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Revising the SRR Web Material

I have been fighting with fatigue since the June SRR competition. Finally seem to be overcoming it with some medications, better sleep habits, and who knows what else that may be making it better. As a result I am reworking and rethinking the Sample Return Challenge on my website. New material is under 2014 Table of Contents. Pages I am working on have WIP (work in progress) in their title. Comments and suggestions are appreciated here, via email, or on Facebook.

Happy holidays to all of you. May the robot of your desires be under the tree.

Programming Languages Used for SRR

I asked at the SRR Challenge about the languages and vision processing used by each team. Here is what I found:

Team Language                       Vision Processing
Intrepid                         C++ / Matlab                                           Kuukulgur                     C++                                          OpenCV Mystic                           C++                                          RobotRealm SpacePride                    RoboRealm state machine          RoboRealm Survey                           C++, Python                             OpenCV Middleman                     LabView                                   LabView UCSC                           C/C++                                      OpenCV Waterloo                       C++, Python                                             WPI                              C++                                                              Wunderkammer             Python                                      ROS …

Linux Sucks

One of the to-do items from the SRR challenge was to learn Linux so I could investigate Robot Operating System and then use OpenCV for vision processing.

Linux does not make this easy and I am rapidly getting frustrated with it as I always do when I try it.

I downloaded and installed Debian Wheezy to get the latest version. It is up and running.

I used the package manger to install Eclipse CDT. Except it is a version of Indigo (3.8) not Juno. Grump, grump, grump. I tried to update Eclipse the other day on another box. There are NO clear instructions on the web on how to do the install over the old version and get it into the menu system.

At the same time I wanted to install Mozilla Thunderbird for email. Nope, not in the package manager and it downloads an archive, not a package. Grump, grump, grump.

Google Chrome downloaded okay and with only one false start I got the package manager to install it.

Even should someone walk me through getting those applications installed I shudder to …

Rover Names

When I got the 4 computers for the rovers I still had not come up with a good names for them. Loading Windows XP I simply called the first one Mystic One. That led to the others being Two, Three, and Four. The more I used that name I liked it and started referring to them collectively as The Mystics. That is their name now and I will use if for the team name next year: Team Mystic.

The name obviously comes from Mystic Lake Software, my DBA. After Shari and I decided I was retired - I promised to have a warm supper on the table for her every night - I wanted to create a DBA just in case I did pick up some kind of work. Behind our house - and across a street - is a small park with a lake - Mystic Lake. That felt like a good name so I used it by simply adding the "Software". It conveys that aura of mystery that pervades software.

Back from the SRR, links and an EMMY!

Back home after an awesome experience at the 2013 NASA Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge. I posted on Facebook to capture the activities of myself and the other teams. It was an intense week and with seven days of travel involved getting there and back I am still not ready to jump full speed into much of anything.

If you visit the Mystic Lake FB page take a look at the pages I liked from there. They are either vendors I have used or additional FB pages associated with the SRR. A few of the teams are there. If others have FB pages I am not aware of them.

I do not use Twitter but if you search for #srrbot you can see what was tweeted by others.

The SRR is one of many NASA Centennial Challenges. Challenges of this type have a long history in aerospace. Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic is probably the one most well known. He won $33,000 for meeting the challenge.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute hosted the challenge. They were very good hosts providing 3 meals each day so the…

Still Alive and Working Hard

Long time without posting because I have been focusing entirely on preparing the swarm for the challenge. At some point I do blog entries on the thoughts and activities that went into the project. I will backfill them  just to keep the timing straight.

I have received a lot of assistance from vendors. Some in discounts and some in sharing knowledge. One I want to specifically mention is David Gray of ProgressiveRC. David answered a lot of questions about batteries and the wiring I will need which was very helpful. ProgressiveRC is providing a very nicely cased set of chargers  - the Double Sidekick Ticket - for the batteries, and special ordered 10.4 Ah batteries. There will be two of those in each member of the swarm.

Pololu provided discounts on a Simple Motor Controllers, Maestros, Wild Thumper 6WD, and other parts and pieces.

The last part of the puzzle is picking up the samples. I have the design concept and it works. I even have a video. I have a kludge for this on the current ro…