Archive for October, 2005

CajunBot Completes 5th NQE Run

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

CajunBot completed it’s 5th run on the NQE track today! Congrats to Team CajunBot team.– Mike Spears

Name of the wise man of the team

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Fontana, CA – We have on our team a wise man literally from the jungles of Africa. He grew up in Nigeria, and tells us stories about monstrous snakes, large birds that can carry kids unless their head is painted red, and wonders how a gazelle that has never seen a lion is scared of a tiger.The wise man keeps the team calm in times of stress. Today while waiting for our turn to make a run, he was keeping the team engaged with his stories. He helped the team redirect the thoughts by revealing his name, by that I mean his full, complete, unabridged name:

Oghenedaro Ovesiri Adanoritsewo Eghaogharawangha

The team has been busy trying to pronounce his name the way he does, and challenging each other to memorize his name.

– Arun Lakhotia

Decisive day today, one set of team already selected

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Fontana, CA – Today will be the decisive day for who makes it to the finals. DARPA has split the teams into three groups. The first set consists of 10 teams that have completed at least two of four runs. The second set consists of 18 teams that have completed the run once, and the third set is the remaining 15 teams who have not completed yet completed a run.

The first set of teams appear to be selected for the finals. They will not be making any runs today.

The second set of teams, which contains Team CajunBot, will run the same track. It appears that these teams are now competing for the remaining ten slots. The one run we missed, Run #3, due to broken transmission was expensive. But we are glad to have made a come back.

So far in every run, except #3, we have been amongst the top 20 performers. So the odds are in our favor. But its a very competitive field. Every team has made significant jumps. So it is going to be a very close call.

– Arun Lakhotia

Qualifying run #4 completed, finally

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Fontana, CA – CajunBot completed the fourth qualifying run today. The run was at around 11:00am, the transmission work was completed around 9:00am, leaving enough time to tune the software for the new transmission and bringing CB to the starting gate at 10:30am.Sometime soon I will write about all that was done to get CB back into operation. Its been a roller-coaster ride. The team is very upbeat.

Check out the video gallery.

– Arun Lakhotia

Transmission fails on way to qualifying run, repaired over night

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Parking Lot, Residence Inn Ontario Airport: Time warped on me. Not too long back CB was on the way to third-qualifying run. Now we are in the parking lot of our hotel, with CB and our mobile workshop.All was going well yesterday afternoon with CB was on its way to the third qualifying run. I was in the garage picking up things when radio crackled “CajunBot has mechanical failure.” I look outside at the track, and it sure did not look good.

CB had failure in transmission. As of the time of writing the transmission has been repaired, actually replaced. We are rushing to tune the control system, so we can be at the track for our 11:00am slot of the fourth qualifying run.

See later journal article describing this episode.

– Arun Lakhotia

Sunday Update

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

Fontana, CA – We had a practice scheduled for 8am so we were out very early to get the bot ready. We had one good hour of practice. The software guys were basically testing the changes they had made since our last qualifying run to make sure that nothing had regressed and to test a cpuple of different fixes they had put in.

Our third qualification run was scheduled for 1:45. At 12:45 our escort arrived and we began to move out to the testing track. On the way to the track Joshua heard a loud pop from the vehicle and was unable to apply brakes to the right hand side wheels after that. With the skid-steer if we have no right brakes we have no steering.

Broken band

Empty engine bay

Engine out

Sunday testing

So after verifying that it was not something minor we made our way back to the pit area. We checked all the obvious stuff and quickly deduced that something in the skid-steer transmission had broken. So the four of us on the team who know anything about mechanics dove in and began to disassemble the drive train in the rear of the bot. Gas tank had to come out, then the engine and finally the transmission. We had never removed the transmission or the engine before. That always got farmed out to the local ATV dealer.

Once it was out we opened up the transmission and discovered that one of the friction bands had broken. Not much to do about that. Arun contacted the ATV dealer we had procured the chain from earlier in the week and arranged for us to drive down to San Diego to get spare parts. Adam is on his way there now. My understanding is that he is going to pick up an entire ATV and we will take the transmission from that vehicle.

So we are waiting for him to return which I expect to be around 7pm. I think they are going to kick us out of the pits at 10. Should be interesting.

– Patrick Landry

Successful practice runs, getting ready for third qualifying run

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

Fontana, CA – The practice run at 8:00am went off well. The only difficult part was getting people out of the bad early, especially on Sundays. But then most people have lost track of days. Except for Patrick, no one remembers its Sunday. Patrick has gone to church to pray for all of us.Our third qualifying run is scheduled early afternoon today. It could be as early as 1:30pm.

– Arun Lakhotia

Three McGyvers create sensor mounts

Saturday, October 1st, 2005

Fontana, CA – We have long wanted to mount two more laser sensors on CB. The Three McGyvers, Adrian, Joshua, and Murali, ripped apart a plate we had fabricated to mount generator and created mounts for the sensors. The generator mount was no longer needed for it was designed for mounting two generators and we have decided to go with just one.CB currently has three laser sensors, all mounted in the front, looking forward. Pablo and Amit have been wanting two more sensors, one on each side, mounted sideways. With no significant mechanical problems to tinker with, the Three McGyvers took on the project to build the mounts.

Generator mount scavenged. Murali and Joshua making mounts Murali and Adrian happy at work The Three McGyvers

The three have setup a workshop on the flat bed pickup truck contributed by MedExpress. I ran into them while they were ripping metal. Adrian made sure I knew he was working, and not just hanging around Joshua. In my journal on the chain problem, I was going ga-ga about Joshua. Adrian made sure I knew that Joshua’s skinny fingers could not have opened the bolt to loosen the sprocket.

The additional laser sensors are not critical to have. So far we are doing just fine with using only two. We have one extra already mounted, should we find the need for additional sensor data. With no other emergency to attend to, thankfully, they McGyvers have built these just in case we may need the additional lasers.

– Arun Lakhotia

Successful practice runs, no qualifying run

Saturday, October 1st, 2005

Fontana, CA – The day started with a practice run at 8:00am. But we did not have any qualifying run today. The practice runs went off well. We made good use of the 60 minutes allocated to us, going through our tests like clockwork. The three amigos, Pablo, Suresh, and Amit, had made some changes to address two problems identified by yesterday’s run. We were able to test those changes, and the tests were succesful.Tomorrow again starts with a practice run early in the morning. There is a high likelihood we will have our third qualifying run in the evening tomorrow.

DARPA changes the track for every run. For the third qualifying run the track is about 1/2 mile longer than previous tracks. The obstacles have been moved around, to prevent people from using data collected from  previous runs. The track has also been changed so that the most of the difficult obstacles come before the speed track. Which means the hay stack and the tunnel comes early in the game now.

– Arun Lakhotia