Saturday, September 20, 2008

Minutes, 9/18/2008

Work for next meeting:
- Everyone write their bio text.
- Project research on the new topic of temperature extremes.
- Mr. Emge order tires for robots.

Patrick presented results of his research. The problems he found and why:
1) heat and cold waves, because they're the most deadly
2) floods - because they're the most costly
The team had a good discussion and then voted 6 to 3 to pick the problem of heat and cold extremes.
Joey, Alex and Danny worked with Mrs. Naughton to come up with questions for an expert.

- Andrew tested the new tires and found they behaved identically to the old ones in a straight line test.
- Paul tested the line follower and it didn't work with the new sensor location.
- Trevor entered sensor data and built a new jig.
- Various other work done on missions.

- Paul volunteered to take photos for the Bios.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meeting Minutes, 9/14/2008

Michael and Nate led a vote on the project topic. Droughts and floods were chosen and then extreme weather. The challenge project was re-read and the team realized that it's not the climate, or future climate, but rather problems due to current climate. So, extreme weather is the cause, but are drought and floods the main problems? Mrs. Naughton suggested that they do research to answer the following questions before the next meeting so that they can make informed decisions. The link below may help, but they should also explore other resources.
1. What is the climate of IL/our area?
2. What are some of the problems we face due to our climate?

Robot Missions:
Please see the 2008 Mission Tracker in the links to the right. Each team member was able to pick their first or second choice of which of the 4 mission groups to work on based on their decision last meeting to assign 4, 2, 2 & 1 persons each. The coaches each took a team to mentor. The 1st group nominated Andrew to be the team lead.

Robot Design:
Paul, Patrick, Michael, Andrew, Danny and Nate worked on the robot design. The rest of the team was content to work on their missions and let this sub-team make the design decisions. Below are the details, but they decided to use the new design.
  • New arm is better but they will stiffen by triangulation.
  • Light sensor needs to be tested and Paul volunteered. The issue is line following, straight and 90-degree turns. They think straight lines are OK and but sharp turns may be a problem. If no sharp turns are needed, then this is OK but Paul will work out the performance.
  • They think the small wheels will be OK if they use a ramp to get into the research area. Paul had a prototype ramp with magnetic Lego's. Looked cool but needs some work. Paul will also continue work on a ramp.
  • Final issue was repeatability of straight lines with the small wheels. Andrew volunteered to test this.


  • Still need display mission printouts
  • Need to display project challenge for reference.
  • Need soft copy of Alex's schedule for the web site.
  • Mission tracker is updated with assignments and coach mentors

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Agenda, 9/14/2008

Finish selecting topic and start research on it (1 week behind)

Discuss robot design and how we finalize
Pick mission assignments and start working on them (1 week behind)

Finish posting missions
Continue sensor characterization, get into Nate's spreadsheet
How to organize software: MyBlocks analysis (Alex), other ideas: Michael, Andrew, Paul

Meeting Minutes, 9/11/2008

1. Alex presented his schedule. He will email it to Mr. Emge, it is in word format.

2. Vote for a topic for research project.
From last weeks brainstorming session, the 4 topics of choice were
-agriculture (how it changes with expected climate changes)
-water level and transportation (lake MI, canals, rivers, dredging, etc)
-impact on any particular eco system

None of the ideas triggered much enthusiasm. Votes came in for water level and transportation.

3. Small group brainstorming
3 groups of 3.
Brainstorm ideas to for internet search topics/words.
Brainstorm ideas for who we can get to come speak/we can visit.
Goal was each group come up with 10-15 search topics, and a few ideas for people/field trips.

4. Small group breakout
4a. Paul, Danny, Trevor - Characterize light sensors. Progress made. Chart online?
4b. Michael, Nate - research topics, do the googling. They were not finding enough interesting info, but maybe have some different, cooler, ideas for project.
4c. Alex posted rules, missions next time
Alex and Mrs. Emge discussed software testing to understand
MyBlocks usage and implementation. Will try to do at home.
4d. Patrick, Andrew, Joey prepared and presented a mission tracker. (Pauls flash drive)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Agenda, 9/11/2008

  • Alex - present the schedule he prepared for this past Sunday, when we ran out of time.
  • Post the missions and rules, which Alex pointed out was to be performed this meeting per the schedule.


  • Start meeting by completing last weeks schedule item "narrow down topic" and voting on the items identified in Sunday's brain storming.
  • Per schedule, compile info.


  • Per schedule, assign missions.
  • To that end:
  • ---Joey, Patrick, Andrew to complete first pass mission tracker
  • ---Group decides on who does what
  • NOTE: design review of Andrew's robot delayed until Mr. Emge's return on Sunday, 9/14

Minutes, 9/7/2008

A very exciting meeting today. We had a 10 minute kickoff of the challenge, followed by 30 minutes of project brainstorming and finishing with 30 minutes of robot.

Project: Andrew came with a lot of graphs on our climate. Most of the boys had done some research and described the climate changes expected, and how it depended on the model. They came up with many problems these changes cause. Next week they vote on which of these problems to do their research project.

Robot: There were 3 proposals already thought through! They all had similar themes. Michael and Andrew also brought a robot prototype, but we didn't have time to review it. The experience of last season is really showing in the depth of thought, and breadth of consideration, including tactical, timing and difficulty of implementation.
  • Patrick presented a concept for combining 7 of the 18 missions in a single run.
  • Andrew and Michael brought a color-coded mission sequence proposal, which they presented
  • Joey presented an alternate mission sequence

We discussed the approach for distributing the mission work. Last year each mission was solved independently. This year they decided that they'd rather first determine the mission order and then assign teams to each robot run. The team agreed to have Joey, Patrick and Andrew do the first pass mission order for review with the group. This team agreed that they would be objective in their decisions.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Agenda, 9/7/2008

See the link to the right.

Everyone on the team to digest as much of the project and robot rules as they can before our short meeting.

Project, from schedule: brainstorm to narrow down topic and pick who does what.

Mrs. Naughton gives the following guidance:
read up on Midwest Climate Change at the following link:
other helpful links:$File/il_impct.pdf

Robot, from schedule: list of missions.
Joey and Andrew have already done a first pass. If time after project, review their work and any other brought to the meeting.

General: post the rules and missions in the lab, review Alex's schedule

Meeting Minutes, 9/4/2008

We followed the agenda pretty closely, so I'll only capture the highlights. The team did a great job going through the handouts from Mrs. Naughton and had a very good discussion.

Q: Is there enough room in the project schedule for field trips or visits from experts?
A: Yes - there is enough slack.

Q:(for both schedule teams) Does the schedule assume that 1/2 time is spent on project and robot?
A: Yes

Noted that if they change the robot schedule, then the design must be locked down by 9/14. Need to add this note to the schedule. They also clarified that the schedule assumes the same approach as last year: solve all the missions, then combine/cut.

Andrew suggested each person do a mini-project that they can have fun with and present to the group. The team agreed to table that idea and consider it when they find out the actual challenge to see if they think it will work.

A schedule gap was identified and Alex volunteered to schedule the miscellaneous jobs that don't fit under project and robot headings: technical presentation, putting together other presentation material, etc.

Michael and Andrew brought in a prototype robot design that they propose for this season. We had a short design review but agreed to hold off deciding whether or not to change the design until they understand the challenge. They would also need to test the perceived advantages of the new robot to verify that it delivers. Below are the results, but I'd like to congratulate Michael and Andrew on their initiative and the group in general for their thoughtful consideration of the impact of both changing and keeping the old design.


  • shorter - more maneuverable and can have larger implements in base
  • easier to charge
  • flatter wheels for more traction and less bounce
  • rear sliders are the same width as marks in base to make it easier to align.

  • light sensor is now behind the front wheels (affects line follower algorithm)
  • implements and/or attachments need to be re-designed
  • arm motor was too tight to attach the arm (already fixed)
  • it might be too slow with the smaller wheels
  • re-designing and testing will take schedule time

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meeting Agenda, 9/4/2008

  • Come prepared with what they are interesed in doing for the team. For example, research, software, robot design, etc.


  • Nate and Michael present their schedule.
  • All - be prepared with handout answers from last meeting

  • Danny and Trevor present their schedule.
  • Characterize sensors.
  • Continue work on software organization effort

8/28/2008 Meeting Minutes

Last week, Mrs. McCurdy pointed out that the team's experience allows them to get a jump on the season by working on organization in advance of the the challenge announcement. We were able to set our agenda for this week based on that focus. In addition, Mrs. Naughton led a discussion on what was learned from the weather station tour and distributed a paper on climate. The team chose to read at home and answer the questions as opposed to doing it during the meeting.

Danny and Trevor came up with a robot schedule and reviewed with Mrs. Emge. Danny entered the data this week and it's posted on the blog to the right as "2008 Robot Schedule". Nice work!

Nate and Michael generated a project schedule and reviewed with Mrs. Naughton. The data will be posted once entered this week.

Patrick and Joey started attaching the mission items to the board while the coaches were busy working with the other boys.

Andrew, Paul and Alex had volunteered to work on organizing software. Andrew experimented with my-blocks to understand how they are stored and how we can be sure which version we're using. More work is ncessary to figure this out, but Andrew was diligent in his effort. The NXT software is quite confusing in this regard.

Paul and Alex helped Patrick and Joey on light sensor characterization. Last season we found that one sensor had a different response. The goal of this exercise is to determine the repeatability of the sensors with each robot for black, white and the colors available on the mat. As a reminder, the post-mortem identified repeatability of the robots as an important trait. Nate built a spreadsheet for documenting their results, which can be found in the links to the right under "Light Sensor Data". Nice job, Nate! Paul build a jig for mounting sensors that has a quick-change mount and keeps them at a fixed height from the mat.