Team Kasa Jizo - Using various online programs to build an optimized soccer robot

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Abstract:

For this project, Team Kasa Jizo tried creating a functional, light robot for the Robocup Junior soccer robotics competition. We did so using CAD models, as well as the purchase of many light parts to cut back on weight, as well as functional parts to ensure our robot had optimal sensing capabilities. We encountered many problems along the way with learning new software and hardware skills, which eventually led to us not having a fully functional robot on the day of the competition. We are currently in the process of making a new robot using our newfound knowledge of CAD design, electrical design through Eagle as well as coding with a Teensy microcontroller instead of the Arduino we used last time.

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Research Plan:

Methodology:

1) Conduct online research through various websites to choose the best parts to buy for the robot, whether they be the lightest parts available, the most cost efficient, or produce the simplest data for our code to process (i.e. line sensors, infrared ball sensors, compass sensors, motors, wheels, LiPo batteries, microcontrollers, buck/boost converters and various electronic parts)

2) Create a 3D CAD model for the robot through an online program called Onshape.com, with the goal of making it as light as possible while still being able to fit every part that was bought. 

3) Print out the 3D CAD model and assemble the robot so that no part is exposed (see "Potential Safety Hazards") and everything is safely secured by screws. 

4) Write the code for the robot so that it can identify the ball and move towards it while staying outside the boundaries of the field at the same time. Optimizations to the code can be made so that it can avoid other robots and orient itself so that it can consistently grasp the ball in its dribbler. 

Potential Safety Hazards:

1) If parts are exposed, they can get caught in another robot's parts and break off the robot, which can cause bare electrical wires to be exposed. 

2) If too much power is applied to the microcontroller or motor, they might get fried or even set on fire, rendering them unusable. 

Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

The major objective of this project was to build a functioning robot for the Robocup competition while trying to optimize in certain ways such as buying cheaper and lighter parts to stay within a budget and weight limit. 

       a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?  

This goal is still the main goal of the entire Princeton Soccer Robotics team, as there are always ways to make the robot more optimal, whether that means redesigning certain CAD models or buying parts that work more efficiently with a given electricity. 

       b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?

We were trying to solve the problem of building a fully functional autonomous robot on our own for the Robocup competition. 

2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

       a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.

Marwan El Youssoufi: Team Captain, main coder and works on buying and assembling electrical components, as well as building and giving design guidance for the robot. 

Matthew Livingston: Wrote the majority of this project, assisted Oliver with certain CAD models for the robot and assisting Marwan with electrical components.

Oliver Cai: Did most of the CAD models for the robot such as the chassis and motor holders.

Daniel Portalski: Assisted Marwan with coding the robot and purchasing various sensors and other parts. 

3. What is new or novel about your project?

The main uniqueness of this project is that our robot is very individualized because many design choices were made on what parts we needed to add or remove so that our robot remained within the weight limit. The main example of this was when we decided to include a dribbler for our robot instead of a kicker, since we found that we were having lots of problems with keeping the ball in our robot's grasp, and decided to sacrifice our kicker so that we had an easier time keeping the ball in close proximity of our robots. 

       a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

The concept of building a soccer robot was completely new for every member of the team, so even though we implemented many previously documented designs, it was a new thing to achieve. 

       b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

Our wiring methods and ways of implementing a dribbler were very unique for better or for worse, as we had many ball sensors around the robot that were all connected through wiring (which proved difficult for us to implement despite the fact that previous teams had done it in the past), and we used a LEGO wheel for the dribbler, which has not been done before. 

       c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?

We haven't done too many unique things with this robot besides our way of implementing the dribbler, however for our new robot we will use clamping motor mounts which aren't frequently created from scratch. 

4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

The many issues came with learning something entirely new (whether that be Onshape for CADing, Eagle for PCB design, or the Arduino IDE for programming) which caused us to have uneven progress and left us without a functioning robot for the competition. 

      a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

The main problem we had was that our code was too complex, so too many signals were sent to the motor driver, which usually resulted in our motor driver being unable to respond, causing the robot to stop moving entirely. On the day of the competition, our only Arduino fried, which left us without a functioning robot. We are still in the process of making a new one, however we are still experiencing problems in the form of CAD design as well as implementing our PCB. 

      b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?

We still haven't finished overcoming many of these problems, however we have learned that persisting through tough issues and learning new things will always lead to favorable results. 

5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?

We are currently in the process of designing an entirely new robot separate from our previous, failed one, and we are making sure to keep the wiring a lot cleaner to make the robot easier to navigate and have less chance of shorting, and we are also learning to create optimal CAD for lightness, as our last robot ended up being too heavy. 

6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 

Working on the robot gave us many ideas on things to improve on for our current robot that is still being designed, and in terms of non soccer robotics related projects, this experience has opened us up to many new project ideas such as testing Bluetooth communication between remote objects, which is similar to what high level soccer robots do.