Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Week 15

In the past week, my team and I prepared for our last presentation of the semester where various people attended our presentations throughout the day. My family came out to support me during my team's presentation and I felt pretty good about the presentation that I executed. The night before the presentation, I rehearsed my lines well and made sure that I covered each point of the presentation well.

Besides the presentation, my team and I also needed to prepare our final report for our project where our documentation must be fully detailed so that other teams that continue this project can pick up where our team left off and continue without trying to determine what needs to be done. I am in the process of writing up some sections that were assigned to me by Chris and also proofreading the code so that it is readable and "clean" for future teams to look at. I am aiming to apply common programming practices to our code as well as fully commenting our code with detail so that it is clear what each function or each section of the code does with respect to the full length of the code.

There is not much time to test anything else for our project and our full attention has been focused on writing up the report. Maker Faire is coming up this week and our project is ready to be showcased in San Mateo. I am hoping that the podcars run smoothly on the track with less problems than what we had experienced at Paseo in April. We are on the last stretch of this project and we must aim to leave a well documented report as well as an improved controls system compared to the last team that worked on this aspect of the Superway project.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Week 14

In the past week, I have begun to create a library for one of the electronic components that is wired to the Arduino Mega. Since I was a beginner at writing my own library, I began with the most simple component that we are using in our controls system, the RGB LED. Initially, I struggled to get the library working and I looked at a few Youtube videos to see how a library is created. After a few attempts at making the library work in the Arduino environment, I was able to successfully make it work and thus I was able to turn on the LED using the library I created. The only problem I encountered that I am unable to fix at the moment is that I was not able to make the LED blink using the library. Fortunately, the mobile app team will provide me with some assistance in making the LED blink using the library. I also attempted to create a library for our two ultrasonic sensors that are used for collision detection. Since the podcar that I took to test out the libraries that I created only has one ultrasonic sensor, I was unable to test out the library and I would have to wait until I am in the shop again.

I have also begun to prepare for our last team presentation of the semester that is coming up this coming week. I have begun to prepare my slides and formulate my thoughts so that when my team and I rehearse, I will be prepared and will be able to make some adjustments if needed. We also have the final report coming up but that is not due until the following week so I still have time to contribute to the report. During the coming week, my team and I will be rehearsing for our final presentation where my family will be attending our presentation and I will also try to create more libraries as well as writing up the final report and the individual evaluations.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Week 13

During the past week, my team and I have not really done much since most of the work that needs to be done involves the mobile app. We do have some work that the app team wants us to such as cleaning up the code for readability purposes and to also condense the length of the current code so that future teams can easily read it and it will also allow to remove the lag experienced in the code through the podcar.

In the length of the week, I looked at examples of how to create a header file and a C++ file that would make up a custom library. I looked at the Arduino website while simultaneously looking at Youtube videos to see if anyone had done. Fortunately, there were people who have accomplished this before and I was glad to finally learn how to create a library both in the Arduino environment and using the ChIDE that most ME students might have used in their ME 30 class. Basically, a header file and a C++ file must have a file of their own and included under one folder in the main library folder of the Arduino IDE. This was a problem I kept experiencing while attempting to follow the example in the Arduino website. I still have to learn how to convert our functions and apply what I learned in that example to one of functions. Once one function has been converted into a library, the rest of the functions should be easy to do.

In the coming week, I am planning to convert at least one of our functions into a library so that we can begin condensing our code as well as cleaning up the code to follow standard programming practices. I hope to also help my team with anything else that we still need to do before Maker Faire.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Week 12

This past week, Steven and I were assigned to create header files for our code so that we can simplify the amount of code we have for the project. The goal is to have fewer lines of code as we can so that next year's teams that work on this project will be able to easily understand the code without feeling overwhelmed with a lengthy code. Steven and I decided to split up the number of functions that we need to convert into header files so that we can both work on them together without having just one of us working on it alone and so that we can accomplish this in a timely manner.

I was unable to make much progress into creating a header file because we had a paper due this coming Wednesday but I had done some more research on how to create them. I tried searching for video tutorials because the idea of creating a header file is still vague and I learn best by seeing some examples of how it is done. Steven and I had asked Tim from the mobile app team on how to create them but I became overwhelmed from his explanation since ME students do not have advanced programming skills, much less any knowledge of C++ coding or any other programming language. We basically have to create a .h file and a .cpp file to create a header file or library. These files utilize  the C++ programming language that I am not familiar with and I would have to learn quickly on how to use that language. During the next couple of weeks, I will rapidly try to learn how to create a library, practice on an example sketch, and then move on to converting our functions into libraries. Learning how to create these libraries will require time and patience but it would be an excellent skill to learn as well as advancing my programming knowledge in the Arduino environment.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week 11

In the past week, we completed our second presentation of the Spring 2017 semester. Chris and I were the headline at the beginning of the presentations due to the picture that was posted in the San Jose Mercury News that included Chris and I in it during the Paseo event on April 8th. Our second presentation went well and it allowed us to reflect on the Paseo event so that we could improve the project before Maker Faire. There are some improvements that must be made as well as already keeping in mind what our team will leave behind for next year's team. The merging problem we witnessed at Paseo must be fixed. I am currently working with my team to think up ways to fix this issue. Before adding any extra hardware, we will look into the placement of the current ultrasonic sensor to see if the sensor could be placed in such a way as so it would be able to detect collisions before merging onto the outermost loop of the track.

Our team also started to think about the report and what we could do to simplify the informing process when next year's team takes over. Basically, we want next year's team to struggle less than we did at the beginning of this project at understanding what this project is about and what was done before them. The code from last year's team was lengthy and difficult to understand so this is one objective we have in mind when we leave behind our final updated code. Tim from the mobile app team suggested that we used conventional programming practices in our code as well as creating our own libraries to simplify our code. As of now, we have 1000+ lines of code which could be overwhelming to a newcomer to this project. This is why Steven and I will working in the next couple of weeks to create libraries for our different functions we have created as well as editing our code to follow common programming practices we were taught in past courses.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Week 10

During the past week, my team and I were engaged in testing our controls system on the track along with the software from the mobile app team and the positioning team. Unfortunately, we did not have that much time as we wanted to test on a complete track and some fixes need to be made to ensure smooth operation of the podcars on the track. Our team also participated in our first big event which was the Paseo Prototyping Challenge this past Saturday April 8th. Chris and I made the San Jose Mercury News paper. I was surprised to see a photo of us on the paper but it was a great experience. While at the event, we saw some issues that need to be fixed. We experienced issues with spacing on the track where the podcar slowed down at some locations because of tight spots. Some of the brackets used to house the hall effect sensors kept getting caught on the corrugated metal strip. We also experienced issues with some of the brackets since the hall effect sensors would sometimes miss a reading of a magnet and thus switching of the lever arms did not occur. It was most unfortunate that the software of the app team and the positioning team did not function as it was expected due to not enough time for testing. We also had to constantly supervise the podcars as they were moving around the track to avoid collisions when the podcars merged paths around the outer and inner loops and at the stations. That is another issue we need to address and fix.

Our presentation was postponed until this coming week since the 1/12th scale team had the Paseo event coming up. Thus, our team and I have also been busy with preparing for our second presentation of the Spring 2017 semester. There are some fixes that need to be done to our final designs and more testing needs to be done to ensure that we meet the deliverables assigned to us at the beginning of the academic year. Our team will also begin to contact Gene Nishinaga to see if we can use his software on our system.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Week 9

This past week was our Spring Break but all of the 1/12th scale subteams met throughout the week to work on the project. My team worked in collaboration with almost all of the subteams but more closely with the mobile app team. I joined my team to test our system on a partially built section of the track throughout the week having success as we tested it. The podcar successfully read the magnets mounted on the track as well as the RFID tags which are crucial to our destination designations as well as to switch the lever arms on the bogie. We ran the podcar at different speeds and we met the same results each time the podcar ran around the loop.

Although we only tested the podcar on a small part of the complete track, there were some concerns that we have addressed to the track team regarding tight spaces along some sections of the track, correct magnet placement, and issues with the bends that caused the podcar to destabilize as it made contact with both of the rails again. My team along with the app team were able to test only two different combinations of station-to-station designation due to only having half of the track to work with. We should be able to have at least four working podcars by Paseo that will be controlled through the app team's software. From the progress we have made during Spring Break and from hearing about the status of last year's teams during the same time of the academic year, I am confident that we will be able to have something to demonstrate at Paseo. I am just worried about the rain we are expecting this weekend which could pose potential problems to the track and all of the electronics we will have this coming Saturday. We have a plan B in case the software decides to work against us but my team and I have full confidence in the app team that they will be able to make our system work with their software. The first big event is coming and we will be ready to demonstrate a working project.