After nearly one year of studies in Sunway, i am reaching the end of my journey here in Malaysia. But i still have one more semester left to finish and i am extremely excited about this last semester because there’ll only be one subject in my timetable. For the most part, my schedule is quite loose and i have some time to burn. Initially I was thinking of getting a part time job to fill up the time but during my final exams for the last semester, one of my lecturer approached a few of us to take part in the Freescale Cup.
Last year i blogged about going to Freescale Semiconductors in Malaysia and the experience was truly breathtaking, during the day tour one of the things the company rep talked about was the Freescale Cup. They were keen in having a team representing Sunway in the competition this year. We were also given the full kit to work on.
About The Freescale Cup
The Freescale Cup is a competition by Freescale Semiconductors and the competition has been running in Malaysia for the past 6 years (7 years running including this year). The competition as a whole is done on a global scale and the winning team from each country will represent the country in the world finals. Well, what is the competition all about? The slogan “Intelligent Car Racing” says it all.
Basically, students will need to build a car using the provided kit and the vehicle will need to be programmed to execute tasks in the track. Overall, this marries quite a number of disciplines together and it is good for Computer Science or Engineering students to have some light on their future career.
Ok, the first thing to know about the Freescale cup is that it requires certain levels of skill in quite a number of subjects. Mainly you will need to know a little programming and physics is somewhat needed to optimize the vehicle. Also it does help if you’re good with the tools or you’re generally good in building things from scratch.
Freescale Cup 2015 (Malaysia):
- Date: 23 May 2015 (Saturday)
- Time: 8:30 – 17:00
- Location: MARA University of Technology
The next thing you need to take note if you’re like us taking on this competition for the first time; The resources page above will be your best friend throughout the months leading to the competition. On the page there are links on assembling the servos and setting up the microcontroller as well as some documentation on the competition in general.
What’s in the box?
As you already know, the Freescale Cup is a racing competition and the starter kit which is given to each team contains the bulk of the parts needed to form your very own ‘intelligent racing car’. Inside the box (cover image), you’ll be greeted with a box within a box. The foam front section houses the two electronic components which is the Freedom Board (FRDM-KL25Z) and the Linescan camera.
Inside the secondary box, the chassis of the car is there and for the most part the car has been completely assembled with the motors and wheels. Besides that, there are quite a number of plastic pieces which for us is just extra pieces as we went ahead with the stock configurations without tuning the car for the best performances. There were also quite a lot of small screws and i would recommend getting a small container to store them.
Finally there is the bag of cables which we just left aside and forgot about. In reality, that bag of wires is the key to getting your car up and running. Somehow, none of us remembered the existence of the wires even though we were constantly flipping through it. In the following week i will reveal why those wires are important.
Another thing to note is that there is one key component which is not included in the box and without it your car will not be able to power up. Yes, it’s the battery (and charger). The official rules state that the battery is not included due to shipping complexities so you will need to pick one up yourself.
Getting the battery
At first we resorted to a 6 double a battery configuration but the wires weren’t up to standard and the rules state that the battery must be of type NiCd (nickel–cadmium battery) or NiHM (nickel–metal hydride). In addition to that, the battery must have a Tamiya connector.
Freescale Cup battery requirements:
- 7.2 volts
- <= 3,000mAh capacity
- Tamiya connector
- NiCd or NiMH battery
On the official info page they listed several online stores to get the battery but they were mostly out of stock of these kind of batteries. But with a little google searching i found out that this kind of batteries is commonly used in RC cars (that’s why it comes with the Tamiya connector). So, i went to several hardware shops to hunt down for it but i failed to do so. Then it was back to a little googling and i managed to find a shop specializing in RC vehicles.
The shop is located on the first floor of Amcorp Mall (Foursquare venue | Google Maps). Their online shop will do shipping throughout malaysia but i wanted it quick so i went over to their place. They were offering only NiMH batteries in various capacities but there was only one model which suits this competition; The 1,800mAh model, they did not have a 3,000mAh model and the step up model after that is 3,300mAh which exceeds the capacity allowed.
The battery ran me down RM 45, tried negotiating down the price but the seller was stern on RM 45. Also, the parking for Amcorp Mall as RM 5 for the first two hours so as a whole the battery costed me RM 50. Another thing which i’m yet to get my hands on is the charger to charge up the battery. Sadly, the shop did not sell the single unit charger, he only sells the multiple use charger which was over RM 100.
Despite that, he did say that any NiMH charger will be able to charge up the battery and currently i am still looking out for one. But i have been reading online that it is possible to charge the battery with crocodile clips, maybe i’ll try that first.
I think this is enough talk for an article, I will continue to post weekly updates on our progress in the Freescale cup in the coming weeks. In the next article, i’ll be touching on our painstaking experience in figuring out how to assemble the servo motor. Also, i will update the article with the index to each week’s article to help in navigating this series if you’re reading this in the future.