So I have good news and bad news from the deadline yesterday…
Yesterday we had to show that our robot was able to score and:
i) I got lots of pictures of other teams’ robots swimming in the water, gathering balls, exiting the ramp, and scoring in the bin! They were taken from my camera, so the quality is not as bad as last time, and I will post them at the end of the blog! “Yay me” for remembering my camera!
ii) our robot sunk. It was not even able to get more than a meter away from the pond’s edge before it took on so much water that its net was completely submerged. It never even had the chance to pick up on ball…I think you get the idea.
So, from my last post (Sunday) we were right on track with our robot. Even though I had a concussion, we were able to finish the robot and everything was OK. However, on Monday we went out to the pond to test the robot and that is when things started to go downhill. We put our robot in the pond and started to drive it around. Everything was working amazingly! I had programed the controller so that only one joy stick would control both wheels together. Before we had it in the factory settings which had each different stick control a different motor. So basically when I wanted to turn, I would only use one stick so that only one wheel would turn, but moving forwards and backwards, I had to push both joysticks forward simultaneously so that the wheels would move together. Anyways, my programing made the robot much easier to control, and it entered the water and drove around like a hateful hamster :)
However, after a while, it started to go out of control. Both wheels were spinning at full speed, and I was not even touching the controller. So, we grabbed it out of the water and opened up the inside. It turns out that it was slowly taking on water and eventually the water had leaked into the group of electronics and they were going haywire. For the past few trials and deadlines, we had been using Saran wrap to protect them from getting water, but it never was 100% waterproof (or when it was, it was because we used a ton of Saran wrap, and a baggie, and a ton of duct tape…). So, this was when Will decided that we should rush and make a waterproof box. It was only a slightly lofty goal, so I agreed and we went down to the shop to start machining.
Luckily, when I had the concussion and could not machine, I took that time to write up the dimensions of the box, and so all that we really had to do was start machining. By the time I left for basketball, all of the plexiglass pieces were cut , they just had to be be milled down to the exact dimensions and then drilled with the holes for the wires and glued together! Before I left I told Will to call me or email me with the details on what needed to be done the next morning. Because I left early, I was going to go into the shop at 9am and finish up where she left off…
I was up until 2am that night grading papers (I am a TA) and I received no email, and no call…I thought that maybe she had finished it all, but how could that be?!? The next morning before I left for the shop, I checked my email again…still no sign of Will. So I went down to the shop. Once I was there, I saw no note and worst of all…NO ROBOT! I started freaking out, so I went to the shop instructor and asked him if he had seen Will that morning or if he knew how far she had gotten the day before. Luckily he knew exactly where she had stopped machining, so I ran back to the desk and found the pieces of the box laying there. I promptly started machining the pieces, but I eventually reached the point when I needed the electronics themselves. At this point it was about 10am, half an hour before my class in which the problem set was due. I ran upstairs and called Will to find our where the robot was…she had it with her in Ruddock and asked if I could run over and pick it up. I knew at this point that I would be working in the shop through lunch, and so I knew I had to get breakfast in order to survive. I ran into Chandler on the way to Ruddock, ordered a vegetarian breakfast burrito, and then told the chef that I was going to step out for 5 minutes and I would be right back. I then ran to Ruddock, and got the robot from Will. She said that she was really tired and would be in the shop as soon as she could. As soon as I got the robot, I ran back to Chandler, picked up my burrito and ran back into the shop. By then, it was 10:20.. So, I checked to make sure that the wires from the electronics fit through the holes I had drilled in the box, and then ran up to class. I only stayed to turn in my homework and listen to the first half of the lecture (while eating my burrito), before I ran back into the shop. I stayed in the shop with Will from then until 10 minutes before the deadline (1pm).
Because we just barely had time to make the box and connect everything, we did not have time to test the robot. What ended up happening was that the shell did not fit on it anymore. The foam shell was designed around the robot with electronics in the Saran wrap, and did not have space for the size of the box. So, the foam encasing did not fit, and we tried to duct tape everything together and tape up all of the cracks, but it didn’t work. The water leaked in and it sunk.
Luckily, we talked to the professors and they said that they would dock off some points, but that they would schedule a retrial for us later in the week. So now, we have to go back into the shop today and make a new shell, so that it will not sink. Uhhhh…
We were both so tired after the failure, that we went to take naps. But now I am ready to make the perfect shell, and I have new ideas on how to accomplish it and I know everything will work out OK. Our next deadline isn’t until the week after midterms, so hopefully the stress will go away…
5 more weeks until competition day!
Jo”trying to keep her head above water”ules
You’re squished with all your dorm essentials in the back of the car and your parents in the front trying to find parking. Emotions are high: Will you make friends? Will classes be too hard? What’s your roommate going to be like?
So you’ve done it! You’re going to attend Caltech, one of your dream schools, and you can officially call yourself a Techer. Maybe you grew up in sunny Southern California or, like me, moved thousands of miles from the East Coast (where they actually have seasons.) Regardless of how familiar you are with Pasadena or the Caltech campus before attending, becoming a student is a unique and new experience. Life at Caltech can be fun, but it is also one of the most rigorous schools in the world. It is important that your own health and wellbeing is always a top priority, regardless of whatever commitments you have on your plate.
Senior year tends to differ widely between different folks. Some have finished nearly all their major requirements, while others will be working through their classes all the way until graduation. My friends and I all fall on different points along this spectrum, but we all have something in common: we’re ready for second and third term.