2019 Build - Day 25: Elevation!

We’ve had our elevator connected to the chassis for a couple of days now, but it wasn’t fully rigged up, so we weren’t able to test it properly. Today though, we finally (partially) rigged it, and for giggles, we even slapped on an actual motor to drive it!

Now that this works, we’re going to put on proper sensors and controls, so that we don’t blow ourselves up.

It moves!

It moves!

2019 Build - Day 24: In which the machines take over (docking)

We’re still chugging away at getting the prototype climber built. Initial testing showed promise, but the geometry needs to be tweaked a little. The elevator and intake team has also finished mounting the elevator on our test chassis and will be installing the intake in the coming days. Once that’s done and tested, we’re going to prep material for manufacture. This year, we’re going to be a little more organized and prepare a “cut-list” of pieces so that multiple people can work on fabrication.

Meanwhile, while all that was happening, the software team was laughing manically. Not for any malicious reasons, but because they managed to get auto-docking working! We’ve been using a Limelight camera this season, and it has definitely made the vision aspect a lot easier. In addition to automatically docking with the hatch area, we’ve also implemented a method to automatically hunt down cargo and get it in the right position for intaking. This should greatly help with our ability to rapidly pick up and score game pieces.

Look ma, no hands!

Look ma, no hands!

2019 Build - Days 21 - 23: Zero to "OMG that looks like a robot!"

We’ve been prototyping a whole slew of mechanisms over the last few days, and sometimes it felt like we weren’t making much progress, and that, “man, all we’ve been doing for the last few weeks has just been cutting wood in various shapes!”

Well… we definitely turned a corner this weekend! It’s been one of our most productive weekends so far, with actual framing for our elevator coming together, the hatch intake redesign being tested, and our drivetrain being wired up and driven in the hallway! Things are definitely coming together! Over the next few days, we’ll be rigging up the elevator, and testing out the manipulator prototypes properly.

Our programming team also got a little carried away with our mentor’s credit card, and we managed to snag a Limelight camera for use this season. OK, who are we kidding, out head coach was so excited to try it out that he set a calendar reminder the day it went on sale. Obsessive much? Anyway… we got the Limelight mounted on our drivetrain, and spent the day tweaking our “automated docking procedure”, with the goal of being able to drive close to a hatch drop off, hit a button, and have the robot automagically dock itself, just like spacecraft and the International Space Station!

We’re really excited by the progress we’ve had this weekend, and can’t wait to wire everything up and have a robot for real!

Cutting out temporary mounting frames for the Limelight

“Just gonna tighten this one thing here…”


2019 Build - Days 8 - 20: More Prototyping

Whoooops! It’s been a while since an update, but our excuse is, we’ve been busy!

In years past, we would already have a drivetrain and mechanism prototypes built on the actual robot chassis, and would be doing all of the design on-the-fly, and on the actual robot. Kinda tells you how accurate our "“manufacturing” process was sometimes, eh"? :D

This season, we’ve been dedicating a lot more time to prototyping and CAD-ing different mechanisms, and making said prototypes out of wood/PVC pipe. This has given us a tremendous improvement in figuring out critical dimensions, and a way to visualize how stuff fits together. We’ve spent the last 2 weeks refining different methods for grabbing and controlling the game pieces, and are pretty close to having a final design done!

We’re currently doing most of our physical prototyping on a spare chassis from last year, but we already have this year’s chassis built and almost ready to go. This will allow our software team to have a working testbed for prototyping algorithms while the rest of the team builds prototypes.

We also made a bunch of new jigs for the X-Carve, in preparation for component manufacture. We also have a series of planned upgrades to the X-Carve that would (hopefully) let us accurately machine VersaFrame tubing.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post, but rest assured, we’ll have some with our next update :)

2019 Build - Day 7: CNC All the Things!

Last season, we acquired an X-Carve CNC from one of our generous sponsors. We used it a couple of times last year to make some intake plates for the competition robot, but not much else. This year however, we’re trying out hand at doing a lot more prototyping, both in CAD and in real life. The CNC has definitely helped in that regard, as we’re able to very quickly cut test pieces out of wood and see how everything fits together.

Today, we had a fairly light crew in the shop, but still managed to get some prototyping done. We worked on several ideas for how to capture the cargo, including a side roller claw, and a top mounted roller. We’re going to see if we can slap these on a test robot tomorrow and see how they fare.

CNC all the things!

CNC all the things!


2019 Build - Days 4 and 5: In which some prototypes are made

We continued work on building the HAB platforms the last couple of days, and we’re pretty much done and almost ready for sending some kind of robot on them for docking!

Also, inspired by this post by Spectrum 3847 , we used our CNC to cut out some ball sizing rings too. They’ve been incredibly helpful to make sure we can handle all potential sizes of the cargo. Speaking of which, we started prototyping some ideas for intakes, including a wheeled intake. Up next, refining the intake, figuring out how best to grab the hatch covers, and prototyping the elevator system we are planning on.

Looks like we might have over inflated this slightly…

Looks like we might have over inflated this slightly…


2019 Build - Day 3 and 4: In which a great deal of wood dust is generated

We spent the last couple of days continuing our work on building the field elements. One of these years, we’ll have a large enough team that this will go a lot quicker. Alas, we do what we must.

We now have all the field elements (minus the HAB) built, and we even got around to prototyping some drivetrain options, as well as mechanisms. Tons of ideas were generated, and the new whiteboard (donated generously by the school) has helped greatly in this!

More updates tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll have some interesting prototypes designed and built.

Bits of a cargo ship

Bits of a cargo ship

2019 Build - Day 2: The Field! It must be built!

Thanks to some forward thinking by our mentors (sometimes hard to come by, hah), we had stocked up on all the lumber we needed in the weeks preceding kickoff/build season. It also helped that FIRST kindly provided a shopping list of stuff to get. Phew!

Majority of the time on day 2 was spent on measuring, cutting and assembling field elements. We’ve definitely gotten a lot quicker at measuring and cutting out the different pieces (the addition of a wicked table saw helped too).

By the end of the day, we had the rocket and one of the side pods fully assembled. More to come soon!


The 2019 FRC Season is Here!


Well, the season showed up rather quickly! It felt like just last week that we were competing in FIRST Power Up, and now, FIRST Destination: Deep Space is upon us!

The team attended kickoff at Long Island University in Brooklyn, a quick 10 minute walk from the school. Once kickoff was over, the brainstorming began. This year’s game seems really simple on the surface, but could be open to some incredibly strategic plays. We’ll see what our collective brains can come up with!

We’ll try to keep a running blog of what we’ve been up to during build season, and we’re incredibly excited to head into DEEP SPACE!

Off Season Learning with Friends!

We were incredibly lucky this past weekend to have Mike and Nelly (354 Alumni) and some of our friends from Team 333 - The Megalodons over at our shop to teach some of our newer members building and manufacturing skills.

The session was incredibly useful, and we learned a lot! Now we have more tools at our disposal going into next build season, all in the name of building a better robot (and better friendships)! 

More build sessions to come!