Monday, March 9, 2015

2015 Western Canadian Robot Games in Calgary

I've started to plan for the next games in 2015, although I'm not actually sure when or where it's going to be. I haven't been in Calgary much lately, so I can't attend the Saturday WCRS build days, and the rover is too big to haul around every week anyway.

Just for fun I looked at the last few announcement dates for the past annual Calgary robot games events:

  • May 12, 2012 games, announced March 14, 2012 FOR  (about 2 months between announcement and event)
  • May 11, 2013 games, announced April 22, 2013  (less than a month between announcement and event)
  • September 6, 2014, announced August 17, 2014 (about a month, held during the Calgary Maker Faire)


I wasn't able to make it to the 2014 event, so I don't know if the outdoor/offroad challenge was even run; I know there wasn't a whole lot of notice, and there was some rules confusion about where it was going to be run.

This years MakerFaire is on Sept 12 & 13, 2015, which might be the date for the next games.

If the 2014 event was actually run, and you know where it took place, please let me know. I'm assuming it was in the park area directly south of the TELUS Spark building, but a quick Google search after the event didn't turn up any information or pictures.

And if there are events planned for the rest of 2015 in Canada that are open to non-students, drop me a line; I might be able to do a road trip or tour this year!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

MSL RTG Placement

I was contemplating adding an arm to the front of the rover the other day.

Some back of an envelope math: a smallish arm (under a meter long), able to reach to the ground a bit ahead of the body (in view of the mast cameras) = quite a torque on the suspension differential when at full extension.

In searching for something to offset the weight at the rear of the body, the first and obvious choice would be the batteries. It's unlikely I'd need to operate in extreme cold (below -45C) so placing them outside the body at the rear, and at an angle down into the body for adequate departure-angle clearance, seemed good.

Of course when I pictured this in my head I had an 'ah-ha' moment:

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA13808
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The arm, semi-folded up at left, and the RTG power units (just the radiator fins, actually), at right.

I'm sure there were lots of considerations for placement of the MMRTG's, but offsetting weight seems like one of them.

Notes:

MSL overview: http://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/academics/791S14/791S14L09.EDL2.pdf

Arm doc: http://www.esmats.eu/esmatspapers/pastpapers/pdfs/2011/billing.pdf

MMRTG doc: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl//files/mep/MMRTG_Jan2008.pdf