Team Vortex Robots - Vortex
Progress Report - April 10th, 2001

These past couple weeks I worked off-and-on on batteries, around various other activities I was doing after school. This is a picture of what the inside of one of the battery backs I made out of 4300mAh D-cell Nicad batteries. All of the interconnects are done with silver solder and 12ga Deans Wet Noodle wire (available from Team Delta), and are strong enough that I can pick up the pack by a wire interconnect without it breaking loose.
Finished pack - Notice the 5 or so layers of electrical tape - I don't want this thing to short out and fry my electronics. I'm sort of worried about convincing the airlines to let me put this on a plane - looks sorta like explosives, though I can assured you it's just size D nicads :)
2 finished and 1 unfinished pack, 12 more to go. The others will be much smaller though, as they are built out of 2100mAh Sub-C cells instead of D.
We needed someplace to actually put the batteries, so we built these two trays, and drilled them out with hole saws to lighten them up, and give us plenty of places to put a zip-tie through.
Next we started putting chain between the motor sprockets and the wheel sprckets. Putting the chain between the first two was a real pain, since I had cheap tools and no idea what I was doing.
The more chains we put on, the faster it went. Eventually, we had all 4 on - the drivetrain is completed!
Next step: Insulating the frame. We had a bottle of this Plasti-Dip stuff for use coating the handle of tools with rubber, and decided it would work great for covering the battery trays, further reducing the chance of shorting out.
We poured the bottle out into this disposable plastic tray so that we could get the rubber over the entire surface of the battery tray.
It was messy, but it worked - the parts were covered in a pretty thick layer of rubber, so there is very little chance of anything actually getting through and grounding the batteries onto the frame.
Our electronics box - actually the inside of the pillow block frame (as is evidenced by the driveshaft coming out over the speed controllers). We have two Innovation First 24v Victors, and a Futaba GY401 servo we're going to use for steering assistance.
The battery trays, mounted in the frame. This was also out first zip-tie test for battery mounting. The results weren't good, so were' currently looking into another way to hold them in that should work quite a bit better.
Vortex as it stands tonight - Electronics mounted, motors ready for hookup, one full set of batteries ready to go. It's looking like we're going to get this thing running tomorrow! And just in time too - we've got a photo-shoot with one of our sponsors Thursday morning.

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