This year, Rockford Robotics went to two competitions: The Midwest Regional in Chicago and the Wisconsin Regional in Milwaukee. In Chicago, we were able to make it into the finals, but we didn’t move up much further. We did discover many problems with the current iteration of our Robot, the RoboTalon. Basically, our robot worked effectively, but it was really slow. Our challenge for the next competition was to keep our reliability, but to enhance our speed. We were able to do this by changing a spool on our claw, adding a wheel to the top of our claw to quickly pull in trackballs, and changing the motor that we used to lift the trackballs up to the overpass. We also were able to add some basic autonomous programming to help get more points during the hybrid mode. Because of these large speed boosts, we rechristened the robot, the “TurboTalon.” Due to the modifications, it took us longer to get the robot functioning correctly during the competition. Despite this, we still performed much better in Milwaukee then we did in Chicago. We were able to lift balls faster, pull them into our claw faster, and move around the field with more ease. Unfortunately, we weren’t noticed as much in Milwaukee, and we didn’t make the finals. Overall, we greatly enjoyed the competition, and the opportunity to play with such great teams. We are also very grateful to our sponsors for making this all possible. Next year, we are going to better focus our marketing at the competitions to enhance our chances of doing even better.
Based on the nature of the game, we decided that the most effective strategy was to hurdle as many balls as possible, and to control which balls were on the overpass at the end of the game, as these were worth 12 points each. We chose to create a robot with a large front “talon” that would grasp the ball, and elevate it to the height of the overpass. The talon was attached to a cable powered elevator system made out of 80/20 stock. We would mount this to a chassis with two central powered wheels and four surrounding castors. This would yield an easy 0° turn radius. It turned out that this orientation made the robot spin too easily, but we were able to control it fairly well with two joysticks. Most of the non-kit parts were all manufacture by the students at our build site, TechWorks. We also extensively used carbon fiber from another sponsor ACI. This material gives plenty of strength while also keeping weight down, which is important when you have a 120 pound weight limit. Many times, this material has kept the robot together where other pieces have failed. We finished the RoboTalon with about a day to spare for practice and shipped it.