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I've taken some of the more popular questions emailed to me, modified them so they're anonymous, and posted them and my response below. The idea is that if you have a concern that might not have been addressed yet, this is where you could look first.
Is Carleton planning on providing us with any money? If so, how much? Also, would be receiving the money ahead of time, or will it be afterwards, on a receipt basis?
Carleton will probably not provide you with any money, but the Department of Electronics will be providing you with some equipment. The WWW course is a go, and will be taught by Virtual Ventures staff on the 18th of September. I encourage everyone to attend, as the tutorial will include handouts and other material that will make creating a webpage much easier than attempting it on your own.
Is there going to be set meetings with you (i.e. once a week) so that we can ask any questions and keep you posted on our progress?
There will be set meetings with me, and they will be once a week. They will have to be scheduled around my thesis work at Nortel, so: Monday-Thursday, after 6PM, anytime from Friday-Sunday. Book your spot soon, because I'll deal them out on a first-come first-served basis.
How can I hand my assignments in? Where should I drop them off if I don't want to email them to you?
You can get your assignments to me in a number of ways:
Because the fourth team member, a mechanical engineering student, won't be joining our team, what are the rules in regards to using pre-built bases? What are the limits towards pre-built motors, wheels, chasses, etc?
Even though the mechanical students won't be participating, and the
groups are three people rather than four, the rules in regards to
pre-built materials remains the same. As detailed in the rules:
How will the robots detect each other? Will they carry a beacon or something?
Yes, although I neglected to mention this in the rules, each robot will use an identical beacon that will be mounted on the highest point of the robot. These beacons will not be allowed to be obscured in any way. This is detailed here.
What will the range of the IR beacons be? Will robots be able to detect each other when they are the maximum possible distance apart (and within line of sight)?
Standard IR emitters and detectors do not have the required range for the size of the arena, and it's important that robots be able to detect each other at any range (when in line of sight). The parts that will be specified for the emitter and detector will be rather specialized, and will work throughout the entire maze. This is detailed here.
Can we have more than one tagging device, assuming we only use one at a time?
If there's no limit in the z-axis for the movement of the tagging device, does that mean I can shine the light from 0 degrees (flat to the floor) all the way to 180 degrees (pointing directly away from the original direction)?
We're examining various ways of locating and identifying the walls, and we want to know for example if the walls will be matte (non-reflective), because we are thinking of perhaps bouncing IR waves off the wall (different frequency from the IR beacons atop the robots of course), but if the walls are painted flat black for example, then our system will be useless. Basically, as much information regarding wall colour, reflectiveness and things like that as you can accurately provide will be tremendously useful.
Well, the walls will be made from standard pressure-treated plywood or something similar. They won't be painted, and I'll try to get stuff that doesn't have a laminate or other coating. From my previous experience with this stuff, it reflects IR light with an intensity loss. IR navigation sensors should work fine.
We are trying to design the mechanical model of our robot, but we
still don't know:
Good question! I don't know any of the answers! The rules specify a maximum beam width at certain distances from the tagging device. I've been thinking about this for a while - it's an interesting specification. I've changed the spec as detailed below.
A low-voltage bulb is required (rather than 110V "line-voltage"), and you will probably want to use a reflector rather than building a tube to surround a naked bulb. With this in mind, the MR-16 and MR-11 bulbs were suggested by a helpful Mechatronics grad from Australia. (Thanks, Thomas!)
Both bulbs are commonly used for cycling at night, and can be ordered
from bike shops in various wattages. The following information is taken
Where the FC is the foot-candle (intensity) at the certain distance, and the FT. DIA. is the diameter (in feet) at a certain distance. It seems as though the MR-16 has a tighter beam width, even though it is a larger lamp. I think the MR-11 is about 25mm wide, and the MR-16 is 51mm.
I think I've done more than enough to answer this question. I've changed the spec to read a maximum beam width of 12" at 6', and 24" at 12' - which should be much more reasonable.
What is the maximum amount of time that a robot will have to play for? We need to know this so that we can plan how to design the power supply. Will we have time between games to switch battery packs if needed? How many games do you think will be played on the contest day? We would also need this info to figure out how many battery packs to bring.
The maximum game length will probably be 5-10 minutes. There will be
ample time to switch battery packs and even modify code between games. A
good estimate of the number of games played on contest day is outlined in
the types of games
section of the specifications, and is as follows:
I can't find the LITEON Infrared Receiver Module anywhere!