The Bowmar Builders are an FLL team associated with Bowmar Elementary School. The purpose of this blog is to help other students interested in robotics to learn from what we have learned. As an FLL Robotics team we use the Lego EV3 robotics system and the Mindstorms graphical programming language.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Color Sensor Array

By Mateo B.

Last year we used a triple color sensor array. We used this to track lines as well as be able to stop at lines that branched off of the main line.

Color sensors are sensitive to ambient light, which is light that comes from the surroundings. To prevent that from affecting our sensors we put a bar in front of them to block as much ambient light as possible.

Color sensors are also sensitive to the distance from the mat to the sensor. We did some tests to find the best distance from the mat to the sensor. We measured the total reflected light as the sensor was moved up and down at different heights. We found the optimal distance to be 2/3 of a bar.

We found that the sensors could also be affected by reflected from the other sensors. We spaced them out to help alleviate cross-contamination.

The spacing was also due to the line following algorithm. Two sensors were used as the primary line following algorithm, one on each side of the line the robot is following. In a line following algorithm you don't follow the line, you follow the edge of the line where the reflected light is 50 (half white and half black.) We spaced them to perfectly fit both sides of the line.

Corner Jig

By Mateo B.

It is important to always line up your robot correctly. Last year we made a corner jig. The corner jig helps us line up the robot the same way when we need to line up at a 45 degree angle. The challenge to building a corner jig is to get the angles right while making it the right number of spaces along the long side so that it actually connects correctly. The pictures below show our jig from two different angles. The black portions sticking out were placed along the sides of the robot so that we could always start at the same spot.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Have a Plan

By Mateo B.

It is helpful to have a plan. For meetings, you can make an agenda. Agendas help you stay organized. They also help you remember what to do. One time in a meeting I forgot what we were supposed to do next. I looked at the agenda and I saw it, so I remembered. This goes along with habit #2, Begin With the End in Mind.

Actively Listen for Effective Communication

By Eli S.

Communicating clearly and asking questions is good so people understand you. In the game called phone one person starts and you pass it on by whispering and the last person says it out loud so the first person says if it is right and if not they tell you. In the game we played we weren’t communicating well so it got misunderstood and told wrong. To communicate well you need to ask questions. You also need to focus as a listener on what is being said. That's called active listening.

Synergy and Beginning With the End in Mind

By Jonathan E.

Beginning With the End In Mind and Synergy are two crucial core values. Beginning With The End In Mind means to have a plan. Without a plan you will get nowhere or it will be disorganized. It makes up the foundation of a project and guides you to finishing it.

In Robotics we Begin With The End In Mind all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a project like building a robot and programming it or spending time brainwriting. Plans help you be organized.

The second crucial core value is Synergy. Synergy is when you work together as a team to accomplish a goal. It makes us a team and brings us closer together. What good is having a plan without working together? None of these two crucial core values can work without each other.

Committees as a Tool for Team Growth

By Stella E.

This week in robotics we established team led committees. It is important to have team leadership, so that the team can be independent while sharing, or being judged. Also it helps develop team growth. For example, if the team has the project done for them they will not grow from reaching goals and learning from mistakes. That's why its important to have team leadership.

We have Core Values, Project, and Recognition committees. Each committee has a specific purpose that is part of what the team needs to accomplish.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Importance of Active Listening

Adalyn A.

This week I learned how to use active listening and how to work with my peers. Active Listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves understanding. For example, If my friend is talking to me I would use active listening by stopping what I am doing and not daydream or play with my hair. I would give her my full attention.