Before the competition, our group had a massive brainstorming session about what kind of project we wanted to tackle at this competition. Each of us wanted to learn something new and test our abilities, so we decided to play to the strength of all of our members' abilities. One member, Paul, has done VEX robotics for several years and wanted to build something using the materials he had handy. Our other two have recently been introduced to the world of microcontrollers and wanted to learn how to create something using them. Hence, Pixel Plotter was born.
What it does
Our initial idea for the project was to take any pixel art image and draw it using our plotter. As the competition evolved, we choose to take away the color aspect and instead our project draws an outline of a pixel art image.
How we built it
Initially, we created python scripts to read in an image, create edge points that designated outlines of different colors, and then communicate with our VEX 2-axis plotter with a raspberry pi to draw the image. Throughout the competition, we decided to instead use a VEX controller to create the paths and draw an image.
Challenges we ran into
Our group came into this competition with a slight disadvantage with having to drive all the way from Lakeland, FL and dealing with the lack of sleep that came with it. Throughout the competition, we realized we did not have a critical component for the Raspberry Pi to control the motors and had to scrap the idea completely. As well, the construction of the 2-axis plotter came with its own challenges
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The fact that our team was able to travel and participate in this competition is an accomplishment in itself. In terms of our performance, interfacing with a microcontroller and controlling motors with one was a concept completely new to all of us and having a functional plotter is amazing.
What we learned
We mainly learned how to interface with microcontrollers and the problems that arise with building hardware during a competition like this.
What's next for Pixel Plotter
When we get back to our university, we plan to get the parts that we were missing initially and reconfigure the motor controls through a raspberry pi as opposed to the VEX controller. In doing this, we will also have the ability to draw more complex art using the python code we created during the beginning of this competition.