Another week has gone by. Another deadline past. Only 18 days left until Contest Day. Are Hungry and Hateful ready to take on Deth Frog or Newt N’ Salamander? The shop is closed all day today, so that leaves about 12 days in the shop to make Hungry an eating machine and Hateful a force to be reckoned with. Basketball season ends tomorrow, so now I can spend every day in the shop from 1-5. You can take that how you want…bad for my social well-being, but ME72 is not about making friends! It’s about domination, and more time in the shop will help me perfect the Hamsters!
The shop was closed this past Monday for Presidents day, and so we didn’t get to start working until Tuesday. I was mainly focused on fixing and finishing up Hateful, while Will focused on creating Hungry. Hungry09 was a total upgraded revamp of Hungry08. He is a bit fatter and shorter, but he will have more ball gathering power than ever before! So while Will was busy creating our ball devouring monster, I basically finished up the waterproof boxes from both Hamsters and then worked on re-soldering all of the electrical connections in Hateful, and then combining everything. Tuesday was pretty uneventful, but very efficient.
Wednesday morning we went into the shop to get a bit of work done before class. Will got there early and stayed until noon because she wasn’t going to be able to make it that afternoon. So, one cool thing about the machine shop, is that in order to improve the “shop experience” you have the ability to plug your ipod/music player of choice into the big speakers and share your musical taste with the rest of the shop. Now, so far, only a few brave souls have dared to expose their music choice, and this morning it was the Lord of the Rings/Star Wars/Pirates of the Caribbean + 1 song from Aladdin (1 jump ahead!) mix. I have to say…I feel rather epic when I am working in the shop and this music comes on. I feel like I am actually working on something that is bigger than me and Will, bigger than the contest. Something that will change the fate of Middle Earth, or overthrow the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic! But in actuality, I am cutting foam with a hot wire into the shape of a square to place on the back of a robot that looks like a 3-ring binder and barely has enough power to overturn other small robots. But it is still fun to be in that mind set, wielding the glue gun like it is a DH-17 Blaster Pistol. By the way, I am sorry for all of the star wars references…my own partner in this competition hasn’t even seen one of the 6 movies, so don’t feel badly if you don’t know what I am talking about. She wouldn’t either. However, we made a deal that as soon as ME 72 is over, we are going to have a marathon and watch all of the movies in one day!
Coming down from the stars, back to reality…Wednesday afternoon, I was able to completely finish Hateful (this time for real!) and I decided to work on Hungry. The basic idea of Hungry is to be a giant floating net, that just happens to have to propellers on the sides and a box of electronics on the top. After it gathers all of the balls, it will have a switch which will close a gate over the front of the net so that the balls will not be able to escape. The problem with putting a heavy (relative to the rest of Hungry) waterproof box filled with electronics on top of a flimsy net, is that it will buckle. So, I had to create metal crossbars, to hold the box up. In addition to this, the shop instructor suggested we make metal flaps extended off the crossbars, down the sides, to attach the motors for the propellers to. Attaching the metal flaps to the crossbars with rivets involved using a hand drill. I am embarrassed to say that while I have drilled my fair share of holes down in the shop, I have always either used the drill press or the mill with a drill chuck…I have never used a hand drill before then! At first, I was kind of frightened that I was going to hurt somebody, or break something…but it all went well. I drilled one hole dangerously close to one edge, so the next one I drill I tried to start closer to the other edge. But then I drilled even more dangerously close to that edge. So, while my drilling job may not be the most aesthetic, it does its job, and that is what matters! No one is going to judge how pretty Hungry is. This is not a beauty contest, its a battle :)
Ignore the duct tape…that was just for the sake of testing…
Wednesday night we were supposed to test Hateful, however I completely forgot to bring him with me out of the shop. I actually remembered about it in the middle of basketball practice, at which time it was too late to go down and pick it up. So, we decided to wait until the morning of the deadline to test.
Thursday morning I went down into the shop, and Will wasn’t there. I waited for an hour, and then left to give her a call. She was finishing up some work, and said that she would go down as soon as she was done. I told her that I was going to go to class, and would just see her afterwards. We both had meetings during lunch, so we met on the Olive Walk (a walk way in between the two clumps of Student Houses, leading to the Athenaeum, with olive trees on both sides) before heading to our separate meetings to discuss our plan. Unfortunately, that day happened to be Dabney House’s “Freedom Day” (or something like that)… From what I hear, this is a day when Dabney House goes up to the mountains and gets snow, which they bring back down to Tech and throw around on the lawn in front of the Athenaeum. Basically, we saw a bunch of students throwing around snow balls, and thought nothing of it. We decided that we were going to meet back on the Olive Walk as soon as our meetings were over, to finish water proofing Hateful, and then head over to Milikan Pond for the deadline. During each of our respectful meetings, we were ambushed by snow. I was innocently sitting at a table, when all of the sudden I was hit with not 1 or 2, but several snow balls. I came up with the brilliant plan of staying where I was and waiting it out, but after being hit by about 5 snow balls, I decided to run into a corner. By the time they were done, the entire meeting space was covered in snow/slush/water (since it is southern California, and it was relatively warm that day), so we had to move our location. During Will’s meeting, the snow balls barely missed hitting Hungry, and I guess she was very angry about it. I thought it would have been kind of funny (in a sad way) to tell the professors that we couldn’t show our robot, since it was destroyed by snow balls. They probably would not believe us!
Usually, while writing this post, I would be at Caltech playing volleyball. I begin school eith preseason, which for those unfamiliar (or are planning on joining women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer, men’s waterpolo, or cross country) is a 5 week long period before school begins where the sports teams I listed before practice and compete. My life during preseason is basically volleyball 24/7. Two practices a day (during school only one) and game days three days a week. No school work to worry about, spending time with my teammates all day, a nice refresher before school begins.
Every year, the Caltech Society of Women Engineers attends the National SWE conference to network with other SWE Chapters and to hustle for jobs. Last year, the event was in Minneapolis, and the year before in Austin. This time around, it’s in Anaheim which is much more convenient for us. Since it is much closer, we were able to send many more delegates to attend and miss fewer classes in the process of doing so.
It’s truly Autumn in Scotland now. It reached 0 degrees Celsius today, or 32 Fahrenheit for you yanks. They’re setting up the Christmas market downtown (as thanksgiving isn’t a thing here they just skip directly from Halloween to Christmas). Snow isn’t falling, but it does seem to be raining every other day. And it’s pleasant, quite pleasant. The rain turns Edinburgh into even more of a dramatic and beautiful city than usually is.