ZAC HELPS OUT ANDREW AND DANEE
WITH SOME PROGRAMMING.
VISITING THE STINGRAY.
THE COSMOS CONTROL BOX.
students were thrown head first into their first
project: a mechanical clock project eerily similar to
the one presented to mechanical engineering
students in MAE 3 at UCSD. The COSMOS
students were expected to design a pendulum and
escapement wheel on AutoCAD, and perform a
timing analysis using the simulation program
Working Model. A tutorial on AutoCAD was on
the menu for the very first day. By the end of our
first session, the students had already designed
fierce looking escapement wheels.
The mechanical clock project is a great introduction to many fundamentals that are critical for
any engineering project. The swinging pendulum is
wonderfully illustrative of conversion from kinetic
energy to potential energy, center of mass, and
moments. Fabricating the clock is also a great
introduction to basic shop tools and the super cool
Lasercamm for rapid prototyping. The clock project
is a fabulous way to practice the most essential
skill in any engineer’s toolbox: creativity. Students
were able to exercise their creativity by designing
their own pendulums. Pendulum designs ranged
from Atlas holding the world, to microphones to
dragons and everything in between.
You Must Be Kessler
CASINO DE GEISEL BY THE JUSTICE LEAGUE.
The first week was spent wrapping up the
mechanical clocks, so that in the second week we
could get started on the main event: kinetic sculptures. Kinetic sculptures, you ask? This is a robotics
magazine, not an art magazine! But these kinetic
sculptures are automated, with a Basic ATOM as a
brain and servo motors for locomotion.
The kinetic sculpture project is a group activity
where teams of 3-4 students can quite literally let
their imaginations run wild. The sculpture is where
the Cluster curriculum diverges from the MAE 3
syllabus, with the sculpture replacing the robot
contest. Taken as a whole, however, the kinetic
sculpture project is quite similar to the robot contest. The requirements of the sculpture are that it
must have several mechanisms that respond to
both sensor input and manual control — much like
a robot. The competitive aspect comes in when
each team tries to make their sculpture
bigger, better, and cooler than the next
The main brain of the kinetic sculpture is the COSMOS controller box. The
controller box uses a Basic ATOM
microcontroller, an LCD screen, and
inputs and outputs for the sensors and
actuators. The sensors used with the
sculptures are optical speed sensors
containing two sets of phototransistors.
The phototransistors can count the
number of passing balls (the bright yellow passengers of the kinetic sculpture
thrill ride) or calculate their speed
based on the distance between the
phototransistors and the time of each
reading. Traditional limited rotation servomotors were used for the actuators.
The skeleton of the kinetic sculp-
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