Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring has more than arrived

   Central New York has seen another mild, to understate it horribly, winter. This has led to an increase in biological activity already this year. The birds and bugs are all returning and the trees are preparing to bloom. Even though this week was foreshadowing for the severe heat we can look expect this summer next week will be more seasonable. Due to the bad winter however I must utter several words of caution, be careful of these guys:
Tick that latched on my ankle in Wisconsin, encountered two that day...
Ticks are arachnids and therefore have 8 legs. They have very intense sensory organs, and like bedbugs and mosquitoes can detect CO2 mostly. They will even congregate along areas which are frequented by animals, including humans. These little buggers are specialists at attaching themselves to hosts. They do this by placing themselves on the ends of branches and leaves, when a creature brushes against their branch or leaf they hitch a ride and walk along the body until they find a dark warm spot. To be perfectly honest I was happy about the one I got on my ankle, my first was just below my armpit on my back, almost impossible to reach.

The main worry about ticks, besides the fact that they are pretty disgusting, is that they carry diseases. One of the most common tick born diseases is Lyme disease which is usually accompanied by a "bullseye rash" and is very dangerous. If you are bitten by a tick DO NOT BURN IT OFF, it is a mistake. Use tweezers like in the picture above and be sure to remove the whole thing, if not, remove the whole thing as you can by whatever means you have it will be hard. Thankfully ticks release anticoagulants which in my case made it so I did not feel my little biopsy. I used a pocket knife, the body became brittle when we burnt it and the head popped off. The head is the most important part, if left in it can continue the process of infecting you.

To leave all of that ugliness behind, enjoy the weather :)

Oh by the way I forgot to mention the Robotics team was kicked out in the semifinals, we fought to the very last, and we can only be impressed and satisfied with the excellent game we played.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Liverpool High School Robotics

   Today was the second day of the RIT First Finger Lakes Regional. This is one of the competitions in which the Liverpool high school robotics team (arctic warriors) compete. Teams are given six weeks to build a robot given a specific task or game (link to this years game:

It is amazing to see the team go from planning.

To a fully functional robot

A turret on top of the robot fires the balls into the hoops to score points

A manipulator allows the driver to tilt the platform so they can drive up it and balance for 10 points

The team actually won an award for our innovative 360 degree independently steerable wheel system, what is so cool is that instead of using the usual chains we used a system of pulleys, taking last years drive train with a similar setup from around 80 pounds down to just under 50!?

Team 174 is tied at the moment at first place. We are doing remarkably well and I must say I hope the best for the team tomorrow. Here are some photos from the competition, enjoy!