Sunday, January 21, 2018

Day 15: More CAD

Hook geometry to starting to take shape. We love this video by Adam Heard and 973 for designing pneumatic linkages. 

Drive train is moving along, it now has a belly pan and more holes

Arm pivot is more flushed out, we'll be using a colson dead hub in a way it wasn't designed for but it should serve us well in this new role. 

- Spectrum

“Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you've got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”  - Maya Angelou

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Day 14

Drive Train

Drive train CAD is starting to progress. We'll get the gearboxes and belly pan on over the weekend, and start working on the mounting points for the A F-frame. 


The prototype virtual 4 bar intake is progressing, but we still haven't gotten fully functional. Ideally this weekend we have version 2 to the point of collecting cubes. We'll need to make a decisions to continue optimizing this design or change course soon. Luckily the intake doesn't have to slow down progress on the rest of the robot.


Cable management is going to be a big issue for when we have the tailgate and winch installed in the robot. The rope needs to be able to move and extend with the arm during the match, and then pulley free from the arm to allow the winch to pull directly to the hook. Today we prototyped lexan flaps that are close with Velcro. The rope will ride in these flaps through out the match and then be able to pull open the doors once the winch cable is under tension. As for allowing the cable to extend and retract we are going to prototype a system that uses a coil of pneumatic tubing to spring the rope back when it's not in tension, the pneumatic tubing coil should arrive on Monday.

- Spectrum

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.” - Barbara Kingsolver

Friday, January 19, 2018

Day 13: Intake motion and Drive Train Speeds

We did have our first meeting back after the winter storm. Most of the team spent the day at Memorial Hermann Hospital getting a tour of the new "da Vinci Xi® Surgical System." We were able to see real world applications for the technology that we learn in FRC. We should have photos soon.


We progressed on the virtual four bar intake. This prototype has some issues and we have begun building the 2nd version to fix most of the problems. The gif below show you how the arms actually move. 


We are also looking into systems for folding out our climber hooks and also keeping our tailgate winch cable organized while it is attached to our extension arm, our current plan is use coiled pneumatic tubing to allow the cable to stretch and retract as needed before pulling it in to tension at the end of the match. 

Drive Train Speeds

This is our current drive train gearbox plan. This may still change but we are looking to be very fast this year. The amount of full field runs may down this year but it is very possible that we will crossing the field width wise regularly from portal to scale.

- Spectrum

"Through my education, I didn't just develop skills, I didn't just develop the ability to learn, but I developed confidence." - Michelle Obama

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Day 12: Second Ice Day

We couldn't meet Tuesday or Wednesday this due to hazardous road conditions and closed highways.

We are too the stage we call Block CAD. None of parts are how they would actually be manufactured but they are more than just two D sketches. If we have prototypes CADed of the systems we can use those as place fillers but a lot of the elements are just simple extrusions based on our previous sketches. This stages helps get robot from just a bunch of collective thoughts to something with a little more detail. You can start seeing in 3D where you care going to have packaging problems and where you need dedicate more thought to your final solutions.

Side view of the robot with the arm in multiple positions. The final intake won't have motors sticking out the top to allow it to flip from side to side. 

Side view of the robot with the tailgate attached and shown in the up and down positions.

Head on view with the arm straight up. Easy to see how a fold out hook will be able to latch on to the square tubing of the rung. 

 Head on view with the intake tilted at the frame perimeter, this is if we are potentially reaching over another robot that is already hanging to grab the rung.

 This position show the length of the robot during it's curled position. The final size will add a few inches for bumpers and any length that we make the hook. 

There are still tons of details to iron out with our systems.

Robozone Podcast

If you're looking for more FRC content check out the Robozone Podcast. Gives a bit of insight into FIRST in Michigan and their 500+ teams but also just general FRC information that is great to know.
The 2nd episode of this season was released yesterday.

You can also subscribe to their RSS feed in slack to get updates that way.

- Spectrum

"If you can’t understand it, you can’t change it." -Eric Evans

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 11: Ice day in Houston, this is weird

We actually didn't meet for the first time in recent memory. The roads were iced and we have a deep freeze for over 24 hrs which rarely happens in Houston.

Since we can't work on our prototypes, we wrote out our entire current robot plan also their is some updated CAD of the virtual 4 bar intake at the end.

Robot Plan

Drive train and base

- 28.5" long by 24.5" wide
- 4 wheel drive, 6" omnis
- 2"+ ground clearance, it won't be great over the corner but shouldn't get stuck. Should be fine up the platform.
- Not great up steep ramps but steep ramps are bad anyway. Arm may help us out of weird end game situations, forcing it in to the ground, etc.
- current plan is to go with a sheet metal inverted west coast drive (cantilevered wheels on the inside, like 118 last year) to get us a bigger belly pan. 24" is small, our normal wheel wells wouldn't leave us much room and vertical electronics are annoying.
- small size let's us drive under the scale when needed and through the null territory without getting in the way of a partner scoring on the scale. (Also drive under opponents scale if you want to risk it)
- Small size makes it easier for us to get on to tailgates (lifting platforms)
- omnis makes it real hard for us to tip sideways, arm can right us if we tip forward or backward, hopefully we don't need to do that ever.
- 6 miniCIM drive train
- balls shifters
- 5-7 low, 14-16 high gear, need the high gear for portal cycles.(those aren't set and will probably change as we run the numbers better)
- a frame for the arm also acts as frame members


- pink style arm
- single big rotation joint (about 28" from the ground)
- single telescoping extension
- all sheet metal, all bearings for extension.
- 3x 775pro on the arm with a disk brake so we aren't stalling the motors much. Gearing allows us to curl for the climb when we aren't lifting a partner.
- 1 or 2 775s on the extension, not climbing with the telescoping stage, just hanging from it (has to be able to hold the wait of the robot but not lift it)


- able to intake from both sides of the robot when the arm flips over
- still prototyping our final solution but worst case it's some version of a sideswipe intake (1114 2015). We want to get the virtual 4 bar intake(look below for a CAD sketch) working but it's definitely more complicated but it should let us intake 11" cubes easier.
- Every cube in this game matters and time wasted trying to turn cubes is time not spent score. Drivers may be able to just approach cubes from a different angle to avoid the 11" face but probably not everytime.
- intake is 2x 775pros, one for each side so we can spin the wheels at different speeds to help with I taking.
- wheels should be able to launch cubes 2-3' for pushing them up to the scale (arm will rest them on the side of the scale for up tilted scales). May include a pneumatic punch if we need more height/distance.
- intake opens and closes with pneumatics, let's us drop cubes and place them nicely.


- hooks hard mounted to the arm extension. One on each side we can grab the square tubing from either attack direction.
- hooks fold out or extend to give us more reach for the bar then we get from the single extension.
- solo climb is a curl. That way we can climb second and as long as we can reach the rung we can curl away from the already hanging robot and both get points.
- dual climb is a forklift tailgate that folds out the front of robot, forks are stored along the a-frame for the arm.
- winch is attached to the tailgate so we can get our winch pull location as close to our partner as possible so our climb doesn't lean as much.
- forks have tread or other traction on them so robots don't slide off
- forks have ramps on the sides of them so teams can drive over them.
- some type of retaining bar goes over the partner so they can't tilt off, this won't need to actually tighten to their robot, just prevent them from tipping up.
-winch cable gets mounted to the same hooks we use for the solo climb, as we winch up the arm is back driven to allow us to get it height.
- winch is 2x 775pros
- tailgate and winch can be detached easily match to match, so we can be lighter when we don't need it.


- own our switch and the opponents switch as fast as possible and maintain the lead.
- run cycles from portals to op switch and to the scale.
- climb around partners if needed, lift a partner if that's needed as well
- able to pull from the cube zone without knocking to many cubes out of the zone
-able to quickly grab cubes our opponents knock out of their cube zone.
- have third partner maintain your own switch lead and score at least 3 cubes in the vault.
-scoring on switches under defense will be hard since you have to get your bumpers touching the fence to be able to score (reasonably). Lots of spin moves.
favorite alliance task breakdown right now.
1. Score in op switch and the scale, defend them from scoring in their switch.
2. Score in the Scale and your switch
3. Score in your switch and vault, defend your switch
How much time each of those teams spends on each of their tasks and how efficient they are will decide the game. May need to call audibles and have #1 come back from far side and score your own switch to maintain ownership.

Intake CAD

The red sketches show the belts and shafts that would spin the wheels powered by the VP 180 degree adapter. The orange shafts show the movement of the two arms that will move the wheel plates in and out to compress the cube this is powered by a pneumatic cylinder since we only need about 90 degrees of rotation which is 45mm of belt travel. The green sketched belts are used to keep the wheel plate perpendicular to the motor mounting plate those 4 pulleys are directly mounted to the plates they are near and don't even touch the shafts they are around. Note these belt distances are done in CAD yet, this was just to figure out the stacking of all of the components. Many of the distances will change, for bolts, etc.

This gives a large range of open and close in a very small vertical displacement of the wheels.

Most of these pulleys will be printed, if needed most of these can be made from the hex versions but would required cutting a bearing hole into them.

This will allow us to adjust how far we close and open the claw by allow us to adjust hard stops on the pneumatic cylinder motion (or arm motion). 

- Spectrum

“Friends share all things.” - Pythagoras

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day 10: Wooden Chassis

Quick update again today. We are continuing some of the testing and finally deciding on a drive train. We didn't want to rush into our drive train design this year as we knew it could change a lot based on our robot design.

We still have some testing to do to make sure we can make the configuration we want work but we should be able to start getting it fully CADed this week.

 We also mounted the wooden arm on the robot base to make sure we will be stable with such a small wheel base (28.5 x 24.5). We added some weight (sand bag) to the arm as well to see if it looked like it would be unstable when we are holding a cube above our chassis..

The intake prototype is still in the works. Our 3D printer had some issues so it was slow going get all the pulleys we needed printed for the testing.

- Spectrum

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 9: Climber Progress and Intake Prototype CAD

Just a short update of what we are working on. 

Our current plan is to have two seperate climbing methods depending on if we need to lift a partner or if we can climb alone.

With a partner we will use our fork lift and winch to lift both our robots at the point between the bumpers. This will let us reduce the amount of tipping during the lift.

When we climb alone we will use a curl at our arm joint so that we can curl away from any robot that has already climbed or if they have bars mounted to their robots.

Intake Prototype
Our intake prototyping has gotten a bit more complicated to be able to meet all our requirements. It uses a virtual four bar belt and a pneumatic cylinder to move the pivots and compress the cube. It also has multiple co-axial movements.
Should have it built tomorrow if we are able to print all the pulleys we need for it. 

- Spectrum

"You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist." - Indira Gandhi

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day 8: MCCC and lifting prototypes continue

Lifting Prototypes

We purchased a lever chain hoist this morning so that we could test different lifting concepts without having a robot cable of lifting another just quite yet.

Keeping a partner level is definitly going to be a challenge. We are going to continue working on our retaining device as well to help hold our partners securely close to our bumpers. We do have tread on the two forks that we have under the partner robot as well.

The robot with the arm weighs ~120lbs, the robot with the vise mounted to it weighs 140lbs. 
We will also need to make a robot with a higher Center of Gravity (CG) than this current partner bot. As the CG of a partner that you are attempting to climb is going to be very important. 

MCCC 2018: Minimum Competitive Concept Competition

East Texas hosted 3 Robot in 3 Days teams and 118's Everybot team this year and they all headed to The Woodlands, Texas home of Texas Torque World Headquarters (FRC#1477) and had the first ever MCCC. A true "Week 1" competition. We had several of our alumni and friends up at the event and we were able to secure video of several of the matches. 

The fields were only the wooden version and weren't setup up perfectly (lacking exchange/vaults) but it gives you a good idea of how some matches may go. You can learn a lot from watching real robots play that you may not notice when you simulate in your head or with humans.

Match 1

Match 2

Match 3

Match 4

Take Aways (some we already knew, just confirmed)
  • Scoring in the scale is difficult but if you can do it, even one cube could win you the match. So finding a way to do it will help win you a lot of matches
  • Defending your switch is going to be difficult. Your opponents have 11 of their cubes on that side of the cube all in easy to remove portals and you'll need to be able to ground collect and score or defend against them to keep your switch safely in your control and getting your alliance points
  • A great intake will make your robot much better than a great lift/arm/shooter/etc.
  • The cubes like to slide on the carpet so test intaking by pushing your prototype towards the cube and not the cube towards the prototype.
  • Climbing points will be important and it's a hard task (they also only had a week so we can cut them slack)
  • Vision will be limited around the switch and scale. Camera feeds and sensors will help make your drivers' jobs much easier
  • Scoring a lot of cubes quickly will win you matches (seems obvious but we like to repeat the obvious)

- Spectrum

"Competition helps people figure it out." - Brian McBride, U.S. Soccer Player

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day 7: Power Up Tips & Resources plus some of our prototypes

We are a week into the season and a bunch of resources, examples, and documents have been published about the game. We're also giving links to some of the robots we have been looking at that have inspired us so far.

FRC Official Power Up Rules Updates

EWCP Basic Bot Design 

Design Resources

Electrical Tips

Q&A Link

  • If you have specific robot or rules questions its better to ask a mentor team then the Q&A. Then where you think there might be two interruptions of a rule or corner cases for a rule that is when you should ask the Q&A for clarification. 
  • Reading the Q&A is a good way to see how the rules will be enforced and get some ideas of how the game may be played.

Robot Examples

Snow Problem


Inspiration from Past Robots

Prototypes we are working on

Active Retaining Mechanism

This is for making sure our alliance partners don't slip down our forks while we lift them up into the air. The test robot there is our 2013 bare chassis with multiple weights, a vise and a broken arbor press mounted on top. It weighs in at 143 lbs. If we can lift this we can lift nearly any robot this year (CG could be an issue with some very tall robots). 

Fourbar intake mechanism.

Inspired by the 1538-2015 intake we have a team looking at a double 4 bar intake. If we finalize on this, our robot could have a large arm joint, a telescoping extension, 2 four bars, and a wheeled shooter we are pretty sure that wins us FRC Bingo (1323's 2012 robot with a turreted shooter on a four bar is close though).

Linear compliant intake

This intake uses linear rails and chain linking the two arms together to keep them centered to allow the intake to adjust to the different cube geometries.  We'd have a pneumatic actuator to open the claw to make mid field cube acquisition easier. We noticed the cubes like to slide away form a lot of intake if you don't have a wall behind you.

 The Prototype Robot

We are converting our 2014 practice chassis into a prototype for this robot. Mainly because it's 28" long just like our current planned robot. We added a quick 2x4 A frame and Arm mock up to lets us see the geometry that we are working with. The shoulder joint is off axis with the arm to allow the extension to go through the joint without having to two separate pivot arms clamped around the extension tube like 233 and 2168 example arms. This will present slightly different heights to each side of the arm's motion but with much of this game relying on imprecise movement (place a box in a 3' by 4' plate) it shouldn't effect us too much. 

Three Day Weekend

We get to do a lot of robots over the next 3 days so we should have more test video up in the next few blog posts. 

- Spectrum

"Steal from the best,invent the rest”

Friday, January 12, 2018

Day 6: Redesigns coming early this year.

We're not sure if you call it a redesign when you never really started designing the first option. Today's design meeting led us back to our priorities of scoring cubes as fast as possible. Time is points in this game and the faster you can score cubes the more matches you should be able to win.

There are 4 distinct cube scoring areas for each alliance.
  1. Exchange
  2. Your switch
  3. Scale
  4. Opponents switch
Three out of the four tasks are better suited to a shorter robot that can pick up cubes on one side of their robot and drop them off on the other at 2 different heights. Stopping your opponent from owning their switch is just as valuable to you as it to own your own switch since it's a plus 1 point differential for every second you prevent them from owning it.

So having a shorter nimble robot that can score quickly in the 3 short zones while still assisting with the scale is a valuable robot for any alliance.

Here is a quick Solidworks sketch that shows how a robot might be built without a traditional elevator to complete the low tasks efficiently while still being able to put cubes in the scale. This design is heavily inspired by previous season robots from 233 and this past pre-season robot of team 2168.

All the dimensions haven't been worked out yet but this gives an idea of a possible configuration. The 5 pink lines are 5 different positions of a retracted arm. The orange line shows an extended arm. In the full retracted position this arm doesn't break the 16in frame extension rule and the only time you need to extend is when you are pointing almost vertical to be able to eject a cube into the scale. We may also experiment with being able to shoot cubes into the scale as well so we can be faster and not have to extend every time we place a cube in the scale.

The current thought is we can also get away with a smaller frame with this design. Somewhere around 28"*24" instead of the full size 33"*28".

Clamping a partner

This new robot doesn't easily allow an integrated elevator/climber solution (not sure any elevator/climber is going to be that easy) so we need a new way to try to climb with our partners in nearly every match. JVN and the Robotwrangler's Hierarchy of Climber Types is a great read about the potential various different climber options. Our original Tailgate climber was a 13 on the scale. It relied on our partners driving on to the right spot for us to lift them and us both up. Our new idea is to try to go one up on the hierarchy and be a "14. Help-A-Fridge Climber" where we are able to clamp onto a partner robot and bring them up the scale with us. This would also let us potentially be something similar to a "7. Versatile Basic Climber" where we clamp on to our partners and they climb us both up. 

The idea is to have fold our forks that we drive under a team and then a top clamp that we are able to clamp down on a partner.

Vacuum Cube

- Spectrum

Efficiency is doing better what is already being done. - Peter Drucker

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Day 5: The Q&A is open

Today brought the first clarifications of multiple rules from the GDC in the Q&A.

Climber/Bumper Questions

Two critical Q&As are Q4 and Q8. They clarify the definition of a floor and how the robot will be transposed to the floor.

With these rules, its now okay to lower a tailgate (what we call a panel for lifting another robot) to touch the carpet in the platform zone and then lift them up on that tailgate.

This is good news for a lot of designs.

Climber Sketches

Before those rules came out we were working on a way to climb with a partner that didn't need to have the ramp on the carpet. This was the hook design we came up with. It can be improved by coming into the rung from the top and then backing up to secure yourself but we don't have a sketch for that yet.

Design Review is tomorrow.

We'll be doing our design review tomorrow. We have taken this season slower since in the past we have been hasty in our decision making. We'll reevaluate where we stand after 5 days of thinking and dreaming about how Power Up is going to be played.

- Spectrum

"Move fast. Speed is one of your main advantages over large competitors." - Sam Altman

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Day 4: Subsystems are being decided

Today was a relatively quite day. Mostly finishing up some of our field elements and doing a lot of thinking about the robot.


We have our subsystems pretty much rounded out for this years robot.
  1. Drive Train
  2. Elevator
  3. Wrist
  4. Intake
  5. Hook (The elevator system is in charge of actually doing the heavy lifting)
  6. Tailgate (where another robot sits while we climb the scale)

Climbing Goals

Climbing is both a small part of this game and of major importance. There will be plenty of matches where no one is successful at climbing (other than levitate). However because of the ranking point associated with "Facing the Boss" (having 3 robots "Climbed") the highest ranking teams will regularly allow for 2 climbs and levitate in their matches. 

Our Priorities
  1. Use our elevator to climb our own robot using the rung in under 10 secs.
  2. Easily align our robot and hook to the bar. Speed will be important in this game.
  3. Use our tailgate to be able to hold a partner and have them climb up with us.
  4. Have our tailgate be laid out flat and on top of the platform to avoid any bumper issues, etc.
  5. Use only one side of the rung (box tube) and face of the tower to allow a 2nd climbing robot in cases where our tailgate isn't needed or is broken.
  6. Be able to climb from both sides of the rung.
  7. Be able to climb from the front of the rung if needed.
Current idea has hooks on both sides in the rear of our robot attached to the telescoping (2nd) stage of our elevator and using the hooks to grab onto either box tube of the rung. Then our tailgate would be positioned mostly below the rung. 

We will be attempting some bench tests this weekend to see how this idea works.

Discovery of the day

Cubes can get stuck in the area between the switch plates, near the teeter totter? Is anyone designing their robot to reach in and grab those cubes?

Burning Questions

  • How do we build a strong rigid deck that is light weight but lets us easily hold another robot?
  • What's the best way to deploy the tailgate?
  • What is the best way to have a fast elevator for scoring cubes and a strong elevator for climbing the tower?
  • How can you design a hook that helps keep your robot(s) level?
  • How much horizontal reach do robots need over the scoring plates?
  • Cable vs. Chain driven elevator?

- Spectrum

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” - Socrates

Monday, January 8, 2018

Day 3: Intake all the Cubes

The focus of today's meeting was to catch people up on our analysis from the weekend and then start thinking about intakes. Every robot this year needs to be able to intake cubes and do so effectively. The best robots in the world will have some of the best intakes in the world.

Functional Requirements

  • Grab cubes in any orientation. (3 different ways) 
  • Grab over bumper 
  • Securely hold the game piece 
  • Deposit into exchange 
  • Integrate with elevator 
  • Touch it, own it 
  • Robust can take a hit 
  • Light weight
  • Set cube in switch/scale
  • Possibly deposit cube in back of switch or scale


We started by discussing a few of the different concepts we thought of over the weekend and looking at previous years examples of those intake types.

We then discussed the advantages of each type and made sure everyone had felt the cube and understood what we were trying to do.

Draw an Intake

We had each of our members draw their depiction of an ideal intake given the information we currently had. The reason for this was to see if we could find any assumptions that we were making about intakes that may not be true.

Here are some examples of the sketches we made for cube intakes.

More Designs

Several new designs were created during this process of sketching intakes and talking about assumptions.
  • Boomerang intake
    • Pivot is between the two sets of wheels.
  • Linear compliant intake (Slide Intake)
    • Sets of wheels slide on a linear track to add compliance, instead of pivoting 
  • 3 Sided Box 
    • Adds the side and top roller together but removes the bottom roller so we can still place cubes nicely.

Other intake notes

  • Possible pneumatic punch to help push cubes to the back of the plate.
  • Wheels on each side don’t have to be in the same location or same height.
  • Stacked wheels to get more grip
  • Independent control of each sides compression?
  • Pivot doesn’t have to behind the wheels (bomberrang shape)
  • Centers to a back holding place instead of the wheels in front centering. You may get lopsided without it.
  • Conveyor / belt between wheels or only a convener?

Design Parameters (Variables)

  • Speed of the wheels
    • Motor types, gearing
  • Area of acquisition (how big can it open or how wide are the rollers)
  • Number of wheels
  • Type of wheels
    • Compliant wheels vs solid wheels
    • Different types of rubbers and materials
    • Do nubby/studded wheels grab into the indents of the cubes?
    • Entrapption Stars instead of wheels? In addition?
  • Positions of wheels relative to each other
    • Distance between wheels (if they are in a row)
    • Different compression amounts for each row of wheels in a set.
  • Thickness of wheels
  • Compliant distance (how close can each side of wheels get and how far away can they get)
    • compliance geometry 
  • Intake wheels center line distance from the ground
  • Different wheel positions instead of straight lines

Next Steps

  • Start designing prototypes that allows us to establish the most optimal versions of these intakes.
  • Build mounts that allow us to use small wheels quickly in the prototypes and changes their positions.
    • These should let us mount multiple types of wheels quickly and easily and also change the wheel spacings using the REV Extrusion and spacers on the VP mounting bolts.
    • 24T GT2 pulleys, 60t belts, and 1/2" hex shafts with shoulder bolts in 3/8" bearings.
    • Could go even smaller with 1/4"shoulder bolts and bearings.
  • Designs will continue for the next 3 days and we should be testing multiple intakes Friday-Monday
- Spectrum

"Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success." - Scott Adams

Day 2: Field Building, design ideas, and strategy convergence.

First Sunday is always a little weird, lots of field building mixed with some some impromptu strategy discussion. We make sure we have any critical parts ordered for prototyping (this year that was WCP silicone compliance wheels).

We should have most of our field elements made up tomorrow for the scale, fence (we don't a see-saw in the middle of it), and the half exchange zone. We'll build up a platform next weekend most likely. Thank you to all the parents and team members that have been working on this over the weekend.

Some of the key points from today's discussions.

Basics of Power Up
  1. Score cubes fast, some games are just that simple. Last year if you scored gears fast and climbed you won, this game might be pretty similar.
  2. Ramps are hard, don’t think they are easy. You can build them but they are hard to build and hard to climb. They are also heavy and take up a ton of room you could be using to score cubes faster. Will there be successful ramps of course? Will there be more unsuccessful ramps, probably? If your ramp is steeper than the field platform be prepared for some teams not to be able to climb it. 
  3. The scale isn't that high, it's basically half the height of the 2011 high goals. Is it a challenge? Yes. Is it as hard as other year's challenges? Probably not. (Adam Heard of 973 has a great video series on how to build an elevator, it's pretty amazing. Also VEXpro sales a linear motion gusset kit with detailed drawing on how to assemble it.)
  4. Careful with the cube covers, many teams are starting to rip their cube covers with intake prototypes. These aren't as durable a game pieces as the gears or the fuel last year.
  5. A simple climber just takes a couple poles, a hook and winch. Just get the hook to the bar(motor, springs, pneumatics, etc) and winch yourself up. It's harder than last year's climb but nut orders of magnitude harder. Doing that with multiple robots gets tougher but it should still work if you're patient with each other. 

To Seed First in Power Up

  1. Ninja Squad (Robowranglers help squad) style team to get your partners an auto program that drives them across the line. 
  2. Auto: cube in to your switch 
    1. Needed for the Auto ranking point 
    2. at a minimum, probably a cube or two after that during auto for the elite teams 
    3. Requires good auton driving and control 
  3. Climb and lift one partner with you 
    1. you can’t count on two teammates getting up a ramp or even on being able to climb along side you. 
  4. Control the Scale 
    1. wins any match where your opponents can’t go high 
    2. needed to win matches where they can

Random thoughts, notes and questions, from this weekends meetings
  • Careful not to extend past the tower or outrigger walls when climbing, you won’t be able to break the extension limit if you do because part of your robot would technically leave the platform zone. It's bonded by the walls of the outrigger and the wall. 
  • How do you find the exchange zone autonomously? 
  • How do you find the scale autonomously? 
  • Vision tracking cubes? 
  • Outriggers to prevent tipping forward? Outriggers to grab your partners by the bumpers and drag them across the auto line? 
  • Camera on the 2nd stage of the elevator looking down to see the scale plates? 
  • If your missing a robot from your alliance (no show, not inspected, or broken) can they be levitated?

- Spectrum

"If you want to make the right decision for the future, fear is not a very good consultant." --Markus Dohle

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Day 1: Let the games begin

Power Up is finally here

If you want to see how many of our Teaser guess we got right check out our other post here.

Kickoff Event

Day 1 starts with heading over to our kickoff event, this year hosted by our friends in Katy, TX they have 5 FRC teams building at their STEM center and they invited the rest of the area teams there to watch the kickoff and pick up our kit of parts. 

After we get our KoP its back to Strake Jesuit to read all of the game rules and start talking about strategy. 

Game Analysis

Quick Max score math

Auto: 15 Seconds
  • 15 crossing line
  • 28 for switch (2 + 2*13 secs)
  • 26 for scale (2+ 2*12 secs, opponent scoring cubes could stop this)

Telop: 135 second telop
125 * 2 = 250 (125secs * 2 for the scale and switch points)
10 * 2 * 2 = 40 (scale and switch Boost Bonus)

Vault points
9 * 5 = 45

End Game
30 * 3 = 90

15 + 28 + 26 + 250 + 40 + 45 + 90 = 494 =500 (give or take 4-20 points)

Functional Requirements

Talked through some functional requirements, these aren't set in stone and will likely change through out the week.

Drive Train
  • Drive around field 
  • Go over speed bumps 1" dome. at weid angles 
  • Go the ramp to the platform at weird platform 
  • Maneuver in tight spaces 
  • Quick sprint distances 
  • Possible Brakes? 
  • Tank Drive 

  • Ground to 8ft speed? 
  • Able to asssit with climb 
  • only 2 moving stages
  • Camera mount on the elevator 

  • Grab cubes in any orientation. (3 different ways) 
  • Grab over bumper 
  • securally hold the game piece 
  • Deposite into exchange 
  • Integrate with elevator 
  • Touch it, own it 
  • robust can take a hit

Eject Cubes
  • Shoot cubes
  • Gentley place cubes
  • Firmly place cubes
  • Auto place cube

  • Climb with another robot
  • Climb quickly sub 5 secs
  • Holds it self up after match
  • Get the bumpers above 12"
  • Easy alignment for the driver


We'll finish building our Scale so we can test how the game pieces interact with each other as you place them. We also have a few bench tests we want to build for testing ideas for climbers.

- Spectrum

"Luck is not something that happens by chance. Luck is earned through dedication, work and determination." -Katie Mickley

Power Up Teaser Guesses Recap

The 2018 FRC Game FIRST Power Up started this morning with the release of the game animation and rules.

Spectrum watched the 2018 FRC teaser back in September and guessed what was going to be in this game. Tonight we are going to start the season off with how well we did on our predictions. Commentary is in italics. 

What did we get right?

Elevation Changes
Got this about half right, robots are going up.
  • Power UP - makes it pretty obvious that robots will have to climb something,
  • that may be stairs like the student walks down in the beginning of the clip or it could be ramps that robots have to drive up.
  • There are stairs/ramps in the poster and on top of the arcade machine

Power Ups = changes or bonuses mid match
Hit this one pretty much on the head.

  • Bonus points
  • Get certain items or score in a certain order and then there are multipliers. Similar to ubertubes in 2011
  • Unlock certain parts of the game or objectives after scoring or completing objectives

We got this one right.
  • Human players score the game pieces on the side of the field similar to pilots placing gears this year.

Just for Fun
Dean Kamen was wearing a DK tie in the kickoff video, we are taking this one as a win.
  • Human players dressed as Donkey Kong

What did we get wrong?

Elevation Changes
Didn't end up being any big elevation chages for the robots, no large ramps on the field but we did see some platforms moving just not for the robots.

Power Ups = changes or bonuses mid match
No audience selection or different power ups each match but teams do get to choose how and when to use them.
  • Possibly get to choose which power ups to use each match
    • Audience selection of power ups?

No Coins at all in this game, guess it was just a red hearing.
  • Collecting them as a game piece
  • Discs/Frisbees/Disc Golf Discs
  • If you turn in coins your human players can put out different game pieces based on the amount of coins.
  • Possibly scoring in coin slots
  • Tiny coins (like 1in or less)
  • Large coins (2 ft or bigger diameter)
  • Coin dispensers on the field, so you have to pull something, push a block, hit something, to release more coins (hoppers?)
  • 500 = Coin Amount on the field?
    • (Searches for “500” in google did not return any relevant results)

FIRST Logo on poles (similar to logo motion)
Nope it wasn't part of the game
  • Possibly hanging logos like 2011
  • Maybe have to get logo pieces off the poles instead of putting them on
  • 4 out of 5 games on the machine were pick and place games
    • 2005, 2007, 2011, 2017 (not 2016)
Nope nothing as cool as these ideas.
  • Size changes?
  • The power ups may allow your robots to expand to a taller or larger size.
  • Inflatable robots (unlikely but cool)
  • Video Game Mechanics
  • A lot of things are possible with video mechanics.
  • Mystery boxes
  • Co-op elements
    • Intra alliance co-op elements were it takes multiple robots on an alliance to do something
    • Inter alliance co-op similar to 2012/2015 (hopefully not)
  • Barrel Jumping/Ladder Climbing

Just for Fun
Didn't expect to get any of these right, 1 out of 5 isn't bad.
  • Fire Alarm = Lava Game


Overall we got more wrong than we did right, but there was a lot in this teaser to think about and did lead to some very accurate conclusions.

- Spectrum