After dropping into the practice session of the competition last Saturday, I discovered that just about every other team at the competition was using a quadrotor. Two of them were straight off the shelf Parrot-AR drones, which retail for $300. That level of technology does make my life miserable and tanks my chances of making a good showing for TCNJ, but I do realize that it’s completely fair. If I had $300 to blow, I’d do it too.
Unfortunately… or not… my budget is about 2/3rds the price of such a device and I’m not using up all of it. Making do on a budget is often half the battle in engineering, so even if this is abysmal news, it builds character! Plus, I wouldn’t get to do any actual engineering otherwise, because the competition would then boil down to a programming-exercise. I think one other team built their own quadrotor, so I commend them for that feat. I would do it too, if I had a bigger team.
Regardless, I’ll go into this competition with Emu proudly in tow. As antiquated as its technology may be, I did learn a fair amount over the course of the project. I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t have an electrical engineer or a computer science major on my team, so I could dabble in both areas in addition to the MechE goodness of Emu. Cross your fingers, Emu should be fully functional in a week’s time.