Thursday, November 30, 2006

Last meeting tonight! It's been a long journey, but the end is near. Tomorrow we hit the road to LEGOLAND, ready or not. Tonight we will have our last meeting before the tournament. We will practice our research project, practice the table, tweak some programs and put some finishing touches on everything. We have had a great time and on Saturday we find out how we stack up against the rest of the teams out there.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Less than one week!
We've had a couple really good meetings. On saturday we had some trial runs at the field with a timer and were able to complete most of the tasks we have programmed. Still no program for the probe, but we have something for everything else. We have also worked hard on our project. Yesterday's meeting was a bit of a wash out, with not much to show for it at the end, but there was one significant event. While discussing our project Morgan paused a moment and said "wow, nano technology is going to affect so many aspects of our lives". I knew then that we had accomplished our objective. The kids are learning, they're getting excited about science and technology. And they are having fun (well, most of the time).

We still have a LOT to do this week and we're meeting every night. Come Friday, we have what we have and we're heading to LEGOLAND. Hopefully we'll make some great progress this week. Regardless we'll have a great time and these rookies (yours truly included) are going to see and learn a lot.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

There's light at the end of the tunnel ( that a train?) We've made some significant progress in all areas. Our big to-do list is getting checked off at an alarming rate. We really only one week left for practice, everyone will be on the road next Friday heading for LEGOLAND (so exciting!) Luckily we have a 4 day weekend so we can really make some progress.

Our project is almost ready to go, just need to polish the script and rehearse it, make our presentation board and finish the props. We have most of the table challenges worked out. The fabric and motor challenges are proving tricky just from a reliability standpoint. We could program it very easily if the robot would just go to the same place twice in a row! We haven't even started programming the atom table yet, that one is definately going to seperate the rookies from the pros.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Time is running out. The team is making some real progress now. Every meeting we are scratching things off our big "to-do" board. We have adopted a single challenge strategy. Our first attempts at multiple challenges per program proved to be frustrating. After we have a solid (mostly) program for all the challenges we may go back and try to combine some.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Two weeks left, it's panic time. Yesterday's meeting was good from a learning standpoint. But bad from an accomplishment standpoint. The NXT is not nearly as precise as we had assumed. Just going in a strait line is turning out to be a challenge, to say nothing of repeatability and reliability. The bluetooth continues to plague us. The robot is turning out to be difficult to program. All this while the project makes slow progress and the deadline races toward us!

We're definately going to have to rethink our field strategy. And everyone is going to have to double their efforts if we're going to make it to LEGOLAND with any kind of confidence.

I know we can do it, and I know we can have fun doing it (it's getting hard to remember this is supposed to be fun)

C'mon team, let's get busy!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Our team had another fantastic meeting tonight. We successfully programed our robot to complete the nano cable challenge. You should have heard the cheer as that little truck popped off the table. Great job team, you should all be proud!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

It was a total FLL day here. We got up this morning and rearranged the garage to Nano Quest central. The space is much better, plenty of room to maneuver (moved my wife's car). Our meeting today had a loose start and stop time because several members had sporting events to attend. We made some great progress today though. We made a jig to align our robot, put the finishing touches on the duplicate robot, put the finishing touches on our dummy robot (same dimensions, no motors or NXT) and refit some of our attachments. "Wait a minute, did he say second robot?" Yes indeed, we have a second NXT set now thanks in part to our new sponsor ACECO. Now team members don't have to crowd around one little robot. We also got our feet wet in the area of programming. I must say, the bluetooth connection to the NXT is twitchy at best. I have spent way too much time trying to keep that working. It's a lousy choice, tether the robot with an ungainly USB cable, or struggle in vain with the infuriating bluetooth.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

One Month Left!!!

Things are starting to heat up. With only one month left and so much to do the team is starting to feel the crunch. Tonight we built a dummy chassis (well, most of one) to use for testing purposes. Austin and Morgan did some work on the project as well. We have another longer practice this Sunday, hopefully we can get a lot done.

We would also like to say "Thank you very much!" to our newest sponsor John Lizarraga and Aceco of Lompoc! Their most generous contribution will go to good use and help the team immensely.