By Derek I.
In this essay, I will explain the process of how our group built, programmed and operated a robot. It took a long time to solve all our problems with the robot. I will explain how we got the idea, then how we built onto the idea, used the idea to solve all the problems, and how our little idea became one of the best robots in the arena.
When we first were introduced to robolab, we did not think that we would ever accomplish anything. We had questions like how the robot will actually fight, how the robot will run, and how to program it to become a great piece of work. Before we actually worked on making our own idea, we started on the basic stuff. First we had to learn how to work gears, axles and wheels all put together. This process would give us an idea of how the robot would move on wheels. When we finally did the process of the gears, axles and wheels, we then made it work from a motor. This was a big challenge for us because we did not know how to run a motor. The way we solved this problem is because I started reading all about programming a little yellow programming device called a RCX. I started programming at the basic level. I needed to know how the motor would run from the RCX.
This process did not take a long time. The whole basic process was to program the motor for one direction, connect it to the RCX with a connecting lead, then press run on the RCX and watch the motor move. Even though this was a small step in the programming guide, it was a big accomplismnet for me in the design process. Now I know how to make a motor run.
So since I had a pretty good idea how to use the program, my other members and I started working on making our first working robot car. Since we were all new at building, it took us a really long time and we could never finish it before our class period ended. But each day, we would know what we did from the last class and just start working without using the book a lot. Also each day, everybody had become more familiar with using logos and more familiar with how to build a robot. And after a week or two, we had finally made a car. That day, it only took us a half an hour, and we never used a book again.
Now since we had accomplished a big design challenge, we now had to connect our car to the motors and program it. Since nobody else knew how to program, they left it to me to program. Most of the time when my group was building, I was learning more and more about how to program a robot. So this design challenge was not bad for me, but for the other team members. So when I was ready to program this car, I told my team to watch me program a car. While I was programming the car, my group was amazed, and probably was thinking, “Whoa, how does he know that?” I had made a program that would move a robot forward on full speed with a light on for five seconds, and then reverse the robot with no light on at moderate speed for four seconds, go forward again with light on and at full speed for six seconds and stop. So I transferred this program to the RCX. When it was done, we were ready for the big moment. The moment where we will see the cars we have built finally move. I pressed run and there it went—the car that my team built and I had programmed. It was doing exactly what I programmed it to do. We have accomplished one of the biggest design challenges we have ever had.
Well, since we had done a great job, we started on our own idea. I had now advanced my self to a different kind of programming. This programming level allows you to create whatever you want. This level does not have the boxes and steps and restrictions like “pilot.” This is where you make your own creation. This level has much more features than the Pilot programming level. One interesting feature is that you can make your own music. Now I am familiar with this since I was in band in the previous year. This level (Inventor) is amazing. I was the only one who was on this level. All the other teams were on Pilot. I was so proud of myself and so was my group.
Our next design challenge was to make a car that would be very fast for a drag racing contest. This design process was harder that we had imagined. We thought we could build a big, good-looking car; and that I could program it to go as fast as it could possibly can go. We were wrong. The part we did not know was that we could not make a car move very fast if the car was heavy. The guy who build the car was upset because the car did not win any races. So what he did was he took the car apart and started on a new design process.
I have to say the new car was really good. It was fast, strong, and reliable. The man who created the car (Jimmy) was very impressed. Jimmy had designed a medium-sized car that did not weigh a lot. With his design and my programming, we would always win the race. Since we won races a lot, we had the car play a victory song and the car would dance. The tune was the theme of tequila. And when I mean dance, I mean spin around in circles. And with all of what we had done, we had completed another design challenge.
One day when I had walked into class, I saw this big wide platform in the middle of the classroom. I asked my teacher what it was and he told me that it was a fighting arena—just like the one on Battle Bots. I told Jimmy that we had to make a car that can fight in a big arena and ram into other cars that other groups had designed. In other words, we had a new design challenge. This challenge was a long and fun challenge. We had to design a car that would fight in an arena and would destroy other classmates’ cars. As hard as this challenge seemed, we went for it and Jimmy had a great design that would work for this challenge.
The next design process would be one of the most import for Vincol. Oh, by the way, Vincol is the name of our group. It stands for the first initials of each of our last names. It was important because these battles will show whose idea is the best. But Jimmy had it all under control. The car he was making was powerful and strong. It might be slow but we don’t care about speed. The name of the car is the Rammer. The name stayed through the whole semester. It was a tough design process to make the Rammer, but that did not stop Jimmy.
After a couple of day, the Rammer was finished, and I was back at programming. When the programming was done, we had entered the Rammer into the Battle Bot arena. Everybody started laughing and making comments about the Rammer because they thought it was just a big, strong slow wall that couldn’t do anything. Obviously, they were wrong. When Jimmy put the Rammer in the arenas with an opponent and started fighting, everybody’s mood changed when it was over. The Rammer had destroyed a car with a few hits, and from that day on, we were going to stick with the Rammer.
We had a lot of problems with the Rammer. A lot of challenges faced the Rammer. One of the big problems was that the wheel would always come opff or break off. We really had no idea how to fix this problem. Then one morning when Jimmy had arrived to class, he said that he had a dram that said how to fix this big problem. So he worked on it for half of the period. He put in a hidden axle connector p9iece that would allow just a little of the axle to stick out. And when they called “All Battle Bots into the arena,” it was time to test Jimmy’s dream.
Jimmy’s dream definitely worked. He had accomplished a challenge through his dream. It sounds pretty weird, but it happened. From that point on, the wheel would never come off again. Everybody was upset because the Rammer was fixed and everybody’s Battle Bot was getting destroyed. Everybody was upset except Vincol, of course. No problems stood in our way. We had the best Battle Bot, ever. Nothing could stop us now. At least, that’s what we hoped.
Alright, we were in the Battle Bot arena until all of a sudden, “snap.” We found that the motor had broke. Without the motor, the Battle Bot won’t run. That was pretty obvious. So Jimmy thought it wasn’t a big deal. So Jimmy put another motor on the Rammer, and what happened? It broke again! I told Jimmy that the Rammer had to go. He argued, but I explained that if he kept on breaking the motors, there won’t be anymore motors left. So finally he said O.K. and put the rammer away.
Now our best robot was gone. We needed a new car, but Jimmy wanted the Rammer. He started working on a new design process whether he liked it or not. He tried to make a robot that worked on legs. He caleed it the centipede. After adding some some complicated stuff and about four legs, he stopped. He knew that there was no way he could make it work. He wanted the Rammer back and just then he had an idea.
So Jimmy worked on putting the Rammer back together again. When he finally did, he brought it back to the arena. He just wanted to see if the motor would break again because he had done something else to it. The Rammer was doing well and then it happened. “SNAP.” The motor broke. Jimmy was upset. But yet again he had another idea. His idea was to make a hidden motor. So he waited for the next day to come to work on his new idea.
Throughout the time Jimmy was working with the Rammer, I was making moview for the web page. Well, the idea of the Hidden Motor had worked. The only problem was that there was hardly any motors left. The Rammer did well that day. No problems at all. But when the next day came, our teacher said that Robolab was done for. No more building. Noew everybody will have to work on making a kite.
Well, I can’t get into the process of making kites because I am not making kites. I am working on a web page. To conclude my essay, I just have to say that the design process is a big process that helped us make everything we made successful. These series of steps just started out with a couple of gears, axles and motors. Then the process led us to making a great car that was pretty successful. Of course, there were design challenges. We used everything we could to fix those problems. It took a lot of hard work. I hope we will be able to continue with the process and make a better car. We just need a car that does not break motors. With that challenge complete, the whole process will be completed.