Friday, October 29, 2010

Morse code and the great candy grab

Morse Code (ME-84: Assignment 5)
The task: Use the NXT to send and receive Morse code messages via an LED and a home-made light sensor. I found this much, much trickier than I expected. We were meant to present our projects on a Tuesday. The instructor, Chris Rogers, had boldly claimed that if we could fake it (and get away with it!), then we could get full marks. I did this (much, much more easily than I expected!), and then spent the next three days trying to get it working for real. Along the way I learned lots of new tricks in LabView, including how to use flags and timers to syncronise concurrent tasks, how to use the same subVI in multiple instances/clones (not knowing about this gave me some very weird behaviours), charts (I still don't really get how to work with these though).

In the end though, it finally came together Friday afternoon. In the end I could send and receive arbitrary messages at a rate of just under 10 seconds per character. For example, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” takes about 7 minutes. Not going to break any records, but at least I finally got it working, and can move on to a fresh challenge next week.

Candy Grab (EN-10: Assignment 5)
By a very convenient coincidence, my boys, Mitch and Rohan, had a day off school on the same day that we were doing the Candy Grab challenge in EN-10, the freshman intro to robotics course that I've been sitting in on. The challenge was to create a robot that can push candy out of the circle, without actually leaving the circle. My boys were a bit lucky in how the competition played out, as you can see here...

Preparing for the challenge was very hectic, but a lot of fun, and obviously my boys came away from the day with a very positive memory! It was like stealing candy from a freshman!

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