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Electronics, Programming and Robotics for Students
San Diego Tech Fest, Spring 2010
This was probably the most attended, most exciting Tech Fest yet!! There were a number of excellent projects completed by students. Here are some of the best ones.
There have been no Sumo Robot competitions for over a year. Possibly because it takes from $250 to $400 to equip and field a decent entry. However, this quarter, the students discovered a new kit with two sumo bots for a reasonable price, so two teams built four sumo robots. Here is a clip of them having fun at Tech Fest. Note the number of visitors, and the crowd around the sumo table.
And here is another shot of sumo robots going at it.
A Photo Op for the Sumo Bots
Three Sumo Robots (Click photo to enlarge)
The Sumo Robots line up for a photo. The one on the right was the closest to a "Stock" robot from Parallax.com. The one on the left had special super traction tires and was the odds on favorite going in. The center robot actually was the big winner. Using the Ping)) acoustic sensor it quickly found opponents and with the addition of a very aggressive strategy built in by the programmer, this bot was almost impossible to beat. This seemed to demonstrate that superior programming can defeat better hardware.
Most Original Project
In each Tech-Fest, I like to recognize unique and original projects that have never been attempted at the college. This entry gets my vote for most unique, built-from-scratch project. No student in recent history has decided to do this:
- Collect analog data (temperature)
- Convert the temperature to digital with an Analog to Digital Converter
- Send the temperature to a microcontroller (MDE8051 Trainer Board)
- Send the temperature from the 8051 chip to a laptop using a serial connection.
- Display the temperature, real-time on a colorful, graphical interface(written in Java)
Tricked Out BOE-Bot
This Board of Education (BOE) Robot had the most complex, fully functional sensor array. There was mechanical whiskers, Infrared sensors for near objects, front and side, and light sensors that would direct the robot to any nearby bright light source.
Tricked Out BOE-Bot (Click photo to enlarge)
You can see some of the features of this robot in the photo above:
- The two whiskers protruding out to the front provided touch sensing for detecting objects missed by the IR sensors. The robot would miss black chair or table legs (not enough reflection of the IR), and thin, round chrome chair legs. So the touch sensors worked well.
- The black, oval shaped plastic housing on the front of the robot (bottom-right in photo) is the mounting bracket for the two IR sensor transmitters and receivers. The two circular black tubes contain the transmitters, and the two silver cubes (one clearly visible near the center and the other above and to the right) were the receivers.
- The items that look like two white plastic cubes at the top-left are the housings for the light sensors. Detecting a stronger light source to either side would trigger the robot to approach the light source. This robot has the most fully functional sensors of any robot this quarter.
Line Following Robots
Here are two teams practing for the line following contest on the line race track.
Usually, the 3PI robots are entered in either the line following contest or the line maze contest. This team decided to do something different and design a 3PI to race around the halls and avoid people and obstacles. Notice how this robot avoids humans and even escapes from behind a plant!
Compare the speed of this next 3PI robot with the previous BOE-Bot runs. The 3PI really lives up to its reputation for unmatched speed.
Line Maze Solving Robots
With one more week to go in the quarter, several students were still in the final design and construction phases. Here is an example of a student's 3PI that ALMOST completed the line maze.
We had a visit from the former student who holds the school record for speed in solving the line maze in this video. The second and third best times in this maze were 16 and 19 seconds. Our visitor's robot completed the same maze in 13 seconds! ...Yes, I have the C source code for his record holder, and ..... no, I will not send you his source code.
Automated Fish Tank
I don't know a lot about this entry. It was the only project not completed by one of my teams. I do know it heats and/or cools the water, circulates and filters the water and automatically feeds the fish, all with a microcontroller. Perhaps the students who made this project will let me know the details or post comments on YouTube.