Tuesday, March 7. 2017
Rolling Thunder keeps “MARCH”-ing on through the season as we start the first week of March. The team continues to prototype the second robot, and preparing for the Finger Lakes Regional at RIT and many are eager to experience what FIRST is all about. Many new students, such as the writer of this post, have not attended such an event and are all very excited.
The Chairman’s group is busy refining their speech, and the drive team is meeting consistently to prepare for the competition season that is growing ever closer. The mechanical sub-team will continue to perfect the designs that we have spent the past two months creating.
Student Blogger Kyle
¯_(ツ)_/¯ (This is Kyle's face after finishing the blog entry. I think he did well, don't you?)
Saturday, February 4. 2017
Happy Ice Cream for Breakfast/Pajama/Breakfast for Dinner Day!
We celebrate this day every year by piling in early in our PJs with buckets of ice cream, then bring in all our frying pans, waffle makers, and skillets to make breakfast for dinner. We have waffles, bacon, sausage, more bacon, pancakes, some more bacon, scrambled eggs, and everything in between as we fill the science hallway with the smell of bacon (which usually doesn't go away for a couple days and really confuses all of the students when they come back to school on Monday). Some years we blow a fuse or two, but hopefully that won't happen tonight!
In between all this eating and partying, we've been hard at work on our robot. We have started working on the final assembly (at last!). We actually build two identical robots every year, because the one we use for competition is sealed away in a plastic bag after the 6 weeks end. Our second one we use to let our drive team practice with before our competitions. And if something breaks on it or just doesn't work well, we will have a chance to figure out how to fix it and improve it once we get to competition.
Members of our mechanical team have been working on adding bumpers to the drivebase, assembling the mechanism to hold the gear, creating the conveyor intake, and have disassembled the prototype shooter and are re-using some of the components in our final design.
You can see some pictures of our shooter below. The lefts shows two pictures of our wooden prototype, complete with motors and wiring, and the right shows the CAD model for our final shooter assembly. As you can see, we actually did decide to go through with the shooter design where it shoots three balls at a time.
Our programmers have been working on the code for our controls, autonomous mode, and shooter (as well as indulging in the occasional Butterfinger, of course).
Our electrical team has been doing some work on the control panels for the drivebase and shooter while they wait for more components to be assembled so they can add on all of the electrical components (including, hopefully, some pretty sweet LEDs!).
Between electrical and programming, there still isn't a lot of work for them do. All of the mechanical students are rushing to finish making and assembling the parts on our robot so that programming and electrical will have enough time to do their thing before Rochester Rally on Sunday, February 19th, from 10AM to 4PM in the East Gym at Penfield High School. This event allows teams to test out their robot designs and lets their drivers practice before competition. It's free and open to the public, so we hope to see you guys there!
As of today, we have finished up all of our CAD and shop drawings so we can fabricate the rest of the components of our robot. The shop drawings help us dimension and keep track of each of the parts. Some of the parts, like the one in the drawing below (which is for a rail on our shooter mechanism), are sent off to our main sponsor, Harris, who fabricates some of our more complex parts.
As always, make sure to check out this week's vlog to see our students and robot in action!
17 days until Stop Build Day!
-Student Blogger Katie and Ace Reporter Justin
Saturday, January 28. 2017
We hit a little snag during Week 3 since it was mid-term week, so many of our students were M.I.A. to study for their exams. The school is still gracious enough to let us use their facilities for our build sessions, but nevertheless we are still behind schedule. We still need to finish our detailed-design drawings and prototypes, which is something we hope to have done by the end of this weekend.
We have, however, been making decent progress with our drivebase and prototypes.
Students finished assembling the drivebase a few days ago, so it ended up looking like this:
It was spray-painted (black because it is a non-moving mechanism) and the wheels, gears, and motors were attached to it. Meanwhile, the electrical students created the electrical panel and then worked with the mechanical students to mount and wire it to the drivebase. Some kids tested it out last night, and all of the gears meshed and it drove!
Our programming students programmed the electrical panel and are currently doing their thing with the controls and our autonomous mode, which is the 15 second period at the beginning of each match where the robot operates using pre-programmed instructions. Right now the program has the robot drive past the base line, which scores 5 points, and then deliver a gear to the airship, which gives us points when we start one or more of the rotors. In between working on those programs, some of the new students are receiving more training before the large majority of programming starts later in the build season.
We have been going back and forth a lot with our shooter design (which is evident when you look at the multitude of prototypes we've created and reworked over and over again). At first, we wanted it to be able to shoot several fuel at a slightly staggered rate. Then, we decided to only try and shoot one fuel at a time and added a guide rail to increase it's accuracy. But now, we've decided to go back to our initial idea and try and shoot three fuel at the same time, with the added guide rails. A group of mechanical students assembled the initial design using wood just to get a visual of how big it will be. Right now the motors are being attached and will be tested later on before we begin either assembling the final design, or create yet another prototype (although, fingers crossed, this really does seem like the final design).
On the left you can see the frame the shooter will be in. The top right shows the three different guide rails that will go onto the shooter, and the bottom right shows the preliminary CAD model of the shooter with those rails.
Other students are creating a CAD for the final assemblies of the drivebase, shooter, and gear holding mechanism. Below, you can see what we have so far for the CAD model of the final robot assembly:
And remember that whole discussion going on about whether or not to use treads or buckets in our intake system and we ultimately decided on the bucket system?
Yea, that discussion. Well, here is the inside scoop on how we came to that decision, directly from a primary source:
It was a scene straight out of “Hamilton.” Three mentors and two students, who had been arguing for a week about the design of the conveyor system, entered a room and didn’t emerge until a final design had been decided. This was the third major redesign, and it will be the final, whether or not it really works.
We try to make decisions as democratically as possible, with nearly the whole team voting. However, we’ve found that these votes usually leave many people unsatisfied, take much longer than necessary, and don’t give enough weight to the people who are actually going to make the subsystem. For this decision, we had a small group of people talk through all the details and make a final decision. I was lucky enough to be in the room when it happened.
Only 24 days until Stop Build Day!
Don't forget to check out our vlog channel and watch our Week 3 vlog!
-Student Blogger Katie & Ace Reporter Justin
("Hamilton" discourse by Student Essayist Hannah)
Saturday, January 21. 2017
With Week 2 coming to a close, we have decided on which mechanisms we are going to use on our robot, and are finishing up our CAD (computer-aided design) drawings and have started creating the technical drawings. We decided to use the dimensions for a low bot, meaning our maximum dimensions could be 36 in. by 40 in. by 24 in. tall.
Our strategy team has been locked in heated debate about what we should prioritize for scoring points. Right now, they seem to be in agreement that scoring fuel (those green wiffle balls) and delivering gears are equally important in regards to points. Our drive team believes that scoring points by climbing the rope should be prioritized last since it will take a lot of time and effort during a match, but it will still be worth it to integrate our climbing mechanism into the robot.
We've actually updated our climbing mechanism a bit to look more like this:
It has tabs on it now so it will be able to catch the loop on the end of the rope more easily. We've been doing lots of testing on it, and it seems to be working fairly well.
We have also come to a major decision on our shooter. There was a debate as to whether we should use a conveyor system or a series of small buckets to carry the fuel from the intake to the shooter. We eventually decided on using the bucket shooter system because even if one of the buckets broke, the rest of the shooter will still work. Whereas with the conveyor system, if one tread broke then the whole shooter would be unusable, and it would also require more sensors. If one or more of those sensors broke, then it would require a lot more electrical and programming work to fix it. Here is one of the drawings that shows how this system will work:
Right now there is lots of work going on in the shop as prototypes are being tested and reworked before the final CAD drawings are made. Each mechanism on the robot, such as the intake, shooter, and climber, have a sub-team of students and one or mentor assigned to them. The mentors supervise the students in the shop to ensure their safety, and provide them with guidance and support in their work and designs. But ultimately, it's up to the students to design, build, and assemble the robot.
For more updates, be sure to check out our vlog channel or tune into the live stream of our workshop during build hours!
33 days until Stop Build Day!
-Student Blogger Katie and Ace Reporter Justin
Thursday, January 12. 2017
We are definitely making progress! We prioritized what strategies we want to approach with our robot design, and if you’re curious then here they are in priority order:
#1: Be able to drive (obviously) and be able to press the button on the hopper (which are boxes on the edge of the field) that releases the green fuel balls onto the field.
#2: Store about 20 fuel balls, gather fuel from the field, score fuel into the high goal of the boiler from the Key (check out the picture below for reference as to where that is), and pick up a gear from the driver station and deliver it to the airship.
#3: Gather fuel from the driver station.
#4: Climb the rope.
#5: Score high goals from by the airship.
#6: Lowest on the list, score fuel into the low goal of the boiler from the Key
Students split up into groups earlier this weekend based developing the prototypes before presenting to the team about them on Sunday night. We don’t normally meet on Mondays or Fridays until the end of build season, but yesterday the mechanical students and mentors held a special Monday meeting to work on the prototypes more.
Let’s check them out!
(Please keep in mind that these are only prototypes, and that we may not use these ideas in our final robot)
Prototype #1: High Shooter
The wheels on the high shooter spin at high speeds to shoot the fuel into the high goal of the boiler, which is a little over 8 feet high. It's designed to shoot several fuel at the same time, but the shots will be slightly staggered so that they don't hit each other in mid-air. It sounds simple, but so far we have had problems getting the wheels to spin fast enough to shoot the fuel to the height we need.
Prototype #2: Climbing Mechanism
Our climber is a tube with small metal bars sticking out from it. To help us climb, it will start spinning, catch a loop that we are putting on the bottom of our rope, and twist the rope around itself while simultaneously pulling the robot up.
Prototype #3: Gear Mechanism
This prototype acts as a 'pocket' to hold the gears while transporting them, and is able to push the gear onto the peg that carries it up onto the airship. The mechanism is made of mostly lexan and has two doors controlled by pneumatics so that it can leave the gear on the peg and drive away.
Prototype #4: Intake System & Drivebase
“The Chicken Plucker”, our intake system, spins pieces of pneumatic tubing that catch the fuel balls that are scattered across the field, and brings them into the robot.
It is mounted in a prototype of our drivebase, the style of which has been hotly debated over for the last couple of days. On Wednesday night, we finally settled on a West Coast style of drivebase, which has wheels on the outside of the frame (unlike the drivebase pictured above) which are directly driven by the transmission. Since the wheels aren't taking up space on the inside of our frame, this leaves us more room to work with on the inside of our robot.
This year there are two different volumes our robot could be: either 36 in. x 40 in. x 24 in. tall or 30 in. x 32 in. x 36 in. tall, and it can weigh up to 120 lbs. We will decide which volume to use once we finalize the mechanisms we are using for the shooter, intake, etc. But for now, our CADers have created some initial designs so we can start planning out where everything will fit in the robot:
Someday, it will hopefully look more like this:
This was our CAD model from 2015. Fun fact! For safety reasons (and 'cuz it looks really cool), we spray paint moving parts red, and non-moving parts black.
Tonight we are making some serious decisions on our final robot design, including what prototype designs we're going with and which size of robot we will be using. We will report back sometime this weekend with all of our plans.
40 days until Stop Build Day!
-Student Blogger Katie
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Team 1511 Penfield Robotics
The Thunder just keeps getting louder!
Welcome to the blog of Rolling Thunder, FIRST Robotics team 1511. The team is from Penfield High School in Penfield, New York and mainly sponsored by Harris Corp. To find out more about the team and FIRST, please visit the Who We Are page.
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