Build Season

Twinsies and Driver Practice

One of the reasons we decided on building a practice robot this year was to enable the team’s drivers to get additional practice between events (since we can’t touch the competition bot between events).

The Twin

The Twin

Our practice bot was built off an older AM14U3 chassis from last season (it was actually a mule bot that we had used to test some stuff out on), with a slightly different gearbox than our competition bot, but otherwise is an exact copy of Ms Calculated. This lets us make modifications to the practice bot and have them easily replicated on the competition robot! In fact, we built the twin first, and taking lessons from it, built the competition robot.

Some changes we made while using the practice bot include changing the locations of the cameras for better scoring/visual ability, and making the elevator gearbox faster. These changes will be made to Ms Calculated at our first event in a couple of weeks.

Now, a practice bot is only useful if it gets used for practice. To that end, we spent the entire Saturday getting driver practice in. This gave our drivers the ability to practice their sandstorm driving (and driving in general), as well as gave the programming team a chance to tweak the AutoDock code. We’ve set a target for ourselves to be able to score a hatch panel on ROCKET 2 and start to return to the loading station in the 15 seconds of SANDSTORM. The result? Let’s just say we need a little bit of work to do it consistently.

Our times varied from run to run, but with a bit more practice, we should be good to go. This week, we’re letting our backup drivers loose on the practice bot, as well as playing a little defense with last year’s robot, to give a more realistic feel to driver practice.



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 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 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!