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Learning From Mistakes

It made it through Round 1 and got a score of 56 points.  Time to take a step back and analyze what I’ve observed.

  • The biggest problem is losing track of the bomb.  It will be on track to catch the lowest bomb, when suddenly the detection will skip a beat and it’ll take off across the screen for something else and can’t get back fast enough to catch the bomb.  I have to fix this first.  I’m pretty sure I have outlier detection from the Pong game that I can reuse here.
  • The segmented calibration that I described back on the first day seems to be working fairly well.  That’s where the robot moves the paddle knob a known number of degrees, then the program sees how far that moved the buckets on screen, and calculates how many pixels a degree is.  This lets the program know that to catch the bomb that’s 70 pixels away, it will have to rotate the paddle 30 degrees.  I suspect that I will have to tweak the algorithm a bit, though.  Mainly, I think it will need to do several calibration turns to refine the numbers.
  • The response time is going to be a killer.  I have little doubt that the motor itself can move the paddle into position fast enough.  When it moves, it zips across the screen.  The problem is that it doesn’t get moving as fast as it needs to and there’s an unacceptable lag between commands.  I think I might still be seeing an echo of the waggle.  It’s not as visible, due to the weight on the spinner assembly now, but I think that delay is still there.  If I can fix some of the other issues, I suspect that the response time is going to prevent the robot from getting past around level 3.
  • The NXT has an inactivity timer.  The robot turned itself off in the middle of a game.  Gotta take care of that…
  • I don’t want to keep hitting the button to start a round.  I’m going to have to implement the button press.  Unfortunately, implementing the button press means I’ll have to change around how the PaddleController class works.  It’s a dirty hack right now, I gotta clean that up.
  • I like that Kaboom! is a much faster game cycle than Pong.  With Pong, I couldn’t always tell what was wrong right away.  Sometimes it took a minute or two to get the ball in a situation where something went wrong.  I’d implement a fix and try again, and again, it would take a minute or two.  Kaboom! doesn’t last that long.  The games at this point are less than a minute long, sometimes much less.  If the robot is going to lose, it’s going to lose fast.  It’s not going to end up in a cycle where the ball keeps bouncing around between the same two points over and over and over for five minutes.  If a game in Kaboom! lasts five minutes, then it’s an amazing success.


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