Ghost

Farewell Moonbots Adventures?

It really has been a great run! Moonbots has made up a complete chapter of our lives. We’re moving onto more robotics/ STEM adventures now, but our Moonbots experiences have made all the difference. Tomorrow we’re actually teaching a few LEGO MINDSTORMS training classes… and I don’t feel we would have felt as comfortable doing it without the knowledge we’ve gained from this experience… we were using the knowledge we already had for most of the project, but there were so many things we had to figure out in order to complete the mission. So little things like what we’re doing tomorrow will be derived from Moonbots. As we like to say in our Class of 2012 slogan- “The world’s not ending, we’re just taking over” (and because of Moonbots and things like it, that’s a good thing)!


At the beginning of development, we planned to have our robot be elevated enough to breeze through ridges and straddle the moonrocks. But we realized that it would be too cumbersome to attempt with the one week deadline that was quickly approaching, so we settled on a down-to-earth model instead. It was a tough job trying to match our design proposal, considering we imagined it with 10 motors at our disposal. We had to compensate with only one motor to try to rotate and raise our camera while operate an arm to pick up the Water Ice and Helium-3. After working on a custom slider using a rack and pinion system to move our camera around that failed the test run completely, we eventually settled on a stationary mount. The motor became solely dedicated to moving our arm. We designed our claw with the tube loops on the Helium-3 and Ice Water in mind, aiming to grab it through said loops and toss it back into our makeshift cage. It was originally three-pronged, but the middle prong kept hitting the middle axel that held the Helium-3s so we took it off and made our two-prongs wider. This allowed us to potentially collect two at the same time, and has happened on practice runs but unfortunately not in the real rounds. The remaining two motors were used to power our robot’s transportation. At first, we had the unconventional idea of using four treads and two wheels to travel, the wheels adding stability. The idea worked perfectly well and guided our robot over ridges and moonrocks without jarring the NXT around, but we found an extra pair of treads and replaced the wheels. Treads and wheels together was quite a silly idea the way we had it. So we attached the front and back tread driven systems to the robot to get between a 40 and a 45 degree angle that improved our ability to conquer the crater ridges more easily. We needed to provide as much stability as possible- especially to counter-balance the weight of the GoPro and casing. We werepretty sucessful at this. The only time we tumbled was in one o four trials when the bot decided to drive off the lander dismount (we were running an “iffy” program, but it was worth it to explore the lunar landscape a bit more- the robot didn’t even get a scratch anyway! Make sure to read “The Journey” (below) to find out a little bit more about why we did the things we did! Or just follow this link: http://thepinkteam.tumblr.com/post/8979528818/the-journey

At the beginning of development, we planned to have our robot be elevated enough to breeze through ridges and straddle the moonrocks. But we realized that it would be too cumbersome to attempt with the one week deadline that was quickly approaching, so we settled on a down-to-earth model instead. It was a tough job trying to match our design proposal, considering we imagined it with 10 motors at our disposal. We had to compensate with only one motor to try to rotate and raise our camera while operate an arm to pick up the Water Ice and Helium-3. After working on a custom slider using a rack and pinion system to move our camera around that failed the test run completely, we eventually settled on a stationary mount. The motor became solely dedicated to moving our arm. We designed our claw with the tube loops on the Helium-3 and Ice Water in mind, aiming to grab it through said loops and toss it back into our makeshift cage. It was originally three-pronged, but the middle prong kept hitting the middle axel that held the Helium-3s so we took it off and made our two-prongs wider. This allowed us to potentially collect two at the same time, and has happened on practice runs but unfortunately not in the real rounds. The remaining two motors were used to power our robot’s transportation. At first, we had the unconventional idea of using four treads and two wheels to travel, the wheels adding stability. The idea worked perfectly well and guided our robot over ridges and moonrocks without jarring the NXT around, but we found an extra pair of treads and replaced the wheels. Treads and wheels together was quite a silly idea the way we had it. So we attached the front and back tread driven systems to the robot to get between a 40 and a 45 degree angle that improved our ability to conquer the crater ridges more easily. We needed to provide as much stability as possible- especially to counter-balance the weight of the GoPro and casing. We werepretty sucessful at this. The only time we tumbled was in one o four trials when the bot decided to drive off the lander dismount (we were running an “iffy” program, but it was worth it to explore the lunar landscape a bit more- the robot didn’t even get a scratch anyway! Make sure to read “The Journey” (below) to find out a little bit more about why we did the things we did! Or just follow this link: http://thepinkteam.tumblr.com/post/8979528818/the-journey

These are the snapshots our robot collected from the Heritage Artifacts in each round ofour live mission webcast! The ones on the left, are the originals with the original quality. But we figured in the real world, especially with todays technology, images can always be enhanced- you just need the photo to start with! So we took the video in our editing package (where we had to insert the time code), enlarged it, and then brought the snap shot into photoshop to “see what we could get out of it”. So those are on the right… We also found a better angle in the 3rd round, also shown.

Live Mission Webcast Runs

Round 1:

Round 2:

Round 3:

The Journey

I’ve looked back at our whole journey and have decided the story of our personal obstacles must be told- as our robot has conquered the LEGO barriers, we’ve had to overcome many of our own. Between the four of us, we’ve dealt with things like braces & retainers and the stresses of a hectic schedule. We’ve gone through teenage “break-ups” and “make-ups”, and teenage heartbreak. We’ve been struggling through the sickness of family pets as well as the sickness of other family members. One of our team members has just lost her grandmother. And then we’ve mourned the loss of a Pink Team alumni…

While our lives have been out-of-whack all over the place, one thing has remained consistent through this summer, and that is Moonbots. In this way, Moonbots has seen us through these troubling times. All of us are looking towards a successful future. Moonbots has kept us on track, kept us busy, when we could have easily detoured onto the wrong path. Many teens would have broken off into an unhealthy lifestyle, but instead we’ve worked through it all- even if it’s just with coping by keeping busy. And it’s really not just “keeping busy”. Moonbots reaches so many more objectives for our futures, just as we’ve mentioned in our Biography and such. Moonbots has also brought the four of us together. By spending so much time with each other, we’re there for each other, and that’s really because of how the competition is laid out.

We’ve made a difference in the community, together. We’ve acquired new skills, together. We’ve conquered Moonbots’ challenges together, so we’ve conquered life’s challenges together.

Towards the end here, we’ve realized the importance of keeping things simple. We had the chance to go outside our comfort zones (and we really, really did) especially in building a design so complicated- we were trying to create our own parts, like slides for our rack and pinion system. We finally got something that worked, but we worried about its reliability. We’ve realized that you can accomplish anything if you have all the time in the world, but this mission has a deadline. For the sake of the mission, we’ve had to make some sacrifices- the camera may not be able to go up and down so that our collection device will work more reliably. It’s very much worth it because our view of the field is not so much compromised by not being able to gain an extra 2 inches of height. In the real world, something like this could happen. Priorities are made. It is more important for us to make these new discoveries on the moon by collecting Helium 3’s and Water & Ice’s. We’ve found a camera with a wide-angles lens so that we can still see so much of the lunar landscape so that the bot can find what it’s looking for! And our positioning of the camera has helped all the same. We still actually get that same view we desired at the start, just about, without all the trouble! The one thing we didn’t sacrifice is our learning. We still tried to work out some ideas, we even made a lot of those ideas work out, but when we looked at the whole picture, like I said before- we simplified some concepts a bit for the success of the mission, focusing in the end on what we know works.

Our Moonbots accomplishments are in loving memory of Joe Ramos, a Pink Team alumni who was just getting started… because of a program like Moonbots, we’re able to stay onboard the flight to a future where we can reach for what his life was limited of.

Thank you to the driving forces behind the Moonbots program for helping the four of us to work together for that future.

~Kaitlin

Robot CAD Design:
After figuring out what we really wanted to prototype with paper sketches, we moved to the computer drawings. We found a nifty LEGO modeling program online with almost all parts loaded in an archive! The pieces that we planned to use to connect everything aren’t in there however, but we could still visually test it using axles and such. And we could still test out gearing in the program using the animation mode and everything, too! It was quite the useful tool- even let us add a dash of pink!

Robot CAD Design:

After figuring out what we really wanted to prototype with paper sketches, we moved to the computer drawings. We found a nifty LEGO modeling program online with almost all parts loaded in an archive! The pieces that we planned to use to connect everything aren’t in there however, but we could still visually test it using axles and such. And we could still test out gearing in the program using the animation mode and everything, too! It was quite the useful tool- even let us add a dash of pink!

The Final Countdown

     So for the past five days we have been working constantly with our field, robot design, and robot contruction. School started last Wednesday for us, and I (Brynne), Kaitlin, Bethany, and Emma have been heading to Emma’s house after school everyday to continue our rapid work.

      We had gotten all the Dual-Lock adhesive onto all the necessary ridge pieces to keep both craters, Crater Chanda and Crater Canvin, and the Long Ridge stable, finally completing our field, freeing us to put all our craniums together for the main robot build with alternative design ideas and contruction. Our first driving system idea was with a 3-tread system, but at first, we only had four tread pieces total, so we were going to have to convert to a quad-tread system. We even had our self-invented drive train with tank tread in the front and back of the robot but with two wheels to replace what tread would have normally connected the two ends. It worked, gave support and all, but just didn’t accomplish everything we’d hoped. Luckily, we found two more tread pieces though, so we were able to return to the 3-tread system, which is three treads connected on each side of the robot. To add to this system, we angled the front tread 45 degrees upwards, the middle treads flat to the ground, and the back treads are there for support to optimize terrain control. After gearing our drive train, we realized we had a bit too much torque for our drive motors to handle, so we simplified it a bit, and we still have enough power to get over the barriers & have a nice speed. 

     We moved on to the placement of the Helium-3 and Water Ice container. We had several prototypes of what the “container” was going to look like, but we ultimately needed one that would fit around the drive motors, but also be spacious enough to catch and carry all the game pieces and be weight effective. We have so far come up with a “cage”-like prototype, mainly composed of straight bars. We moved on to what we like to call the “Pooper-Scooper”, the Trident-like claw we made, to pick up those very game pieces we would love to carry around on our robot. :)

     Next is the camera proposal, we first wrote about the full 360 degree rotation capability and the adjustable angle change. We had to modify this since we only had one motor left for the camera. Besides, we rotating the robot for this kind of view was more simple.  We needed to reserve this 3rd motor, anyway, for our ”Pooper-Scooper” -to move it up and down to pick up and drop off game pieces into “The Cage”. This was a tricky task, but our idea was to have a drive shaft go through both sides of the motor, place one gear on either side of it, and have that move our rack and pinion system up and down. At the same, it’s rotating our claw via another rack on the opposite side. Our camera is also mounted on top of the system to achieve our goal of getting a controllable height (this is our simulation of “gaining a better view of the moon landscape” as we said in our design proposal).

     Lastly I want to update you guys about our sensors plan. Two sensors will be mounted to our precious bot: ultrasonic and color. The ultrasonic sensor is to be used to sense incoming ridges and allow our robot to stop a certain distance before it hits them. More specifically, it’ll allow us to collect the first two Helium-3 nearby the Landing Base and prevent it from going out of bounds. The color sensor is probably the most important of the two sensors. We will be using it to sense the Helium-3 and Water Ice and release our claw just right in order to collect them. It will also ensure our robot is completely on the Peak of Eternal Light and lastly ending at the Landing Base.

    So that’s just a little taste of our robot, and we know that you’re just drooling with anticipation to see it and how it ultimately works. But you’ll just have to wait, just like waiting for dessert. ;) Brynne signing off, have a nice evening! :)

STEM Outreach Speech

Make sure you check out the description of our STEM Outreach Project and the video first, but we just wanted to make our full “speil” available to you. It did flucuate depending on the responses we got from the kids and there’d always be a few extra points we added on the spot, but this shows the basic outline of what we started with (we pulled our “main points” from this). We also had some pretty “intentse” conversations more one-on-one with the kids as they went from booth to booth at our demo, but here’s what the groups would’ve heard when all together for the most part…

"Hey guys, my name is Brynne, and I’m on a highschool robotics team called The Pink Team. My friends and I are working on a project called Moonbots. We need YOUR help with our big, important mission called The STEM Outreach Project. Has anyone heard of STEM before? And I’m not talking about a part of a flower.. *Wait for any answers* [Note: we almost always recieved responses… they would figure it out!]Well, it’s an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Have any of you guys learned about these before? These four things aren’t as boring as you think. How many of you know of the Space Program? It’s at NASA and we ALL know how cool NASA is. The bad thing is though, is that this very Space Program we’re thinking of, is closing down because of budget cuts. We ALL know about budget cuts, especially in school. But what’s more important, is that with the S.P., a lot of people are going to lose their jobs, and that there won’t be anymore  astronauts going into space from here in America. So that just ruins so many children’s dreams, and that’s so sad. And what’s even worse, is when people lose their jobs, they don’t have money, stores run out of business, and then people move away, looking for a better life somewhere else; it’s a big ole domino effect.. We don’t want that for our little cities, do we?But this isn’t set in stone, only because of you guys. When people say you’re the future, they’re not kidding!! With STEM, you can do almost anything! You could someday, bring the S.P. back, become that astronaut you’ve always wanted to be, fly to the moon and start colonizing it, create jobs, and bring life back into the cities and neighborhoods!! It’s one thing to get a job, but it’s a whole lot better to make jobs for people. It’s how the world should really work.But hey! Maybe NASA isn’t for you, what do you want to be when you grow up?*Relate the jobs with STEM*STEM isn’t just for work or school either, it’s part of your daily lives. Science is there for you when you’re making a grilled cheese sandwich, or when you scrape your knee and you need a bandaid and antibiotics. Engineering can help when you’re remodeling your bathroom or moving your stuff around in your bedroom, because you’d need creative thinking, but blueprints for practicality. Nowadays, technology has intertwined with our lives, it’s hard to think about living without it. There wouldn’t be cars, a/c, cellphones, videogames, or electricity without the development of technology. And last of all, you need mathematics to help calculate your bills, and budget the money you have and the amount you need to pay debts off with, or how much money you need to save til you have enough for that new toy.That’s a lot to take in, and we’ve barely touched the topic of STEM, b/c there’s so much more to it than meets the eye. Maybe when you get older, and go through highschool and college, you’ll understand more of it. But that’s our mission, for you to excel in the different parts of STEM, b/c you are the future, you are the STEM Outreach mission! Go and help us accomplish our goal!”

Our STEM Outreach Project

For the STEM outreach portion of the project, we decided to focus on kids by going to summer camps and other children’s groups, and encouraging their interest in all things STEM. With a few phone calls, emails, and a bit of luck, we managed to get five demos scheduled; Mclarty Park Summer Camp, National Night Out event (also at Mclarty), Health First’s “Kid-Fit Camp”, Devereux, and at Camp KSC. We stretched out accross our community in 3 days, bringing our demo to 4 different cities, and to over 400 children. Our demo was so elablorate, we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to handle it…. but we did, and looking back at the last week, we really made a difference.

After introducing ourselves, explaining about the Moonbots competition, and the importance of our STEM Outreach Project, we would talk with the kids about the importance of STEM, and there would always be a few differences at each location but the same ideas always sunk in. We did have some candy, which helped us hold attention ;) and by the time we left, there was not a single kid who didn’t know what STEM stands for or how studying the subjects would help them in their lifetime. We had full blown discussions, encouranging them to restore our space program (our whole community is dependent on certain aspects of it, living so close to NASA KSC), and we even would tell them how STEM would help in their other career asperations. We also let them know what things they could get involved with now (like FIRST, Moonbots, and VEX programs, depending on their ages). Feel free to take a look at our layout for Brynne’s speech!

Then, we set up some other individual activities, including little science experiments and some hands-on with some of our robots. The first science experiment was an egg drop where, using some common materials, the kids were supposed to protect the egg (or clay ball in some cases) so that when it was dropped from a height; it wouldn’t break. Whether they succeeded or not, they still got the lesson from Emma which also applied to elements of space travel- (i.e. gravity- such as the amount on Earth as compared to the moon, air resistance- the effect on flight, structural integrity- space shuttles, rocket boosters, moon colonies, etc. must be strongly built)! Yet they were also practicing problem solving skills and partnering up, forming a collaboration of sorts (not to mention how this helped save us materials)!

The second experiment consisted of using Lego’s to build a container around a small ball that would slide down a ramp; its not supposed to break and the ball could not fall out. I further emphasized the lessons from the egg drop while running this booth, but it also gave the chance to introduce LEGOs to a few of the younger kids.

For the robots we used our FRC robot from 2K10, a VEX robot, and a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot we built special for the demos. They had the chance to drive/ operate all of them. They learned about programming, and then networking. They learned about sensors, big and small. They learned about drive systems and controls. They learned about sources of energy, and mechanical systems. They really enjoyed the whole thing and we were pretty surprised at how smart all of these kids are and how many of them wanted to be astronauts or engineers when they grow up. One of those kids even knew what NASA plans to do now that the shuttle program is over and the kids at Mclarty were so good at the ball ramp that we had to make it a little more challenging by limiting the number of Lego’s used to fifteen. The Kit-Fit Camp kids were supposed to go swimming in the afternoon, but were trying to convince their councilers to let them stay with us, and there were even a couple other gym members (adults) took an interest! The kids at Devereux seemed to have found an intant passion for robotics, no matter what their background. They were curious as to how things worked just as much as any other kids, and we were able to give them a very unique experience. The kids at KSC were so interested that quite a few stayed after to learn how all the robots work. They even helped to rewire one of the motors, and helped pack up all the motors when we were done. It seemed that us coming there was one of the highlights of their summer and that made it all the more worth it.

-Bethany

PS: we’re working to collect some written feedback from the summer camps and children’s organizations. They all said they either hoped we had more time with them or want us to come back next year/ throughout the year (and we really wanted to share this feedback with you)!

So the field is very close to completion now! (And a few things are misplaced in the picture, but don’t worry!) -Even had a little race to see who could build the barriers the fastest, making it all the more fun (but we’ve definitely enjoyed going back to our days of building with LEGOS). We found a good spot to set up the field for practice and the actual competition, so we should be good to go. We’re still missing a few peices but hopefully it’s okay if we just make do with what we have!

So the field is very close to completion now! (And a few things are misplaced in the picture, but don’t worry!) -Even had a little race to see who could build the barriers the fastest, making it all the more fun (but we’ve definitely enjoyed going back to our days of building with LEGOS). We found a good spot to set up the field for practice and the actual competition, so we should be good to go. We’re still missing a few peices but hopefully it’s okay if we just make do with what we have!

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