Friday, October 7, 2016

Robotics Update 7 October

With the able help of my high school FIRST students we have the middle school class building away at a good clip.  Familiar designs of course recur but there are some interesting new themes as well.

This design has the new dense foam wheels on the back with styrofoam and some kind of shower floor traction stuff on the front.

The beige component here is our first 3D printed part.  Will it be strong enough to hold up in battle?  Stay tuned.

Form before function.  This student decided it was more important to have a drawing of "Mukanaus" than to have his wheels attached.  I am actually ok with "art bots".  The whole theme of the middle school class is free form building and there aren't many rules.

Its been great to have the high school kids there.  Some of the soldering gets a little tricky.  But it is consistently getting done right and without my needing to watch over them.  There are just too many other things I need to supervise at the same time.

In the spirit of "not many rules" a couple of interesting scenarios are developing.  One lad took his project home and had some productive and probably enjoyable build time with his dad. What they created is sturdy, looks effective, is nearly done....and is at least four ounces over weight.  So how hard should I make this kid sweat to get those four ounces off?  Pretty hard I figure.  He can learn a few things about attention to specifications and about how much lava flows of hot glue really weigh.  And as his reward for solid effort in these areas I think I will show him a trick by which drive and weapon power can be drawn off of a single battery.  He is a talented if somewhat challenging student who has considerable promise.

Another student had the idea that he could just haul in the battered wreckage of a large RC car and simply swap in the parts.  I let him flail away at it for a session or two.  But realistically there is no way he could manage it.  The cheap plastic gearboxes that they crank out in China never go back together again once broken open, and he had no idea of how to create from scratch a reasonable forward/reverse control system.

I told him it was time for a serious re-design.  He thought for a few minutes, reached into one of my bins of junk parts and said "How 'bout if I used this?".  Hmmmm, both this part selection and his ideas of how to adapt it were very solid thinking.  A few parts will have to be fabbed by me as our shop access and time budget are tight, but this could make for a very interesting and anomalous machine.

I will still make him think up the control system, but I can at least tell him that it can be done with the technology on hand.  If he can figure it out in time....

No comments: