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Projects Galore

Good music lifts my mood. I’m glad I decided to pull out the iPod and listen to some of my good music – I’ve been missing my music since Davis still has my firewire cable. Now its back, and I’m glad. As the title of this post sugests, I have many projects going on right now. I thought I would give an update on them.

Tim’s Senior Porject Combat Robot
Today was my first real day working on the combat robot. For the first part of the session, we mostly just played with fire, because the robot’s main weapon is going to be a flamethrower. In order for it to be effective, we want to make it more like a blow torch, so after trying some venturis that Larry suggested, I drew on my paintball experience to create a positive pressure air feed system. The muffin fan we tried the first time didn’t work so well, and the compressed air was way too powerful, but the FIRST robot’s compressor with a tube into which the fuel was fed about 3/4 of the tube length away from the end seemed to work very well for a strong blow torch effect. Feeling successful but hungry, we went to eat, and then returned to think about and work on the drive train. Now much work got done, but Tim and I figured out the main chasis (just a 2″x4″ thick wall aluminum tube down the center, to which the drivetrain will be bolted). The details will come.

New Desktop Computer
I purchased from Tim an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, and now all I need to to is buy the rest of the computer to put around it. I wanted to go to Fry’s today, but it looks like that’ll be a trip for tomorrow after work.

Work is going well. I go in early all week, so I have to get to bed real soon here. Going in early, of course, means getting out early as well, so I have lots of daylight to have fun by, for example, shopping at Fry’s. All the non-disclosure agreements I signed means I can’t yet tell you much about what I’m doing, since its all propreitary information not yet released to the public. But I should be writing up some troubleshooting guide for the Flic Wireless barcode scanner that will eventually become public, so maybe I can post that info at some point. But don’t hold your breath.
Moving over to oasis-as-server running Gentoo is more or less stalled right now. Its amazing how much something working well enough is an incentive to not change things. Despite being on the backburner, however, this one is still on the list. Currently, Apache, MySQL, and PHP are all installed. I still need to get the Apache logs parsed out to the proper domain directories, and set up secure email, ftp, and web servers, get web mail working, and set up a secure VPN with a Samba server for long-distance file sharing for windows (for my mp3 collection remotely, primarily). If you would like to help with the project, let me know.

DARPA Grand Challenge 2006
This is a very long-term goal right now. The first step is the SRA’s (Seattle Robotics Association, formerly SRSoceity) Mini Grand Challenge, which will involve navigating to orange cones located around the Seattle Center sometime later this year. In order to prove my concept of machine vision’s ability to find orange objects to naysaying Bob, we took some pictures of an Orange shirt of mine in various lighting conditions from way overexposed to way dark. In all cases except one (where the shirt was mostly black it was so underexposed), my machine vision technique (really just a photoshop action script) worked. I think using a regular digital camera and algorithms like photoshop’s, it should be fairly easy to navigate towards orange objects in a variety of lighting conditions.
Also, I got the names of people from Subaru, VW, and GMC from Mr. Chaplin, so now I need to put together a two-year plan that describes how the $1,000,000 I will be asking them for will be used to win the Grand Challenge with one of their vehicles (modified for drive by wire and for travelling in desert terrain, of course).

Laptop questions
I like my old laptop better than my current laptop. The only reason I use my current laptop is that its techincally faster. But I think I will be trading back. This laptop needs a reinstall from scratch anyway, so I will trade it for the one my mom is now using, which is the one I liked better anyway. And Mobius (the old laptop) has a serial port for programming robots as well. And 2400+ Athlon’s are still really fast, just not quite a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4. But I like how Mobius is lighter weight and better balanced and goes to sleep properly and… Well, I just like it better!

Those are all I can think of right now, but I bet there are more even!

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