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thriteenthmonke Blog

2012 Los Angeles Regional

Hi everyone. This is kinda late, but we competed at the LA regional (in Long Beach) last week. We won all our matches the first day, and it looked like we would go undefeated in qualifying matches, which would be excellent for alliance selection purposes. Unfortunately, we had some problems Saturday morning. We kept throwing the belts on our conveyor system, so we weren't able to shoot at all. On the plus side, we managed to finally get the bridge arm working on Friday, so we didn't have to rely on our alliance partners to lower the bridge for us. We ended up going 7-2, which put us in a poor position for alliance selections, and ended up with a weak alliance. We ended up making it to the semi finals, and losing the the alliance that won the competition. Would have liked to have done better, but we had a great season this year.

2012 San Diego Regional Competition

Hello everyone.
We had our first competition over the weekend. The usual competition schedule is: Thursday- practice matches, Friday- qualifying matches, Saturday – more qualifying matches, and eliminations. But, there was a scheduling conflict for Thursday at the arena, so they pushed everything back for this competition, which worked well for me since I have class Friday. I got down to the competition on Saturday around 11:30am, and heard we were doing well. Our robot was shooting great, however the bridge arm didn't have enough force to push down the bridge at the competition, turns out that if you build the bridge from the low cost field plans is a lot lighter. If we were allied with a team that could push the bridge down for us it was no problem, but that isn't always the case, so it's a major weakness in our game that we hope to fix for the LA competition in a couple weeks. We won 6 out of our first 7 qualifying matches, and were ranked as high as 2nd/56 at one point.

After the first day of competition our team went to dinner together, which was fun. Afterwards I went to check into my hotel, but as it turned out I didn't have ID on me. I needed to make more room in my wallet, so I had taken my school Ids out, since I shouldn't need them, but I accidentally took my drivers license out with them. Fortunately, the guy at the hotel was willing to accept a copy of my ID that my parents faxed to him. The next morning I get up and am ready to go the competition, and I can't find my keys. I figured that I must have locked them in my trunk when getting my stuff out of there. So, I called AAA to get them to open up my car for me, and oh yeah, I need ID for that too. Anyways, I was able to convince the guy to get me into my car anyways, and headed off to competition.

We won our first match of the day, but then lost the next two, which brought us down to 6th seed. This was bad for two reasons 1: we would get a lower pick when choosing our alliance partners. This competition was not particularly deep, so we figured we would end up with a bad alliance the robot that we considered to be the best ended up on the 3rd seeded alliance, who we would play first. Anyways, we lucked out. There was a team we had our eye on who had a very solid bot mechanically, but was having radio issues in some matches and ended up getting overlooked because of it. We also managed to score a decent second pick that complimented our alliance well. My parents texted me to ask how our alliance looked I responded with "If we win the first round we should win the competition, it will be hard though."

Our first match starts. It was soon apparent that the good robot on the other alliance didn't have radio communications. We won 27 to 43. Not my preferred way to win, it's always unfortunate when a team has that sort of problems because all the electronics are standard for the competition, so there was no fault on their end. I was still nervous though. We had won by a decent margin, but it looked like our margin of victory was small enough that they could still win if all their robots worked the next match.

They did all work, but something amazing happened. The first 15 seconds of each match are run autonomously, no driver control. Our alliance dropped 30 points in autonomous mode, at the time the regional high, and twice as high as what other alliances in the playoffs were hitting at the time. We didn't stop after that, we proceeded to score 71 points, beating the previous regional high score by 23. We won the match 71-37.

Of course it wasn't over yet. I had found a new reason to be concerned. Another alliance had managed to do something else amazing: balancing 3 robots on the bridge, something that no other alliance at our regional had done, and they did it 3 matches back to back. The first two robots on the bridge are worth 10 pts each, but the third is worth 20. If they managed to do some decent shooting before going for the bridge we could have trouble overcoming the extra 20 points in bridge points they had over our alliance. But, we didn't have any trouble at all, the opposing alliance failed to balance the bridge in both matches and we managed to make enough shoots that the bridge wouldn't have done it for them anyways winning 60-14 and 58-10. At this point our alliance had 3/4 of the highest scores at the competition. We were unstoppable, and we were going up against an alliance of first and second year teams in the finals.

In the first match we scored 34 points on shooting, vs 23 points by the opposing alliance, but they got two robots on the bridge for a total of 43. That's no problem, we balanced 2 robots effortlessly in all four of our matches so far, but something went wrong, and something else went wrong after that. A ball had rolled under the bridge on the side we were to ascend on. The balls are foam and will compress a lot if you force them, but only one team at our competition had managed to successfully lower the bridge with a ball under it. Fortunately, our approach to bridge lowering was unusual. Where as most teams push the bridge down, our approach was to have the third robot on our alliance wedge themselves under the opposite side of the bridge forcing it to tilt towards us. They squished the **** out of that ball. There was no visible gap between the bottom of the bridge on our side and the ground from where I was sitting, but there was just enough of one. Our other balancing bot went up first and got stuck half way on. That's okay, we can push them up and then get up easily ourselves, because we have huge freaking wheels. But we didn't do anything for the next several seconds as the clock counted down to zero. Our robot had lost radio communications. We lost 34 to 43, by less than one balanced robot worth.

That is fine, it was a fluke, we are good enough to win the next two matches to win the tournament. We start the next match, autonomous mode starts and our other good shooting team shoots their balls over the top of the field wall into the stands. In driver control we put up a ton of shots, as did our alliance partner. We made most of ours, but they didn't make a single shot. Time was running down. We fired off a few more shots to get our score up to 19. We were down 24 points. We started going to the bridge I yelled at our drive team to try to make more shots, even though there was no time left, since the bridge wasn't enough, but they couldn't hear me, they were hundreds of feet away in a loud arena. We tried to balance the bridge, but even though we had more time than we needed we failed under the pressure. If just two of our partner's shots went in we would have been within winning range, and we probably could have gone for the bridge with enough time for us to balance. After the match I found out that the camera they used to aim had failed, so that they couldn't aim properly. The amount of bad luck that went into our finals loss was was staggering, and hugely disappointing.

We will compete at our only other regional event in Long Beach from the 15th-17th, and we will be better then, since we will have drive experience, and we should have a totally redesigned bridge mechanism by then, which will be invaluable in the qualifying matches, and enable us to get a better seed. Also, I hope that our drivers can get some good experience in shooting ranged shots during the practice rounds, this will make our game more complete and make us harder to defend. On the down side Long Beach will be a much harder event to win. There will be four former world champion teams there, and a couple more teams that are almost at that level. I think we have an advantage over them in that we have one regional event worth of real drive experience over them. But, many elite teams build two robots, so they can practice with one (after the 6 week build phase is over you are not allowed to touch your robot except at competition) to get practice outside of competition. I hope that our experience is worth more, since it was at a real competition, and because we got playoff experience all the way to the finals. (the playoff matches are way more intense that regular matches).

Despite the disappointment, this is still already one of our best seasons ever, and I would say easily our best robot. I am really proud of what the kids on the team managed to accomplish in both the design of/ building of the robot and in driving it.

TLDR: I'm absent dumb and almost got myself into trouble. Our robot is a boss, our drive team is made up of bosses, and despite being a low seed we managed to put together a boss alliance and beast on everyone until we got triple bad luck in the finals which resulted in our alliance play well below our capability and losing.

Begin Pics Photobucket

Set up for our favorite shot, a close 3. Not many teams at the competition had shooting mechanisms that could shoot at a high enough angle for this shot, which gave us an advantage in terms of accuracy. [IMG]http://i7.photobucket.com/albums Photobucket

Shooting Photobucket

Our lights look really cool in this picture. Photobucket

Us with our alliance in the playoffs. Photobucket

This is how our alliance tilted the bridge. Photobucket

Balanced on the bridge. The 20 points for two robots balanced has not yet been added to our score (blue).

Robotics End of Build Season 2012

Hi everyone.

The build season ended about 1.5 weeks ago, and we managed to finish with a bit of extra time this year, so we were able to program and test the robot before competition. Most of this season I was unhappy with how things have been going, since progress seemed really slow most of the time but, things turned out well. The robot looks to perform all the game functions well, and thing look promising. We did manage to break the bot when we were testing, but we ordered some replacement parts and things should be easy to fix. We will be competing in San Diego this weekend, and I'm very excited for it.

This year the game involves shooting balls into regulation sized basketball hoops. There are a few different hoop heights, with the higher ones being worth more points. Our robot has a simple conveyor system that can pick up balls from the ground and transports them to a very fast spinning wheel, which launches them at the goal. We have an adjustable hood, which can switch between long ranged shoots (middle hoop only), and high arched shoots, which we use to shoot into the high goal from right in front of it. There is also a 4"X6" square bump in the middle of the field, which we may have to drive over. In order to accomplish this we used 4 eight inch wheels, as the spacing is such that the bump can't fit between the wheels in the process of going over, which in theory makes it easier, as we don't go all the way down between each wheel, and we can't bottom out. There are also tilting bridges resting on the bumps, and we can score bonus points by being on them at the end of the match. We have an arm on the back of the robot that we use to tilt the bridge down so we can drive on, then we have to position ourselves very carefully in order to balance.

 Here's the robot. I believe it is about 4'7" tall with the hood in the lower position, and it's almost at the 120 lb limit ( which doesn't include the blue "bumpers" and the battery. With those it should be 140-145 lb. The drive system has a 2 speed transmission and has a theoretical top speed of 21 feet per second.

 Robot in the process of shooting. We are allowed to carry up to 3 balls at one time. This made things easier design wise, because in past years we have encountered difficulty in holding large numbers of balls without jamming the robot. The basket is at the middle height in this shot. The high basket is a bit over 8' high.

 You can see the pneumatic actuator used for tilting the hood here.

I did essentially all the lathe work for the team again this year. I spent about 50 hours working on almost 40 parts. The time spent on these parts was in addition to the ~25 hours per week worth of regular meetings. A lot of the time was spent working on the pulleys shown below.

     I tried to take a shot or two showing them in their finished state with the groove for the belts cut, but I guess it didn't take.

I started school a couple of weeks ago. I managed to get into thermodynamics and machine design at my primary school, so that's nice, even though I didn't get in until the third week of classes. I also started classes at a couple of community colleges in the area just to have a bit more to do. I'm taking investments and intro to business. I'm taking 12 units this semester, and 6 of them should be pretty easy, so I should have a lot more time available than I did with the 17 units I took last semester (14 of which were in my major). I'll still need to take at least one summer class, in order to get out of here next year, but now I should at least have an easier time going forwards.

Late 2011/ early 2012 blog

So, I haven't done one of these in a while. I thought I should, but I've kept putting it off. Went to the Grand Canyon with my parents over Thanksgiving. That was a cool trip. Really nice scenery and it was cool, which was nice for hiking. It got really cold at night, which was annoying, since we had to wait for like 2 hours to be seated at this restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner and we were outside most of the time. We a few miles down the trail into the canyon. I would have liked to have gone all the way down, but we got started too late, and I had my parents with me, which slowed me down.

Now some school stuff... Did well in all of my classes which was good. Well, I probably didn't do that well in my British Literature class, but I was taking it credit/ no credit and I passed, so good enough. I was worried about one of my classes because I forgot to answer a couple of parts to one of the questions on the final exam, but everything turned out alright. I was pretty tired all the time for the last couple of months of school since I was busy with projects and stuff, so I'm glad that's over.

I did screw up really badly in that I registered for Spring classes, but didn't pay for them in time and got disenrolled from everything. I couldn't even get all the classes I wanted the first time I registered, and there was nothing relevant to my major available after I paid tuition. I'm also done with my GE classes now, so there isn't really anything productive towards graduation for me to take. I'm on the waiting list for a few classes, but the outlook isn't terribly good. So I'm signed up for some business and finance classes and a welding class at some community colleges in the area. That will at least give me something to do.

The robotics build season starts on Saturday. That's exciting/ scary. I've tried to teach the kids some important stuff the last couple of meetings, but it seems like I'm a pretty boring teacher, so I'm not sure how much they've picked up, plus there is a lot of other stuff they should know in addition to what I had time to teach them. I've also been working on cleaning/ aligning my lathe, so I'm ready to make parts for this season. Put in around 10 hours on that so far and I've made some good progress, though I still have to get it back together when I'm done. And I bought some new tools, though those are back ordered and I have no idea when I'll get them. I'll keep you all updated on robotics stuff.

Other than that I've been playing games. Bought Sequence when it was like $1.29 or something and really enjoyed it. I also picked up the id pack and I've been working my way through Doom. So, yeah that's about everything that's happened recently.

A Tale of Legendary Self Ownage

Back ground information: As I mentioned in an old blog, I built myself a desktop computer about a year ago. Sometime this summer I decided I wanted to get some more performance out of it, so I bought myself a decent heatsink and overclocked my CPU about 30%, and it has been perfectly stable since then. Now onto our story: Last Wednesday I saw a good price for 8GB of RAM in the paper. I didn't need 8 more GB of RAM, but it was cheap, and I had recently attempted to do some computational fluid dynamics simulations with fine mesh sizes that ate up all of my existing RAM, so I had a potential use for it. Also, my dad had built a new computer since my build, and he had more ram that I did, which was clearly unacceptable.

So, I bought the ram, plugged it into my computer and started it up. I did some of my usual computing, and in less than and hour I BSODed. I decided that it must have been due to my overclocking in conjunction with my new RAM, so I messed around with some of the speeds, but couldn't get it stable. At some point I remembered that I had tightened up that memory timings so I set that back to the default.

Thursday morning I was pretty confident that my new settings were stable, so I set up a stability test to run all day. I went to my first class and came back. I could tell immediately from the fan noise that the stability test had failed to complete. I had a black screen with a cursor that I could move around, but that was it. I restarted and got a message that my OS drive needed to be checked for consistency. When I got past that I was greeted by the same screen. I reset all my bios settings to the default and restarted my computer. Same thing. I removed my new ram, nothing. I put the new ram back, and removed my old ram, nothing. I removed my video card and tried using the mobo graphics. Nothing. I tried removing the cmos battery to make sure everything was cleared, nothing. I decided at this point that I must have corrupted my OS due to running it in an unstable condition when stability testing throughout the day. I booted from an Ubuntu live cd, copied everything on my OS drive to an external drive, then reformated it and reinstalled windows.

Windows installed fine, I upgraded to Professional, then installed my chipset and graphics drivers. Everything was going well. Then I realized that my data drives were no longer in a raid 1 array. I switched the sata settings to raid, then tried to boot windows, but it wouldn't boot. I decided that the drives needed to have been in raid at the time of installation for Windows to run, so I decided to reinstall windows again. I tried to boot from the windows cd, but couldn't. In fact I couldn't boot from any disk with sata set to raid or ahci. After a lot of trouble trying to figure out what the problem was I realized that my DVD drive was connected to one of the sata ports set to raid mode, and that I needed to move it. At some point I decided that I should set sata to ahci mode and do raid at the OS level, as I figured it would be better for my SSD. Then I reinstalled windows.

This is where the real fun begins. I installed drivers and stuff, and I restarted. Then I was greeted by the same black screen from before. I could boot to safe mode and then I did a system restore back to the initial state, but it seemed like every time I did anything of any significance I could no longer get to the windows login screen. At this point I figured I must have had hardware damage from overclocking, so I repeated all the ram swapping and such from earlier, but nothing helped. I couldn't narrow down the problem at all. All the diagnostics I ran came back with positive results. Stress tested in Overdrive for a few hours with no problem, chkdsk'ed a couple of times with no issues found, and ran memtest86+ for five full passes with no errors.

By Monday morning I was thinking that it might be some sort of bizzare software issue, where one of the critical windows updates that installed every time I restored to an earlier point would kill my OS. I restored to the earliest point, and disabled all updates. I installed a single program as a test and restarted. Success! Then I installed my graphics drivers and chipset drivers and restarted again.

After restarting I was greeted by the same black screen as before. At this point I thought that it was odd that I had a cursor that I always had a cursor that I could control despite nothing else ever loading. I also that it was odd that it was odd that the cursor always seemed to start off the screen for some reason. I this point I had some idea as to why I could never get to the login screen after updating driver and things. I reached to my right and turned on my second monitor. Oh, hi there..

Fall Semester 2011 has Started

So, classes started a few weeks ago. Managed to get into the last class I wanted, so I'm happy with that. Though, it was at the expense of taking one of the other classes at 8 AM. Currently taking British literature, computer aided design, mechanical measurements and lab, fundamentals of electrical engineering and lab, mechanical design, and strength of materials. I have two Saturday classes for 6 hours of class on Saturday, so I'm not terribly happy about that. It kinda sucks when I get only one day off from school a week and then I end up having to use most of that day doing reading for my classes. My British literature class is kind of ridiculous in the amount of group work and stuff it has. And there is an online forum for the class and we're required to post reflections on the reading there and discuss them with other people. It's pretty much the worst possible way to structure a class from my perspective.

Robotics started a few weeks ago. The teacher that runs it wants to add an aerial robotics competition to the stuff we do. I have concerns with that because I feel we should get good at the stuff we already do before we start doing more things. But on the other hand it's kinda exciting to do something new. I want to get more involved in the teams operations this year and work to improve how we do things. This is hard for me because I don't like taking initiative and stuff like that, but I feel like I've been doing alright at it so far. I've been talking to the president of the team a lot. She seems to have a really good idea of how to run a team properly. I think she'll do a great job.

I bought Darksiders last week since it was on sale for $5 and I've been playing a lot of that. Basically the things I like about it are the things that are like Zelda and the things I don't like it are the parts that are different from Zelda. There are a couple of aspects of the game that I prefer to Zelda, namely the difficulty is higher and the in game currency is more useful. Being able to buy more actually useful stuff makes finding hidden treasure chests actually mean something. I don't really care for the way it controls on PC. Uses too many keys. I wish I had more mouse buttons so I could assign some more stuff to that instead.

I watched Nintendo's preTGS conference last week. The new Skyward Sword footage shown looked really awesome. I didn't think I would ever get this hyped for a game again, since I haven't been doing much gaming lately. Nintendo's announcement of Monster Hunter 4 makes me think that they are trying to focus more or Japan now in order to minimize the damage of an unfavorable exchange rate with the US. This is of course assuming that Nintendo "moneyhatted" the games and Capcom didn't decide to put them on 3DS entirely on their own.

Haven't really made any progress with my hexmill. I was getting "good" data from my simulations, but then I tried to change something to speed them up and realized there was something I had to correct. Now I'm not getting anything, and I haven't really taken the time to review it much because of school.

Yeah, so that's about it I guess.

Some Conferences and Stuff

Went to the AIAA Joint propulsion conference/ energy conversion engineering conference in San Diego basically 2 weeks ago. I was there mostly for the energy side of things. Got to see Elon Musk (Paypal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors) speak. That was cool, but I didn't think he was a very good speaker, had a hard time making out what he was saying a lot of the time. There were some cool talks, and one of them inspired me to come up with a totally awesome unrelated idea, but unfortunately somebody patented it 15 months ago, so I guess I'm a bit late there. I had a hard time finding places to eat in that there was a ton of food in the area, but it was mostly a lot nicer than I wanted. I tried to find some fast food on my way out on the last day and I had to drive around forever to find a place.

Went to Space Up LA last weekend, which is an "unconference". There are no talks scheduled in advance, and the participants schedule what they want sometime from the start of the day until the time of the talk. I ended up unwittingly going to a discussion lead by a 5 year old, which was interesting. There were a lot of people there from SpaceX and Xcor, and stuff there. There were some interesting discussions, but overall I didn't think it was that great, but it was an interesting change of pace. I was wondering if I would see anyone from Armadillo at either of the conferences, but I guess they were all at Quakecon.

I started a summer class a few weeks ago. It's on folklore and it's fairly boring, and it doesn't help that the class meets for 3:15 twice a week. I was worried that this class might ruin my GPA because of the nature of the projects in the class, but it looks like it will probably go alright.

I've been working on fixing the program I'm writing to determine the workspace of my hexapod machine. I've spent 6 hours over the last 2 days debugging and found some major problems, but it's no closer to giving me useful data. I've also been working to relearn C++ so I can do some real programing in the future. I'd like to use it to automate other programs eventually, and do multithreaded simulations to speed things up, but I'm just doing simple things now. I should have a couple of books coming in a few days, and of course they voted to approve a new C++ standard right after I ordered them, but I imagine that won't go into effect for a while and they won't really depreciate anything important.

Fall classes start in 13 days. Not totally happy with my schedule for a couple of reasons, but I'll take it. Taking: Fundamentals of Electical Engineering+lab, Mechanical Measurements+lab, Numerical Analysis, Computer Aided Design+lab,Strength of Materials, and some sort of lit class.

Other stuff: My sister will coming home in about a week, which will be nice as I haven't seen her since Christmas. She spent most of her summer in Nicaragua doing volunteer sort of stuff.

The 1 year anniversary of my last moderation was recently.

I ran out of Half Life. :(

I don't seem to be getting a lot of my goals for the summer done.

RC is ruining my sleep schedule.

I Have Joined the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race

But just barely. :P Sunsha told me I should get steam, so I did. I'm currently playing Half Life 2 and Portal. Mostly Half Life 2. Impressions: Alyx talking to me while walking backwards is really creepy. Gordan is without equal in ladder climbing ability The different gameplay sections kinda go on a bit long for my liking, particularly vehicle sections My space key fix is not very suitable for platforming sections Portal isn't as awesome as I thought it would be so far, but I'm not very far in yet

In other news, work continues on the hexapod mill design. The main change is that the ball joints attached to the base have been changed to a turret style joint. The ball joints were sufficiently rigid and experienced less than 001" deflection under max load, however, the way in which the struts attached to the joints caused issues. The reason that hexapod machines are rigid enough to work in the first place is because all the forces acting on the struts is axial, no bending occurs. By putting the ball joint attachment off axis, I was able to achieve my goal of having a large range of motion in a "small" machine. In most hexapod machines the struts are mounted at the ends and the minimum length is a bit greater than the length of the range of motion of the strut, and the max length is a bit over double. In this design the minimum length is near zero, and the maximum length just a bit over the length of the range of motion. This means I can make the machine much smaller. I originally choose the ball joints as they would be cheaper than the turret style joints, as I don't have to buy a whole bunch of bearings for that design, but the deflection they introduced was deemed unacceptable.

In addition to those changes I also modified the spindle, and changed things to work with the new components.

Finally, I have a summer class starting today. I'm taking a folklore class, as it was available, and met some requirements. Hopefully it's alright. The class is outside of the engineering department, which means it should actually have girls in it. That will be nice.

6 Years of Gamespotting

So, yeah, I've been here a while and posted a fair bit. The people I have interacted with have changed quite a bit over the years. Most of the people who I posted with in RC when I started have been banned, left, or post infrequently. It's been kind of interesting meeting different people in RC through the years. Despite posting here for quite a while I don't feel like I'm really recognized outside of RC at all, which I blame on my not posting anything terribly interesting or controversial. This has the advantage that nobody hates me as far as I can tell, with the disadvantage that I feel boring.

So I think that's about it for my thoughts on that subject. In other news, I've done a lot of work on my hexapod design, and will probably upload some new renders soon. My summer class starts on Wednesday, which will give me some more stuff to do, but I kinda like being able to do nothing all day. I feel that I haven't really accomplished as much as I'd like to this summer. While I have made some pretty good progress on my hexapod design I have basically ignored my other project, which was writing a program to do analysis and optimization for solar water heaters. I feel like I'll probably have to work a lot harder if I want to get both of them completed to a satisfactory level. I want to get the hexapod design sufficiently complete such that I can build it next summer, and some parts may need to be manufactured ahead of time in order for that to happen. It will be a lot of work as it's shaping up to use a large number of custom parts.

So, I think that's about it for this update, see you all later.

Hexapod Mill Part 3

As a reminder, this is what I'm making:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS9oxp0mlw8 I made a few posts showing the base assembly, and the spindle assembly several months ago. I took a bunch of time off during school, but I've started work again now that it's summer. I have now completely redesigned the base.

Construction is welded steel with an epoxy granite fill and a foam and or wood core. The steel provides the rigidity and the epoxy granite provides vibration dampening. The base is designed separate into 3 modules for easier transportation. Originally each module weighed 211 lbs. The current weight is down to ~180 lbs. I'll try to reduce the weight some more to make them a bit easier to move, but at the very least it should only require a couple of people to move, rather than a forklift. The current deflection under 1000 lbs load to on tower is ~.00024", which is good, but I think that is artificially low due to the way that contacts are being handled in the simulation. I will have to do a more detailed simulation in Multiphysics later.

In electronics and software news I found some open source stepper drivers that should save me $130 over what I thought I was going to be paying, so that's nice. I think I will use the LinuxCNC Enhanced Machine Controller, as it has built in support for hexapod machines. I'm thinking I might need to use a standard CAM package and generate the paths as if I was using a regular 5 axis mill, and writing a converter that will translate it for the hexapod. That should be hard. I'm thinking I probably want to make a small prototype so I can check to make sure I can get all the control stuff working before I sink a ton of money into this thing. I'm not very concerned about the mechanical aspects of this (except for the ball joints), but I am concerned about my ability to get the software and electronics running properly.

In other news I got a new cpu cooler. I am currently making my old cpu cooler into some mosfet heatsinks for my mobo. Once I get that done I'll see if I can get a decent overclock on this thing.

Here's a bonus render of the whole thing so far as I finally managed to get everything (mostly) correctly constrained today. Looks like I may have to do some more work on the joints.