Friday, August 29, 2008

Common Sources of Faliure

2:50 Friday, August 29, 2008
The purpose of this post is to identify common sources of faliure in robot running. I will update this post as more sources are discovered. The reason I am doing this is I have personal experience in failing because of a little error in competition. In 2007, I was chosen to perform the final run. We had not had a 400 run yet, but we had come extremely close, only missing one obstacle during a mission. I could feel the pressure as I stepped up to the table, robot in hand, with my assisting team-mate beside me. When the time started, I hit the enter button on the robot, sending it on it's first challenge. It completed it, however, when it returned, it would not run the next program. For the rest of the run, I desperately tried to figure out the source of the problem. After time had run out, we discovered a loose wire connecting to the motor, which was why the robot would not work. That is the first common source of faliure, having an insecure wire. The second was discovered at practice a few days ago. I was running the robot, and it was really screwing up it's turns, and we could not figure out the reason. Someone then pointed out that our tire was slightly loose from the hub, wacking the turns. All these sources of common faliure can lead to the downfall of the best teams, and should be checked for before each and every run. As I mentioned earlier, I hope to find more of the little errors and post more on them later.

6:56 Friday, August 29, 2008
Another source of faliure is not a little glitch or a small problem. This faliure is positioning the robot at weird angles, going by tick marks and such. This tends to really mess things up, since only one-eighth of a degree difference, and you're off. What's much better is to always position in the corner next to the wall.

4:13 Saturday September 13 2008
A great source of faliure in the team is distractions. The team all needs to be focused or the whole thing falls apart. We bought a LEGO set simply for several aspects that we could use for our robot, namely, the exceptionally large wheels. However, that same set came with lots of pieces that seemed to distract team members from their tasks. Talking while working is one of the other things that distract teams. We as a team like seeing each other and enjoy spending time with each other, however sometimes we get too excited about seeing each other and get off task, which breaks the team's concentration. In order to go to Atlanta this year, we must be totally focused, eliminating all distractions, and putting our whole minds towards solving this challenge.

4:28 Saturday November 8 2008
Something that has been really brought into the light recently with our robot runs is the need to make a clean getaway, for lack of a better term. When solving a challenge, it is most necessary to make sure that when executing the run, there are no obstacles that create drag on the robot. On our run that delivers the carbon balls into the underground reservoir, the LEGO bricks that surround the area create drag, which creates a variability when removing the attachment from the area. Because of the 3 little bricks that are around the research area, we have had to create "mudflaps" that are just put on the back of the wheel cage that keeps that kind of thing from getting into the wheel and screwing up the run. This factor is especially important this year, as in previous years, because there are more things on the board that create that kind of friction.

6:01 Saturday November 22 2008
A big thing for us lately is variability within different robots. We where using another robot we called Robbie, but since he recently crashed, and our back-up robot Lenny is not working either, we have had to use my own personal robot, which we have dubbed Mac the Microbot. This robot is soo different than any other robots we have used, we have to rework all our programs. It is a tedious task, especially 2 weeks before competition, but we have to do it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Starting Our Third Year

Tonight marks the second meeting of our third year of First Lego League. We continue to meet every Friday night during the season and have largely the same team as we did three years ago. The young Microbots have grown older and their skills at building robots and programming them have grown as well.

I can still remember that first night when Kyle B. and I got 14 strangers together to form two FLL teams. We didn't know what we were getting into. The Microbots won the coin flip and kept the name that both teams had agreed on while Kyle's team became the Spacebots. Both teams have continued to compete in the North Carolina State Championships and both teams have been competitive.

Who would have believed that the seven kids that formed the Microbots (one has aged out) would become such close friends, as well as teamates, working together to achieve a common goal. As we embark upon Climate Connections, we continue to learn and teach each other new things. I am fortunate to have the support of all of the parents and enjoy working along with Michael M. and Linda W. to help the Microbots develop into fine FLLers.

We have created this blog so that each of the Microbots can reflect upon their experiences as the embark upon the mission to win the State championship and go to Atlanta for the World Championship.