Entry ID #: 185
Created: Sat, Mar 6, 2010 12:37 AM
As is inevitable on most VEX Robotics teams, Team 254 members have found themselves working on their robots late at night...often without a heater, and never with one in reach. To solve this problem, we thought of the most efficient, user-friendly way to move the heater – and came up with Heaterbot. We planned for Heaterbot to use a holonomic drive. This drive system would let the heater move freely around as well as rotate in place. We also aimed for a central spooling mechanism which could wind the extension cord connecting it to the wall. After talking with the 254A programmer, we determined that we could automate the spooling with a shaft encoder. Under normal circumstances, the spooling motor would pull slowly inwards on the extension cord. If the shaft encoder detected that the cord had stopped spooling, the motor would start to spool outward, loosening the cord. When the robot stopped moving, the motor would stop spooling, and then slowly pull inward again, taking up the slack in the cord. Because we used Autodesk Inventor, we were able to design our entire robot before picking up a single wrench. Autodesk eliminated most of the time we would otherwise waste prototyping with actual pieces – in fact, we were able to construct the entire base without a single issue; all that remained was mounting the heater on top. Some of the features we found useful were the simple orbiting tools, easy mating utilities, and lightweight user interface. But perhaps the most valuable Inventor utility was the rendering tool, which made our design look just like the real thing with ease. Although we were anticipating making a robot solely for the 2010 Digital Prototyping Challenge, we have found Heaterbot to be an incredibly useful asset in our regular build sessions. Because the robot uses so little power, we have hardly ever had to change its 7.2V battery, making it one of the most reliable, worry-free tools in our workshop.