Hello World: The Diary of a Student Engineer

Hi, I’m Conor, I’m a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering with Management Student in Trinity College Dublin and this is a first attempt at documenting some of the work I have undertaken during my studies.

So, the main reason for this account is to demonstrate the progress being made on a ‘Tumbler Robot’ which we have been tasked with building as part of this year’s Design module — more on that in a moment. The other reason is to share any other progress, interests and/or engineering related hobbies that I am working on over the next few months and beyond. I am also working on a group project looking into the use of information systems in business strategy so I think I’ll re-post my part of the project onto this channel as well. I’m not a big user of Facebook, Instagram etc. so this will be the main account for all that.

My engineering-related interests outside of my course include aerospace engineering, renewable energy innovation and more recently I’ve come across an online computer science course by Harvard called CS50x (you can find it on EDX) which I’m trying to work on in the evenings. I have some experience in MATLAB, C and a few other languages that I’ve dabbled around with, so despite the slow progress I’m not finding the content too difficult… yet.

Other than that, I hope you enjoy the updates. Any feedback, advice, constructive criticism is greatly appreciated and encouraged. I haven’t done this before so we’ll see how it goes!

So the purpose of this first post is to give an introduction to the task my class has been assigned and the steps I’ve taken so far — I only really started today. If you haven’t heard of a Tumbler Robot before ( I hadn’t), this is what it looks like:

ELEGOO Tumbller Self-Balancing Robot

Available on Amazon here, the purpose of this robot is to balance on two wheels and move from place to place without colliding with obstacles in it’s path. Our job is to assemble the kit, create a CAD model of the finished design and then program the robot to carry out a range of tasks including navigating an obstacle course, retrieving ping pong balls and playing a starring role in a Rube Goldberg machine. Personally, I don’t think the assembly of this kit will be too challenging but the CAD modeling and programming could be tricky.

Today, I made a start on the CAD using SolidWorks. The robot kit is yet to arrive so I’m currently eyeballing the dimensions with the help of one of my classmates who was able to get her kit early. I won’t lie, my model isn’t looking too great at the moment but I’m optimistic that it will improve in time. Some early challenges I’ve run into include:

  • Accurate modelling of the wheel’s of the robot: The spokes of the wheel are quite intricate and can only really be modelled using Surfaces in my opinion. So far, I’m making progress but there’s definitely room for improvement.
  • The modeling of wires and the microcontroller board: I’ve never done this before but have seen it done before using custom textures and 3D sketches. I’ve added it to the list of things to learn via YouTube.
  • Textures/Decals: This is mainly for aesthetic reasons but I think it’s important to find a way of styling some components like the ultrasonic sensor and motors to enhance the overall model. I’ll either have to add this to the YouTube list or maybe check out grabcad.com for these components.
Initial Design for the Tumbler’s wheels

That’s all I really have to say for now. I’m hoping to have a rough assembly of the robot completed over the weekend, so then it just becomes a case of editing the existing components when the kit arrives. For next week, I plan to share a few images of the initial assembly and further discuss some of the issues I ran into, and hopefully some of the solutions I used to overcome these problems.

Thanks for reading!