Weekly Update

A Look Back At Our Changing Labs- Three Years of MAE

posted May 24, 2010, 1:47 AM by Karl Wendt

Please Welcome Haley Kim - Our New MAE Instructor

posted Apr 29, 2010, 10:46 PM by Karl Wendt

It is with great excitement that I introduce you to Haley Kim. Her bright personality, instant connection with students, passion for excellence in education and solid professional experience make her a natural leader for the Media Arts Engineering program. Please join me in welcoming her as the MAE instructor for the coming school year! 
Karl Wendt

Meet Haley Kim 

I am thrilled to be joining the inspiring community at HTHMA!   I have been working on unmanned aircraft since I finished school, and I am eager to transition out of corporate culture before I become too jaded to continue believing that we can make the world a better place.  

I grew up in a military family which meant that we bounced from one Air Force base to the next.  I started my life on Guam, made stops in central California, Las Vegas, and Louisiana, then finished high school in San Diego.  I earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UCSD and a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.  I have always loved learning, and I fully discovered the joy of teaching while TAing undergraduate classes at Stanford.  I often delayed working on my own projects because helping others learn was so rewarding.  I am especially passionate about encouraging young women to pursue engineering and science.

I am looking forward to meeting and working with all of you next school year!

MAE Students Complete Upgrades to The MAE CNC Mill

posted Apr 18, 2010, 12:01 PM by Karl Wendt

Early Project Description by: Kaory Hirata and Jeremy Shehen 

The final product will have it’s angles replaced. The angles the makers of the MAE’s CNC Router used were made out of aluminum; we want to replace them with steel angles because these are more crush resistant. We may replace the chains with lead screws to improve accuracy. 

The wires in the machine right now are mostly uncovered. They need protection from dust and also from wondering hands that might unplug them. Therefore a box will be placed around these wires. Also the hoses that cover the rest of the wires are hard and not flexible; so we will replace these hoses with more flexible ones.  

We also need to find a way for the hoses to hang freely from the ceiling to allow more mobility for the cutting head.  Making an “arm” attached to the table is one of the ideas, but we are not sure of this idea yet because of time issues.

We are adding a "clamping” system to the table. This system is intended to hold various material sizes. The idea is to attach 14 wood boards to the table, and leave spaces in between them so that bolts can slide through and "clamp" the piece being cut. The boards will be is 46In long by 6In. wide, with a thickness of 3/4In. The total of the boards is 28 because there will be a board underneath each one. We decided to have an extra piece under them because we want to be able to replace them every time necessary and still be able to tell where they go. So if we attach the bottom ones and only replace the top ones it should always be where it was intended originally. 

The original idea was to have only 7 boards over the table (since the table is 8ft. long), but through the process of the mock up we realized that the bolts wouldn't be able to get to many different spaces. So we decided to set up the boards across the width instead of the length  for better and more precise clamping.

Third Quarter Juniors Create Simple Machine Toys

posted Apr 17, 2010, 9:26 PM by Karl Wendt

The purpose of the Simple Machine Toy project is to get juniors interested in engineering and critical thinking through a hands on projects that relate directly to the core curriculum. They had to design a toy and take it from an idea sketch on paper to a working final product that had one input (i.e. a crank or a wheel) and 4 interconnected outputs (things that move in different ways). They also had to use unique mechanisms for each output.

The juniors learned the following: how to use tools safely, engineering design communication, the purpose and function of cams, gears, levers, pulleys and a variety of mechanisms as, how to calculate mechanical advantage, gear and pulley ratios, create complex linkages, calculate torque, how to utilize friction to improve the toy's functions, and much more.

Madison and Shanna's Toy Wagon

A Project Reflection by Madison Mcgahey
I had a few hurdles, mainly they were simple things like figuring out exactly where to place certain things in order to make certain mechanisms work. I think the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome was when I was trying to cut out the gears for my mechanism. Even when I cut the gears as precisely as possible, after three or four rotations they would start to jam up again. I ended up taking the project home with me over the weekend and created multiple sets of gears until I came up with three that worked. Even at that point I had to do a lot of sanding and filing in order to make them work correctly but now they work perfectly.

I already had a bit of previous experience with tools, so I knew how to operate a hand held drill, the sander and some saws, but what I really learned about tools was that you have to keep them clean. I never thought that cleanliness could be so important when using power tools, but it wasn't until I entered this class that I realized just how important keeping the tool clean was. If a piece of wood was in the way when using a saw, then your whole piece could skip and what you had just been working on could be ruined. Dust can get in your eyes and block your vision, nails could be laying around in dangerous places, and the key to the drill press would often go mysteriously missing. So more than anything I learned that you have to keep your tools clean.

I learned that the communication, (especially in engineering) is critical. My partner and I have done several projects together in the past which all turned out extremely successful. But this project was slightly different because originally I was the only one that knew how all of the mechanisms in our project were supposed to work, (since I created the original design). We didn't get too much of a chance to talk over the design before the project began, so because of that I felt like my partner was left in the dark as to what we were doing. As the project progressed I was able to explain how things worked and eventually we were able to work on it equally rather than me saying "go cut this". I think that people cannot work as a team if there is no communication. Without communication, at least one person in the team/partnership will not know what is going on in the project, which makes things incredibly unproductive.

I think that if I were to remake this toy or make another "draft" of my toy, I would probably want to and more actual mechanisms to it. I am proud of the mechanisms that are on it currently, but I think I would have liked to have used something more than just gears and cams. I would have liked to have added pulleys or levers just to make it that much more interesting. 

I applied my understanding of simple machines to my first design of my project. I wanted to create as many outputs as possible as simply as possible, which is why my original design only had cams on it. I wanted to create a machine that was extremely simple in design but would keep anyone interested for hours. Although, I started learning more and more about simple machines as the project progressed. I was following my original design for the most part until I saw Kurt's machine. When I saw that he created all of his sounds with nothing but gears and sticks, I realized that I couldn't just make a "simple machine". I learned then that simple machine means more than just creating a lot of outputs with barely any mechanisms, but showing how you can create amazing outputs with handmade and "simple" mechanisms. That was when I decided to add gears onto the side of my machine, turn the wheels themselves into cams in order to make the horse go up and down, and make a bell ring as the wagon toy rolled by.

I loved the hands on work and actual building of the toys. I love being hands on and while I love making movies and photo essays, I was extremely happy to hear that I would be able to build something with my own two hands. I really enjoyed watching something that I designed go from being nothing more than a picture on a piece of paper to a solid thing. It's really fulfilling to know that you just created something that wouldn't have existed if you hadn't thought of it. That is why I enjoyed this project so much and why I love engineering.

Scott, Geraldine and Vanessa Begin Testing Electro-Flora

posted Apr 17, 2010, 5:07 PM by Karl Wendt

Electro-Flora Motor Controllers

Electro-Flora Servos

Electro-Flora LEDs

Our final design of the “Light Robots” is somewhat basic, while appealing to aesthetics. In order for our robots to move, we have decided on a three-wheel system for every robot. Two rear wheels each be connected to a servo, or small motor. In the front of each robot, there will be a sphere suspended by a lose axel. The front sphere, acting as a wheel, will receive no electrical current, and is designed to increase each robot’s turning radius.

Motors and wheels will be connected to metal frame. Our frames will have to be custom built and designed, because they connect our electronics to the actual mechanics. We need to be able to design our metal frames so that wires can easily be run through. The frames will carry a lot of weight, and need to be built out of a sturdy material, most likely some sort of metal. On top of each frame will be our Arduinos, or motor controllers.  This will include a breadboard that can house all of our wires, and be able to house several different types of sensors.

The front of each robot will have multiple sensors. Bump sensors will be installed to signal contact made with foreign object. We will be able to program each robot to either reverse its course upon making contact, or move around the roadblock with the help of proximity sensors. The same proximity sensors will be able to detect other robots in the same vicinity, allowing robots to be aware of one another. Photosensors will also be installed on the front of each robot enabling “conversation.” Conversations will take place when robots sense one another, and relay a message through the use of light. Either LEDs or small lasers will send the light signal. Each photosensor will be placed so that when the robots are facing one another, the lights they use to “speak” and the sensors the use to “listen” will emulate human social interactions.

Each sensor will be wired to the breadboard that rests on the frame. On top of the breadboard will be another panel of the frame. On top of the top panel of the frame will be the majority of our aesthetics. Each robot will have a light design-structure that resembles a flower. Each “flower” will be composed of 3 petals. “Flowers” will be able to shift between a “bud” mode and a “bloom” mode. In the Bud mode, petals will be closed, displaying only exterior LEDs mounted along the outsides of each petal. We plan to use a transparent material for each flower structure, so an audience can see both the lights and the mechanics that make them function. When in Bloom mode, the every petal of each flower will open, exposing one central bulb.

The mechanics of how each flower will open and close is a current obstacle. Our group has devised a mechanism that uses simple principles of engineering to retract sections of the petals. We have run a wire up through petal, and cut each petal into horizontal panels. The petals can then bend like hinge joints when the wire is pulled. Our group is interested in using an actual electrical wire to be run up each petal. This would consolidate two problems: running a current to power the lights, and connecting each panel together. This will allow each petal to bend, so that when they close, each flower seals away the light from the bulb inside.

The complexity of our project lies in functions rather than structure. Each microcontroller of our robots will have a set of behaviors preprogrammed. When robots come into contact with one another, the behavior they execute will determine a set of responses from other robots within certain proximities. The variance of responses from the robots could be determined based on factors such as light-intensity, distance from, previous actions, etc. Once we begin programming, there will be numerous possibilities to extend “conversational” levels between robots.

Actual responses and behaviors of the Light Bots will be for aesthetics. It is assumed that we will operate our robots in the dark, so that light signals and radiance is amplified. During an interaction, robots will move in a synchronized pattern, such as a spiral or line. A bi-product of our work in robot social networking will be a home-made light show.-Scott Linquist

For more information please see Electro-Flora's website


MIT Selects Jake Neighbors for Prestigious Internship

posted Mar 1, 2010, 9:11 PM by Karl Wendt

Please join me in congratulating Jake Neighbors who is now the 2nd MIT summer intern to be selected from the MAE program. Jake was selected from a very competitive semi-finalist talent pool. He will be working with our very own Beth Lacarra at MIT in Massachusetts on innovations in underwater robotic vehicles during this summer.

Please also congratulate Kurt Newcomb who has been named as the alternate if Jake is unable to attend.
This tremendous opportunity has been made possible by support from Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis, Brandy Wilbur and Dan Sura at MIT -Thank you!

Get to Know Jake Neighbors

My name is Jake Neighbors and I am a senior at High Tech High Media Arts graduating this June, 2010.

I consider myself an engineer because I like researching the latest technology and thoroughly understanding how it works. I am a curious problem solver because I apply concepts I know how to make my project useful in many ways. I like to find new ways to make things work and explore in the inner workings of an electrical or mechanical marvel.

I owe all my computer programming skills to my Dad for buying me a $20 Game Maker 4 book back in the 6th grade. As I started to get more into creating games, I signed up for CyberCamps, a programming class for kids at UCSD. There I learned C++ for windows and BASIC for robotics. With the robotics course, I learned how to use some of the basic components such as LED's, resistors, capacitors. Realizing the potential behind this robot specifically the microprocessor, I experimented with different electronics at home.

In 9th grade I joined the FIRST Robotics Team. There I learned how to use sensors, tools, deadlines, and much more. I worked with other members on the team as well as venturing into the mechanical side every once in a while. Then in 11th grade I worked at SPAWAR as an academic intern under the unmanned systems branch. I tested robots and helped program a project named MOCU. After SPAWAR, I started working with Karl Wendt at MASEI (Media Arts Summer Engineering Institute) where I studied how to use the Arduino and the Atmel microprocessor along with underwater robotics.

The most exciting and challenging project for me was the R.E.S.C.U.E. HELI project in Karl Wendt's applied physics class. I programmed an autonomous helicopter to hover by itself. I also created a tutorial on C Programming for 11th and 12th graders to teach them the fundamentals of programming the Arduino.

It is an honor to have been chosen for this MIT Internship and look forward to an exciting summer studying underwater robots- Jake Neighbors

MIT Internship Semi-Finalists Spring 2010

Left to Right- Karl Wendt- Course Instructor, Kurt Newcomb, Deanna Fox, Jake Neighbors, Audrey Le, Paul Santilian, Madison McGaughy, Dan Sura- MIT Representative.

MAE Student's Projects to be Published in Sparkfun Article

posted Feb 4, 2010, 10:56 AM by Karl Wendt

Electronic supplier Sparkfun selects HydroStar and R.E.S.C.U.E. Heli to be published in a few weeks in their electronics news!

The gadget spec URL could not be found

Publication Preview

HydroStar, Autonomous Submarine

Created by KJ Edwards and Kate Lee Newcomb

KJ and Kate are senior students in an advanced high school robotic engineering course. Their project goal was to create a fully submersible and fully autonomous underwater vehicle. HydroStar utilizes several systems to achieve autonomous control. Using bump sensors, it can avoid obstacles, and using two hydrophones (under water microphones) positioned on opposites sides of its chassis, it can identify and hone in on locations of sound sources, much like the human ears. Lastly, using CO2 canisters and a hot water bottle, HydroStar can vary its buoyancy allowing it to control its depth as a result. It turns out to be an affordable and adaptable system for underwater exploration, and perhaps with a bit of modification, even underwater scavenging and recovery. You can see KJ and Kate's full write-up on their product page here: http://sites.google.com/a/hthmaengineering.org/mae-fall-2009-senior-projects---autobots/rover-kate-lee-and-kj


Air – R.E.S.C.U.E. Autonomous Helicopter

Created by Jake Neighbors, Kelvin To, Eric Harmatz, and Luke Hatchbatch

Jake, Kelvin, Eric and Luke are students in the same advanced robotic engineering course as the creators of HydroStar. Air – R.E.S.C.U.E. is designed to be a fully autonomous flying machine, based on a helicopter chassis. At press time, it has mastered the ability to take off and hover entirely on its own. It will soon have the ability to navigate and negotiate a course autonomously as well. To achieve full autonomous maneuverability, it makes use of a plethora of sensors, including ultrasonic range finders, an accelerometer, a digital compass, and a GPS unit. The team hopes that their project can be adapted in the future as an affordable platform for aerial photography. You can see their entire project write-up on their build page here: http://sites.google.com/a/hthmaengineering.org/mae-fall-2009-senior-projects---autobots/air-rescue

British Broadcasting Corporation Interviews MAE students

posted Jan 14, 2010, 9:49 PM by Karl Wendt

Ali Sandavol presents her BETA BOT to Andrew Webb from the BBC News.

Eric Harmatz, Jake Neighbors and Kelvin To present RESCUE HELI
for Andrew.The final radio and TV interviews
are slated to air world wide at the end of February.

Check out bbc.co.uk/technology

MAE Students Showcase "AUTOBOTS" for San Diego

posted Dec 21, 2009, 6:10 PM by Karl Wendt

This year the MAE seniors decided to create AUTOBOTS. Each project uses a computer and an array of sensors to respond to its enviroment in unique and creative ways. All of the projects are computer controlled and programmed by the students. There are five autonomous underwater projects, a CNC milling machine, two computer controlled RC cars and a helicopter. The students have taken each project through a comprehensive development process based on our Critical Project Sections document. The course is based on  6 A's of Project Based Learning. Check out the AUTOBOTS projects in detail at the 1st Semester Senior Projects Page.


Double click the video and select HQ on YouTube to see the video in high resolution.
A HQ video DVD complete with detailed student explainations of each project is available for $10. All proceeds from the sale of these videos go to support the MAE program. You tube limits length to 10 minutes and size to 2GB and as a result this video is really just a sneak preview of the whole experience.
For more information please contact: Kwendt@hightechhigh.org 
The Autobots Expo highlight video begins by showing team Rescue Heli (Jake Neighbors, Luke Hatchbatch, Kelvin Tu and Eric Harmatz) launching crashing and then relaunching their computer stabilized helicopter.

Then team SMART Car (Aaron Rucinski, Jesus Cisneros, Eric Watts, Nic Nash) demonstrated the cars ability to create letters on the pavement in spray chalk.

Jarrod's CAR (Jarrod Johnson) then sweeps into action running a pre-programmed course and firing its optical Gatling gun.

Then team, HYDRO, (Kevin Palma and Issac Lira) show us how their digital compass causes leds to light up indicating the direction the AUV is traveling.

Next, team Beta Bot (Shelma Soto, Ali Sandoval, Josh Jarboe) shows how they create a computer controlled symbolically emotive fish. The Beta Bot indicated sadness by turning blue and sinking to the bottom of the tank and when it was disturbed it would throw a tantrum by turning red and cycling its thrusters back and fourth.

After that, team Hydro Phoenix II also known as Little Sea, (Sophie Santiago, Stephanie Luna)  kicked into automatic action with its bright led arrays and swiveling thrusters in the testing tank.

Then Elmo (Elmo Arteaga) showed us how to create a computer controlled device capable of transferring power wirelessly. His project solved a key problem in the development of an underwater AUV recharging station initially proposed by MIT.

Then team Poseidon (Paul Santillian and Jacob Harris) took center stage with their innovative three thruster configuration and a craft constantly adjusts to always drive true north.

Finishing out the water crafts team Hydro-Star (Kate Lee Newcomb and KJ Edwards) demonstrates a computer controlled active buoyancy system, a hydrophone system, and impact sensors.

Finally, our student created CNC mill  affectionately referred to as CUPCAKE, by team members Ariel Swingley and Diana Barlow makes quick work of a sheet of MDF.

MAE Fall 2009 Senior Engineering Exhibition: Autobots

posted Dec 16, 2009, 6:47 AM by Karl Wendt

This year the MAE seniors decided to create AUTOBOTS. Each project uses a computer and an array of sensors to respond to its enviroment in unique and creative ways. All of the projects are computer controlled. There are five autonomous underwater projects, a CNC milling machine, two computer controlled RC cars and a helicopter. The students have taken each project through a comprehensive development process based on our Critical Project Sections document. The course is based on  6 A's of Project Based Learning.
These projects would not have been possible without amazing support from
Industry and Private Donors
San Diego Seal and Gasket -Provided gaskets at no charge
SD Electronics - provided expertise
RMS Laser - laser cut our submersible frames
Goodrich Aerospace -primary industrial donor
The Rucinski Family -private donor
The Neighbors Family -private donor
The Office of Naval Research- industrial donor
District Officals ROP- San Diego's Regional Occupational Program
Ralph West, Lynn McConville, Bill Berggren - whose tireless support make our program possible
Our Mentors
Cris Fitch -Gives so much of his talent and time to our students at MAE
Richard Fox- Provides great ideas and resoures that keep out students in the know
Ralph Proud - Is instrumental in the CNC and Inductive Charging projects
Dan Sura -Has provided funding, expertise and awesome internship oppertunites
Steve Lachtman- Is the world's best AP physics tutor
Our School Admin
Robert Kuhl - Removes road blocks and is a fantastically supportive director
Dawn Wirts - Works hard to keep things runnning smoothly

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