Older blog entries for Nic (starting at number 143)

April 26th, 2005

This week (except Friday) I start school two hours late, so I've been working in the morning on the robot. Today the pull start rope on the engine ripped and went into the engine. One more thing to do before the site visit... There's one week left.

At about 9 PM I went out to test the robot on the street, but the steering by remote control wouldn't work. After an hour I had fixed the problem. A wire had randomly broken in a connector. This is getting very frustrating.

25 Apr 2005 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:48 UTC) »

April 24th, 2005

This morning I fixed the battery wiring, but accidentally melted a 5V regulator. Afterwards I got some orange buckets at Home Depot to use to mark the waypoints on the site visit route as well as two 32 gallon garbage cans and some free wood for lateral boundary markers. The garbage cans being green, I also bought some white spray paint in case the neural networks can't detect the green garbage cans in the green field.

At the field I marked the lateral boundaries of almost the whole course, and tested the waypoint following some more to observe the robot's behavior. I also recorded data while driving the course, avoiding the waypoint markers and garbage cans on the route.

Once home I modified the software in yet another attempt to perfect the waypoint following.

There are pictures at http://www.craterfish.org/teamprodigies

April 23rd, 2005

The waypoint following only works while driving at speeds under 3 MPH. The GPS position seems to lag behind a certain number of seconds, which makes sense assuming it's averaging many GPS positions every second - if it's moving forwards, of course the average of the locations will be somewhere behind it. The higher the speed goes the crazier it's driving gets, until at speeds above about 6 MPH it just seems random.

I obtained permission to use a new field and sent an email to DARPA about the site visit location change. At the field I used the GPS to mark a route, and then had the Expeditor drive it. I encountered the problem above, until the battery fell off the robot and ripped some wires. Heh.

April 22nd, 2005

I tested it and it finally works. Now I have to perfect the garbage can avoidance.

April 21st, 2005

Tested several new things and discovered and fixed several bugs. Still some problems.

April 20th, 2005

I didn't go to baseball practice after school because I wasn't feeling very good, so I had some daylight left when I got home to test the robot. Using a neural network trained on a couple minutes of data recorded from the robot it was able to successfully turn and avoid a garbage can in the street.

There were still some problems with position finding, however. I made some changes to the code and found a few bugs. I'll test next time I get the chance.

April 18th, 2005

I got the new OOPic chip in the mail and it works. That's a bit odd that the other one unexplainably stopped working. It isn't a good thing when parts of your autonomous ground vehicle stop working for no apparent reason.

April 16th, 2005

I took the Expeditor out to the site visit location again to try to test it. It started out sunny, but the field was almost completely under water. It doesn't seem very likely it will be dry by the site visit. After that our minivan got stuck in the mud until a helpful guy in a pick-up truck came and pulled it out. It started raining very hard soon afterwards. I still haven't waterproofed X. I need Chris to help with that but he's sick with Mono.

Before the site visit (within the next two weeks) I need to

-Waterproof the Expeditor -Find a new site visit location -Make a new route and mark it -Teach obstacle avoidance

April 15th, 2005

I reglued the throttle servo to the homemade servo horn - the original glue had broken.

April 14th, 2005

Planning on testing the waypoint following again and then teaching X some obstacle avoidance, I took it out to my dad's friend Baird's field, but I immediately encountered a problem - the engine wouldn't start. Besides this, it started raining very hard. I have to water-proof the robot - it may be raining during the site visit and it has to be able to drive anyway. I took the robot to a auto shop, but they didn't know what was wrong with it. They checked the spark plug and it worked, and then sprayed some starter fluid in the combustion chamber and tried starting it and it worked a little, but according to the man at our next stop this was a very stupid thing to do and it will burn the oil off the sides of the cylinder and then the piston will scratch it. At our next stop, a lawn-mower repair shop, we got a new spark plug and it worked perfectly. The guy there said the problem was that the engine was flooded and it damaged the spark plug. I think it became flooded when I left it sitting in my garage for several weeks and I forgot to turn the fuel cut-off on.

I guess I'll start working on waterproofing it since there's nothing I can do in the rain.

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