Monthly Archives: September 2012

Discuss and Research

Hey hey, a lot of brainstorming, discussion, and research went on this week. The brainstorming led to research and the discussion was still focused on defining everything the robot needs and defining who will be responsible for each task.

The ME team looked into batteries and how to house them, which then brought up the question regarding centralized vs. distributed power. They also focused on what type of standardized mount would be best for our application- rods, rails, or surfaces? The CS team is very keen on having a graphical poolside interface and looked into what it would take to make that possible. They also met with the ECE team and made good progress by finalizing the communication protocol that will be used. Also, the ECE team finally got to meet with their advisers, settled on which microprocessor they will use, and defined their time-line for creating the PCB.

Next week will basically just be an extension of this week- more brainstorming, discussion, and research.

Brainstorming

This past week was sadly marked by the beast of poor communication. It was bound to happen, BUT our SharePoint site is now officially up and running! We are hoping this will help eradicate any future problems related to missed emails. Also to help with communication, we chose our senior engineers for each sub team. These senior engineers  will represent and be the spokesperson for their group as necessary. We decided to have these positions filled by different team members each term.

The ME group came up with a chassis design- it is an octagon/tick-tack-toe/puck type of shape. This is not an official design decision, but is fancied at the moment. We would try to explain it, but find that pictures are better than words for this type of thing. Do not worry though; if the idea sticks around, we will post a diagram of it and you can tell us what you think. Also, they are thinking about using 8/20 or some sort of aluminum, but need to do more research on the topic.

The CS and ME teams discussed the Bowler communication protocol and the feasibility of using it in the hierarchical computing system that will drive the robot. They are leaning toward using it, but have not finalized this decision. There is also talk of using a Net-book as the main computer to run the Java software developed by our CS team.

The ECE group plans to make custom boards that will go in each module and interface with the robot. They discussed different options for doing this and made block diagrams of possible implementations.  In regards to power, they are pretty much set on Lithium Polymer batteries, but this too needs to be finalized.

On a different note: our primary objective for this project is to make an AUV that serves as a modular development platform. We would love to take it to the AUVSI competition this summer; however, we discovered that their rules and competition tasks will not be posted until the middle of our last quarter of school. (WPI runs on a quarterly system. Each quarter is 7 weeks long and then we have a break between each quarter. Our last day of class is April 30th!) With this, we will only have a few weeks to tailor our robot’s functionality to fit the criteria for the competition. This was a little bit of a bummer, but we are hopeful and will do our best to still enter.

This coming week the CS and ECE team plan to finalize the hardware and software platforms that will be utilized throughout the system. The ME team wants to meet with the ECE team to discuss batteries and distributed power vs. centralized power. The ECE team still needs to meet with their personal advisers to get feedback and advice. The Statement of Work was briefly reviewed and should be edited this week. More research needs to be done by all teams. Also, we will be making the transition over to SharePoint. There is a lot going on, but so much more work to be done and decisions to be made. We are already having midterms this week. This first term is going by so fast! (Oh the craziness!)

Another noteworthy thing is that one of our team members has decided that taking a break from college is the best thing for them at this time in their life. We hope the best for them in this decision and will miss having them on the team. This makes our team of 13,  now a team of 12.

Organize. Harmonize. Unify.

Hope everyone had a lovely labor day! Our advisers were off celebrating in their own special ways, while our team of 13 came together again to discuss what each group feels their tasks should be. As we are an interdisciplinary group, it is important for us to establish who is developing what and it is equally important to maintain clear communication so that any group’s designs do not clash with the others.

Each group shared their overall project tasks, but then chatted further about the tasks that are more interconnected with the other groups. The computer science group primarily went into the amount of computation they will implement in each module along with accompanying design considerations. The electrical engineering group focused on the modular electronic system and how it will interface between the modules and the robot itself.  The mechanical engineering group discussed overall chassis shape design considerations and methods for modularity.

While logistical organization is still being figured out, we agreed to use Microsoft Project for creating and maintaining our Gantt chart and decided to use SharePoint as our communications platform.  Also, a task force was created to take the lead in looking for sponsorship and interested companies. If you are interested in what we are doing, but have not been contacted by us then PLEASE do not hesitate to contact us to see how you can help out and get involved.

Our main objective this next week is to get our first draft of the statement of work together, set up SharePoint, establish meeting times for each sub group and their specific advisers, and to keep doing research.