Day Two: Entry into RoboCup

Boots and Cats (day 3ish) – Ryan and Kayla

We woke up today at 7:00am (aka WAY too early) BUT… it was for an all you can eat breakfast, so it was pretty good (especially considering we’re at a hotel that charges you for wifi by the hour). After breakfast, Gus and his roommates wrote the blog post for days 1 and 2 and joked about how in TODAY’S blog (day 3) we should tell Jacob that the arm broke… little did we know…  After breakfast we were ready to seize the day.  Ms. Hoogenakker told us to be ready by 8:30 and outside waiting for the bus.  Being the responsible young adults we all are, we of course all arrived at about 8:40.  Thankfully, Ms. Hoogenakker predicted this ahead of time and word for word told us “I didn’t trust you to ACTUALLY be here by 8:30 so I had the bus arrive at 9:00…” So, no longer were we all late, but in reality 20 minutes early!  There’s a first for everything.  However being young Millenials and heavily reliant on technology, we very quickly all got bored without internet.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, Ms. Hoogenakker asked if anyone had a lint roller because she had her cats’ fur all over her jacket. We DIY-ed a duct-tape lint roller for her and then she and Dr. Kirwin started beatboxing. “Boots and cats and boots and cats…”

And then our transportation arrived. We were told it would be a bus.  It wasn’t a bus, rather four taxis. After a fairly quick ride we found ourselves at the venue, and just like every other place we decided to stop and stand right at the entrance like typical American tourists.  The highlight of that part of the day was finding out we get free bags with stress balls in them (They were needed)! The venue is absolutely massive with multiple entrances and buildings connected by glass walkways.

There were a ton of ups and downs today, so here’s the breakdown:

By 10:00am, we got into the venue, where we were given RoboCup bags, tee shirts, coupons for water (GOOD) and started unpacking our boxes and realized we were missing parts and tools (BAD), more specifically the gears that allow the claw to work. As the day went on, more and more things kept happening, we were missing drill bits, screws, coffee, and other things – everyone became very stressed. Some people fell asleep under the tables, stress was taking over, and people’s tempers were getting thin. Mr. Andersen then had the GREAT idea that we go get lunch, perhaps it was just being hangry. They ran into a big problem: the only food vendors in the venue were cash only.

The next challenge was finding an ATM. Kayla went to the information desk and asked (in German) for an ATM, “Wo ist ein Geldautomat?” to get a sticker. Unfortunately, the guy at the desk didn’t speak German. But he was working… in Germany… *note sarcasm, it may have been an American accent issue more than anything else, but at least she made an effort.

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Next stop was to the German equivalent of Home Depot (it’s called BAUHAUS and it’s IDENTICAL to Home Depot… even the shelves are orange!), we found a place to eat and travelled back to the robot. The team leads had to attend a meeting so we would be on our own without guidance for what became a long 2 hours. But as the classic saying goes, while the cats are away, the mice will play. 

We were rattling off ideas left and right trying to figure out some solution for at least one of our many problems when we finally came up with the idea of quite literally making our own gear from scratch.  It would involve taking a mold of one of our working gears, melting down aluminum, then letting it sit and (hopefully) we’d have a much stronger gear to replace the one that was broken. We also tried to come up with a less fun but more practical idea of finding a company who could 3D print or laser cut our gear for us. Surprisingly when Ms. Hoogenakker and Dr. Kirwin came back and we pitched the idea to them, it wasn’t instantly shut down.

After some discussion, Nathan suggested using resin instead, and that quickly became the preferred method, “Although melting down metal is fun, there is a possibility there could be too many imperfections with such a small and precise piece” -Ms. Hoogenakker (on why resin is a better option than metal). This began solving the issue of one gear (we will know more tomorrow), yet the two we were completely missing were still a problem for us. After we called in Joseph Martino and Bill Cheney to the ACS Lab at BSM to email us the CAD files of the gears, we had to figure out how to print them. We found a few places in Leipzig that would theoretically be able to print the gears for us, however one was VERY expensive (€290 plus €39/month plus an application) and we couldn’t find the address to the other (which was a non-profit that would allow us to cut and print things for nothing but the cost of the plastic).

At this point in time, we’d like to give a shoutout to the country of Austria, who’s team brought a 3D printer to the tournament and were more than happy to print our gears for us at no cost. Thank you, Austria. We would also like to thank the Hungarian and British teams for loaning us drill bits and other miscellaneous tools we didn’t have and the head carpenter here in the competition venue (The Leipzig Messe) for helping Preston make a piece for mounting the gimbal.

We went to test the cameras later in the day and found that there was a HUGE amount of lag on the feed. We determined it was due to the large number of WiFi networks in the area and decided to test the theory. Jack and Kayla went to the far end of the convention center (a half a mile walk!) to test the theory and proved it to be right.

Half our group left at 8PM on the shuttle back to the hotel and the rest of us stayed to continue working on the robot. Those who went home early ate a Croation meal at a nearby restaurant; hose of us that stayed were driven back to the hotel by Ms. Hoogenakker in the rental car (after she brought us 2 large pizzas that we inhaled!).  Most of us crashed more or less instantly as we arrived back to the hotel as well. Those who went home early ate a Croation meal at a nearby restaurant.

“Boots and cats and boots and cats…”

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