I haven't done a real update to my blog in quite a while so I'm going to give it a shot. I know that I'm forgetting to mention certain things, but hopefully I can fill in the blanks while spilling my guts about some of the other happenings in my life.
On the first Monday after break, I was accepted as an on-floor member of Computer Science House. RIT instates what they call a "roommate freeze" for the first three weeks of every quarter so that incoming students don't just meet their roommate and say, "I hate this person." without knowing them for more than five minutes. I can see how some people are obnoxious enough to cause such a reaction but I think it makes sense to force students to give it a few weeks before making the decision to move. My situation is entirely different, but I didn't really think this was worth fighting. I'd rather just wait it out and move to CSH. That being said, the roommate freeze ended yesterday and I will be getting the keys to my room on CSH tomorrow morning.
Every member of CSH is required to do at least one major project every year. After seeing the gumstix RC car, a lot of other members told me that I should work on a project called Heroine. The goal of Heroine is simple: deliver cans of soda from Big Drink to everybody's room. However, there are some major obstacles to overcome.
- Big Drink cannot be modified in any way to help the robot
- The robot must not inconvenience the members of house aside from tripping them occasionally
- A secondary project, Thwart, has been created to stop Heroine from working. This implies obstacle avoidance
- Any tape or impermanent fixtures applied to the floor probably won't last. Either have some serious error correction or work with the existing environment
- Must be cheap
- Finally, the robot must comply with most RIT policies
I've been working through these problems in my head for a few weeks and have come up with some basic concepts.
I'm planning to use my existing robot as a prototyping platform, this just makes everything cheaper and helps build a case if I need to ask for funding. All of the hardware will be designed first. Software is far more flexible and easier to change, so I'll worry about that later. I'm dividing the platform into two systems that will talk to each other. The first layer is the gumstix that will be used for all of the high level processing and talking to the rest of the world via wifi. The second layer will be a PIC microcontroller that handles all of the motor control and rudimentary sensor reactions (read: steering away from walls). The sensor package will be composed of four IR emitter/detector pairs for collision avoidance, and some sort of photoreactive element mounted on top of the robot; I haven't decided between photodiodes, phototransistors, or CdE cells yet. I will use the photosensor to detect the fluorescent bulbs on the ceiling that are spaced evenly all the way down the hall. Using the lights as waypoints will allow me to get the robot within a meter or so of each door, closer with some calibration. I've ordered the IR emitter/detector pairs and a bunch of PICs that should be delivered today.
I've become addicted to Eve Online once again so I've been spending quite a bit of time running Eve on a second monitor while I do other things. Let me know if you play, perhaps we could go hunting pirates sometime.
Over the coming weekend, I'll be in Las Vegas for my dad's wedding. He's doing one of the geekiest things possible: getting married at the Star Trek Experience. He's going to be dressed as a Klingon pimp. I am going as a Starfleet Officer. I think I just saw the last of my dignity fly out the window. Now I know how Wil Wheaton felt.
A lot has happened in the last few weeks, and I have a feeling it's only going to get more interesting from here. Cheers.