Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Adrienne Emerson - This Is How I Work

This week, we’re featuring Adrienne Emerson, an important mentor to many students and the community. Her love for engineering began in high school when she joined her school’s robotics team. She has been hooked ever since and continues to inspires her students with her passion. Adrienne expresses her adoration for robotics and helps us to understand her dedication towards her team, The Robowranglers. Make sure to learn more and gain insight on her life in and out of the lab below!

[Responses from October 9, 2016]
Name: Adrienne Emerson
CD Username: Adrienne E.
Current Gig/Job: Director of Robotics 9-12 at Greenville ISD
Alma Mater/Degree: Bachelors in Applied Math and Statistics, Clarkson University and Masters in Secondary Education, Texas A&M Commerce
Current Team(s): 148 The Robowranglers 2010-Present
Former Team(s): 191 The X-Cats 2000-2002, 229 Division by Zero 2003-2006
Location: Greenville TX
Hobbies: Cooking, Traveling, Playing with the best cats in the world (Tornado and Tumbleweed)

What inspired you to do what you do? Tell us a story.
I’ll never forget joining the X-Cats in high school. I was in 10th grade without a single clue what I wanted to do after high school. A couple of my friends had been on the team in 9th grade. They said I should join because then I could come to Disney World with them! That was enough of a hook for me. I interviewed for the team and was placed on the drive train sub-team. I worked very closely with 4 mentors from Xerox Jan Eldrigde, Jeff Huspen, Ron Dukes, and Ellery Wong. They are what inspired me. They pushed me to be curious, learn by doing, and to be confident in my skills. As cliché as it sounds, they changed my life. After being on 191, all I wanted to do was give back to students the same experiences that I got to have in high school.

What is your day job, and how’d you get there?
Currently I am the Director of Robotics 9-12 at Greenville ISD. I oversee the Intro to Engineering courses, The VEX program, and the FRC program, as well as organize all of our VEX events. I’ve previously taught Algebra 1, Geometry, Math Models, and Pre-Calculus.
How I got from New York to Texas is a classic, know the right people, in the right place, at the right time. After college I worked for 3.5 years at a glass manufacturer, Guardian Industries. It was a great experience and I learned a ton, but after 2 years on a swing shift I was ready to move on. The Robowrangler lead engineer John V-Neun and I went to college together and their robotics teacher had just left the school. The GHS principal asked John if he knew anyone that could teach math and lead the robotics team. I interviewed about week later and got the job!

What is your favorite story to tell about robotics?
All my memories from our team trips to China the past 2 years are definitely my favorite stories to tell. It’s amazing to watch the 148 students (and all the international teams) work with teams from China, develop friendships, and help build robots. The best part of those trips has been watching how much the student’s leadership skills grow in just 2 short weeks. And of course, I love how much closer we grow as a team while we are there.

If I had to narrow it down to one story it would be this past year. 148, 987, and 694 were on a 6-hour bus ride to go see the Yellow Mountains. To pass the time, we took over the microphone on the bus and took turns doing karaoke. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

What's your favorite robot that you didn't help build?
This was probably the hardest question on the whole survey. There are so many to choose from.
I finally decided on Ratman and Bobin, the 2015, FRC#4587 Jersey Voltage robot :P

In all seriousness, our whole team was really flattered by this robot! It was awesome.
What apps/software/tools can't you live without? (Work/Robotics/Home)
Google Drive, Excel, Slack, Spotify, Amazon Prime

What's your workspace setup like? (Work/Robotics/Home)
The robotics program at Greenville just got a new home in a brand new Career and Technology wing of our high school. My classroom is a great space with a standard teacher set up, desk, computer, projector, & document camera. The best part about is that there are whiteboards everywhere, and my coffee maker is within arm’s reach.

I spend most of my time in our robotics lab, which is basically a dream come true for me.

What do you listen to while you work?
Any old school music I think my students should love as much as I do.

What’s your schedule like during build season?
Monday, Tuesday, and Friday:
I get to work about 8am and have class until 3:50pm. After school I usually hang around the lab for some quiet time, try to catch up on anything school or team related, or I hang out with our
VEX teams if they have practice after school. Our team mentor dinner is from 5:30-6:00, and our whole team meeting is from 6:00-10:00pm.

Wednesday & Thursday: After school I typically take the night off from team stuff and go to bed early!

Saturday: I usually get to the school an hour or two before the rest of the team to open the building, clean up and get things ready for the day. Our scheduled meeting is from 1:00-10:00 pm but we are rarely out before 11 or 12.

Sunday: We try to take Sunday’s off as a whole team and I try to catch up on home life with lots of kitty cuddles.

                 Tumbleweed and Tornado

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?
Being Awesome.

What's the best advice you've ever received?
Fake it till you make it - My Mom

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
True Crime podcasts (Serial, Undisclosed, Truth & Justice, etc.)

Fill in the blank. I'd love to see   Clint Bolinger 2337   answer these same questions.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Day 21: Three weeks down

Here is are nearly finished drive train and bumpers CAD.

There are still some big issues with the robot to be worked out but we are also working through some small details as we move towards final CAD to be sent to our Laser cutting sponsor.

Little Things
- Handles
- Pneumatic gauge and release valve locations
- Bumper Latches
- Pneumatic tubing runs
- Wire runs
- How the battery connects to the breaker
- Motor wire runs and zip tie locations

- Spectrum

“A thoughtful question often goes directly to the heart of the matter and ignites the creative mind to newer greater ideas.” - John Reyes

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Day 20: Programming & Gear Intake

Our programming team has started getting our autonomous running on our 2014 practice robot. We are using a very similar drive train to that year so it makes it simple to test code on it.

We did a lot of research into alternative gear intakes over the past few days. The geometry we were working with wasn't really working out the way we wanted and we think we found a better solution. We are still using the carbon fiber sheet as a bottom but now the intake pivot directly around are main Fuel intake shaft so it's lower to the ground and we will score the gear just by rotating it a little over 90 degrees instead of the 180 degrees we needed for the previous geometry.

- Spectrum

“The only way to know what people think is to watch what they do, not what they say. Do they come back for more? Do you cause them to change their behavior? Can you make them smile?” - Seth Godin

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 18: Week 3 Update


Watch our full segment on check_in here and be sure to watch the live show every Tuesday at 6 CT on RoboSports Network

Spectrum Master Sheet

Sam Skoglund from FRC#2232 posted about his robot design spreadsheet before the season in this Chiefdelphi Thread. We started with his Master Spreadsheet as a base and over the past few weeks expanded on it to include a ton of useful information for our team for this year's robot. Here is our version of the master sheet, much of the information is taken from Sam's, plus many of the COTS suppliers such as VEX, AndyMark, REV, and McMaster.com. This has been an invaluable resource for us this season we use the belt calculator and pneumatics cylinder table almost daily when working through are designs. We can't verify everything in this spreadsheet is accurate or functional but we figured if we find it so amazingly helpful maybe other teams would as well.

View it Online or Make A Copy

CAD Files

View our entire CAD for the season right here.

Subsystems Update

Today was one of our first VEXpro Present Days. Our large order with a lot of our drive train and intake parts arrived including a large number of MiniCIMs that we plan to put on our drive train.

Also included were W-tread and Diamond Tread versa wheels and omni wheels for our drive trains. A large number of pinion gears were also in this order.

1. Drive Train

Our first sheet metal run of the season came in on Friday so we were able to quickly assemble the drive train and get it wired up over the weekend. We also mount a sheet metal version of the intake. One of the biggest things we learned from this run is where we can improve the maintenance of the robot and places where we can become more efficient. 

We realize after building this one that we don't need our drive rails as small as they are so we are adding in the top and bottom flanges that we took out at the beginning of the season to give more room to the intake. That will make the drive rail design more similar to last year's except without the 8" pneumatic tires. We have CAD in place that allows us to push down 2 1-1/16" pneumatic cylinder just in front of our rear omni wheels to take traction off of them and transfer it on to stationary traction pads. This should make us much harder to move when we want to stay in place while shooting.

2. Shooter and 3. Elevator

Our shooter is still under development. We should have more pictures and videos coming up this week. Our plans haven't changed from last week we are just working through details such as compression and the belt lengths to try and optimize balls feeding into our shooter.

4. Intake and Hopper

Our friends Apex Robotics have started calling their robot hopper their Fuel Tank. We think that's pretty clever and makes it easier to differentiate between the field hoppers and the robot fuel tanks.

The intake and elevator will be changing from using hex shafts spinning in bearings to using hex shaft that is drilled and tapped to 5/16"-18 and bolted to 3/8" bearings using shoulder bolts. This is the same way that Cheesy Poofs build their rollers and how the new WCProducts roller system works. We were able to buy the shoulder bolts and bearings in bulk for pretty good prices. The process does require a bit more machining since each shaft needs to be turned to length, drilled, tapped, and counter-bored but it will make for a much easier robot to work on once complete.

5. Gear Subsystem

The prototype gear subsystem is using WCProducts complaint rollers and a sheet of carbon fiber to pickup the gears. The carbon fiber was tested after we tried several different plastics and composite materials. We are also looking at adding a rear kickup roller but it's difficult to package in our current geometry. The surgical tubing in this prototype is to allow for the gear intake to be compliant as we are scoring the gear similar to some of the release mechanisms used in the 2011 FRC Game Logomotion.

Being able to quickly place a gear at the rear of the lift and depart will help make cycle times that much faster.

6. Rope Climb

This subsystem is also progressing slowly. We have a good idea of what it will need to work but we haven't been working on it as much as we should. We are waiting for a shipment of roller tube to come in from WCProducts before we can build the full scale prototype of the climber.

7. Electronics

We are getting a lot of practice in nicely running wires. This is just our prototype robot and it looks fantastic.

Hopefully the real robot will look this nice.

8. Programming and Controls

We are starting to look into hooking up RGB LEDs for this year's robot to provide feedback to our driver we will also use rumble feedback in the joysticks for times when the driver may not be able to see the robot.

- Spectrum

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.” - Doris Lessing

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Day 17: Prototype drive base and intake

This is our prototype sheetmetal drive train and intake. It's actually one of the most cleanly wired robots we have built, mostly because the large center rail hides all the power wires. Once we add PWM and connect all the motors we're sure it won't look this clean.

The electronics layout is working well so far. We are planning to bring back our back panel from 2014 that makes reading gauges, or connecting to the robot much easier.

Here is a picture from our 2014 back panel.

The shooter prototype will have a new back panel made to increase compression on the balls after we worked with magic tape to figure out the level of compression we wanted. 

- Spectrum

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” - Lance Armstrong, Every Second Counts

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 16: The 2nd third of the season

We are now officially in to the 2nd third of the season. Teams should be rounding out their ideas and prototypes and getting heavy in to their designs.

We flushed out our gear intake concept and believe it will be able to load from both the floor and human feeder if needed. We have a second concept that is being designed that will fit a similar geometry that may make our hit box larger for floor loading the gears. 

Our prototype drive train and bumpers were test fit into our brand new "A configuration" sizing box. 
It's a nice fit just grazing the bumpers as it goes down. Please remember to size your robot and include the bumpers, no one wants to be taking 6+ inches from their chassis during an event.

Just a reminder that we will be on check_in this Tuesday (and every Tuesday) starting at 6 CT (7ET).

- Spectrum

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.” - Winston Churchill

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Day 15: First round of sheet metal

Week 2 has come to an end. We built a test hopper to make sure our ball count numbers were reasonable. We were able to fit 70 balls in the volume we have left for our hopper.

We received our first run of laser cut parts from our sponsor Solarcraft Inc. This will be our beta drive train and intake.

- Spectrum

"The best way to teach somebody something is to have them think they're learning something else." - Randy Paush

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Day 4: Recap

We're now 4 days through the season. This is when teams are finalizing their initial designs and beginning to build more high quality prototypes.

Strategy Breakdown

One of the main goals for the first few days of the season is to make sure everyone on the team has a very firm grasp on the important aspects of the game strategy.

First Impressions

  • Additional Human Players on the field.
  • Lots of balls on the field.
  • Flat field, nothing to drive over, very low bumpers, and ground clearance
  • Auto has big potential bonuses
  • Have to understand the ranking system (additional ranking points for tasks)
Ways to Score
  • High goal
  • Low goal
  • Auto moving
  • Reserve gear (rotor 1)
    • Reserve gear has to be applied to a different rotor if rotor 1 is engaged during auto
  • Points on the ground (Fuel on the ground)
  • Gears to run the rotors
  • Climbing points
  • Penalty points

Ways to Deny Points
  • Controlling game pieces
  • Hoarding balls
  • Hoarding gears (not really likely)
  • Remove Gears from opponents lift (before they are raised in to the air ship)
  • One on One Defense (pushing, hitting, etc)
  • Especially while shooting or placing a gear on the lift
Limited Resources
-Game Limited Resources: 
  • Time (2:30) 
  • Gears 
    • Only located in Return loading lane 
    • 18 per alliance 
  • Full Hoppers - 5 
  • Space In front of hoppers (likely only 2 robots in front of each hopper) 
  • Space in Front of the Boiler 
    • Only a couple teams can fit directly in front of the boiler at a time and only one centered 
  • Two Return Loading Stations (In Loading Lane) 
    • Not symmetrical 
  • Gear Lifts 
    • Each alliance has 3 
    • Only two are on the side with the boiler 
  • Only 2 pilots to pick up gears 
    • Visibility may be hard from some stations to some lifts 
  • Space on the airship for gears 
  • Max 12 gears scored per alliance 
  • Visibility 
    • Sight lines will be obscured by the Air Ships
-Robot Limited Resources
  • Very tight volumes 
  • Weight = 120lbs + bumpers + battery 
  • Battery Power (only one battery) 
    • This limits the number of motors to use at one time before brownout 
  • Air storage and production capacity 
  • Only one gears can be controlled at any time by your robot

Points in FRC STEAMworks
We worked out a points analysis for the game. This led to several conclusions. The GEARS have a diminishing return, the first 2 GEARS you score (not counting the reserve) are worth a combined 40 points. Then the next 4 are combined to be worth 40 points, then the next 6 combined are worth 40 points. This means your robot has to do the same amount of work for fewer and fewer points. They are scored in groups so if you score GEARS 7-11 but not the 12th all that work won't be represented in the final score.

The FUEL points are interesting since it takes a certain amount of scored goals (3 for high, 9 for low in Telop) to actually score a point. This should be far less time consuming then an unscored gear. FUEL (balls) are always worth the same amount of points and there are a ton of them in this game, 600 possible balls on the field.

What does this mean for STEAMworks matches? Most likely teams will focus on getting GEARS first since they are worth the most points for the least work for the first few GEARS. After each Rotor starts spinning the alliance should consider if they are going to be able to reach the next threshold to earn points. An alliance with 3 rotors spinning (6 GEARS scored) and only 45 seconds left in the match probably shouldn't continue giving GEARS to the airship since they have little chance of scoring 12 GEARS for the next Rotor. 

FUEL is always valuable unless you overload the BOILER or score too many FUEL too close to the end of the match.

ROPE CLIMB is the highest valued single item and probably the best points/sec in the game.

Our Keys to STEAMworks
  • Every robot should be able to score gears
    • The first two GEARS are worth 40 points. If you find yourself on an alliance with no one who can score GEARS it's going to be hard to win a match
  • Climb on
    • The mechanical challenge of climbing a rope seems daunting but initial trials by "Robot in 3 Days" groups and others shows that there are many relatively simple ways to accomplish this. Anything that can be done on an FRC field by spinning a shaft is normally doable by a lot of teams.
  • The intake is king
    • With this many balls on the floor, you have to a have an amazing intake if you want to be an awesome robot. Hoppers only let go a max of 5 times a match and the human player is a long way from your BOILER.
  • Balls per second
    • You may have the most accurate shooter in all of FRC but if your rate of first isn't high enough it's not going to matter. Shoot a lot of balls and shoot them quickly. Shooting percentage will matter but possibly can be over come with quantity.
  • It's a cycle game disguised as a mass collect game.
    • In other mass collect games, your goal is to gather scoring objects for one to 3 big bursts of scoring. This was how 2006 Aim High and 2009 Lunacy were both played. STEAMworks isn't a mass collect game it's a cycle game. The top teams will be scoring GEARS and FUEL each cycle. So that means we have to optimize our cycles like 2013 "Ultimate Ascent"
Time Analysis
How long does each of our cycles actually take?
Our quick estimate says that we should be able to get 6-7 cycles of 1 gear and 30+ balls in the telop period of the match. These are optimistic, defense, driver mistakes, waiting for alliances to clear needed space, etc will slow these times down. This assumes we are using a floor loading GEAR pickup so we don't have to align to the loading station.

Initial Robot Plan
After strategy comes robot design. What robot do we build that can accomplish our strategy.

Robot Requirements
  • Fast maneuverable drive base
  • Wide Collector that can intake all the balls we run into while driving across the field.
  • Modest ball storage - 40-50 balls is likely more than enough for a cycling robot. We want to be able to catch from the hopper but catching every ball isn't needed.
  • Floor GEAR intake - on the same side as the ball intake.
  • Rope Climbing Mechanism - This should be quick but world class is likely not needed 5-10 secs is  more than fast enough.
  • Shooter
    • We are still developing
    • We need a high goal shooter
    • We want a high rate of fire
    • We wish to have multiple shooting angles and positions

Current Design
Most of our current design is laid out in various ever changing and often confusing Solidworks sketches.

We know
  • 29" x 29" Robot Chassis.
    • 35" x 35" after we have bumpers
    • This allows us to extend 4+ inches out past our bumpers in any direction we choose as long as we don't do it at the same time during a match.
    • Wide and short lets us collect form the hopper and human loader if we need.
  • Fold Down mecanum wheel intake over the front bumper
    • Allows us to have a 28" wide intake
    • Mecanum wheels spin the balls in past the bumpers
  • Cut in our front bumper for balls to pass through. ~17" wide
  • Rear mounted elevator and shooter
    • Allows for a reasonable angle shot with your front bumpers pressed into the BOILER
  • Climbing drum likely mounted low and on the back of the robot.
    • Long drum to allow for less accurate driver alignment
  • Turreted shooter
    • We are looking to learn 
      • How the balls react to flywheels and spin.
      • How they react to hitting a hood?
      • How consistent are various fly wheels?
    • Here is our first prototype design for the shooter.
  • Gear Intake System
    • The plan is to fold down an active roller and a small plate to intake the gear similar to how many 2011 intakes worked.
    • We will need to package this into a small space for it to work with our design.
Open CAD Models
This year we are making all of our CAD completely available every Tuesday night (probably Wednesday morning). We will be updating our Grabcad Public Partner Spaces with the previous weeks CAD files. Feel free to use them however you wish. We make no guarantees about completeness or how much help they may be but we think it may interest some teams. If you don't see any updates contact us and we will update, we may have just forgot to push to the partner space.

You can find links of the 2017 Gamma Ray page of our website.

Check out check_in
We are part of a brand new program from the RoboSportsNetwork called check_in. Along with 5 other teams from around the country we will be sharing our build progress from the week and showing off our designs. Tune in every Tuesday at 7 ET (6 CT) for check_in. The first episode aired last night can be seen on the RoboSportsNetwork Youtube Page.

- Spectrum

"What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen" -- R.W. Emerson