Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Super Robo Rally V2

SRR Version 2:

Over the years, I've spent more time working on Super Robo Rally than any other project I've ever created.

SRR at Nexus Game Fair '16
In fact, I may have spent more time on it than all other projects, combined.  (maybe not.  I've had many projects)

After starting on it in 2010, it's been through more revisions than I can list.

The current system uses a Windows 7 PC running C# code to control the game, and communicate with the robots.

Over the summer, I will be working on Version 2.  This version will move from the C# engine currently used, to a MySQL database on a Raspberry Pi, where the Pi can also communicate with the robots via Bluetooth.

The best part about this, will be getting around the current weakness of Windows, where a PC can only communicate with 7 devices.  The Pi will be able to use multiple bluetooth dongles to communicate with robots.

I can't explain how much better this will make the whole system.  I'll try to follow up as this progresses.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

R2-IQ: Printed Parts

R2-IQ: 3D Printed Parts

Complete Artoo Head
I just received 16 printed parts for R2-IQ.  The process for getting them was a long story...

I designed a couple pieces in SnapCAD (CAD software for VEX IQ) and posted them on the web, asking if anyone could create an stl file.  Within a day, I had a couple offers, and one very good file from David Knerr.

After we made a few tweaks of two parts, Davin printed the parts in one of Purdue Polytechnic's labs.
Assembly of Head
The two parts consist of a triangle-shaped piece (4x) and a diamond-like polygon (12x) which together fill all the area in R2's head.

The design of these parts allowed me to remove much of the internal structure that was required to create the original shape.

Head on body

The most time consuming part of assembling the new head was putting 240 pins into the 3D printed pieces.

Once it was complete, the new head has a lot less panels inside, and is much more rigid than the previous one.

The head is mounted on four rollers, which previously only raised the middle enough to stabilize it.  Now, there is actually a small gap between the head  and the body.

The new design drives a couple small wheels that the head is sitting on.  It's much freer to turn, and slip when people try to turn it manually.
The drive for the head was originally a motor & worm gear that turn an axle connected to the head.  This put a great deal of torque on a couple small pieces, especially when people would walk up and try to turn the head by hand.

Friday, May 20, 2016

R2-IQ: Round Head

R2-IQ: The Round Head

Part 1
The real challenge with R2-IQ has been making it round.  It's one thing to make a cylinder for the body, using the square VEX IQ parts.  It's another thing to make the head.

In SnapCAD (VEX IQ modeling software) I drew up a part that I thought would help.
Part 1 Printed
I posted my picture on line and asked some friends if they could help make a file for a 3D printer.

I received a reply from someone I didn't even know with this drawing that looked better than my original one.

"I didn't know the angles, so I used 70 degrees."

As near as I could tell, I wanted them to be about 18 degrees (or 72, depending on the reference)  In a very short order, he had a new drawing, and thanks to friends (Davin) at Purdue Polytechnic, I had the new part printed in no time.
Part 2 Hole
"Well, that was easy.  But can you make a part to fill this hole?", I challenged David.
Part 2 Hole in CAD
After clarifying some of the angles...
Part 1 actual angle
We discovered the actual angle of the original part should have been about 13 degrees.

I'm not sure how to calculate that angle.  I'm sure someone can.  David did it by lining up all the other parts in CAD and having it tell him the angle.
P2 Original Curve
In no time we had a new part design, which would fill the holes in the head.
P2 Original
After printing it, the part appeared to be a bit too "pointed".  So, instead of it being flush with the red & orange pieces, it was offset to an 11 degree angle.

Basically, I asked him to push the point in, while leaving the attachment points in the same place.
P2 Good Curve
The new (purple) piece has a very nice curve.  In addition, it has enough connection points that I should be able to remove most of the internal structure.

Head with Parts
The first picture of the head with the printed parts installed.

The curve looks very good.

R2-IQ: Filler Parts

R2-IQ at VEX Worlds

I started this post a few weeks ago, and didn't complete it.  

Modified Feet
Before VEX Worlds (in April) I made some tweaks to the feet.  At Brickworld Indy, I had issues with the axles coming out.  So I added more support, and didn't have any issues with them for the 4 days it drove at Worlds.
Small Rebuild
However, I did still have an issue at Worlds.  Turns out trying to back over holes in the floor would cause the legs to buckle and he fell over.
Inside of arm
This is a look inside the arm.  I wasn't sure if I had posted any pictures of the shoulder, so I took this shot.
New Part
I had an idea to fill in the head.  If I can get four of this part, it will allow me to put several plates in place to help create a curve.

This was drawn in SnapCad, and has "wings" at 18 degrees.

Monday, March 14, 2016

VEX IQ Middle School Worlds '16

Worlds '16 Data

Here's a bunch of data I've collected about teams attending VEX IQ Worlds Middle School division in 2016.

It should be noted that this data has come from different times in the season, from various tournaments, and also Skills events that sometimes do not host Teamwork events.  While it may provide some comparison between teams, each team's results in qualifying and in the finals depends a great deal on other teams at that event.  This table does not indicate how much a team may improve between the tournament listed, and Worlds.

This table lists the tournament from which this data was collected for each team.

The Program and Driver Skill scores are pulled from the tournament listed, or the World Ranking, whichever is greater.
"All Avg" is the average score of all qualifying matches for that team.
"Used Avg" is the average, not including scores that were dropped.
The table is sorted by "Average", which is:
(([Total Used] + [Final])/([Qualifying Matches] + 1) + [Program Skill] + [Driver Skill]) / 3

If teams don't have a score in a category, a value of zero is used.

Here is some limited Elementary data

Sunday, January 10, 2016

VEX Power

Charging Station

With a couple big projects and four VEX IQ teams, the chargers can quickly get out of control.  So, I built a charging station to keep things in line.
The back is simply a piece of wood with a handle cut into it.

The power strip is attached by screws, and the chargers are attached with 3M VHB double-sided tape.

All designed to fit into the VEX IQ storage box.

Friday, December 18, 2015

R2-IQ: On Display

Build Day 52:

R2 On Display
"The" movie is in theaters.  Today was my target day to finish.  52 days in, I can present it as complete.  But, like many projects, it will never really be complete.

I brought R2 into work to show him off.  Everyone loves him.  I've been passed in the hall many times and the normal mindless greeting of "how are you" has been replaced with "very cool".

That makes me smile.

New design for shoulder
Last night, I totally rebuilt the arm, and how it connects to the body.  I don't have any good pictures right now.  Generally, I redesigned it so the arm would split in two pieces and the upper arm would remain attached to the shoulder.  That allowed me to build a more rigid pivoting point, but still allow disassembly for transport.
R2 Standing on 2 legs
I still have a number of things I want to work on.

  1. Fill in the gaps in the head
  2. Replace the shells for the outside feet
  3. Build a shell for the third leg
  4. Motorize raising the third leg
  5. Rebuild the bottom skirt so it is lower
  6. Add more decorative stuff to the body
  7. Find out why the head-turn motor is so loud
  8. Attempt to speed up movement
  9. Fix the colors on the shoulders
  10. Add better sounds & lights (arduino) 
Even with all that, it's still good.  I think I can say I will never retire it.

While the build is "complete", this is where the journey really begins.  Right?