Here’s the plan….

Following this year’s contest (in March 2019), we had a team debrief to decide what we could do to improve the performance of PiDrogen in the future.  Here’s what we came up with:

  • We think it would be good to make the robot smaller.  The current robot (“P19”) is only slightly narrower than the rules permit (225mm) and Nathy feels this slowed him down on the obstacle course.  However, we do not want to compromise the obstacle clearing capacity of P19 so we are going to keep P19’s big wheels.
  • We also want to make the robot faster.  Many robots were faster than ours at the competition, although, not all appeared easy to control.  We plan to experiment with different motors and gear ratios to ensure that we can still exercise precise control with increased speed.
  • Whilst looking at speed and control we will probably rework P19’s video control software.  2019’s autonomous competitions were all conducted at 25% motor power, so we’re hoping for some big performance increases.
  • We didn’t do well in Pi-Noon this year; we were knocked out in round two.  We are going to trial the use of mecanum wheels so that P20 (PiDrogen’s evolution for the 2020 competition) can move in any direction and rotate simultaneously.  The hope is that the robot will be able to quickly move around the arena but always face it’s opponent.  This is going to be hard to drive, but Nathan (team PiDrogen’s driver) can fly drones and we will configure P20’s controls like those of a drone.  This requires a motor controller rework since we will need four independent motor control circuits.
  • P19’s RPi and touch screen are mounted on it’s back.  This was done to allow robot configuration and start/stop buttons to be accessible.  This turned out not to work well as some widgets in Tkinter cannot be resized and are therefore are too small to use with sausage fingers on a 4”screen. This location makes the RPi vulnerable so P20 will have the RPi within it’s hull.
  • Since the touch screen will be removed, configuration will take place via a WiFi connection with a wired ethernet backup.  We think we might build a USB connected screen with a few buttons to provide start/stop/game select/status feedback type functionality.
  • Finally, we have some plans to improve P19’s Nerf gun (which is too big and not accurate enough). We are going to try reducing the size of some of the components and mounting the laser sighting module with thumb screws to permit delicate adjustment.  We are going to try reducing the length of the darts and possibly weighting them so that they fly truer.  We are going to try casting new flywheels with built in spirals to spin the darts laterally as they fly, also to make them fly truer.  Lots of experiments will be needed on this and we need to find a way to measure the accuracy of the gun in an objective way.

Should be ready Monday week then…

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