Lots to Review From Week 3

We started off last weekend making some parts on the CNC machine for our drive train. We learned a lot more abut zeroing than we bargained for as we found out the CNC machine was not fully calibrated in the Y. we will have that fixed on future parts.

Next up, we did some high speed driver testing to start to get our drivers used to 16-18 FPS.  Wow is that fast.  We have been getting our cycles down and have started looking at sight lines.

Our vision team was also hard at work.  We were able to get our hands on some reto reflective rope and found out we could create an auto centering teleop assist command to help us hit the rope with more accuracy.  But, we also learned that retro reflectve ropes are illegal so that is out.

Our chief strategists has been running field simulations to better understand how many balls we will be able to pick up and how quickly we can load up after all o the hoppers are empty.  It looks like the corners are the place to be fore picking up balls in a hurry.

And of course we have been building and prototyping.  We should have our drive train driving around today because of all of the great effort that has been put in this week.  On top of that we have a much better idea of how our gear intake and ball intakes will work.  As an added bonus. if we get the main robot fully functional by next Saturday, the tea already has plans for adding a high goal shooter.  If that is the case, shooter prototyping would be on the schedule in two weeks.  much earlier than we planned.

More videos can be found on our 2017 build season play list


Still Working on the Details

Last night the team was hard at work on some of the details of the final robot.  Roller intake for gear, roller intake for balls, octocannum sensor and software testing and climbing refinement.  We also did a quick review of the CAD that needs to be finished today so that we can order the remaining parts today.  Tomorrow the team will do a final design review and then start assembling the drive train. So that next week we can start driver practice and mechanical assembly.

It also looks like we picked our human players, now they can start practicing next week as well.

Have you called your sate officials about robotics yet?


Please Pick up the Phone and Help Robotics in Maryland

FIRST in Maryland Friends we need your help! See Delegate Kirill Reznik‘s message below. Call your Senators, Delegates, and the Governor to let them know how important state funding for robotics programs is in helping our children prepare for high skill and high paying jobs in Maryland! lease call his office at 410-974-3901.

From Reznik’s office on the Maryland Robotics Education bill that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support
Dear Friends,

As you may have heard, yesterday Governor Hogan announced that this year’s proposed state budget will fully fund all mandated programs, cut virtually nothing, raise no taxes, and come in under last year’s budget in real dollars.
Unfortunately, this miracle budget uses a number of budgetary gimmicks to reach that goal and uses a separate piece of legislation to eliminate a number of funding mandates. Though I have not seen the full budget yet, I have been told that the bill we fought so hard to get last year to provide for a grants program to the robotics programs throughout the State was included as part of his cuts.
Given the enormous power that the Maryland Governor has over the State budget by Constitutional authority I don’t know if we will be able to restore it. I will try my best, but I need your help. Please call your Senators and Delegates, and also please call the Governor’s office (governor.maryland.gov) and tell them how important this funding is to our children and their future. Let them know that in order to create high skill, high paying jobs in the State, we need to invest in STEM education, and not cut those crucial programs.
I hope that by the time this session is over I will be able to report to you that we have restored this program.


Delegate Kirill Reznik

Contact the Governor’s Office

Whether you’re a citizen of Maryland or just visiting our great state, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

  • Mail:
    100 State Circle
    Annapolis, Maryland
  • Phone:
    MD Relay 1-800-735-2258

Thanks for taking the time to contact the Governor’s Office of Maryland.

Governor Larry Hogan

Lots of Big Learning Today

The team came back from its three day weekend with a vengeance by making 3 gear picker uppers, a revised climber and got pneumatics working.  As a bonus, the team has found ourselves a new programming mentor and he has jumped right in by helping the kids organize their code.  Things are looking up.

As an added bonus, we have a finished airship to practice on and updated liftzilla drive train to start high speed driving with.

We have also starting trying to figure out the robot’s name for this season.

Additionally, the awards team is in full swing and we are working hard to get our awards videos done.

As if all that weren’t enough, the team is starting to plan our district event that we are hosting in march.

Detailed CAD is In Work

Our CAD team has been busy since Saturday afternoon when we finalized the design requirements.

We also made our first big purchase last night and should be able to start assembly of the drive train later his week. We are also going t be doing a lot of detailed prototyping to figure out exactly how our systems need to be designed to hit the cycle time numbers we are looking for.  On the down side, this is only a 3 day week for us since we have MLK day on Monday and inauguration day on Friday.  Next year we need to lobby school admins for no holidays during build season.

We Have Our Design Requirements Defined

We met yesterday to go through everything we learned this week and to come to a consensus around our design requirements.  It took a while, but we think we have settled upon a design and are readt to start detailed CAD. On top of that we started to prototype a new feature that was added today.  The ability to pick gears up off the ground.

Here is where we ended up.

  • Primary – Climb rope to the top in 10 seconds from touching the rope and stay at top past buzzer
    • Capture – Drum based
    • Capture – Use fingers
    • Capture – Use rotation
    • Capture – Catch fast 1-2 seconds)
    • Capture – Need driver camera for davits 1 and 3 to work with driver station 1 an 3
    • Climb – 5-8 seconds to top
    • Lock – Use ratchet wrench
    • Rope – Narrow rope
    • Rope – Big knot on end (monkeys fist)
    • Rope – Retro-reflective for auto assist
    • Rope – Be stiff and heavy
  • Primary – Pick up gears from the ground and drop them off at the peg with a max of 20 seconds per cycle
    • Intake – Drive by control
    • Intake – Scoop from ground while driving
    • Intake – Combine with passive design so it can pick up from feeder station as well
    • Intake – No drop design
    • Intake – will use 8″ arm to pick up gear
    • Stowage – No bump drop design
    • Deploy – Passive design
    • Deploy – Make space for peg
    • Deploy – Use drive assist camera
    • Deploy – Use auto assist code
    • Deploy – Use air ship pilot to pull gear out of robot
  • Primary – Be able to drive nearly 20ft per second and be highly maneuverable
    • Drive – 18-20 fps
    • Drive – Sideways or alignment for gears
    • Drive – Sideways for alignment with low goal
    • Drive – Octocannum
    • Drive – 4″ wheels
    • Drive – Un-actuated position is solid wheels
    • Chassis – 24″ x 24″ x 24″ or 30″ x 30″ x 24″
    • Bumpers – .5″ off ground
    • Robot – Be as light as possible
    • Root – Be as small as possible
  • Secondary – Pick up balls from the floor
    • Intake – Through bumper
    • Intake – Roller intake
    • Intake – Poly chord / belt elevator
    • Intake – Use 1 motor for intake and elevator
    • Intake – Have flap so that balls can be loaded in via the hopper or feeder station without spillage
  • Secondary – Store 20 balls or more on the robot
    • Stowage – Fixed hopper
    • Stowage – Ramp to low goal
    • Stowage – No agitator
  • Secondary – Deposit 20 balls in the low goal in less that 3 seconds
    • Deploy – Low goal
    • Deploy – Movable rake
  • Tertiary – Shoot 20 balls in the high goal in 5 seconds with 50% accuracy
    • Deploy – Use intake elevator
    • Deploy – Have two high goal positions, airship gear 1 and airship elevator gear 2
    • Deploy – Have a wheeled shooter

Over the next two days our CAD team will work on creating the robot design.  And over the next week the team will refine that design with detail prototypes. So that buy the time the parts arrive in week 3 we have the final dimensions figured out.

A big decision we made today was to use Octocannum.  This is going to be a big challenge for our team since we have not used this drive before.  We know it adds a lot of risk, but we feel the possible advantages combined with the learning we will do make it worth it.

Robot systems we need to build will have 9 motors and 8 cylinders / solenoids.

  • The Octocannum drive will require 4 cims, 4 encoders, pressure switches, 4 pneumatic cylinders, 4 solenoids.
  • The ball intake and elevator will require 1 motor for ground, 2 pneumatic cylinder and 2 solenoid for the hopper
  • The low goal scorer will require 1 motor with an encoder
  • The gear intake will require 2 pneumatic cylinders and 2 solenoids for moving the arm with 1 or 2 motors with encoders and IR range finders on the arm.
  • The climber will require 1 motor and 2 IR range finders


Here are some images from today.

Design Review Day is Here

Today we are going to review everything we learned this past week and make some big decisions.  Today is critical because it will lock in the robot design requirements and give our cad teams the green light to start detail design.  This is also the last time that all of the students will have the ability to impact the robot over all.  Next week, each student will be assigned to a detailed prototyping team whose goals are validate CAD.   Last yea we were snowed out of week 2 and part of week 3 and did not have a chance to do these detailed prototypes.  The lack of validation data definitely hurt us, as out first robot design had some major issues that were only discovered on the final robot.  These week 2 detailed prototypes will be key, if we want to be successful this season.

Some of the questions we have to answer,

  • Do we have any priority changes, will we add, remove or shift any of the below items
    • Primary – Climb rope to the top in 10 seconds from touching the rope and stay at top past buzzer
    • Primary – Pick up gears from feeder station and drop them off at the peg with a max of 20 seconds per cycle
    • Primary – Be able to drive nearly 20ft per second and highly maneuverable
    • Secondary – Pick up balls from the floor
    • Secondary – Store 20 balls or more on the robot
    • Secondary – Deposit 20 balls in the low goal in less that 3 seconds
    • Tertiary – Pick up gears from the ground
    • Tertiary – Shoot 20 balls in the high goal in 5 seconds with 50% accuracy
  • How will we climb
  • How will we receive gears from driver station
  • How will we store gears
  • How will we deploy gears
  • What drive train will we use
  • What configuration will we use A or B
    • A. 36 in. by 40 in. by 24 in. tall (~91 cm by 101 cm by 60 cm tall).
    • B. 30 in. by 32 in. by 36 in. tall (~76 cm by 81 cm by 91 cm tall).
  • How will we pick up balls
  • How will we move balls
  • How will we store balls
  • How will we deploy balls

Once all of questions are answers its on to the decisions.

Getting Ready for our Design Review this Saturday

We have at least 2 working prototypes of every primary and secondary system.  We have one last day to do crazy prototypes and then its decision time.  We will be meeting Saturday to go through all of the prototypes and research people have been doing.  The outcome of Saturday’s meeting will be the lockdown of our priorities, lock down of mechanical solutions and the agreement on a preliminary configurations.  From there the team will split into three parts.  Folks that will go heavy into CAD, folks that will continue to prototype and folks that will stat building.

We have our first two order days coming up next week and should be nearly 90% ordered by Friday.

As a bonus this year, because we had some extra help from the stage crew and we plan on being a gear team, we are building an airship.  Our airship will be complete with ropes and working gear pegs.  This will give our human play a lot more practice time than we were hoping to get.  This will also give our drive team more realistic practice.

And as a bonus, we had some alumni stop buy last night during the team dinner.  Sounds like they are having a lot of fun and miss robotics.

Here are some of photos from the night.

The great drive train debate continues

After reading the rules and breaking down the game last weekend the team determined we both extreme speed and high maneuverability.  We looked at what the FRC 836 th robobees in 2016 were able to accomplish with a simple bot and tons of both. With that we have identified a few options for this year;

Over the last few days the team has been researching and testing to gain enough information to fill in a trade study and we are getting close to picking a winner.  Check out our current thoughts here.  We still have a few more days to gather as much knowledge as we can, making this one of the most talked about thinks on the team this week.

Here are some of our prototypes

Building, Trying, Failing, Learning

Tonight was a great night, some of our ideas worked, some of our ideas didn’t, but we did a lot of learning.  We also made a dent on our robot in 5 days and have finalized the design.  We also did some work on our drive train trade study, lots of hard decisions to be made this Saturday.

Also check out our electronics test bot.