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We’ve had many setbacks and hardships these past two years of participating in the NASA Lunabotics Mining competition but we’ve come back harder and stronger each time. We learned so much our first year competing and even before the dust settled from our first competition, we were already coming up with ideas for our second attempt. We worked all year long and this year we’ve come back home with new friends, new insights, new memories and ideas but also having won First Place for the Judges Innovation Award!!!! and Third Place for Team Spirit!!! YEA! Its going to be a lot of work but we’re going to go to the 3rd Lunabotics Mining Competition even harder! A few team members have graduated but we’ve left behind a legacy and have inspired other students at NYU-Poly to keep pushing forward and do even better than we have.
To summarize the event, our practice run looked very good in the beginning in the sandpit courtesy of Caterpillar Inc. We tried to make it as real as the actual round even going so far as to set up our own overhead camera and keeping our driver facing away from the pit. We did okay in our official practice run with just testing our locomotion and excavation systems however unfortunately during our official first round attempt, one of the power management circuit boards on our motor burned out and we lost our ability to drive.
We owe a big thanks to the University of North Florida and FAMU/FSU for loaning us replacement motors and speed controllers. We were able to get our robot back up and running within a day and had a successful second competition attempt.
Here’s the livestream from our second round:
Halfway through the round, our robot unfortunately flipped over onto its face. This had happened to quite a few teams at the Lunabotics competition as the terrain was tricky and posed all sorts of hazards. However, our drivers kept a cool head and focus and within the minute, got our robot back on its feet. Unfortunately, we had lost all we had collected in the first half of the round. Nonetheless, we finished with a total of 10 kg on the dot which qualified us for the 2nd round. Robots were given a score of 0 points if they were unable to collect the minimum of 10 kg during each competition attempt and the total score of both rounds would be average for each team. We finished with an unofficial final score of 883 points for that round.
Today we had our first official competition attempt. After a entire year of hard work, testing, long nights, planning, drawing and writing, we are quite proud of our design and robot. We tested multiple times since we’ve gotten to Kennedy Space Center in the sandpit set up by Caterpillar. The first few times showed us where we would like to improve and the last two practice attempts helped us improve our driving strategy. During our first run, we collected 2.8 kg of lunar regolith in the first 4 minutes of the competition. On our second trip, Atlas 02 bumped into the wall and started climbing up. Unfortunately this unintended maneuver caused a set screw to become dislodged. We have since replaced that set screw and are now eager to try for Round 2. This is a pretty big setback but we’ve learned a lot from this ordeal. We’ve learned a lot from our setbacks from 2011 and we came back strong. Now we’re going to come back even stronger for round 2.
Additionally, we’re still printing out 3D objects on our Makerbot Thing-o-Matics. Drop by our lunapit if you’re interested in seeing how they work and check out our robot while you’re at it. We’ve been giving out scale models of the orbiter shuttles as well as empire state buildings, flowers and Tardis engines from Doctor Who. We’ve also given out a couple of statue of liberties and complete shuttle with fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. These prints take longer to print so they are quite rare at this competition as we’re trying to give everyone a demonstration of what 3D printers do and how we used them for our robot and how they may be used in the future. On top of these prints, we’ve also collaborated with Arizona State University and printed out a coupler from them. The material is ABS plastic so please keep in mind that they may not be able to take as much force as metal can but if you expect lighter load tasks, we’d be glad to print our objects for your team!
We’ve been printing non-stop since we’ve gotten here. We’ve printed out some miniature shuttles being handed out to all the teams. Again, we’re offering to print out parts for any teams that need custom parts. So far we’ve gotten one team (Chico State Engineering, CSU) who’s asked for parts to be printed. We’re offering to print out other stuff too but parts for robots are taking priority. Everything is printed in bright green so its easily visible and its one of our school colors (Green and Purple).
Our robot’s covered with dust covers on every nook and cranny with additional silicone added just in case. It adds a little bit of weight to the robot but we make up with it with full dust protection. Our robot had already passed communications testing but we’ve hit a bit of a snag where when we swapped out our DC motor for a more powerful brushless DC motor, the motor burned out. We’re also adding additional features to better aid our communication and working out new strategies for our robot. We’re still working on adding these additional features and swapping our motor but everything else is GOOD TO GO!! Good luck to all teams and we’ll see you at the competition tomorrow!
We recently reached out once again to Christa McAuliffe Middle School (Public School #187) in Brooklyn, NY. We were conducting the Dynamo lab we previously posted about, this time with a different class. We finally got the photo release forms approved so we could take pictures and videos. This time, the kids managed to expand the lesson further than we planned. Originally aimed at just demonstration generating electricity and the conservation of energy, the students went further than that and added series and parallel connections of the LED’s to the circuit which led us to go further into electrical circuits and how series and parallel circuits behave. Here’s pictures of the kids in action:
After almost a whole year of researching, designing, construction and testing, we’ve made it to Florida for the 2012 Lunabotics Mining Competition. Half our team left Saturday morning and arrived this morning with Atlas 02 sitting in the trunk along with all of our tools and some spare parts. The other half came in this afternoon arriving by plane. We’re now in the process of unpacking and testing our robot to make sure everything arrived intact and operation. In the meantime, we’d like to tell all teams that we’ve brought our two Makerbot Thing-o-matic printers with us and if you need custom plastic parts rapidly prototyped, we’d be glad to help you out! Here’s some details on what we need from you to make the parts you need!
Modeling: We use Solidworks for all of our 3D modeling. The file we need to make parts is an .STL file which is very common format for a lot of 3D modeling/CAD tools. If you can model something that will export the model as an .STL file, we can print it for you.
There is a size restriction to what we can print in one go. Generally, anything that can fit into a 4.5″ cube can be printed.
Overhangs: The plastic as it gets extruded is still very hot and will droop if there is no material beneath it. From experience, it is safe to print anything at a 45 degree overhang from the vertical axis. Any larger and the plastic is likely to droop. However, you can get away with 90 degree overhangs if its small enough. The plastic will form a “bridge” instead. So if lets say you have a section of the part that has no material below it but that section is less than 1/4 inch long, then your part will be fine.
Strength: The material we use is ABS plastic. On top of that, objects are printed in layers so the objects will be much easier to break along the layers than perpendicular to the layers. Also, we can alter the solidity of your objects even if you design them to be solid. The program we use is ReplicatorG (its open source!!). When a solid object is imported, the object can still be printed such that it uses a honeycomb structure saving a lot of time to print and it uses less plastic so it will be lighter. So for example, our printed dust covers are only 50% solid but our buckets are completely solid.
And that’s about all that you need to know to get started! Come visit our robot and lunapit and we’ll give you a demonstration on how it works! Send files to be printed to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, your team name and school, and what the object you are printing is. The more information you give us, the better! So if your looking to make a custom electronics case, that probably won’t need to be solid but if you’re looking for something that will need to hold some force, we’ll make it solid.
We’ll do our best to meet everyone’s needs! We’re working on a first come first serve basis! Our buckets (measuring 9 inches long, 4 inches wide and 4 inches tall are printed in multiple pieces and come out to take 10 hours to print the whole object. Our dust covers (4 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1 inch tall) take about 1 hour and 30 minutes just to give you an idea how long it takes to print them