Log.e() – Tales from the electron Volts
This is a log of the FTC meetings at the electron Volts during the 2016-2017 season. Our website is at gearbox4h.org
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An account follows of the myriad of adventures I have had with the electronVolts. My aim is that the narrative shall be as accurate as possible and will serve useful in reference during future events.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
We were visited by a band of rookies. They do not perceive the insurmountable tasks that lie ahead of them. I attempted to affright them by disclosing to them the monster that is The Code, but alas, they took an interest in this beast. I fear there is no way to warn them; their days ahead appear grim.
The Great Git attacked our code today. I researched its weaknesses in the Archives of Google and found individuals who were in a similar predicament. Armed with this knowledge, we were able to send it howling back from whence it came.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
I found it necessary today to journey into the desert of robot wiring. There are wires in every direction, extending out into the distant horizon. The shortage of water and software for three hours is starting to affect my sanity.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
The wiring problem has been worsening. Connectors spew forth from every surface of the modules. Fortunately, I have discovered a solution. Unfortunately, the aforementioned solution requires an expedition into the jungle of printed circuit board design. The prospect of water makes the adventure more appealing.
This evening I spent a good while researching a mysterious artifact called the Chunk of Modularity. Legend has it that the Chunk can be constructed by connecting a set of modules in a vertical manner, with one large module running perpendicular to the rest. My first attempt at creating this enigmatic system was incomplete, but after a trip to the Amazon, I will finally have the components I need. The trip is scheduled to depart on the morrow and return within one fourth of a fortnight.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
A portion of my crew sailed across the ocean to visit our backers today. They showed the backers the robots we have built. Whilst they were gone, I deemed it important to reorganize the software. As William once said, “Everything’s going swimmingly.”
Saturday, October 8, 2016
We are embarking on today’s journey with high hopes and a long trek ahead. The hardware team is scheduled to have some simple mechanisms built by the end of today.
As we reach the midpoint of our voyage, the hardware team is drawing out charts and diagrams.
During today’s expedition, the hardware team lagged behind and the rest of us had to wait for them. Typical.
There have been more developments on the Chunk of Modularity today. The trip to the Amazon has returned with some of the components. Now we plan to additively manufacture an enclosure for the chunk through the ancient ritual of “3D printing”.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
The printed circuit board design has been completed and now all that remains is to have it procured.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I sorted our collection of small engines, perceptive devices, and other curiosities. The rest of the team worked on building components of the robot’s hardware. We requested the printed circuit board to be constructed at the end of today’s gathering.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
I have finally solved the servo inits, an issue that has been plaguing us since last year. They will be a bother to us no longer.
They have bothered their last bother. Their bothersomeness will have lasted the first botherer. You get it.
Headway is being made on the collector. We performed a test and recorded it with a device that is called a “Cam Ra”.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Our shipment from Mr. Andy Mark arrived with the new gearboxes, which we secured to the test bot. Then we contrived a means of activating the beacons during the autonomous mode. Subsequently, a run of tests for the code was in order. The teleoperator mode is in fine condition. The task designation system and the operator option selection require more attention. I have succeeded in creating version one point oh of The Chunk of Modularity. The hardware team has done a quite excellent good job with the prototype collector. It performed very well at collecting particles at a rapid rate of speed.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Today’s effort was expended in recording the various and sundry functions of the code for other persons to research. The hardware team attempted to position the collector such that the robot shall fit into the standard space required.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
My latest escapade was to wire the beacons together to be powered from one source. It became apparent that the wall adapter offered a supplementary four volts in addition to the twelve promised on the label. This unfortunate overabundance caused the beacons to become not unlike expensive bricks. I spent the remainder of the day repairing said bricks by replacing the innards with an Arduino device.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The unfortunate mishap involving the beacons has been mitigated. All the innards have been replaced and revitalized. The surplus meeting time was applied to the hardware efforts. Deadeye Mike lined up some perfect launches with the catapult. Unfortunately, none of them came to fruition.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Today I showed to my apprentice Divya the mysterious process by which the code is modified. The hardware team busied themselves by improving the catapult to improve the consistency of their launches.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
I coupled the line sensor array to the test robot.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Divya and I activated the line sensor array. Then we tested the encoder boards and sent in an order for 500 to give to other teams.
Monday, November 7, 2016
Set up vuforia to feed frames to opencv
Calibrated the distance sensors
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Wrote beacon color detection
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Removed the defunct distance sensor and calibrated the other distance sensor
Monday, November 14, 2016
Michael sent a motivational email
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Tested the autonomous
Improved the vision processing
The line sensor broke
Wednesday, November 16
Tested line up — center of mass calculations are wrong
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Meet the field day:
Helped one team rotate the opencv frame
Second team had multiple dex files — started fresh
Team 3&4 were completely new to it and went through the whole process
Fixed center of mass calculations
Fixed line sensor array
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Tested the line up – doesn’t work that well
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Attached the chunk
Friday, November 25, 2016
Met for 12 hours
William stayed the night and played Dominion
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Built collector — has problems
Attached line sensor and phone case
Thursday, July 20, 2017
It has been quite some time since I last put into writing the various and sundry misadventures that have befallen me as a volt of electrons. I will preface by remarking that much has gone on that I fail to recall during that time. However, some of our exploits are as follows.
Gone are the glorious days of the Chunk of Modularity, the epic tales of Deadeye Mike, the frequent and costly expenditures to Mr. Andy Mark, who never rests. Those days of hope and expectation for successful ventures are gone, for we have brushed infinitesimally close to the line sensor threshold of success, but have fallen into the Integer.MIN_VALUE of failure. At the state tourney in Mary’s land, we were distraught at the insufficiency that was contained in one infernal machination known only as…
“THOSE DANG ROOOOOLLLLLLEEEEEERRRRRRSSSSS!!!!!!”
Darkness. A long pause. A point of light in the distance. It moves closer and closer. Could it be? No, certainly not. But as it approaches, it is unmistakeable. Yes, surely… We have our lives back. Our grades begin to improve. Free time becomes more than a concept. The servo inits are no longer a problem. And, more importantly, I am able to speak and write modern English properly.
We needed a break. While we were in the thick of it, we wanted to win, but looking back, going to Super-Regionals would have been more stressful. The new team members would not have the motivation that they do now to get there on their own if we had made it to Worlds. We wouldn’t have had the time needed to train people before the next season. Lastly, it reminded us that we value learning over winning, which we had forgotten while being so desperate to win.
After that, we found out about the 4-H Robotics Challenge, which takes place during the summer and uses a similar field to FTC. Since the teams are 2-4 people, we decided to split into three teams: Kelvin and Hobbes, Sherlock Ohms and Doctor WATTson, and the Crown Joules (which I am on).
I decided to work on a control system to use instead of the Modern Robotics system, since the other two teams would be using up the modules anyway. It uses an arduino on the robot which communicates with a Raspberry Pi on the driver station. After I started building it, FTC announced that they would be using the Rev Robotics Expansion Hub next season, so all my work on the system was unnecessary. I decided to use it anyway since I had already ordered the parts.
You might think that the FTC season was completely over at this point, and you would be technically right. But there was one more unofficial tournament, the Maryland Tech Invitational, that we signed up for. It was a two day event, with judging and qualifying matches on the first day, and the rest of the qualifying matches, finals, and awards on the second. Several companies had sponsored the event and provided cash prizes for various awards.
There were teams there who had gone to worlds, teams with amazing robots, and teams from New Hampshire, Iowa, and many other states who had all done very well. Then there was us. We hadn’t modified our robot since states, where we fixed the rollers after our last match. We realized from the start that we had no chance at winning, except maybe a small chance at the Sensor Fusion award, and we went just for fun.
I enjoyed talking to other teams about their robots, FTC, and robotics in general, especially the coaches of the Iowa team, the Cybots. We came up with an idea for an Arduino battery internal resistance sensor.
We did very well in the qualifying matches, and only lost 2, even though every match came very close. We ended up in 2nd place! Our first pick was Mechanical Paradox. When it came around to us again, our second pick, Gluten Free (from New Hampshire), was still available since we did our scouting well.
We recognized that we were the weak link in the alliance, so we ran the other two teams as much as possible. Mechanical Paradox had some hardware issues at one point, but they fixed it just in time for the match. We won the semi-finals against the 3rd seed alliance, but watching the scores other semi-finals made us anxious. They even had a tie and had to go to a 4th match!
In the finals, we and Mechanical Paradox ran first and lost. Then MP and GF won the second match. We were all nervous about the last match, and all eyes were fixed on Gluten Free’s robot as they autonomously… pressed the wrong color beacon!!! That was a big disappointment, and watching the numbers of shots, we weren’t exactly making up the difference in that department. Then end game rolls around and both teams pick up the large particles (as the announcer called them). Then the opposing team dropped the ball! Literally and figuratively! The gears turned on the field and in our brains trying to calculate our score based on the missed autonomous, the number of shots, and the dropped cap ball. It still didn’t seem like enough, when everyone looked down and saw that ALL the beacons were blue! We had definitely won the match! “We” meaning the teams we picked in alliance selection, anyway.
During the awards ceremony, while we were still trying to comprehend what had just happened in those last 10 seconds of the match, we were surprised to get the judges award! It came with a free Rev Expansion Hub, which was strange since we had just sent an extra one back in the mail a few weeks before.
There was a lot of luck involved, but two things (maybe the only two things) that were not luck were our scouting and our reliable autonomous. This tournament was a fantastic end to my last season of FTC.
And they all rode off into the sunset. [Fade to black.]
[The camera pans up from behind a table in the garage as team members are frantically trying to build their 4-H challenge robots. Various remarks are heard.]
“We said we would DESIGN it this time.”
“Man, we should have been working this hard 2 months ago.”
“I thought this 4-H thing would be easy!”
“Hey, pass the pizza. Do we have any pepperoni left?”
[Overhead rotating shot of people running around, grabbing parts, fastening bolts, fake-typing on keyboards, and the obligatory sparks flying from the grinding wheel.]
Narrator: Here we observe the robotics team in its natural habitat. Its diet consists of pizza, oreos, and, as it would seem, scrap metal. This amazing creature, while smart, is prone to procrastination. Little is known about how it manages to complete its tasks at the last possible minute, or how it turns stock metal into swiss cheese.
Narrator: And that’s all for now. Tune in next time where we dissect the inner workings of a dysfunctional bureaucratic government agency.