Thursday, July 26, 2007

Meeting 009

Today's meeting was a lot of fun, and we accomplished a lot. Once again we had guests (Doug's beautiful wife Nichelle, and his children: Naomi, David, and Isaac (see last meeting's entry for photos)). The kids seemed to have more fun with our two "crash test dummies" (christened by Isaac Buster and Duster), and didn't do too much on the construction.

It was a good thing we had the kids there, though, because everyone but me and Doug cancelled! We’ve never had such a lightly-attended session! Fortunately, we had a great time anyway and made good progress:

  • We enclosed the light sensor and light so that when the sensor tests each candy the ambient light will interfere as little as possible.
  • We used inverted roof bricks to prevent a misalignment of the hopper when it moves underneath the sensor assembly.
  • I put together a first attempt at the “hopper position determiner” (the strip of contrasting tiles that the tram will use to figure out when it’s over a bucket. This will probably be refined next week, but I was very excited to be a) constructing something on my own, and b) using friction connectors. It’s something that’s undoubtedly trivial to those with expertise, but it was new to me and very cool.

During the ensuing week I did a little bit more; I took readings on the "bin marker" track to see if the colors I used (green for the track, yellow for the markers) gave sufficiently different readings that we could use them. It turns out they do:

Color Value in ambient light
Yellow (marker)680
Green (track) 763

I also made a preliminary attempt at creating the program. I had fun with NQC and BrickCC, and I hope to get a chance prior to the next meeting to see if the code is even remotely close to doing what we want -- or doing anything.

One discovery I made is that the lovely track we constructed last week interferes with the pulley for the hopper -- the middle support is just a teensy bit too high. At our next meeting we'll have to see if we can lower it and still get the support for the track that we need.

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