Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Apparently you can talk about robot club!

Had a good time at Brian Corteil's Robot Club at Cambridge Makespace on Saturday, testing out Sputnik and meeting some other Pi Wars contestants. It was great to try out the real straight line speed course. On the Friday night we only had one successful test run using boxes to simulate the sides of the track - all the other times the boxes went flying. But on the real thing it worked a treat. There were only a couple of times it turned left instead of right, but we think that was due to the course not being quite complete and joined together, so our sensors got a bit confused. Brian also gave us some good advice on how we could improve the code to keep our robot in the centre of the track. Our only regret is that we forgot to film it.

The other thing we learned is that the compass in the BBC micro:bit probably isn't reliable in the real world. In the Maze test, the robot turned a nice 90 degree turn on it's own - only for the compass code to try and adjust it by another 20 degrees or so, and pointing the wrong way.

We found by adjusting the timing so that a spin of say - 350ms - was about 90 degrees, and then using the straight line adjustment code to correct the course, worked a lot better than actually using the compass as you can see by this video below.

We have ordered a BNO055 IMU which a couple of the other teams have been using to good effect, but don't know if we'll get a chance to fit it before the end of March.

All in all, it was a very productive afternoon, and gave us a lot of confidence to move forward.

The challenges this week are to:

  • Design a lego contraption to attach to the front of Sputnik to aim the balls in the Space Invaders challenge - and also give the balls a bit of a push. (Probably using a static spring rather than any clever gizmo). 
  • Start looking at how to use our new Pixy 2 camera. Until now we hadn't worried too much about the Hubble Nebula challenge, since we weren't part of the proper competition. Now that we're competitors we've decided to give it a go. That's really the only challenge now we can't attempt with the current build. 

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