Monday, October 24, 2016

Robotics Update 24 October

The middle school robotics classes are progressing fairly well.  It is a smarter than usual batch of students this year.  We look forward to seeing a number of them on the FIRST team in the future.

I like the classic designs.  A four wheel drive pusher made of polycarbonate.  It needs a front wedge and some armor but it is in "driving practice" stage now.  There is something about transparent robots that I have always liked.

Now here's an odd duck.  The student building this one started out with a seriously flawed idea. Just dismantle an old RC car and slap the parts on.  So I started asking him questions.  "How are you planning on putting that cheap Chinese made gearbox back together?  How will you control forward and reverse? Did you know that our radio recievers run on 6 volts and that RC cars run on 9.6?  Can you guess what happens if you power a radio reciever at 9.6 volts?"  And so on.  I told him he was quite welcome to work on his plan for as long as he wished but that a major redesign was probably wise.  He got a thoughtful look on his face, went over to one of my Junk Bins and pulled out a 6 volt motor/gearbox from a Barby Jeep.  "Might this work?".

Why, yes.  Yes it would.  As a reward for directed thinking I am helping him more with the control system issues.  This monster will be an unstoppable pushing machine.  Also impossible to control in action.  Should be amusing to watch.

Sigh.  Another bright student with another serious design issue.  He has a very spiffy robot in near complete state.  It has an effective saw blade weapon.  And it is four ounces over weight with no realistic way to make weight.  For charging ahead and building without thinking he gets points for enthusiasm.  But he dug this hole, he can dig his way out.  I did tell him that there was a way we could eliminate the 6 volt drive battery with a voltage stepdown device. But I made him learn how to use a multimeter and do all his own soldering and testing. Here it is shortly before being hooked to power.  I always try to get them a little nervous before hooking something like this up.  "Are you sure you adjusted the power output?  Do you really have the positive and negative wires connected properly?  Are we going to have smoke, sparks and disappointment when you power this up?"

Of course he had wired it properly.  

This is a clever but somewhat annoying lad.  His robot is still a few ounces over weight.  I told him that for every remaining week of class that he did not bug me too much he would get one ounce of "grace".

Here a student is getting ready to glue ceramic tile to the front of his robot.  Now I do know that ceramics are used in various body armor but I have never seen it used in robotics.  We will see what the assorted arena hazards ( or "Inconveniences as I call them) do to this.  

Because it makes me happy I have taken more photos of this entrant.  The young lady who is building it has dubbed it "Melvin".  It is a nice bit of work but like all high powered weapons this saw may have enough oomph to self destruct.  The plastic of this old Barby Jeep gearbox was rather brittle when we were working to mod it.

This student has gone to great lengths to protect his wheels from the side.  And he has even gone so far as to put a polycarbonate roof on his machine.  What, is he expecting sharp and/or heavy objects to drop from above during the tournament?

As I said, this is a smart batch of kids this year.

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