Innuendo - Raymond Ma
  Overview Design Contest Reflections Photos

Advantages/Successes of Design

By saving the two remaining motors, my design gave me a lot of flexibility in doing extra tasks. Whereas the majority of the class focused on either the noodles or the food balls, I was able to go after both successfully. My claws routinely pulled out all four noodles at once without a problem, while many other arm-claw designs could only go after one noodle at a time, with minimal success.

Also, since my claw was spring-loaded and was positioned by the robot's own drive, I didn't have to worry about operating a new set of controls just to extract the noodles. I noticed that many machines had to first position the base appropriately before repositioning the arm component in order to grab the noodles.

For the most part, the ability to pull out multiple noodles also allows my robot some extra time to disrupt my opponent before the 45 seconds are up. Assuming the robot doesn't get caught, it would have 10-15 seconds after extracting the noodles to either block my opponent or move objects out of the river. This was my strategy against the bot that could outscore me (several in the competition, I believe)

Disadvantages/Failures of Design

Unfortunately, friction between the ground and the extracted noodles was a big concern. After extracting the noodles, at least 2 of the 4 would drag along the ground. This made it difficult to drive forwards, while driving backwards made it easier for the noodles to slip out of my claw mechanism.

Also, due to the tubular design of my base and its ability to extend and retract, there was very limited space to mount extra components. I essentially had a 3"x12" piece of plastic to build off of. This greatly reduced the options I had for secondary modules. It also decreased the effectiveness of my door-opening arm, as I really had no way to add on anything to funnel the falling food balls into the starting box. By using my bot alone, I could only get up to 15 of the 36 food balls into the box. Worse yet, balls bounced around my bot could get in my way and prevent me from extracting all 4 noodles. As mentioned in the contest recap, my bot had to be basically folded into itself to fit in the bot. This required that I unfold certain components to work properly.

However, since I had to mount the majority of my pieces on the back end of my robot, this put most of the weight over the drive wheels, which gave me better traction and maneuverability.


Though the setup of the course basically allowed for us to construct a most critical module (MCM) and then secondary modules, I feel that I should've gone for two separate critical modules, especially since I still had 2 motors to use after completing my first MCM. Even without too much space to work with, I definitely could've added on something better than just the 2 simple arms.

Throughout the semester, I had the urge to make some sort of river ball shooter to disrupt my opponent's progress. Or some sort of detachable net to funnel the food balls. Basically, I wanted to do something ridiculous, but I wasn't able to fully take advantage of the flexibility that my MCM afforded me.


What I would've done differently:

  1. Designed according to what was impossible, rather than what was possible. I definitely could've explored the limits of the contest more than I did.
  2. Go away from traditional. Everyone uses claws. Why not something else?
  3. Leg locomotion. If only I had the time and know-how, I would've attempted a robot with legs instead of wheels. Granted, it would probably be just using a glorified CAM setup, but the uniqueness of that project would offset its inability to score any points.
  4. Used more complicated mechanisms. All of my modules are pretty straightforward in terms of manufacturing and design. They didn't require much machining or design experience to create. As such, I probably didn't learn as much as those who designed and built more detailed mechanisms.
  5. Specifically, I should've replaced my ball carrier with a ramp to funnel food balls, or used a pulley system to fold out a longer arm to extract higher-tier noodles.
© Raymond Ma 2008