Back from Robogames

June 30, 2007 at 2:05 am

We made it back from RoboGames. We lost both fights with Big Bloom. The first fight was against Billy Bob, a vertical drum spinner, which took a bunch of big chunks out of our frame, however it seemed to hold up pretty well since it’s half-inch thick, and the chunks were only a sixth of an inch thick at the deepest place. He cracked the polycarbonate piece on the top though after a big hit. We ended up losing that fight because the screws that hold the motors in came loose and the gears didn’t mesh any more. In our second fight we fought a wedge. We didn’t finish the melty brain on the final version, so it was a sit and spin. He charged at us and we made contact and threw each other around the arena a little bit, but we had some problems with using bluetooth to control it. It came disconnected after going out of range, or taking a big hit and bumping the power switch on the receiver. However, the bluetooth stack on the PC causes the program to freeze when this happens and you try to disconnect the serial port. I think that it’s trying to close a port that it already closed, so it blocks infinitely. I restarted the program really quick, but we got counted out and right after that happened we gained control of it and it started moving again. Oh well. For the next version, we’re going to use a standard Spektrum transmitter/receiver for r/c, and have the bluetooth only for debugging.

The next project that we’re working on is going to be the DefCon Bot. I’ve put a description of it up. It’s not quite finished yet, but I should finish it pretty soon (the description that is). We finished getting the hopper mechanism working yesterday, so as soon as we receive the pan/tilt servos, we can start testing it out. I have been working on getting the algorithm to determine what order to shoot the targets down in. This is what’s known as the Traveling Salesman Problem in computer Science, and is intractable for finding the most optimal solution (essentially unfeasable to do the calculations). However, I have created a heuristic for this and made a demo program that generates random points and gets a relatively optimal solution and “shoots” down the targets in order.

At work, I’ve got a project that involves a GPS antenna on my desk. However, there’s no real place to mount it, so I stuck the mounting pole in the corner of my cubicle. However, the side effect of this is that everybody that walks by asks me what it is. The most common thought is that it’s a sprinkler.

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