Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Wednesday 1/19/04

So yeah, things have gotten QUITE busy over the past couple of weeks. Busy to the point where on Monday of this week, I barely left my chair in the MDRC lab for 12 hours! So let’s see if I can summarize what has been happening for the past week or so…

Friday, January 7th 2005:

  • Meeting with Senior Design team. We hammered out every detail we could think of for their equipment to handle controlling the steering, throttle and braking motors. This includes the type of encoders and limit switches we want on each device.
  • Chris looked into US Digital to see what encoders they had and if they could be of use to us (turns out they do have what we need -> more on this below)

Tuesday, January 11th 2005:

  • Met with Dr. Palmer, Dr. Sahin, Prof. Leonard and Terri Stevens. Objective of the meeting was to visually show them all of the hard work we have been putting in to get our systems up and running. My perception of the meeting was that it was very successful and Dr. Palmer and our advisors seemed to be very pleased with the progress we have made.

Thursday, January 13th 2005:

  • Chris, Matt and I went to liberty hill to tear apart the old “black box” control system over ignition, lights, turn signals, etc. Very fun evening of reverse engineering all of the work we did last year on it because of course we didn’t document any of it (said very sarcastically)! Despite the fact that it was a great feeling to have our hypothesis match the actual wiring, I have certainly learned my lesson to document EVERYTHING as we make it!

Friday, January 14th 2005:

  • I believe this was the day we made our first run to Glenwood Sales, for those of you who don’t know this is a EE’s playground! Just about any component you could want, motors everywhere and one heck of a “funny guy” who owns the place! It’s kind of like having DigiKey locally J Anyways, very happy to make the first trip there since last year, I fosee many more trips to come (oh yeah, heck of a lot cheaper than Radio Shack too!)
  • The evening was a rather late one that found Chris and myself in the MDRC lab until about 11 pm (yes and we did start at 9 AM!).
  • I was able to breadboard out a circuit that will drive both automotive and 12V/10A relays. This circuit will be used to drive the ignition, lights and turning on the car
  • Before the night was out, Chris and I were able to have the OOPIC firing the relays reliably… yea!

Sunday, January 15th 2005:

  • I made a run to Radio Shack for two project boxes (I know, it’s one of the few things Glenwood doesn’t have… tear) so I could start getting the measurements for the Ignition and Gear Shift Printed Circuit Boards (PCB). Started to do the layout and realized it was rather late (about 2 am) and decided to tackle it on Monday.

Monday, January 16th 2005:

  • Ah my favorite day thus far! This is the day I alluded to earlier -- not moving from the same seat for 12 hours! I thoroughly enjoyed it though; I spent the whole day looking at red, green and yellow traces making the PCB. It was the first real engineering feat I can stake claim to on this project, so I was quite happy working on it.
  • Placed orders for:
    • DigiKey components
    • Optical Encoders

Tuesday, January 17th 2005:

  • Another wonderful morning run to Glenwood Sales to pickup the remaining cheap components for the PCBs.
  • Met with Darren and Scott from the SD team to discuss a slight change to the bus architecture. Darren noted that it would be much easier for them to communicate over TCP/IP rather than devise a proprietary I2C interface. Initially I was gun-ho about the idea, however, after considering the changes to the architecture I had second thoughts. Nonetheless, Darren, Scott, Chris, Matt and myself were able to devise a solution that keeps the Bus Master functionality and enables the NI equipment to communicate via TCP/IP. We all seemed quite satisfied with the solution of having the NI equipment “emulate” the bus master level ethernuts so that we can preserve the modularity and communication features we have built into the existing ethernut code.
  • I found myself back in the MDRC lab finalizing the PCB layouts; finally done after only about 20 hours of work (which isn’t too bad for two complete board layouts, measuring and creating just about all of the components because they were not pre-existing).
  • Items Ordered:
    • PCBs from Expresspcb.com
    • Attempted to order the camera however they are backorder -> Tay is looking at other options; however, if nothing else comes about I will place the order at the end of the week.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Wednesday 1/5/04

Hours Worked: 10+ hrs

What I Did Today:

  • Contacted egnite Software and ImageCraft in hopes to acquire 3 more Ethernut boards.
  • Had a one-on-one with Leonard discussing the needs of the team to move forward using the Geo. He indicated he may have a motor and various other supplies that we could use.
  • Had a one-on-one with Sahin discussing the topics to bring to Palmer and how we are going to proceed with the Geo
  • Spoke briefly with Scott from the Senior Design team, informed him it is looking like the Geo will be the car we are going with for the video. He seemed to think that only slight modification would need to be done to their systems to work with the geo.
  • We plan to meet with the senior design team the Friday at 11 am to discuss the topic in depth.
  • Tay demoed a preliminary version of his vision software -- very impressive!
  • Spent the better part of the afternoon researching a back-up plan using the OOPICs to control steering, throttle, braking in the event that the senior design team cannot modify their systems. Made good headway and feel that I can work up some preliminary code in a matter of a few hours.
  • Started to contact the list of motor companies who supply the type of motor need for the steering system. Made it through about half of the list and will contact the other half after dinner.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tuesday 1/4/04

Hours Worked: 8 hrs

What I Did Today:

  • Started at 10 am after our long work day yesterday. From 10 am - 2 pm we cleaned and organized the barn. We brought over all of the supplies from the MMET lab and were able to go through them and pitch the useless stuff and organize the important stuff
  • 2 pm - Meeting: Topics
    • Preparation for meeting with Palmer next week. We plan to have a very "visual" presenation with all of the object detection software we have been working on.
    • Discussed what would be needed to use the Geo for the March video to DARPA
    • Leonard traveled to the barn to catch the tail end of the meeting. Made the suggestion to possibly fabricate a "dune buggy" to suit our needs. This is under consideration...
  • Officially made the decision to use the Geo for the video
  • 4 pm - 6 pm: Finished sealing the tarped area
  • Returned home to deal with daily e-mails

Monday, January 03, 2005

Monday 1/3/05

Hours Worked: 13 hrs

What I Did Today:

  • Happy New Year!!! After a very relaxing break, we started back at it with full force!
  • We spent the entire day preparing the barn at Liberty Hill for us to work in during the winter months.
  • We ran a cable system and drapped tarps over them to give us a 24'x30'x14' work space. We were all VERY pleased with the way the area came out.
  • Greg's Dad also traveled from Maryland to bring and help install a massive heater to keep us warm out there.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Thursday 12/16/04

Hours Worked: 8 hrs

What I Did Today:

  • Finished revisions to Contact Information page and Sponsor Newsletter in the sponsorship packet.
  • Spoke with Dr. Palmer in regards to locating a vehicle
  • Called each local dealership that had a potential vehicle to inquire if their particular vehicle had the AdvancedTrac system on board.
  • One dealer turned up a viable option and suggested we schedule a meeting to discuss the project and the vehicle.
  • Booked in on down there and were very politely rejected :-(

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Wednesday 12/15/04

Hours Worked: 9 hrs

What I Did Today:

  • Drafted and finalized a cover letter for Erie Ins. Entire packet will be sent out by Friday.
  • Replied to sponsor e-mails
  • Attempted to secure a GPS unit for donation from two companies. Unfortunatley, the first one is going to cost $74K which is not an option at this point. The second I am still waiting to hear back from.
  • Started massive revision of documents in sponsorship packet

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Tuesday 12/14/04

Hours Worked: 8 hrs

What I Did Today (One of my most productive days!!!):

  • Drafted and finalized a cover letter for Hertz.
  • Made major revisions to the Project Proposal
  • Drove over to Hertz to deliver the cover letter and updated project proposal to a man who was quite interest yesterday in the project (we spoke with him when we were out on the dealership run). He said he would be happy to overnight our proposal to Hertz Headquarters with a nice cover letter from him as well. We are hoping for one or more of three things to happen:
    • Donation of Vehicle
    • Cash Donation
    • Use of rental vehicles while in CA
  • Met with Dr. Palmer to discuss the options for where we can get a vehicle. The result of that conversation was very promising!
  • Met with Terri Stevens to discuss a variety of topics.