Thursday, September 24, 2009

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Summary One

So far our project is still in the design phase. We have been tossing around different ideas on how to build and operate the robot as well as the different materials we plan on using. Last Saturday we went to Saturday Sidekicks to meet the kids and parents for whom we are making the robot for. It was a very interesting and eye opening experience. One important thing that we learned was that these kids are normal kids but have some limitations. For example one girl named Jazzy can see a sign with bright colors and words. Although see cannot comprehend what the words mean, she can distinguish between the colors. After talking with her mom, we learned that she loves bright colors and like any normal tween girl the Jonas brothers. Jazzy’s mom gave us some good points that we will apply to our project. One idea that our group had was to make the robot look like a lion and rawr. Jazzy’s mom pointed out that that idea might be a little childish and that some kids might be scared of lions. She also made a point that a button would be better for controlling the robot versus a joy-stick because not all of these kids would be able to operate a joy-stick. Another kid that we meet was Andrew. Andrew is a typical 11 year old boy. He loves playing baseball as well as playing tricks on people. Although he is in a wheel chair and has some limitations, he still finds ways to have fun and pull pranks.

After this experience we went back to the drawing board. We started figuring out what exactly we wanted to use to build this robot. We are hoping to use PVC pipes, surgical tubing, and other various metal pieces. Since this is our first time building a robot, we decided to go talk to our teacher for more ideas. Our teacher gave us the idea of having a magnetic latch that would come down and hook onto the ball holder and keep it in place. Then with a little bit of an electrical charge the latch would be released and the ball would go flying through the air. We also talked with him about how the robot would look. Although we are still trying to figure that out, one idea we did like was encasing the robot in plexiglass so that the kids could see some of the movements that the robot makes.

Since this is our first time attempting to build a robot, we had very few ideas about how to start. So we decided to start by assembling a simple robot arm that could pick things up. This robot came in a kit with directions of course so all we had to do was connect the parts. This experience gave us an idea of what it entails to build a robot. We were able to see how different wires and components interacted with each other when put together. Even though we assembly correctly, when we where testing it out we soon discovered that there was something wrong with PC board for the control. The PC board only allows the robot to move a certain way, but not in the opposite way. We narrowed it down to there being something wrong with the PC board by switching some of the wires. When we did this, the robot moved in the opposite direction like we thought it would. So this also gave us experience in trying to figure out what is wrong when something does not work properly.