We spent much of week two continuing to design the robot and build our prototype. Most of the drive train CAD work is complete.
This year’s game has a medieval theme that requires robots to “breach” defenses and “challenge” a tower. Teams can earn points by crossing obstacles, shooting boulders into the tower, and scaling the tower. Highest points are gained when a robot scales the tower. However, a robot can’t scale the tower until it has been weakened. And the tower is only weakened after eight boulders have made into the tower.
Our build strategy is to design a robot with a drive train capable of crossing all the outer works, i.e., obstacles. The works vary from rugged terrain to moats, gates, rock walls, drawbridges, and even low bars for the robot to cross under.
We are also working on a ball shooter that can target the upper tower windows. And we hope to develop a climbing system.
During our first build season week, the team brainstormed some drive train and special system ideas. When we are satisfied with the design, our CAD team will create 3D models from which the build team will construct prototypes.
The electrical team also got right to work. They are building a control board for the prototype.
And our media team is working on designing t-shirts and promotional material as well as completing award applications.
Team 2039 launched its 2016 build season with a meeting at our new shop at Superior Joining Technologies. Thank you once again to Thom Shelow and Teresa Beech Shelow for sharing their workspace with us. In the morning, students and mentors watched the kickoff ceremonies that introduced this year’s game: Stronghold.
In this game each alliance of three teams works together to score points by stacking Totes on Scoring Platforms, capping those stacks with Recycling Containers, and properly disposing of Litter, represented by pool noodles, in designated locations. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all scoring elements used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST at the end of the season.
After receiving the game information, the team broke into smaller groups to discuss strategy and robot design. Parents joined in by planning construction of a playing field which we will use to test our robot design and practice our driving skills.
By the end of the first week, we hope to have a basic robot design in place and to have started prototyping.
Rockford Robotics attended a “Week Zero” scrimmage in Planefield, IL on February 14. The event was less a competition than a large public demonstration/practice. There was a half-field with ample game pieces. Three teams were allowed out on the field at once and could run their robots for around 5 minutes or so. With only a few teams participating, there was plenty of field time for everyone.
The scrimmage was a great opportunity to learn about our robot’ strengths and weaknesses. We discovered a few issues with our robot. Some we could fix immediately and others for which we plan improvements. Our robot was able to drive, operate the lift, and pick up and stack totes. We also developed a new possible strategy using the tote chute.
We struggled with issues with our articulating forks, especially with wires jamming and becoming mangled. And a programming issue made it so that the forks would start closing and continue closing regardless of driver command. Finally, thanks to an extended and detailed debugging session with members from 3061 Huskie Robotics, we determined we had damaged a Talon SRX motor controller.
We made a few modifications at the event. We put a hole in one of the fork bearing plates to allow us to run wires through it. We added some shim washers to tilt our forks upward slightly to keep the totes from sliding out. When that induced additional stress into our fork motor gear meshing, we added shim washers. We added (temporarily) green duct tape to our forks to give them more grip. We will continue to improve on these fixes during the remaining week of build season.
Also at the scrimmage, Scouting Captain Aaron participated in a meeting, organized by Gear It Forward, pertaining to the development of an Android app for FRC scouting for this year’s game.
As the electronics team completed the control board, they are now working on wiring the components.
The programming team is developing the pseudo code. This is step by step description of the software logic the robot will use to perform tasks. The programming team will use it as a guide when creating the LabVIEW code.
Superior Joining completed welding the robot chassis frame. The students are now mounting motors, gearboxes, and wheels.
The CAD team completed the forklift structure and are now designing pulley systems that will move the forklift mechanisms.
The CAD sub-team continued work on the chassis, added a track system to the forklift, and designed a structure to hold the electrical components.
The Build sub-team cut aluminum square stock bars for the drive train. We delivered these parts to Superior Joining, who graciously volunteered to weld the chassis. Build team members also installed electronics on our prototype robot so we could test its maneuverability and it capability to transverse a slope.
The Programming sub-team is optimizing our FIRST Robotics supplied LabView program to be compatible with the RoboRIO hardware installed on the electrical board. Their immediate goal is to ensure drivers can control motors.
The Electronics sub-team is building the electrical board. It includes:
a power distribution panel
the RoboRIO (a field programmable gate array, i.e., the robot’s brains)
seven Talon SRX motor controllers ( 4 for drive train, 2 for vertical lift, and 1 for horizontal lift)
a WiFi router
a voltage regulator
Media team continues to work on award applications. This year we are applying for:
Chairman’s Award, FIRST’s most prestigious award. It acknowledges team’s community outreach and promotion of STEM
Woodie Flowers Award. This award acknowledges a mentor whose dedication and support is an inspiration to the team.
Entrepreneurship. This acknowledges teams with an outstanding business plan.
Students started prototyping the robot this week. We tried a system of motors, pulleys, and springs to move the forks closer and farther apart. We chose a fork design that consists of a 3 inch, 45 degree angle offset. We used to CAD software to lay out our drivetrain design. We also started to CAD the bearings for our lift.
In the world of design, we locked down the positioning for our sub-components. We decided on a continuous belt system for the lift, we cut our drivetrain, and are preparing it for welding. Next week, We will start building the lift, finish robot CAD, and prototype the electronics board.
This year’s game has lots of challenges. They include moving totes and recycling bins, stacking totes up to six feet, removing “litter” from game floor, inserting “litter” into recycling bins, and driving robot over scoring platforms.
Our strategy is to build a fast robot that can reliably stack totes. After much discussion, we decided on a forklift design. The robot will have a U–shaped chassis with space in center for forklift. We think this design will provide stability, as well as space for electronics. Mecanum wheels will provide drive train maneuverability.
We are deciding between two ideas for our forklift design: an angular articulated forklift with two forks that pivot at the robot’s back and a linear articulated forklift with two forks attached to a perpendicular piece that allows them to open and close.
The robot will also have a pulley system to lift the fork up and a few layers of sliders to increase it’s height.
During Week 2, we will build prototypes to aid our forklift design decision. We will also CAD the drive train.