Monday, June 24, 2013

MATE International ROV Competition 2013

The past week, I was in Tacoma, Washington at the MATE International ROV Competition 2013.  My team, Jesuit Robotics, took first place in the collegiate level ("Explorer" class)!  There were many awesome teams there with fantastic ROVs!

I'd like to take a moment to thank the team at MATE for putting on this incredible competition.  Through my time competing in the MATE ROV competition, I have learned much about machining, 3D CAD, electronics and software.  In fact, MATE is what introduced me to programming.  In college, I plan to do some research into ROV control systems, and I'd love to take a trip on a real research vessel.

The two pictures above are of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University's ROV control system.  That TV built into the TCU (see the upper picture) is a 3D TV with a view of the ROV's fully articulated arm.  Using an XBox360 controller to control the arm was easy, precise and intuitive thanks to the 3D vision!  Depth of field when operating underwater with a normal 2D camera system is non-existent.  I found the 3D vision system to be really useful!  Also, they mounted a touchscreen monitor between their joysticks to act as an instrument panel.  I think they have one of the coolest control systems at the MATE competition.  I would like to implement some of their features in my own software along with some other ideas I've been thinking of adding (an IMU for total position hold, for example).

Thank you, MATE, for putting on such an awesome competition!  Also, I'd like to thank the mentors of my robotics team, especially my dad, for putting so much time and effort into helping teach high school students about everything from NTSC video signals and composites to CNC mills and User Datagram Protocol packets.  Everyone involved in the MATE competition (administrators, judges and mentors) is helping the next generation of engineers learn how to be professional engineers in a fun and exciting field.  To everyone involved, thank you!

Thanks for stopping by,

Chris Konstad

Friday, June 14, 2013

What's Kept Me Busy the Past Week

This is the new Unit Circle Quiz, rewritten from the ground up in Java.  I decided to start doing my Android development the "proper" way, using Java instead of C++ and JNI.  I'm really pleased with how my app runs!  And while I still have a ton of reading and learning to do, I am LOVING Android's activities, intents and fragments!  I also love how the resources are split up, the strings.xml file (among others) and I really love the IDE.  I'm using the buggy and sometimes unstable Android Studio, but the feature set is fantastic.  I really cannot wait for Google to polish it up some more because, while not quite there yet, it is becoming an awesome IDE.

The new Unit Circle Quiz app has a lot of firsts for me.  It's my first Java application, ever.  It is my first app that has access to the Android APIs.  It is my first app that uses a SQLite database.  It's my first app with haptic feedback.  And... it will be my first app to have a free, ad-supported version alongside the normal paid version.  My goal is to release both versions of this app before I leave for Seattle for the MATE 2013 International ROV Competition with my robotics team, but we'll see what my schedule allows.  For now, the paid version has been updated.

Get it on Google Play

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris Konstad