David Whale sent my Mum some pointers on analysing my recent Pi Wars project so that I could make progress for next year’s competition. This is an important skill for people like me to learn, who want to work in the computer programming industry when we’re older. I made notes about my project on the day, and since then I’ve looked at how best to analyse relevant points, so that I can produce a more efficient project in the future. I can use this template for my other projects, both in advance as well as retrospect.
Project Analysis: PiWars Robot
- The chosen chassis material (laser cut acrylic) was sturdy and supported the hardware well.
- It was a good idea incorporating pre-cut wiring holes in our design where we needed them, as this made assembly easier.
- The messy wiring made it hard to locate and fix wiring problems.
- I didn’t double check the measurements when I laser cut the chassis, meaning that it ended up being the wrong size for our design plan.
- It was hard to see whether the ball was aligned with the built-in curve or not during the skittles and golf challenges.
- Acrylic makes a good, strong chassis.
- Pre-cut wire holes are convenient.
- I need to plan better how to organise the various wires.
- I need to double check any measurements before laser-cutting the chassis.
- The tyres had a decent grip, just not enough power from the motors.
- The motors weren’t very strong and not able to meet the demands of the competition.
- Strong motors are essential for competing in PiWars.
- Our rechargeable battery packs for the Raspberry Pis were convenient size-wise.
- The motors stayed powered throughout the whole competition using 4 AA batteries. Our LEDs also remained powered for the duration from button cell batteries.
- The controller pi’s battery didn’t last for more than a few hours between charges, which created problems during the competition.
- We could do with a better power source for the main RPi.
- Batteries work well for motors and LEDs.
- The lights looked awesome on the robot.
- They stayed lit throughout the entire competition.
- The Astro Pi failed to read its program partway through the day, meaning that it got stuck on a static rainbow colour.
- The lights were awesome! We should use similar things again.
- I should test things like my Astro Pi program more thoroughly in advance, to have time to troubleshoot problems.
Control and Steering:
- The miniature keyboard allowed me to start programs without scrolling through a list, as I would have to had done if I was using the Wii remote.
- The keypad doesn’t require manual pairing each time the program is run, unlike the Wii remote.
- Steering was awkward and difficult using the keypad, which cost me points in the various challenges. Steering with the Wii remote was considerably easier and smoother.
- Ideally, it would be a good idea to combine the two, if possible.
- For the sake of scoring well in the challenges, the better controller would be the Wii remote.
- The right sensors were used for each job.
- I didn’t start testing on the sensors early enough, and was unable to get them to work as needed in time.
- I should have measured the correct distance above the floor for the line follower.
- I should have measured the range of the distance sensors before creating the final design.
- Testing the sensors well in advance is vital. This includes getting the correct measurements for each sensor.
Decoration and Style:
- The robot looked awesome! Jim Darby said that an incredible mind must have designed it!
- The robot won the funniest robot prize.
- The decoration got in the way when we needed to access the inside wiring.
- Similar decoration to what we had would be great!
- We could do with making some of the decoration easily removable for when something goes wrong on the inside of the robot.
- Early and thorough testing is vital, project plans could help with this.
- Powerful motors are vital (i.e. proper motors, not beginner kit motors)
- A responsive, smooth controller (i.e. Wii remote) is important for remote control challenges.
- TEST WELL IN ADVANCE! That way any problems allow for troubleshooting time.
- A good power source (i.e. Longer lasting than a mobile charger pack) is important.
- Tidy wiring is also important.
- It’s helpful to look at what’s gone right with previous projects, as well as what’s gone wrong.