Category Archive: A-Term

Writing and Break

As this week ends the term, finals are upon us!

The ME team created a weighted decision matrix for the various chassis designs that they are considering. This next week the entire team is going to review the matrix and put in their weighted values.  The ECE team finalized how they are going to layout the module board. The CS team has been planning out the API architecture and is wanting to program in Java.

Aside from those things, the majority of this week’s work went into writing the first two chapters of our report, which we will consolidate this week. Once that is done, we will be on break and come back rested and ready to start designing this RoboSub! (With that said, our next blog will not be up until the end of October.)

More Research

Another fine week here with the Robosub team.

We discussed what type of batteries would be best to use and if we should go with distributed or centralized power. We settled on having centralized power using Lithium Polymer batteries and are tossing around the idea of making it a hot-swappable battery system. We were able to meet with those in charge of the campus pool (in our new rec center woowoo!)  and received the rules we need to follow during testing in the water.

Our advisers reviewed our Statement of Work , and we will make edits this week and then that document should be finalized.  Our SharePoint has been up and running, but there has been some discrepancies on how it is being used, so a presentation will be giving next week to get everyone on the same page. It is hard to believe that just next week is the end of our first quarter! With this, we need to write up the first two chapters of our report- detailing the background of our project and research that we have done. As time is moving right along, we are going to transition from the research to finalizing decisions and designing!

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.

Let’s Start This

Hello hello, we are a group of Worcester Polytechnic Institute students working on our Major Qualifying Project (MQP). An MQP is the senior project at WPI. Throughout the span of this academic year (August 2012-May 2013), we are going to design and create a modular, robotic submarine! In general, we are making an automated underwater vehicle (AUV).  We will pick an official name for the actual AUV, but as of now we are simply referring to it as the Robosub.

We made this site as a way to not only share our Robosub progress, but also to provide the online opportunity for people to join us on our journey of what it takes to create an AUV. An update will be posted at least once a week- we hope that you will follow our project development and leave feedback along the way!

After a (hopefully) relaxing summer break, this past Monday, our large team of 13 students and 5 advisers came together for the first time to kick off this ambitious project! We discussed a lot of not very exciting, but necessary organizational logistics and figured out what it looks like for 13 students to work together effectively and to have accountability. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re excited and up for the task.

Our team of 13 has been broken down into 3 different groups, which are the computer science, the electrical and computer engineering, and the mechanical engineering groups. We have a rough vision for what our AUV will accomplish, but still have many details and design options that need to be agreed upon.  With this, our advisers requested that we provide them with a statement of work and gave us an idea of what exactly that entails.

If you are like most of us were, then you are not familiar with this expression. A statement of work is basically a contract between a customer with a specific work task and whoever is doing the job. It outlines the work that will be done and provides a list of deliverables with expected completion dates. This ensures understanding of expectations on both sides and allows the customer to see what progress is being made. In our project, our advisers are serving as our “customers” and creating the AUV is the work task. Given the type of project we have and the size of the team, creating a statement of work now feels like a natural part of the process.

Our main objective during this coming week is to work toward creating a unified vision for the AUV. We plan for each group to meet together, discuss their specific group visions, and define what they feel their responsibilities are in the project. We will meet this coming Monday to harmonize each group’s ideas and to start writing the statement of work. We will let you know how it goes next week!