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Cover Sheet

Project 3.3.1 Marble Sorter
My name: Christian Smith
Group Members: Jake Hebert, Nick Maughan
POE Block 3
Westwood High School
Date: 4/26/16

Design Problem
Problem/Design Statement:
The National Recreation Park Association needs us to develop a device that will
sort the recyclable material in their parks. We will design, model, and test a device that
will be able to separate the given recyclable materials. The recyclable materials will be
different types of marbles that must be sorted appropriately according to what type of
material it is made up of.

Constraints:
Constraints to our design include that the separation has to be fully automated,
we must only use what is in our VEX kit and other approved materials, we must
successfully sort different materials into individual bins, marbles must be fully controlled

during the process, recyclable materials include four different ½ in. material spheres
totalling sixteen marbles, and the design must be efficient and last no more than two
minutes. Examples of these marbles are steel, aluminum, wood, opaque plastic, and
clear plastic.

Brainstorm Idea
Description: The marble
is applied at the top slanted
beam where it rolls down to
a weight which stops the
marble. The flashlight will
turn on and the light sensor
will record a certain value
depending on the
brightness of the marble.
Once this happens, the
encoder will get values to
tell the pulley to lift the
weight up allowing the
marble passage.
The marble then
falls to the second beam

where the magnet collects the magnetic marbles and drops them into a separate
collector.
Based on whether the light sensor has detected a plastic or clear marble, a motor
will spin a plate of collectors to the appropriate collector for that marble to fall in.
If nothing has been detected by either the light sensor or the magnet, a wood
marble is assumed and the default collector is set to wood where the marble will drop
into.

Decision Matrix
Name

Time to
Complete

Complexity

Hardware
Difficulty

Software
Difficulty

Success
Outlook

Total

Jake

2

3

3

3

3

14

Nick

3

2

3

1

2

11

Christian

2

2

2

2

3

11

1 = Worst
4 = Best

Description:
When our group got together to decide which idea we would use, we used this
decision matrix to discover the best solution that would solve the problem we were
presented with. The three of us decided on five factors: the time it would take to
complete, complexity of the design, hardware and software difficulty, and the success
outlook of the machine to determine which of our proposed ideas would be the best
option to go with. These criteria seemed to be five of the most key aspects of making a
successful marble sorter.
We compared each other’s designs and weighed the pros and cons of each.
Based on what we believed would be true of each brainstorm idea compared to our

criteria, we rated each other’s designs on a scale from one to four for each of the five
factors. After discussing our separate solutions and collaborating, we created this
decision matrix and came to a consensus that we would use Jake’s idea for the marble
sorter. His idea seemed to all of us that it would have the best chance of success in
what we needed our marble sorter to accomplish.

Final Design Solution
Description: The marbles are
placed into the opening chute and
will roll to a stop in front of the line
follower so that it can get its sensor
value reading.
If the marble is wood, the line
follower will sense the dark value
and the motor will start spinning. The
wheel attached to the motor knocks
the marble into the cup off to the
side.
If the line follower senses
plastic, the train track will spin in the
opposite direction from the wood cup
and the plastic marble will fall in the
plastic cup.
If the line follower doesn’t sense wood or plastic, the solenoid will retract and the
marble will fall to the train track where the track will move forward every two seconds. A
magnet will pull the steel marble off of the train track and drop it into a separate cup.

If the marble hasn’t been knocked off of the track, it will be assumed to be clear
and it will continue on the train track until the very end into the final cup.
The first solenoid ensures that only one marble gets tested at a time, while the
second solenoid retracts if the line follower doesn’t sense wood or plastic.
Rationale: We chose this idea (Jake’s design) because we thought that overall it was
our best option to succeed in the final test that we would eventually perform. We
believed that the hardware and software requirements from this sketch would be the
most realistic to achieve. To the entire group, it appeared that this design would not be
too complex to have to create and that we would be able to finish construction and
testing of the machine by the time that it was needed.

Design Modifications
Solenoid to Gate: One of the original design modifications was to change the
solenoid at the beginning of the process that held the marbles in place into a black gear.
This gear would act as a gate for the marbles and would rotate every few seconds to
allow a single marble passage at a time. The major reason for this adjustment was that
we discovered that programming the solenoid was something we weren’t very
comprehensive of and found that using the gear would be a better option because it
was easier to code and it worked better when testing the marbles.
Magnet Location: Originally, we had designed the magnet to be perpendicular
to the train track so that it could pull the marble off of the track and drop it into a cup
below. After testing the ability of the magnet to pull the steel marble off the track, we
realized that it wouldn’t work to have the magnet there and that we needed to relocate it
to where it would be more efficient. Our solution was to attach a separate track for the
steel marble to roll down after falling from the train track and have a magnet at the end
to pull the marble off and into a cup on the side, which ended up working much better.
Reversal of Train Track: Our final design modification that needed to be made
was allowing our train track to spin both forwards and backwards. Our group found it
would be easier to sort the marbles if we could allow the train track to go both ways. We
then moved the aluminum cup to the beginning of the train track and the white plastic
cup to the end of the track. I had to alter my code slightly to ensure that an aluminum

marble reading told the train track to move backwards into the aluminum cup and a
white plastic reading told the train track to move forwards into the white plastic cup. This
modification gave us a better idea for a way to sort between these two marbles
effectively.

Final Design
Description: Overall, our
machine didn’t perform too
well and had lots of room for
improvement.
The first marble was
always able to be sorted
correctly, but after that,
marbles would randomly be
sorted, some correctly, some
incorrectly. Some marbles
by complete accident were
sorted correctly, causing
more marbles to be in the
right cups than there should
have been.
Out of the sixteen
marbles that were tested,
two steel marbles, one white
plastic, one aluminum, and
three wood marbles were
sorted correctly. All of the

marbles made it through the entire process and in approximately one minute.
(Top View)

ROBOTC Program

Design Process

Define Problem: In this first stage, we identified the problem that the NRPA
asked our team to develop a solution to sort the recyclable material in their facility. We
discovered that we needed to design, model, and test a device that would separate
recyclable materials and the constraints that go along with that.
Generate Concepts: Next, we individually brainstormed a potential design idea
that could solve the problem that we were presented with. After everyone had come up
with a possible solution, we collaborated together and rated each other’s designs based
on a decision matrix we had developed. Criteria in our decision matrix included the time
it would take to complete, complexity of the machine, the hardware and software
difficulties, and the success outlook of each design.
Develop a Solution: We then chose to pursue to construct Jake’s model
because everyone agreed that it would have the greatest chance of solving the
presented problem and based on our criteria, it would be out best option. After that, we
began to talk about how to make this idea a successful reality and we made our own
technical drawings of this final solution.
Construct and Test Prototype: Finally, we were able to begin constructing the
hardware portion of our machine and developing the software to make it function
properly. After construction of the machine was complete and I had finished
programming my code, we tested the machine and made alterations both in hardware
and software according to what was needed to be fixed for it to work the correct way.
Evaluate Solution: When that portion of the project was complete, we were able
to evaluate how effective our solution was. We all reflected on our design and pondered
what we could have done to make our machine work better than it did. Then, we made
our final changes to our design according to flaws we felt could have been corrected.
Present Solution: Finally, after all construction was complete, we informally
presented our marble sorter solution to the class. Lastly, we documented our project in
our portfolio and all the aspects of the process that we as a team underwent.

Team Evaluation
Jake Hebert: Jake performed his share of the work by constructing a great
portion of the hardware aspect of our machine. He did his fair share of the work

diligently attempting to make sure that the design would function properly and made the
necessary tweaks to the machine in order for that to happen. Jake did a great job
following the group norms and doing everything he could to ensure that we would have
as much success as possible in our final design solution.
Nick Maughan: Nick also did his fair share of the necessary work contributing to
the building of our marble sorter. He came up with several fantastic ideas not only in the
hardware portion of our design, but in the coding as well to fix some errors that we had
made without meaning to. As well as Jake, Nick came in before school whenever he
was asked to help out in the effort to make our marble sorter a success. Nick followed
our group norms at all times and did a great job in giving his entire efforts to making our
machine function properly.
Christian Smith (Myself): I did my fair share of the work by developing the
necessary code to make our marble sorter work and each function to perform correctly
and in the right order. I worked hard and came up with multiple ideas to solve the
problem that we were presented with, testing and correcting my ideas along the way. I
was determined to make our marble sorter work and came in with the rest of our group
before school some days in order to make that happen. Overall, I feel like I did a pretty
good job following the group norms and contributing to the efforts of our group.

Reflection
What would your team do differently with your design solution and why?
Our team would have made more changes to our design, specifically to our gear and flip
gates, to create a smoother transition from the marble at the beginning of the process to
the reading of the marble with the line follower. The way our gate-to-flip transition was

constructed didn’t allow us to have a successful flip and we should’ve changed that
process entirely into something more efficient.
What was the most challenging aspect of this design problem?
The most challenging aspect of this design problem was getting our marble sorter to
sort through multiple marbles instead of just one or two. Our design worked to
perfection when testing a single marble, but when we were needed to repeat the
process again for more than one marble, we were unable to do so without errors.
What did you learn?
I think the most important thing that I learned was that I’m not always going to succeed
in everything that I do and failure is something that I can learn from instead of being
upset about. Even though our marble sorter didn’t work the way I’d hoped it would at the
beginning, it was still an enjoyable process, and I gained a huge amount of experience
programming more complex systems instead of basic ones that I was used to.
What were some of the challenges of working in a design team?
Some of the challenges of working in a design team included availability. Some days
one of us would be gone or somebody might not have been able to come in before
school to work and we would have to compensate for that problem. Our group also
struggled at times to come to a consensus on some issues that came up during our
construction of the design solution.