Thursday, January 19, 2017

Day 13: Robot Update

Spectrum Week 2 Video Updates

Recap Video

 Full Time Lapse



Be sure to watch our segment of check_in from this Tuesday's show

New live episodes air every Tuesday at 6 CT (7ET) on the RoboSports Network

Spectrum Current Robot Status

Here is the current form of the prototype, we should be able to have it shooting balls tomorrow or Friday. This wooden version of our robot is named "Radio"

All of our CAD Files are published on our 2017 Robot Page of our website.

1. Drive Train

The plan for the drive train is a relatively simple single speed drive train with 6 MiniCIMs or a possible 1 CIM and 2 MiniCIMs on each side of the drive train. We are geared 12:72 which was the same gearing we used in 2014. We'll have a little less acceleration than we did that year if we keep it at 6 MiniCIMs but should be fine for our top speed. You can see we have already started designing the bumper brackets for the robot this year as well. We are planning to use Slide Snap Latches similar to team Neutrino FRC#3928.

The drive train is going to be 4 wheel drive with 2 VEXpro traction wheels and 2 omni-wheels. 

We are working on a couple additions to this current concept including possibly adding pancake cylinders to the base of our drive train to help prevent us from being moved from in front of the boiler when we are shooting Fuel.

Below you can see the wooden version of the drive train we made on our router to make sure our chain clearances, spacing, etc are all the way we want them.

2. Shooter

Our 2nd subsystem is our shooter. Our plan here is to be a 3 wide shooter that shoots from inside of the key. We are using 2 small drums to shoot the balls. Initial testing proved that we could get these drums up to speed quickly and power them with very little reduction from a 775pro. We are actually going to be driving these ~1.5in rollers using GT2 belts with a 1:2 reduction off the 775pro motors. This system will be tested more this coming weekend. We are waiting for the GT2 belts to come in from WCProducts. Our test version was only a single ball wide and was powered by 4 775pros that were all in VersaPlanetary gearboxes and chain to the rollers.

3. Elevator

The elevator is a crucial part to any robot this year. We are trying to optimize it so that we can eliminate jams and also get a large amount of balls to the shooter very quickly. The 3 channel timing belt elevator should allow us to organize the balls easily. Speed is going to be are biggest challenge. We are working on making sure that the balls are centered in their paths and that they exit the elevator into the shooter in a consistent manner each time.

There are several planned improvements to this system including servo powered stops that will hold back the left or right sides of the shooter so that if we are shooting and know that are left or right shots won't make it we can shut off one of them and only fire the balls we think can make it into the goal. We'll also have a few sensors that will let us know that our balls are in the proper position to begin firing.

4. Intake and Hopper

The main intake will be made from timing belts and WCProduct compliant wheels. Its job is to pull in balls throughout the match so we are ready to fire into the Boiler when the time comes. We are still working out pulley spacing, conveyor compression, etc. The design goal is that the balls come up the bottom of the hopper so that they push the balls above it up and out of the way. These balls appear to slide very nicely with each other so that should work well. The belts at the back of the conveyor are the first step in organizing the balls for the elevator. Balls held above the first layer will be able to fall in one of three tracks when entering the elevator. This may mean that our left and right channels have access to a few more balls then the center channel. We also plan to work out a way to agitate our ball hopper area to move balls on top of the first layer so they will rest into one of the three channels.

4. Mecanum Dropdown Intake

To make sure we can collect enough balls off of the floor we are using a mecanum over the bumper intake. 

This should allow us to have a full 29" of intake width on the front of the robot. This is very similar to intakes from last year that used mecanum wheels to collect the boulder.

5. Gear Subsystem

Our gear subsystem is designed to collect gears off the floor. At first we weren't sure what the advantages of a gear floor intake system were but we soon realized that there are many advantages over just a human feeder system. Imagine if in Ultimate Ascent teams could only hold one disc at a time. If that were the case it becomes far more important to be able to pick and score any discs that were available near your scoring area so that you don't have to drive the length of the field. There are a variety of reasons why gears may end up on the floor near your air ship. Your team mates may drop them (possibly on purpose during auto) and possibly when they attempt to score them but something goes wrong. Picking up and scoring any dropped gears will make getting to 6 and possibly 12 gears scored much faster than having to run gear cycles each time.

The current gear system is planned to have a top roller and wedges on the side that roll the gear in and then a motor will raise it up and allow us to place it on the lift. Here is a quick video of the prototype gear intake.


6. Rope Climb

The rope climb system is critical to almost every robot this year. It's the fast way to score the most points and initial tests by a variety of teams have shown that it's a pretty achievable task. Our current plan is to have a small diameter winch drum near the top of our robot in front of our shooter. This drum will either be powered by our drive train motors (1 or both sides) or it will be powered by its own motors. Since velcro is legal we will be using velcro with a slip knot tied in the rope to allow the winch to get a hold of the rope before actually winching up the robot. We will also mount several larger diameter plates to the which drum so that it can engage the touch plate.

- Spectrum

“When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” ― Maya Angelou

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day 10: CAD progressing even further

Here is a portion of the CAD we have done for the robot. The drive train and a portion of the intake will get their Rev 1 versions sent to our laser cut sponsors tomorrow to be made so we can get it setup on the practice robot to make sure everything is correct before we run the production models. Intake compression distances and belt lengths will be critical in making a blazing fast intake for this many balls.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow evening at 6 CT (7 ET) for check_in on RoboSports Network.

We will have video from this past weeks prototypes and interviews with several of our design team leads on how their subsystems are progressing.

Tomorrow will be our full week recap post where we will break down the progress on each of our subsystems.

- Spectrum

The question of whether computers can think is just like the question of whether submarines can swim. — Edsger W. Dijkstra

Monday, January 16, 2017

Day 9: Boot Camp Build Day

We opened up our lab to three teams from the area to come in and get assistance with the start of their seasons. We did a strategy and design talk in the morning to discuss the game. We looked at the different methods to easily score points, etc.

We worked with them to wire their electronics panels and assemble their AM14U frames.

All three of the teams are off to a good start and we looking forward to working with them throughout the year.

After the teams finished we had a build session to continue working on our prototypes. The shooter was transitioned to a drum shooter using the 1.25" OD aluminum tubing and latex tubing that we used last year for our intake. With a very small amount of compression (.125-.25) we are able to accelerate balls up to the goal.

Thank you to mentors from FRC#5829 and FRC#624 for joining us today at our workshop, we really appreciate the help.

If you haven't seen our friends FRC#5829's AwtyBots' Blog yet you have to check it out, they are doing great work this year.

- Spectrum

“The capacity to learn is a gift;
The ability to learn is a skill;
The willingness to learn is a choice.”
-- Dune: House Harknonnen, p. 437

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Day 8: Start of Week 2

Long Saturday in the lab we are working though getting the prototypes assembled and finding the sticking points that we need to improve.

The intake is much closer to fully being able to be tested. The over the bumper mecanum arm is mounted by without it's pneumatic cylinder to raise and lower it. We are printed a large amount of pulleys to use on the intake.

The shooter prototypes are moving forward, still testing for shot consistency.

We also built test bumpers today to make sure our mechanism will interact properly with our bumpers.

Tomorrow we have several young teams coming in for our Boot Camp Build Day, should be a lot of fun.

- Spectrum

"The most effective way to do it, is to do it." - Amelia Earhart

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 7: Climbing

We continued working on prototypes, including retro fitting one of our off-season robots to be a climbing test bed. We had it do a test climb but we had attached the rope to it. Now to learn how to grab the rope.

The prototype drive train is made from plywood and peg board which makes testing electronics layouts easier.

We continued getting the programming test bench ready for the programmers to start autonomous testing.

- Spectrum

“But what if I make a mistake?' Will asked.

Gilan threw back his head and laughed. 'A mistake? One mistake? You should be so lucky. You'll make dozens! I made four or five on my first day alone! Of course you'll make mistakes. Just don't make any of them twice. If you do mess things up, don't try to hide it. Don't try to rationalize it. Recognize it and admit it and learn from it. We never stop learning, none of us.” ― John Flanagan, Erak's Ransom

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Day 6: Prototypes are getting closer

As we said earlier we have made an effort to make sure we are doing a better job of actually designing our prototypes this year.

Before we build a prototype for an over the bumper intake roller we will actually do the 2D CAD and parts of the 3D design to make sure we are actually building something that will fit on our robot. We know that spinning wheels will suck balls in to our robot. What we actually need to test is how much compression should we have, which wheels will do it best, what is the spacing on those wheels. So by doing more design work early and build better prototypes we can find solutions to these questions faster.

Here is a sketch of the over the bumper intake that we will be assembling tomorrow. This is designed in the same manner that Adam Heard and team 973 describe in their awesome RAMP Video series. This graphic give most of the information we need to actually build the intake. We know how long the pivot arm is, we know it's up and down location, we know the location of the pivot relative to the front of the robot and to the floor. We know where to mount the pneumatic cylinder to move it up and down. This will use a 3" stroke 3/4" bore pneumatic cylinder.
Here is the 3D model of the same design, this doesn't include the pneumatic cylinder yet.

Construction on our shooter prototype is nearing completion, we were able to take some test shots but we'll have more experimentation to do over the next few days.

We are wiring one of our old practice bots to simulate this year's drive train for the programming team to get started with auto routines.

Several members are getting their first taste of machining during build season as well.

- Spectrum

“But in fact, great projects, like great careers and relationships that last, are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant and grow again.” - Seth Godin

Day 5: More Design Work

Most of the day was spent in CAD refining the designs of our prototypes.

We changed the design of the bottom plate of our ground intake to include a moving belt instead of a lexan plate so it isn't required to ride on the ground.

Our drive train is coming together more and now has the option of adding a center wheel if we end up wanting to switch up our drive train mid season.

Our shooter prototype is close to competition and we should be shooting in the next two days.

We are starting to work through a few more of the details of the robot.

There is a big challenge in any mass collection objective of funneling objects through your robot. Make sure you plan your ball path carefully. Passive funnels don't work nearly as well as active conveyor mechanisms. The Cheesy Poofs 2006 Robot has a very nice active conveyor system. Belts on the bottom of the ball work very well for moving balls back to the elevator.

We are starting to think that storage capacity isn't as big of deal as people are making it out to be. If you are storing more than 50 balls it's going to take some time to shoot them and in that time you me see a lot more defense. Capacity isn't a bad thing unless it takes away from the effectiveness of your other scoring elements or the overall robustness of your robot..

- Spectrum

"I confess that, in 1901, I said to my brother Orville that men would not fly for 50 years. Two years later, we ourselves were making flights. This demonstration of my inability as a prophet gave me such a shock that I have ever since distrusted myself and have refrained from all prediction." -— Wilbur Wright Speech at Aero-Club de France, 1908