Our Day by Day Journal

Day 1- At the Beginning
At this point, we had very different ideas about what we envisioned our project to be. We were thinking of using water guns to aim at moving targets. A hit would cause little figurines to move, and this will be a race. The winner would get a flag and a song.
Work allocation: Jen- vertical race track, Debbie- horizontal race track and Wen Yi- mountain shaped race track.

We used the thin black tracks in all of the designs. In a short amount of time, Wen Yi found that there would be too many problems associated with making a mountainous track, and she moved on to making the targets move. These are several of the ideas:

1- Mechanically : let the force of the water drive the targets back
2- Using tracks : let it run on the same kind of tracks as the race
3- Using a cart on a slope: letting gravity do the work on one end.

Day 2- Moving on
Debbie and Jen continued work on their respective tracks. Wen Yi worked on a flag unroll-er as a congratulatory object.

Jen found that the tower needed more stabilizing, and she used vertical bracing to strengthen it.
Debbie had problems with the gears, because the 24-tooth gears caught easily since there were so many of them. Also, the short supply of flat pieces caused the race to be very short.
Wen Yi finished the flag, and began to experiment with targets for the water guns. In place of a real water gun, a syringe was used.

Day 3 – A day of change…
We decided that Jen’s tower would work best, and after extensive testing, that we would not be able to use the water guns. We would be working with nerf balls instead.
Bad news! We realized that the way the tower was built would not allow for the two tracks to run independently. This means that the whole tower had to be taken apart and rebuilt. Debbie worked with Jen in rebuilding the tower, and Wen Yi started work on the sensor for the balls.
Two different prototypes were built- the first was a cup that had a switch on the bottom. That did not work too well because not only was it difficult to get the ball into the cup, the touch sensor was not always depressed by the ball hitting it.
The second was an adaptation of the bumper on the SciBorgs, and worked much better. The swinging flap would hit the switch reliably, and we used the basic idea in the final project.
Meanwhile, Jen and Debbie each worked on one side of the tower, finding ways to make it steady and strong while maintaining beauty. They found that some of the bracings required minute holes in the structure, but this did not prove to be a great problem.
With the tower coming along fine, we were pretty happy- until Wen Yi brought up the question of how we would run the wires from the targets to the Handyboard that controlled the race. After some thought, we decided to cut holes in the cardboard that the targets would run on, thus allowing for the wires to run underneath.

Day 4- Putting words into actions
Debbie and Wen Yi set yesterday’s ideas into action, while Jen continued to reinforce the base of the tower. She also added support or anchor strings, to help stabilize the tower.
In total, we made two reel machines (based on the motion modules), reinforced two carts and their switches and tested the switches.
All 3 of us took our work out to the loading dock to spray paint it gold.
At the end of the day, we set ourselves tasks for the weekend. Jen was to continue work on the tower, Debbie was to write the code for the song “We are the Champions” and Wen Yi was to make and fit in sensors to sense the end of the game.

Day 5- The day before the exhibit!
We rewrote the code for the game after deciding between using one Handyboard for each side of the tower, or having one control the targets and the other the race (our final decision).
Putting the whole thing together was a lot more difficult than we thought it would be. We had many problems with switches not staying on, or not working at all. Robbie very kindly showed us how to make our own touch sensors, so that we could make them as long as we needed.
Some parts of the code had to be rewritten because of earlier oversights, but for most parts, our problems were mechanical. We even considered scrapping the idea of the moving targets if all failed.
By 8.30pm, both our Handyboards and brains stopped functioning. We gave both a well deserved rest.

Day 6- D.DAY.
After setting everything together again, we were gratified to find that the whole thing worked well.
The reels sometimes got stuck and did not respond to the switch sometimes, but we were sure that the entire thing would work at least 80% of the time.
Jen did the artwork for the whole thing, while Debbie and Wen Yi tinkered around with the various little parts that kept getting unstuck.
By 4pm, we had the whole project in Sage Lounge, and had tested it with the (overpriced) neon green nerfballs.
By 4.30pm, switches started falling off.
After lots of hot glue and not a little anxiety, Race in Space was up and running.
By 5.30pm, we had to re-stick some of the parts on again.
By 6pm, the motor on the yellow side started to pop off on a regular basis.
By 6.30pm, our best patron, Alexander had played the game a total of 8 times in a row while declaring that he liked it very much.
By that time, we were 3 very happy people.

Note: We did not include Saturday, Sunday and Monday- those were not official class days. We do admit to being in the lab during those times though.