The Tools We Use

Software

The bulk of our code is Python and we'll use a number of different applications to write it, depending on what we're coding and what device we're on, but generally we use Visual Studio Code and if we're in the CLI then we'll often make code amendments in Nano.

Hardware

As is often the case with writing software, there are many ways to achieve the same (or very similar) results and I believe this is often the case for hardware too. Just take a look at how vastly different the Pi Wars robots have been in previous years, but all setting out to solve the same challenges. For us, it's about sticking to what we know and what we can achieve with the tools we have on hand. We can't list every tool we use, well we could but you'd soon get bored of scrolling down the list, so below we've listed the main ones.

  • Wanhao Duplicator 6 3D Printer
  • Precision Gold A55KJ Soldering Iron
  • Heat Gun, used for heat shrink tubing and heating up acrylic sheet for bending
  • Vernier calipers
  • Multimeter
  • Handheld acrylic sheet scribe
  • Wire strippers
  • Dupont terminal crimper
  • Various craft knifes
  • Side cutters
  • Long nose pliers
  • Hot melt glue gun
  • Various files and saws
  • Various screwdrivers, spanners and sockets
  • Plasters
  • Coffee
  • Beer


A small selection of the tools we use.

Pi Wars 2020 - Stage Zero

And so it begins...

The first step was to get our application form submitted before getting down to some serious planning.

The three of us have sat down and discussed what we've done well and not so well previously, and in doing so we've identified a number of areas that we need to improve on.

The big plan (at this stage, likely to change a number of times during the build)

  1. Testing, we need to make a lot more time for testing.
  2. Never take for granted how much (little) time we have left to finish.
  3. Ditch the idea of tracks and use bigger wheels, tracks gave us lots of grip when we used them in 2018, but things tend to get stuck in between the tracks and the drive wheels, causing the tracks to become detached.
  4. Increase ground clearance but without pushing the center of gravity up too much. Our plan has always been to build a robot as compact as possible, so simply piling components on top of each other is something we aim to avoid.
  5. Stick with the articulated steering, it takes a while to get it tuned correctly, but when you do it does make the robot handle pretty well at high speed.
  6. Make the wiring harness even more bespoke, we bought the tool for crimping Dupont terminals last year, to enable us to get connecting cables just the right length, but the wiring was still not as neat as I would have liked it.
  7. More testing, then GOTO line 8
  8. More testing, then GOTO line 7

So, where are we so far in the 2020 Pi Wars build?

Well, at this stage we're picking over 'neatly organised' pile of components and parts from the 2019 build and deciding what gets reused, redesigned or redistributed to a storage box. *Disclaimer: It will almost certainly change a lot and many times during the build, so it's extremely unlikely to look like this when "finished".

We'll continue to keep you all updated as the build progresses.