them to the competition with something that runs for at least a while.
Psychological warfare. This robot is named Ellen. The partial word "ellion" on the front is coincidence. I had a robot named "Amish Rebellion" that got parted out, and this is a section of its lexan top cover.
I allow, nay, I encourage kids to find ways to circumvent all rules that do not relate directly to safety. The drive system of all these robots is just hacked servos. But this machine has an overvolted cordless screwdriver on the back of it. When it is fired up those drywall screws will rotate at a rapid rate, causing it to hop forward with great industry. At least in theory. The center of gravity is too far forward. I told the student that if this thing got clobbered in first round beetle action he could just take the saw to it, chop off the front ramp and the screwdriver-drive and compete as a one pounder! Heck, why not.
A very scary weapon. When mounted it will have a spinning blade about 18 inches across, and made up of rather sharp Sawsall blades. Most likely this will be unstable as all get out, and on first impact with anything solid the whole robot will bounce around the arena like a superball. I am looking forward to this. This is one of those robots that will be completed a few minutes before it goes into action. Heh, this reminds me of my favorite quote from Galaxy Quest: "Well, it has never actually been successfully tested."
This was built by one of my students from last year. He kept the parts of his previous robot and built this in the "off season". It is the corpse of an RC car sheathed in duct tape and driven by two ridiculous little hacked servos. It might do well just by weight of sheer plastic, as the forward 80% or so of the robot could be bitten off without impacting functionality. It has a puny little weedwhacker weapon that will break rather quickly, so he is not allowed to test it outside the arena.