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
Sunday, January 8. 2017
Today is the second day of build season. I'm pretty sure the only reason that you could get dozens of high school students up early on a weekend is for robots! Even though it’s a blizzard out and the roads are absolutely horrendous, many mentors and even more students slogged their way through the snow to make it here today.
We spent yesterday reviewing the game manual and then split off into groups to postulate and share different strategies. The students and mentors then all regrouped and shared out their strategies and we began prioritizing which ones we want to base our robot design on. After dinner, students broke off into groups with mentors to begin creating some prototype designs.
And now, as the wind and the snow whip around outside the school windows, we are gathered (more like barricaded) in the tech wing to continue our work. This morning, we finished up our initial designs and we are now discussing the pros and cons of each one. Hopefully, by the end of the day, we will at least narrow our choices down to one or two designs and continue prototyping on our work shop.
Meanwhile, some of the mentors and alumni are (very) hard at work building and painting a copy of the field in the wood shop for us to use while we prototype and build our robot, and to use during our local scrimmage towards the end of Build Season: Rochester Rally XIII! This year’s Rally is on Sunday, February 19th, and it is free and open to the public!
For the rest of the week, we will finalize our designs and prototype them, and hopefully begin working on our final build.
Happy day after Kickoff!
-Student Blogger Katie
Saturday, January 7. 2017
Today is one of the most exciting days of the year that us robotics kids look forward to. Today is Kickoff, when we find out what this year’s challenge is! The taste of excitement fills the air making even the calmest of spirits loud and proud. We all gathered by the sports entrance to our school, huddling for warmth and poking fun at one another. When the big old yellow vehicle rolled up we let out shouts of joy. Everyone rushed out the door and onto the bus. The team this year is larger than ever making the bus extra cramped. Cheers of laughter echoed in the cramped, metallic space of the bus. Once everyone was loaded on and checked off the attendance list we set off to our destination, Spencerport High School. The ride was a bit uncomfortable for some, since several of the kids were sitting three to a seat. It was so cold that the windows where iced over, which made for a good surface to draw quirky pictures on.
When we made it to Spencerport we rushed off of the bus, eager to get inside to the warm, heated building. Spencerport’s robotics team 3015 Ranger Robotics has been hosting the local Kickoff since last year. They have been doing an amazing job by creating a fun and exciting environment for all. They’re even generous enough to hold a raffle give away! Some of the prizes vary from a simple flash drive to a flat screen TV. They also have tons of yummy, scrumptious donuts in their cafeteria for everyone to enjoy. That’s actually the very first place some of us went when we got in…
Once we all filled up on tasty donuts, it was time for all the teams to gather in the auditorium for the live stream. A slide show played on the projector of various pictures submitted from different teams. Whenever there was a picture of our team we would proudly cheer. When everyone calmed down there was some quick speeches from sponsors talking about various opportunities FIRST gives its members, from experience to scholarships. Once all of that was over, the stream began.
It started with a very fun and interesting music video about steampunk (by the end, some of us were unashamedly singing along). We happened to see one or two pics of our team in it, which was very exciting (one of the pics even had me in it while I was wearing the mascot costume!). The stream then went on to show off some crazy shenanigans by the founders of FIRST. When it was all said and done, they finally showed us the game that we have all been dying to see: FIRST STEAMWORKS.
This year’s steampunk-themed game, FIRST STEAMWORKS, is played by two alliances of three robots each on a 27 ft. by 54 ft. 4 in. field. Each match is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. Robots operate using pre-programmed instructions for the first 15 seconds of each match, and then drivers control the robots for the remainder of the match. The object of STEAMWORKS is for robots to work together to gain points by scoring green balls, or ‘fuel’, into the low or high goals of a ‘boiler’ to build up steam pressure, or by retrieving and delivering gears to the ‘airship’ in the middle of the field. The human players on the airship (yes! Human Players in the middle of the field!) will collect and install the gears, and if enough gears are installed then they will be used to turn the rotors and award the alliance extra points. During the last 30 seconds of the match, ropes are deployed from the airships, and robots can climb up the ropes to score more points. Check out the game animation here!
Here is a picture of this year's field:
We made our way back to our school to begin brainstorming. Some people already came up with a bunch of ingenious ideas on the bus ride back, but before we can put those ideas in to motion we need to go over the game manual. So for the next few days we will be studying the manual and coming up with neat ideas to make the best robot we can, and make this year a great one!
-Student Blogger James
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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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