the designs that needed some work. How could
jamming be avoided on the linear slide? What
would be a more optimal gear ratio? Finding what
doesn’t work or what could be done better is truly
what motivates good design.
In Cluster 2, we aimed to give the students a
comprehensive exposure to the world of engineering and robotics, and many other activities provided respites from kinetic sculpting. At a set of outdoor physics activities, we shot bottle rockets,
fired water guns, sling shot water balloons, and
dropped bouncing balls off of the engineering
building. While this might all seem like fun and
games, the inclusion of inclinometers, coefficients
of restitution, and cosines revealed these activities
to be essential reinforcements of engineering fundamentals. Because no matter how advanced the
project or how independent the robot, the fundamentals are always there.
Speaking of advanced robots, one of our vicissitudes was a visit to see the Stingray — UCSD’s
entry for the AUVSI competition. We covered the
AUVSI event in the August ‘06 issue of SERVO. It
challenges teams to build an autonomous underwater robot capable of completing tasks like pipe
inspection and buoy release. The great thing
about visiting the Stingray was that it showed the
COSMOS students the power of engineering; they
got to see how tough and usually dry subjects like
programming can come to life in an exciting way.
It was just the kick-start they needed to wrap up
their kinetic sculptures.
Made Of Star Stuff
At the end of our furious four weeks, all of
the COSMOS students had put together some
amazing sculptures; all with unique themes but
united in the fact that they all presented a commitment to and excitement about the world of robotics and engineering.
Team 1 was the Justice League, comprised of
Danee, Amara, Robert, and Andrew. They took a
gamble when they created the Casino de Geisel,
complete with a roulette wheel, pachinko machine,
and moving basketball hoop. One of their biggest
challenges was perfecting the basketball hoop
which moved vertically up and down to catch the
balls. It was a perfect linear slide problem, and the
Justice League saved the day by customizing some
long bearings and by rigging up their lift to apply
the upward force as evenly as possible.
Team 2 was the Boyz In Da Hood and
included Trevor, Jonah, Amaraj, and Jonathan.
They invited us to the death-defying Cirque Du
Geisel (Dr. Seuss would be proud). This circus
included heart-stopping jumps powered by two
THE CUSTOM MECHANISM FOR TEAM 6’S CATCHING BASKET.
non-geared motors. The Boyz had tested out the
non-geared motors in their mini-sculpture, and to
do so they used the MotoMaster Motor Controller
normally reserved for the MAE 156A students.
They were even able to work out a program
that allowed them to randomize the speed of
the motors, just in case the jumps were not yet
Team 3 was Blue Steel, made up of Amaris,
Christine, Aaron, and Rafael. They took on the
incredibly ambitious task of building a sculpture
that could “learn.” Blue Steel’s build was truly a
compelling case study on optimization, which is
certainly an important concept in any field of engineering and the focus of the MAE 156A safe-cracking robot. The basic structure of their sculpture was deceptively simple – a nice slope comprised of flexible track pieces. The slope took a
hairpin turn at the end, which then funneled balls
back to the carrier. A servomotor was situated at
the bottom of the slope with an arm that could
pull back and forth so that it could increase or
decrease the tension in the track and change its
THE SCULPTURE FROM THE TEAM TOO
NINJA FOR A NAME (TEAM 6).
SERVO 01.2010 75