During a half term break, from 14th to 25th of February, I spent some time working on my robotics project. A Maker Faire is coming up in a month, so I was approved to bring a soldering iron and other electrical materials with me to work at home. My project is to build a self balancing robot that I followed a tutorial on web.
I tested gyroscope MPU6050 with Arduino Pro Mini and it took me a while figuring out how to download program. I was very EXCITED when it was time to solder components to PCB board. I followed tutorial how to solder pins with wire and when I try; it was very ugly, but if I was doing that again the PCB board would be so beautiful like a rose. After completing with soldering, I didn’t want to test my PCB masterpiece with the battery yet until when I get back to school; I needed to check my circuit with voltage meter, otherwise, the circuit might go in smoke when connecting to the battery. Other than electrical work, I also completed with assembling robot body and parts. I found out that the super glue 502 actually well bonded with acrylic boards. So fun to work on this.
A highlight from this was to see my father and my cousin impression on this project. My cousin said, “How come this robot can stand on two wheel?” I explained him how gyroscope would cooperate with the stepper motors. I could tell his interest in this because every day he came to check what I’ve done.
Previously, my Dinosaur Exploration had suspected figures like dinosaur footprints at Battambang Province, though we couldn’t verify them as dinosaur footprint a 100 percent. Therefore, we invited two Thai paleontologists to validate on the footprints based on their background in biology and geology.
We were all thrilled about these footprints. If these footprints are agreed by experts to be dinosaur footprint, it would be the first dinosaur footprint ever found in Cambodia. Unfortunately, one of the paleontologists was convinced that they are not dinosaur footprint, they are flute casts, it was caused by the river flow and small rock on the bed. We were really disappointed; however, I think it is what most scientists experience during their discovery.
As a project-based learning school, Liger opens opportunities for students to explore in STEM. As part of that, robotics is one of them. For myself, I enjoy building robots since Liger introduced Lego robotics four years ago. Last year, 2017, I moved to a more advanced robotics calls, VEX, and joined its competition in Taiwan. No surprise, this year I was given another opportunity to be on Liger team to compete in VEX competition again but at Thailand.
What my team has learned from the 2017 competition we applied to our strategy this year. Some of the strategies we have observed from other teams were that they use aluminum instead of steels, two batteries instead of one and Omni wheels instead of standard wheels. One strategy we heard from a team is that design in computer software before it assembles the robot.
Because I had experience from the previous competition, I had to give support to freshmen and freshwomen that were given for this robotics opportunity as well. Liger has two teams. I was in the male team calls Botjisu, and a female team calls Beta-B. A lot of time, people that were new to robotics were struggling in both programming and mechanic; thus, I gave them advice and techniques, especially how they assembly pieces together.
Our team aimed for the champion for this competition. Because we have enough materials we decided to make five mechanisms on our robot to be capable of doing all the tasks. Our robot was huge and heavy. During the testing at our Lab, our robot worked well. Though, sometimes the wheel motors became stalling (overheat) even when driving the robot on a smooth surface. We don’t want it to be stall during our competition.
After giving up the time to make this robot be alive for the competition, finally, the day had come. I had hope that our robot will succeed. A lot of people was amazed by how cool it looks and its ability to do many tasks. Unfortunately, our robot became stalling on the battlefield in a couple matches, even when the robot was moving, it moved slowly. This issue putting our team below the chart. We made a tough decision at the last minute to remove three mechanisms away to reduce its load, though we gave up two matches to have time removing the parts away. We made the right decision, in our last qualifying matches, our robot became a hero. It was so fast that it could score so many points for our team and allies-team. The moment was the most exciting for us. For the final tournament, we allied with two other teams. We crushed first couple games, but sadly on our semifinal game, the scores were so close. Our competitor team won. Even though we didn’t win anything, however, we won our heart to work as a team. This competition made me understand, “Keep it simple” mean. A simple robot could be a champion.
I couldn’t really describe how much I was proud of my team that we made till the semi-final!