Older blog entries for Nic (starting at number 166)

23 May 2006 (updated 13 Jun 2006 at 04:09 UTC) »
May 15th, 2006

I ordered about $50 of electronic components to make the the motor-controller circuits, including twenty 110A power MOSFETs, twenty heat sinks, twenty NPN transistors, ten 0.1uf capacitors, four 1000uf capacitors, four perferated boards, ten 1k resistors, and two 50k potentiometers. I got most of it from AllElectronics.com, except for the MOSFETs which I got on eBay (cheaper!).

12 May 2006 (updated 13 Jun 2006 at 04:09 UTC) »
May 11th, 2006

I have been extremely busy as of late. Today, for example, I had to leave halfway through school to polevault in the Narrows League meet. I don't have enough time to do homework. On Saturday I will be at South Kitsap Highschool as an alternate runner in the varsity 4x1 relay for the league meet finals (today was preliminaries), and Sunday will be spent completing a group project for english. I also have to complete a RentACoder.com job sometime by next Friday, in addition to taking tests to get into South Puget Sound Community College, as I am planning on taking a few classes there next year through a program called Running Start. Hopefully sometime soon I'll have some time to start building this electric car.. If not, school's out for summer in five weeks or so.

10 May 2006 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:44 UTC) »
May 9th, 2006

The four motors that will drive the vehicle arrived today. It cost me $105.50 for all four motors, including shipping. They are 12V motors which come with 46:1 gearboxes attatched, but the gearboxes are easily removable. I will replace the current gearboxes with my own custom-designed and built transmissions, which I would describe in detail here, except that I believe it is a revolutionary design that nobody has come up with before, and I haven't patented it. I'll just say that it is a small in-line continuously- variable transmission, which goes from a gear ratio of 16:1 to 1:1. I built one of these transmissions already, but a part broke and I am waiting for a replacement.

Maybe the new vehicle should have a new name, other than The Xpeditor. I will have to give this possibility further consideration. Send me an email if you have a suggestion!

Check out the progress page on http://www.craterfish.org/teamprodigies for a picture of the motors.

8 May 2006 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:44 UTC) »

On May 1st DARPA announced their intention to hold a third Grand Challenge - the Urban Challenge. This race, unlike the others, will take place in an urban setting. In order to win a robot will be required to autonomously navigate traffic (obeying all traffic laws) and complete a 60-mile course in under 6 hours.

Although I have put The Xpeditor on the back burner for a while, I haven't become inactive. For the past few months I've been designing an electric car that I'm planning on building this summer and driving between home, my highschool, and the local community college next school year. I have come up with a couple revolutionary ideas that I believe will help make my car more practical than other electric cars available today. I'm even considering starting my own business building and selling electric cars.

As for now, I'm going to keep my goal of completing the electric car this summer, and then begin integrating The Xpeditor's autonomous vehicle technology into it. I believe the electric car will be a much better vehicle to use than the current chassis - it will be easier to control electronically and more structurally sound.

I will update http://www.craterfish.org/teamprodigies soon, and you will once again be able to follow my progress there! Let the fun begin...

Nic Hoza

June 6th, 2005

Rejected by DARPA. Again.

5 Jun 2005 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:45 UTC) »

June 5th, 2005

I made some adjustments to some software and tested. While pushing the Xpeditor down the street it successfully detected and avoided several cars parked along side the road and made it half way around the neighborhood. At that point, accompanied by a flash of lighting and an enormous clap of thunder, it started hailing extremely hard so I had to abort my test. By the time I got back to my garage the street was under water. That's what I get for living on Washington. The neural networks did output some false obstacles and didn't do the best job detecting the real ones, but with only 30 seconds or so of video to train on they did pretty well.

5 Jun 2005 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:46 UTC) »

June 4th, 2005

I trained a neural network to avoid cars parked along the side of my road so the Xpeditor will be able to autonomously drive all the way around the 1/3 mile loop. I'll test it tomorrow.

June 3rd, 2005

I worked a bit more on the heading-from-video algorithm, did more testing, and worked on the wiring a little.

5 Jun 2005 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:46 UTC) »

June 2nd, 2005 On the DARPA Grand Challenge Discussion Forum user "mdrumbeat" made a somewhat researched guess on teams that will make it to the NQE. He posts:

I've tallied the following so far: A) About 14 teams with flawless runs (see seperate thread on site visit results) B) About 6 teams with ok runs but with a few flaws like hitting cans or going out of bounds once or twice C) About 15 other teams reporting with failed runs D) About 5 other teams reporting very bad visits or dropped out

By my best estimate, I am guessing that maybe 5 other teams had flawless runs (bringing that total to 19) and maybe 5 other teams had ok runs (bringing that total to 11). If we assume that DARPA will invite those 30 teams with flawless or ok runs, that leaves roughly 10 teams that had failed visits that could be invited. I would venture to guess that it is the last 10 or so teams that require some time to review and trade off based on technology promise and media worthiness.

This is of course a total guess but that would make the break down something like this:

1) 20 teams invited who had successful visits 2) 10 teams invited who had ok visits but with a few flaws 3) 10 teams invited who had bad visits but have promise in terms of technology or media worthiness

That's my crack at a guess.

If that turns out to be the case I'd say The Prodigies (http://www.craterfish.org/teamprodigies) have a pretty good chance of making the cut - our site visit wasn't a complete failure and we certainly show promise in technology as well as media worthiness.

Today is my brother William's 11th birthday. I got my money back for the accelerometer, also.

5 Jun 2005 (updated 13 Aug 2009 at 18:47 UTC) »

June 1st, 2005

I tested some more by pushing the Xpeditor down the street, and made some modifications to the software. It's getting there. DARPA will announce semifinalists on Monday (June 6th) instead of today. Today is also my sister Kathleen's 13th birthday. Another thing I did was add some news from Starwars.com about the Discovery show to the news page.

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