Bot update: progress and obstacles


This week I’ve done more work on my robot. It looks a little different from the robot of my previous post

Progress since March 5:

  • Map has been mounted
  • More precise coordinates have been entered for each location
  • A distance calculator has been created
  • A dialogue has been created which is activated when the user completes a round trip
  • A presentation-mode display has been created
  • Hooked up the buttons to be triggered by arrow keys as well as clicks


Setbacks and possible solutions:

  • The map needs to be mounted more securely. I will probably mount it using spray glue.
  • The magnet spins as it travels (resulting in a “trippy ship”!). I will try attaching a smaller magnet on top to keep the ship upright.
  • The magnet isn’t dragged to the full reach of the map (which is why I need to help it along when it goes to the Far East). I am considering attaching two more stepper motors to the other corners to make the ship’s travel precise.
  • The foam core is not held properly within the frame. It falls out very easily. I need to clamp  it there somehow.
  • I want Max to wait for the ship to reach its destination on the map before it presents you with your next set of options.

The most pressing concern that I have at this point is the fact that the robot and the program are not integrated well in this exhibit. Apart from contributing a sense of space, the robot seems like an add-on, and the program runs perfectly well without it. This is the solution that I’ve come up with.

  • Do not include pictures/video as in the original idea. Hide the computer. It no longer becomes part of the user interface.
  • Have LED lights inserted at each location so that they illuminate your choices of where to go next.
  • Create some sort of controller – perhaps a ship’s steering wheel? – that is used to make choices for the cardinal directions.
  • Have speakers announce the historical information associated with each location, or have a small display show it (or both).

It’s a lot of work to be done between now and the end of the semester. But if I’ve learned one thing during my year at Western it’s that complicated technical challenges are nothing to be afraid of. I look forward to seeing how my robot changes by the time I post my next update!


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