RoboSumo blog deadline is Monday 13th April 2020 – Please read these tips and FAQs

Hi Everyone,

As I explained in my email last week, it will not be possible to complete this semester’s RoboSumo project. Therefore, for those of you in groups A1, A2, B1 and B2, we will calculate your project grade based on the work completed prior to the closure of the college, plus (optionally) what you have added to your blog before the revised deadline of Monday 13th April. Due to the reduced time spent on it, the overall weighting of this semester’s RoboSumo project within the Design Projects module will be adjusted to make it equivalent to each of the projects you completed in semester 1.

If you were diligently updating your RoboSumo blog as you went along and have fully documented your work up to and including the Tip the Can competition then you probably don’t need to do anything more. However, if your blog documentation was lagging behind your practical work, then you will probably want to add additional content to the blog so that your full contribution to the project is recognised.

In the sections below, I provide more detail about the project assessment and some guidance on how to present your work on your blog, including how to deal with the incomplete nature of the project. I may update the list of blog tips and FAQs in the coming days if additional queries arise or further clarification is required. Feel free to comment below or email me if something isn’t clear or if you’re not sure how to proceed.

Ted

Assessment of the incomplete RoboSumo project

Although this semester’s RoboSumo project did not reach its normal conclusion, it will still be assessed more or less as normal. Having completed the Tip the Can challenge, we have a sound basis for each component of the grade. As explained on the Project Info page, each student’s RoboSumo grade comprises four equal components (modifications specific to this semester are shown below in blue):

Assessment Component Assessment Criteria Assessment Mechanism
Tournament ranking (25%) The robot’s ranking in the final RoboSumo tournament the Tip the Can competition. A formula is applied to each robot’s tournament ranking. Usually, the same mark is awarded to all members of a team, but marks may be redistributed to reflect substantially different individual contributions.
Individual contribution to group process (25%) Contribution to team organisation, planning and decision making.
Knowledge sharing – explaining concepts to (or learning from) other team members.
Engagement in team discussions.
In-class tutor observation.
Analysis of submitted material.
Individual contribution to technical attainment (25%) Project management / teamwork. Quality of team decisions. Design and implementation of robot (software and hardware). Technical skills. Analysis of documentation. Inspection of robot. Photo/video evidence of robot. Tutor observation of process. Interview / quiz assessment.
Documentation submitted (i.e. posted on blog) throughout project (25%) Individual contribution to the documentation produced by your group. Analysis of material presented on student’s individual blog.

Teams who did not complete Tip the Can will be considered by their tutor on a case-by-case basis and where there is evidence of a meaningful attempt to complete the challenge, a generous approach will be taken (i.e. we will assume you would have got your robot working for the final tournament).

RoboSumo blog tips

As shown above, your individual blog contributes to three of the four assessment components. In addition to the quality of documentation you present, we are interested in the evidence you can show of the work you did. Your individual blog provides you with an opportunity to show us what you contributed to your team’s progress. If you did some valuable work on the project but we didn’t directly observe it in the lab and you didn’t write about it on your blog, don’t expect to get any credit for it.

Practical problems caused by closure of college

We are aware that the closure of the college presents some practical difficulties for many of you when documenting your work. Specific problems we are aware of include the following:

  • You may not have your physical robot.
  • You may not have access to your code.
  • You may not have completed Tip the Can.
  • You may not have photos of physical work you carried out.
  • You may not have videos of your robot working.
  • You may have begun but not completed a task you were responsible for.

We will keep all of the above in mind when assessing your work, so don’t panic if you have one or more of the above problems. Just do your best to gather and present whatever evidence you can of your work to date. Communicate (remotely!) with your teammates to see if they have additional content that may provide evidence of your work (e.g. code you contributed to or photos that show work you carried out). If you took on a particular task within the project, but you really can’t find any evidence whatsoever of it, you can still explain to us clearly on your blog what you did.

Examples of good blog content

Hopefully you’ll have some of these:

  • Clear written descriptions of what work you carried out.
  • Clear descriptions of the group process. What decisions have you made? How are you making decisions as a team? What problems or priorities have you identified?
  • Minutes of team meetings.
  • Design sketches you drew – hand-drawn and neatly photographed is fine.
  • Photos of your robot.
  • Photos of work being carried out – e.g. before/after pictures.
  • Photos of circuits you built.
  • Photos of soldering you carried out.
  • Photos of a chassis you constructed.
  • Video of a working (or partially functioning) robot.
  • Video of a working sub-system – e.g. motor control.
  • Video of your robot completing (or attempting) the Tip the Can challenge.
  • Video of an experiment you carried out – e.g. sensor testing.
  • Arduino code for Tip the Can (working code or nearest attempt).
  • Arduino code for earlier tasks – e.g. LED Flash Challenge, motor control.
  • Description of robot control algorithm / logic, for example using flow charts or state tables. This can either be what you implemented in your Arduino code or what you planned to implement.
  • Research you carried out for the project.
  • Any calculations or analysis you did – photos of work on paper is fine.
  • Photos of notes or rough work you wrote down on paper.
  • Circuit diagrams – hand-drawn and neatly photographed is fine.
  • Schematics drawn on computer – e.g. for laser cutting.
  • 3-D models of your design – e.g. SolidWorks, SketchUp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question Answer
Should I meet with my team to carry out tests / take photos / do whatever with our robot? Absolutely not. Please follow HSE guidelines at all times. By all means communicate electronically with your teammates but do not meet in person.
I did some design work that wasn’t used in Tip the Can but could have been used in my team’s sumo robot. Will that count towards my assessment if I include it in my blog? Yes, we want to read about any useful work you did, even if it wasn’t used in Tip the Can. That could include things you developed that you decided not to use or things you were working on for the cancelled sumo tournament.
I did some design work at home after the college closed. Will that count towards my assessment if I include it in my blog? Yes, if there’s work you carried out safely at home following the closure of the college, there’s no problem including that in your blog. If your team completed the Tip the Can challenge and you were a significant contributor, then you probably have enough work done already and we just want to see evidence of that on your blog. However, if you’re worried that you don’t have enough work to present on your blog, then you could consider supplementing it with additional design work now and adding that to your blog.
I did work on a task that was assigned to me, but I didn’t finish it. Do I need to finish it now to include it in my blog? No, you don’t need to finish it in order to receive some credit for it. Given the sudden closure of the college, we expect that teams will have useful work done that is incomplete. Please show us whatever evidence you can on your blog, or at least explain what the work was.
My team did not complete the Tip the Can challenge – will we get a competition mark of 0%? No, don’t worry, provided that your tutor sees evidence of meaningful progress towards completing the challenge, he/she will award you a fair competition mark based on the progress you made.
My team’s robot is in a locker in the college, so we can’t take photos of it – what will we do? Many teams are probably in this situation. Hopefully you already have some photos or videos of the robot. Even if the photos you have aren’t as good as you’d like, please share them with us anyway, since they provide useful evidence of what you built. If you don’t have any photos or videos at all, and your teammates don’t have any either, then perhaps you could take a clear photo of a hand-drawn picture of your robot, including labels for some of its design features? Alternatively, if you know how to use any 3-D modeling software (e.g. SolidWorks, SketchUp), you could create a model of your design.
The code for my team’s robot is stored in my teammate’s network drive in the college and cannot be accessed from home – what will we do? This is likely to be a problem for many teams. Check if you or one of your teammates emailed your code at any stage or uploaded it to cloud storage. If there’s really no way for you to access any of the code you wrote, and if you really feel it’s necessary for your blog (for example if programming was your only significant contribution to the project), you could consider sketching out your code again based on your best recollection of it. If so, please explain on your blog that you’re doing that, so that your tutor knows to overlook minor errors. If you want check that the code is free of syntax errors, the Arduino programming interface can be downloaded for free from arduino.cc.
WordPress.com won’t let me upload videos – how do I add them to my blog? Video hosting is reserved for premium accounts on wordpress.com. However, if you have a free account, you can still embed YouTube videos in your blog posts. Hence, the solution is to upload your videos to YouTube and then embed them in your blog posts. To embed a YouTube video in a blog post, just copy and paste the URL (web address) of the video onto a line on its own. I normally leave a blank line before and after it. WordPress will recognise the link and automatically embed the video.
Can I include Arduino code that my teammate wrote in my blog? Yes you can, but please give credit to the author. Whenever you include another person’s creative work in something you’re writing, you must always correctly attribute it to the original creator. This applies to code, text, images, videos, and any other type of creative work.
How do I post Arduino code neatly on my blog? The best way is using WordPress’s “code shortcode”, as I explain in this article. Although it’s not ideal, short programs can be posted as screenshots of the Arduino programming interface. Please do not just cut and paste your code into your blog posts – the formatting will make it almost unreadable.
I have a smartphone but no laptop, so it’s hard to type in a lot of text – what should I do? Clearly explaining your work is an important feature of your blog, but quality is more important than quantity, so you don’t need to write long-winded descriptions. However, writing good quality documentation on a phone is definitely a challenge. You have the option of writing out your content on paper and uploading photos of it to your blog. If your work is written out neatly and photographed clearly, this type of documentation can be quite presentable.
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