Project: "Roach" - Senior Design Project in Robotics

040505 - Aw, jeez... where to begin?? Well, we're done with the project, presented at E-Days and successfully competed in the SAE Walking Machine Challenge in Schenectady, New York. The above picture is the one and only existing snapshot of the entire Roach team. From left to right, that's Tran, Eric (with Eyes Closed), Me (kneeling), Liam, Nick, Chris (standing), Joel and Ryan (sitting).

Weds: This is what Roach looked like the night before we packed it up and brought it to New York. It wasn't working all day so we worked on it until we barely got it walking. Four of us with luggage packed tightly into my Firebird and we had a long trip down to Denver where we crashed on the floor of one of the other teams' member's house. By the time it came to board the plane at 6:00am, we were quite tired and grouchy.

Thurs: So, we arrive in New York, check into our hotel and assemble the robot right away. It was small enough to pack into a suitcase so we didn't have to spent $500 like one of the other CSU teams did. To our dismay, it didn't immediately start walking again. After a good five or six hours of tinkering we got it to work pretty well at approximately 1;00am, Friday morning (click on image just below). But right after I recorded it walking beautifully, motor #4 decided to completely lock up! What could possibly be the problem?? Well, we had to call it quits and get some sleep for our technical presentation in the morning at 8:00am.

SO, we took apart that crazy motor and found the following problem:

If you can't tell, this is a picture of a stripped gear. Catastrophically failed engines weren't going to help our cause, and we were about to throw in the towel and then Nick said, "NO WAY!" and got straight to work. See?:

Yep, he done took that baby apart and removed to culprit gear and replaced it with another model motor, but with a similar gear sprocket.

This was our clever method for knocking the gears and spacers off the shaft.

And Roach lived again!! Once we completed the slalom (just 17 seconds behind Mike III) our morale improved greatly. We decided also that it was time to start making a few design modifications such as shortening and locking the legs, removing the cameras and placing the antenna on the outside of the chassis.

Sat: Oh yeah, and it was really really humid and hot. There's Eric sprawled out on the nice cool sheetrock floor.

OK, no more kiddin' around! It wasn't long before it came time to engage in the final event, the Obstacle Course. Most robots were too large and top-heavy to successfully participate in this event. But Roach just scrambled over the entire first leg. Nobody made it past the second leg. Here's the Video!

We made the fastest time and were the only robot out of all the CSU teams to complete two courses. However, due to technical penalties, we placed 10th overall out of about 20 robots that competed. That night, we had a nice meal at the awards banquet and enjoyed the company of our fellow competitors.

Sun: Man, were we beat! We swiftly packed up, checked out and missed our connecting flight back to Denver from Atlanta due to a crew delay. We were stuck in Atlanta for four hours and Delta didn't even give us any meal vouchers! We finally got home in Fort Collins around 2:00am on Monday.

But, overall, what a great trip. I met so many interesting people and saw a lot of really cool robots. Our success renewed my love for engineering and a life of perpetual nerd-dom.

Here are the posted results.