March 23- Journal 1
For my first project I wanted to do something involving autonomous robotics. I wasn’t sure what I should take on, so Mr. Hallihan asked me if I would take charge of the Parallax SumoBots for the competition which is held at Simonds High School in Saint John. The SumoBots were already built previously by other Makerspace students, so my task was to learn the programming language BASIC Stamp and designing plows to put on the front of the robots with the help of other students helping with them during class and after school. There were a group of four students, including myself that contributed to this project.
My first task was learning the programming language BASIC Stamp. We used the sample code on the Parallax website to get us started. We then started to chance some of the values in the code to see how it would affect the robot. We soon learned which variables controlled the speed while going forward, turning, or backing up. Once we figured that out, we could change and control how fast it did certain movements. For example, when the bot is moving forward towards the opponent you want it moving fast, but when it doesn’t sense the opponent you ant the bot moving slower, so it doesn’t drive itself out of the ring.
We had a few problems along the way that we had to fix, and a few we didn’t even fix until we got to the competition. One of our problems was getting the robot to sense its opponent. We were trying to change parts of the code to make it detect the other robot, but nothing seemed to be working. The sensors just weren’t working. The other big problem we were having was getting the robots to stay inside the ring. There were line sensors to detect the outside white line of the ring and keep the robot in the ring. We tried again changing parts of the code to see if it would make a difference, but this also didn’t work. Finally, the day before the competition, we put brand new batteries in the bots and the SumoBots seemed to be using the sensors better to detect their opponent and stay inside the ring. We also noticed the speed of the bot was almost double what it originally. I tested the old batteries once they were replaced and it turns out they were very low on power. This means our robot just wasn’t getting enough power to use the sensors accurately.
We had trouble with the bot not running every second time you turned it on. We didn’t figure out what was wrong with it until we were at the competition. We figured out there are 2 ways to fix it. The first is by pressing the reset button before turning the robot off. The second way is by keeping the robot on and pressing the reset button when its done, then holding it in and releasing it when it is time for the next round. We also didn’t have a program for the line following part of the competition when we left MVHS to go to Saint John. We found a template on the internet that we loaded to our second robot and it followed lines very precisely. This didn’t teach me how to program it to follow lines however. In the next couple of weeks, I am going to try and learn the different pieces to this code and write my own, so I have a better understanding of the programming language.
On Wednesday March 24, we participated in the SumoBot competition. We finished the day with 3 wins and 2 losses, which was a good performance for our schools first time going to the competition. It was a great learning experience and a great chance to make new friends with people who have the same interests as us. From this experience I learned that we should have focused on weight more than we did, as 2 of the top 3 teams has extra weights on their bots. I also learned that our plow design worked really well starting upwards and flipping down. I will be making a video very soon of different clips from the event for anyone that is interested in seeing what this competition is all about.
March 20th- Project Proposal