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Frustration and Triumph
Last night, after repeatedly having trouble with the line following part of the competition, we all went home frustrated and discouraged.  The robot didn't seem to work properly and we were having trouble understanding why.  Today, we worked hard with Kevin and Derek to make some progress.  

This meeting consisted of two parts: a three hour meeting without mentors, and another meeting with.  During the first half, we mainly focused on learning RoboLab.  I was able to share with the others how to flowchart, (A tool I have found invaluable in programming) and give them a brief once over of this software.  After much discussion, we finally decided to use this program as the official team software.

Toward the end of the second meeting, we were able to solve the line following mission.  Our team found that because of the sharp lines that our robot was required to follow, moving in a slow arch instead of a point turn caused the robot to respond sluggishly  with varying results.  (We made this turn by braking one motor and having the other drive forward)  After a lot of problem solving we came up with a solution that seemed to work consistently.  Using a point turn, we sped up its forward motion and slowed down its backward pull.  This way, the robot turned accurately, yet still made it to base in a reasonable amount of time.

We also were able to adjust our light sensor so that it relied completely on its own light and not on its surroundings.  This will be very helpful because at each competition, the lighting can change.

I think the neatest thing that I saw during this meeting was that the others learned so much in such a short period of time, and actually enjoyed it!  Even though I have had the privilege of working with RoboLab for three years I still haven't come close to learning what it can do.  It seems that each time I sit down to work with it I learn something new.  

We all learned a lot this meeting and we are excited about solving our next mission.

Posted by Wendy at 11:11:50 PM on 04/06/2007
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