Project: "Roach" - Senior Design Project in Robotics

This semester, I've got the exciting task of building (yep, you guessed it) a robot. My senior design project entails working with a team of mechanical engineers to get a machine that we inherited from last year's team to work (they never got it to walk). This page is a web log of the Roach team's progress.

030911 - Our first EE meeting took place today. Here are the people who showed up:

That's me, Chris and Ryan. There's actually one other member to our team, named JP, who sadly couldn't make it that fateful day.

Here's an overhead view of the electrical side of things. Firstly, we're supposed to keep the fundamental design with direct-drive legs without joints (believe me, none of us were happy with this requirement) but getting it to work with this architecture will be a challenge of creativity itself. Each leg 'spins' a full 360 degrees and makes contact with the ground for about 120 degrees of each revolution. Not very efficient, but eh, whatcha gonna do, right?

We're starting out with virtually nothing. This poor robot had parts taped and velcroed all over the place. The current chassis is made of aluminum but is of such a thick gauge that it might as well have been made of steel. 70% of the wt is in the chassis, so it's the first to go.

Here's the finely-crafted set of PLC mounts (these are what the OOPic II sat on, and yes, that's styrofoam, velcro and electrical tape!):

Here's a (remember this voltage) 12V motor:

Here's a speed controller:

Here's a position encoder:

Here's a pair of batteries (8 volts):

Now, if you remembered the voltage rating on the motors (which was 12V), you're probably wondering why the previous team was using 8 volt batteries to run them? Not only that, but each of the batteries, instead of being tied together and used as a single power supply, were simultaneously running 3 motors each. Hmmm. Very interesting. We're supposed to change this thing by at least 40%. I think we can do that :)

Oh, yes, and I almost forgot, here's the PLC that we've inherited: OOPic II

031006 - The ME's have begun construction of a new chassis and I've built an OOPic cable. Isn't it pretty?

So we made a few modifications from what the website told us to do, we used LED's instead of diodes 'cause I thought it'd look cool. Here's one lighting up during the bootup. But does it work??

Nope... it sure didn't...

Liam made another one with the breadboard (why didn't I think of that?) and it works fine. So, I've learned my lesson; if you want it to work, leave it to a mechanical engineer.

And the Saga Continues (it gets better, I promise!): EE402