Break-out Board Upgraded

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Team member Todd Levari has once again upgraded the break-out board, this time to have the required outputs for the A/D and D/A cables.  This critical step will now allow us to connect this piece to the A100 computer.

A/D Input Cable Completed

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Villanova team member Todd Levari has made some nice progress on his meticulous task of soldering numerous pins on to the wires of the A/D cord, in order to connect it to the break-out board.  Seen here is the image of the piece opened up and unattached

Field Test Results – 7-15-16

The Villanova team hit the waters again this past Friday for another field test.  The stakes were a little higher for this test, however, as we were testing more components of the boat, such as the IMU and Wi-Fi communication.  Data was acquired from the IMU, and will help the boat locate itself based off of quantities such as speed and time, and makes GPS location more secure.  Commands were sent from the dock to the A100, and these commands were executed by the boat successfully.  Various colored buoys on the water were captured by the boat’s webcam, and are currently being processed by the team to be utilized in the realms of LiDAR and RGB recognition.

 

First Field Test Results – 7/5/16

 

Summary

  • Calibration data were successfully collected
  • Battery positioning needs adjustment
  • Issues arose with power provision and WiFi, preventing any extensive testing of autonomouos operation
  • More attention to pretest preparation is needed
  • List of needed equipment and materials was complete; nothing was forgotten

Data Collected

  • Thrust: 12 -16 N. – More precision prevented by winds and difficulty of effecting completely horizontal thrust line.
  • Circle time (1 thruster, 360 degrees): 27 1/4 secs.
  • Rotation time (2 thrusters, opposite directions, 360 degrees):  13 1/4 secs.
  • Follow up measurements are needed

Stability

  • No leak or list appeared
  • Boat pitched upward, due to relocation of batteries
  • Better positioning is needed

Electrical Issues

  • Power was lost more than once. On one occasion, the power switch on a surge protector was flipped by accidental contact.  At other times, a loose power cable connection was responsible.  We need to provide guards for switches and use only equipment with tight connections.
  • The A-100 dropped out several times. Power loss may have been a factor, but we need to check power adequacy and conditioning as well.
  • After an extended period of trying to determine why no signal was coming from the A-100, we discovered that the cable between it and the breakout box was disconected. We need to maintain a cheklist of all nonpermanent connections, to confirm that each is in place before each test.
  • WiFi communication was lost repeatedly. Power was an issue on some but most likely not all occasions.  The metal roof over the dock and its vertical supporting members may have caused interference.  We need to conduct more extensive testing of conditions supporting or interfering with communication.

Other Issues

  • An appropriate transport vehicle is important. Time was lost because the University van that we were given initially could not accommodate the boat.
  • All assembly, tightness checks, etc. should be completed prior to the day of the test. Failure to do that cost us more time.

Antenna Testing Underway

The antennas were taken out to observe the performance benefits that they are going to provide to the project.  Winston was granted permission to test the antennas over a pond near the university and we gathered all the batteries that are required to power up the antenna adapters. It has been a long time since we have used these batteries, and to our good fortune the batteries seemed to be in perfect condition.  After reaching the site, we started the test, placing the antennas at different locations on the pond.

The primary objective being that the antennas should provide the sufficient range even with damping of the signals over the water and even if the antennas were at different angles to each other, we planned to provide different angles and transmit the signals over the water to test the antenna.

The antennas and the batteries were taken to different locations around the pond and to verify the ping times of the echo request packages.

As we are using 120-degree base station sector antenna and a Rocket M2 Omni directional antenna and a Rocket M2 nano station, we are perfectly able to connect to each other over different angles with the help of Omni directional antenna.

We were also working to verify the signal damping by placing the antennas on opposite edges of the pond that contained large fountains. The results were good enough with a ping time of 20 to 40 mille seconds.

Overall, it’s been a good day for the beginning of the communications part of the boat, but many more tests are going to be needed to identify the antennas behavior with the different climatic conditions and performance with the sea environment.

Weekly Meeting- Wednesday 6/29/16

The team talks progress at today's meeting.

The team talks progress at today’s meeting.

Today the team sat down for its weekly Wednesday meeting.  From this talk, we have gathered that things are going pretty well for our team.  The mechanical team is more or less finished everything, with the exception of field testing which is on-going.  The LiDAR, IMU, and RGB components are all working well on their own, so it is now time to integrate the different systems into one collaborative effort.  We have set up a few field tests to help this transition.

Antenna and A100 Mounted

Antenna and A100 Mounted

Antenna and A100 Mounted

More progress has been made on the mechanical side of things, specifically in reference to the successful mounting of the antenna and A100.  As seen in the image above, the antenna is mounted to the support bar and will aid in communication.  The A100 will serve as our robotic control computer.

Team Meeting – 6/22/16

Team meeting conducted on Wednesday, 6/22.

Team meeting conducted on Wednesday, 6/22.

In order to ensure transparency of all aspects of the project for all team members, it is essential to have team meetings.  Our (Villanova) team meets every Wednesday for this reason, so that we may go over our task list and voice any concerns or signs of progress.  Based on yesterday’s meeting, it seems that most of the mechanical work is very far along, which invites the autonomous portion of the progress to pick up steam.

Raising the Roof

Updated image of the test boat, with raised roof to accommodate new controller.

Updated image of the test boat, with raised roof to accommodate new controller.

Since the last competition, our team has upgraded some of our technology to be more robust in our technical work.  One of these upgrades is the addition of the A100 controller, a product of A plus mobile, which will replace the speedgoat used in previous competitions.  The A100 is a little bigger in size, so modifications had to be made to the structure of the boat to accommodate this.  The plastic frame of the roof, shown here going vertical below the white roof piece with our “\\V//” logo on it.

Weekly Meeting with FAU – 6/17/16

6/17 Video Conference with FAU

6/17 Video Conference with FAU

On June 17th, we conducted our weekly meeting with our counterparts at Florida Atlantic.  The main purpose of these conferences is to make sure both teams are properly communicating and collaborating to ensure sufficient progress is made on both ends.  Some of the main points of the discussion included the implementation of a secondary, submarine vehicle for one of the tasks, utilization of the A100, and the importance of submitting updated media to help lock in funding and sponsorship.