Piwars 3.0 Deadline Looms

28th Mar 2017

The final few days are here!

Obviously all competitors will have completely finished their robots and will have dialed in the settings to perfectly tune each task to run a peak performance….yer right.

Last year we ran so close to the deadline that we were not just tweaking challenge code on the competition day, we were completely writing some challenges from scratch. This year we made a conscious effort to start early so that wouldn’t be required. So far that hasn’t gone exactly to plan. We started early, for sure, but got bogged down in the details and minutia that little things like getting a robot driving early on and thus allow for driving practice seemed to fall by the wayside.

In fairness, last year we went all out in the last 2 weeks. So much so that it caused a few “issues” with home lives, requiring the use of many, many ‘browny points’. This year has been a definite improvement. So far we have managed to not need the last mad dash effort, but it’s going to be close still.

We have made the strip board version of the breadboard electronics. It’s pretty simple as it is mostly just I2C pins with a small amount of magic components that make our lovely laser sensors work beautifully. The soldered board being significantly smaller than the breadboard, which will make the bot a little neater.

We’ve been playing with LED’s. This was one simple test to make TITO2 “shine” above the rest. As it’s not part of the basic challenge, we’ve left it a little late. However, Brian has come up with some “bright” ideas…really sorry, could’t resist.

Over the last few days/hours we have got the line following sensor working and mostly coded up to work. Big improvement from last year as we wrote that challenge off near the end. It’s taken quite some research to get a sensor that can read the laminated sample provided. With some testing, playing, research and purchasing power, we now have a sensor board that, although doesn’t work directly with the Raspberry Pi, does via an arduino nano. It’s a bit annoying as if it wasn’t for this, the only real electronic device other than ESC’s was the Pi Zero W. But, it’s only on the sensor mount, and the sensor was a bit of a pain to get information/code samples from the manufacturer that I’m still classing it as a win. I should stress, although the sensor picks up the printed line on the vinyl print, the readings are much closer to white than the black electrical tape readings. It may still prove in tougher testing to be less reliable.

Anyway, I hope you all are progressing well. There maybe one or two more posts before the deadline, depending on time, energy and sleep requirements.