Week 3 (Sept. 12, 2018): Refinement of Project Objectives

Today, Kevin, one of the team members who worked on the small-scale track last year offered his advice and provided more insight into what his team accomplished, what they learned, what problems they faced, what they would have done differently, and possible suggestions. While he mostly addressed concerns for the track team, it was valuable information nonetheless, given that we would have to coordinate well with the track team, as we cannot reuse the entire track from last semester. However, Kevin also briefly discussed what the Small-Scale Controls Team last semester went through, as he had to work closely with them. He stated that the Controls Team had their work cut out for them, but they accomplished a lot: learning Python to program the Linux application via Raspberry Pi, using the XBee RF (Radio Frequency) module to interface the pod car with the app, and utilizing an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) touchscreen as their GUI (Guided User Interface), among their other tasks.

He then proceeded to show us a basic overview of the main screen of the Android app, but he felt it would be more of a Controls Team member’s duty to go into greater depth. Regarding the differential drive system, he suggested looking into systems with gearing already in place, as making the gear system ourselves can get complicated and make take a long time to troubleshoot.

He also reiterated, to the Track Team, considering using injection molding to remake the brackets, as this would produce sturdier plastic pieces and would be more efficient time-wise. We will most likely also have the new pod car injection molded, either via Protolabs, Dr. Furman’s contact, or both.

Lastly, Kevin provided us with some general, life-experience tips: the first step of the project should be to draft up our project expectations and requirements, make a timeline, and perform calculations; for small-scale motors, look into Chinse sellers, such as Aliexpress; for manufacturing materials, look into OSH, as they are going out of business. He also purchased a 3D printer, a fairly good one, at around $150, and said we should consider getting one if a small piece is to be made and a deadline is approaching; high-end 3D printers are $300.

Overall, Kevin was a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience for the entire Small-Scale Team, advice that we considered and used to refine our project proposal ideas. 

Please refer to our finalized project proposal, embedded below.